Let go of the dependence between love and sex, let women enjoy
Let’s talk about the myth of romantic love. Romantic love is an emotion that has been documented in many cultures since the dawn of humanity, but the idea that marriage is the embodiment of love and should be the basis for it is a relatively new idea, which spread in Europe in the 19th century.
Until then, marriage was primarily a business arrangement whose goals were to create an economic and marital unit for the purpose of having children, in addition to broader considerations such as improving family pedigree and creating trade and defense alliances.
Romantic love was often disappointed because it took place outside of marriage and did not come to fruition (the story of Romeo and Juliet as a parable). If a couple fell in love it was nice to have, but not something that is in itself a reason to institutionalize the relationship.
Then came the 19th century and alongside the social changes that took place in the West, a bourgeois middle class also began to develop, and with it also an increase in the radiance of the nuclear family over the extended family. In such a situation, where the children moved away from the families of origin and women began to acquire an education, the parents’ involvement in choosing the spouse for their children decreased, and the children gained more independence in the decision to marry.
In such a situation, however, it was natural for a ray of romantic love to rise as a basis for marriage, as traditional anchors were weakened.
Pretty much at the same time, a puritanical view prevailed in relation to female sexuality: women were perceived as lacking sexual desire, with the only reason they had sex being to have children. A woman who showed sexual desire was considered sick, physically and mentally.
Doctors at that time spared no various and bizarre attempts to cure these women, with treatment methods that today it is already clear that there is nothing between them and medicine.
The age of casual sex
The notion that the realization of romantic love goes through sex was born in the early 20th century. At that time many young women moved to the big cities in order to work and study. They earned money that went into their pockets and discovered the taste of independence away from parental supervision.
This process created a change in the public space, which ceased to be distinctly masculine and opened up to mixed public spaces, which included men and women rubbing shoulders with each other and spending time together on a daily basis.
As a result, a leisure culture for the masses also began to develop and frameworks were created in which men and women could meet and spend time: cinemas, amusement parks, ice cream parlors, and the like. Slowly more and more women began to take advantage of the new independence granted to them to discover their sexuality, and the connection between sex and marriage became looser.
This is where the social role of romantic love comes in: in order to justify sex without marriage, women were hung on to romantic infatuation as a justification for it. Because even though officially extramarital sex was socially obscene, the concept of romantic love protected young women from social condemnation and exclusion.
This is how the soldering between love and sexuality was completed: sex is perceived as the highest expression of love, and therefore deserves to take place in a marital setting. Casual sex was perceived as trivial, cheap, and meaningless, so women who experienced it were exposed to condemnation.
This perception has since been confirmed in an infinite number of ways, and it is enough to look at Disney movies to realize how deeply cultural it is.
So, What is The Problem?
The problem is that this perception expresses a double sexual standard that only applies to women – after all, no one demands men to have sex only out of love. In fact, men are completely exempt from social responsibility for the reasons they want to have sex: it can be as romantic love as it can be horny, boost ego, curiosity, or boredom – it just does not interest anyone why men have sex.
Thus, while male sexuality is perceived as a natural, even uncontrollable instinctual urge, the woman is perceived as having no inherent sexuality of her own, so she maintains a relationship to express love to the partner at best, and at worst to satisfy his sexual urge.
This perception puts women in a bracket of social expectations that binds them to conservative gender stereotypes: because you are a woman then you are inevitably driven to move and therefore you are only allowed to want couple sex, soft and gentle.
I know women who would argue that this is the desired situation: it is better for men to have only sex that is based on deep emotion, so men should learn from women and adopt the female set of values in relation to sexuality.
Seemingly, this is a healthy conception of sexuality that protects society from moral degradation, but I believe this conception is problematic for several reasons, and Convention Two: The first reason assumes that romantic emotion is a satisfactory condition for sufficient and meaningful sexuality.
But romantic love, unfortunately, does not guarantee good and healthy communication, consideration for the feelings of others, and respect for boundaries. On the contrary – the statement “I loved her” can often be used as an excuse for mental, physical, and sexual violence.
On the other hand, there can be casual or ongoing relationships, without romantic love, but in which sexuality is healthy because the couple maintains open communication, coordinates expectations, and treats each other with respect.
The second reason why the perception that links love to sex is problematic stems from looking at women as a homogeneous group that came out of the same production line, ignoring the social and historical conditions that to this day women have not been allowed to explore their sexuality freely.
Confirming the notion that women have sex that is connected to emotion actually binds them to stereotypical gender roles, which allow women to be sexual only if it is limited and conservative.
Moreover, women who do not align with her are exposed to condemnation for their sexual promiscuity, or in other words: “slat-shaming.”
Therefore, on the contrary, the social perception that female sexuality is connected to emotion does not reduce the chances of women being harmed, but rather increases it: after all, a woman who does not “maintain herself” and enjoys her sexuality by the male standard is cheap, slut, “mattress” and more expressions that indicate her lack of social value and that she is allowed to be harmed “because in any case, she sleeps with everyone.”
change of perception
Social perceptions play an important role in shaping our sexuality and this is what needs to change. No woman should artificially conform to an imaginary “feminine standard” that sees sexuality only through the prism of emotion, but rather the opposite – sexuality is a personal thing, and every woman is invited to decide for herself how to exercise it: in Vanilla or Kinky sex? Alone, in a couple, in a trio (or more)? As part of a loving relationship, respectful moving or fun casual sex?
On the other hand, the thing that men need to change is to internalize that women are subjects with independent sexual desire, and not objects for the satisfaction of their needs: refusal is a refusal, even if it is said gently and hesitantly.
Attempts at persuasion, pressure, and “you will be punished” are forms of sexual violence. Your partner’s orgasm is not a luxury but an integral part of your sex, and a woman who has slept with a lot of men before you, or slept with you on a first date or loves kinky sexuality, should not be ashamed and wanted for it.
Romantic love is a wonderful emotion, but it does not necessarily come true in sex. On the other hand, there can be wonderful sex that does not have romantic love.
Romantic love is not a sufficient condition for benevolent sex because it is based on a flood of hormones, feelings of idealization and cognitive and emotional turmoil that are fertile ground for sexual desire and even exploitation.
Sex should be based on desire, mutual respect, and benevolent communication, and these things do not necessarily depend on the existence of romantic love. Or in other words: release the concept of interdependence between love and sex. Stop “making love” and start having sex.