*Note: profanity and ‘I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROOOAAAAAR’ ahead.
I’m going to admit some things in this post that I haven’t said directly in the past, things I’ve hinted at but never officially ‘confirmed.’ But the things need to be admitted so that the rest of this story makes sense – and this story has been weighing on me for a little while now, so I’d rather admit things that maybe I would have wanted to keep quiet, in lieu of saying nothing at all.
Here goes: Last week I was slut-shamed by my therapist.
Quick background: I’ve been seeing this person for about three-and-a-half years, and he’s absolutely wonderful. He was the perfect person to get me through the end of one relationship into the beginning and end of another; he’s given me a new outlook on life that I never would have found on my own. I don’t see him that often anymore, save for a check-in every four-to-six months, but I usually cherish his advice and love the hour I get to chat with him about everything and nothing.
I realized just before the Savannah trip in November that I hadn’t seen him for nearly five months, and figured the end of the year would be a good chance to check-in again; my word, the last time I saw him no one was married and yoga teacher training was a distant dream. Originally, I assumed it would be a normal check-in, hi, how are you, how is your eating; but as life likes to do sometimes, there was a bit of a curveball instigated by the wedding last weekend, and it was extremely reassuring to know I’d be talking out some of my confusion with an old friend. I’m not going to go into too many details and I’m not going to give a play-by-play of the session, but here’s what happened: after discussing recent events in comparison to what’s happened to me in the past two years, my therapist turned to me and said this: “I think you’ve got the right attitude! Keep reminding yourself there is no reason to bring the past into the present. But LB, remember you shouldn’t jump into bed with guys so quickly. Make this one work for it a little bit, at least!”
On the surface, it doesn’t sound like much. Standard advice that’s beaten into all of us, right? Girls, don’t sleep with a guy right away, and don’t sleep with a lot of guys or you’ll be a slut and no one will want you. Self-respecting men don’t date sluts. Pretty simple, right? Except it’s not simple at all. It’s actually a really fucking complicated scenario, and those scolding words are minimizing that.
I mean, let’s break it down now. I am a grown woman. I make the decisions about MY body, and it is MY choice who I do or do not sleep with, and when. It’s not anyone’s place, in particular my therapist’s place, to tell me what I choose to do and who I choose to do it with is wrong, or shameful. I’m so SICK of the notion that women need to use sex as a tool to keep men interested, like it’s currency, something we DEIGN to do, unless there’s something in it for us, like a piece of jewelry or the want of a man. Sex is a healthy and normal part of life and relationships, and I will not be told that the best way to make sure a guy stays interested is to hold out and leave us both with blue balls. Because GUESS WHAT: women enjoy having sex too. Mind-blowing. I know.
Slut-shaming runs so much deeper than merely calling someone a slut. I don’t care if someone wants to call me a slut. Don’t believe me? THEN GO FOR IT. You think your words hurt me? You think it’s anything I haven’t heard before? I’ve called myself worse things than you could ever call me. What’s weighing on me is not that my therapist actually called me a slut (because he didn’t), but the idea that he was encouraging me to use sex as a tool to get something (attention or desire), while simultaneously chastising me for having a healthy sex life as a single woman. News flash: I make no apologies for the decisions that I’ve made with regards to my body and I don’t regret a damn thing in my life, sexually or otherwise. And frankly, at the end of the day, if there is a guy that decides he’s no longer interested in me because we’ve had sex once, I don’t feel bad for me. I feel bad for him – how boring that you think sex is at its peak when you’re having it with someone new for the first time.
I’m going to step off my soapbox now and take a deep breath. I so rarely see my therapist anymore that it’s not worth it to make a huge stink with him – and honestly, I think he meant well; I know he wants the best for me, having watched me go through a lot of heartbreak in a short period of time. I know people see and hear and experience slut shaming to levels that are so far and away beyond mine. But I’m just sick of hearing these comments. I’m sick of it, especially as a 27-year-old single woman in New York City. I will not be shamed for the choices I’ve made because I stand by every single one of them. And always remember: neither should you.