I was doing a clear out for the local charity shop when I discovered three books I hadn’t seen in years.
The Rules, Men are From Mars and Women Are From Venus, and Why Men Love Bitches were hidden behind a trio of Dickens novels, clearly in fear that someone might break in to my house and judge my reading material as less intellectual than they had expected.
I’m not sure why I bought them but teenage Louise was obviously an absolute dope.
Taking a cursory glance through them, I noticed that the advice was remarkably similar in each one — change yourself completely in order to trick a man into falling in love with you.
(Teenage Louise was pretty heteronormative as well.)
I presume once you had the man of your dreams trapped in your snare of lies and deceit, your next move was to unzip your human skin and reveal that you were, in fact, an alien lizard who devoured men-folk for breakfast.
(I’ll have mine with extra Sriracha sauce, please and thank you.)
For those of you who don’t want to cause permanent damage to your blood pressure by reading the manuals in their entirety, I’ll distil the ‘rules’ down to two major points.
1. Do not, for the love of god, have any needs of your own.
2. Never, ever have sex on the first date.
I’ve been hearing that advice since I was a teenager.
Apparently, having sex on the first date means you will automatically be shunned as a fallen woman and no man shall marry you — a fate worse than death, surely.
I had hoped this attitude was dying out until I saw the lovely Vogue Williams’s recent appearance on Loose Women where she said that she and an ex had sex on the first night they met.
The other women on the panel gasped, reacting in such a shocked manner that I replayed the clip in case I had missed the part where Vogue admitted to sacrificing newborn babies for the craic.
After wincing in discomfort at watching an adult woman being blatantly slut-shamed, I nearly started laughing at how archaic it all was.
Vogue, please let me know where you found the time machine that transported you back to 1954.
(If you could let me raid your wardrobe too, that would be fantastic.)
This ‘no-sex’ rule only applies to women, of course.
It’s perfectly acceptable for men to have sex on the first date because, as traditional wisdom would have us believe, they’re just men and the poor pets are simply in thrall to their sexual desires at all times and it’s the woman’s duty to fend off their advances for as long as possible to ensure they ‘respect’ her.
(It’s supposedly feminism that depicts men in a disparaging manner.)
Any man who decides he has lost respect for you because you had sex with him ‘too soon’ is a) an idiot.
He was there too! You were both having the sex! You weren’t doing the sex by yourself! and b) absolutely and utterly unworthy of your respect in return. He has demonstrated his true, deeply misogynistic colours and you have had a lucky escape.
You heard it here first, folks — having sex on the first date is nature’s way of weeding out assholes with a deeply engrained Madonna/whore complex.
Be right back, must go write a dating manual that is actually realistic in 2016.
I’ve had sex with people on the first night.
I ended up dating some of the men, it became all too obvious with others that the chemistry was severely lacking and I would rather have sawn off my own arm than have to see them again, (no, I’ll phone you!) and I count one or two of them among my closest friends today.
I don’t have any shame about this. I don’t feel the need to justify my need for food or sleep or water or oxygen. Why would I do so with yet another primal human instinct?
Beyond the strange notion that somehow a healthy relationship could be formed upon a foundation of game-playing and manipulation, it’s disturbing that this double standard still exists.
Why do we insist upon thinking that ‘boys will be boys’ but expect women to be ‘good’ and uphold a higher moral standard?
What kind of message is to give to young women that not only are they responsible for denying their own desires but that they ought to control the desires of their partner as well?
My fear is that by doing so we are teaching girls that exploring and expressing their sexuality is inherently wrong and that sex is something they should be ‘persuaded’ into; that in order to ensure they don’t come across as ‘easy’, they should endeavour to appear reluctant.
The idea that persuading someone into having sex is in any way OK is damaging for both young men and young women, and is currently forming the basis for much of the misunderstanding around sexual consent in this country today.
Let there be no confusion — I am not advising every teenage girl in Ireland should have as much sex as she possibly can in the name of feminism.
I am, however, suggesting it’s important for women of all ages to own their sexual agency.
Whether you want to have lots of sex with as many people as you can or you want to wait until you’re married or you’re asexual and never want to be intimate with a partner — it’s essential that you stay true to yourself.
Set out your boundaries, figure out what it is that you do and don’t like, and then ask for it.
If someone ridicules you for this — whether a friend or a partner — move on.
Find less judgmental people to spend your time with.
Refuse to allow society dictate what your life should look like.
As Shawna Scott from www.SexSiopa.ie would say, “Do whatever you want to do as long as it is what you want to do.”