Sexual Stigma, Labels and Morality
Dear Dr. Neder,
How come in the old days women were considered
sluts and freaks if they enjoyed having sex or
How come the girl had to stay a virgin until
marriage but no one cared about the guy? Is it
because men needed to know their wife was pregnant
with their baby and no one else's or because men
could have sex with a lot of girls and have almost
no effect, but if women had sex with a lot of guys
she would become emotionally messed up?
Sorry for so many questions, Im just
really confused by all of this.
As with most things, the answer isn't as simple
as just a single thing. There are a number of
reasons for this.
There is nothing as powerful about a person as
their sexuality. Think about this: people are
willing to risk ridicule, loss of friends, loss of
jobs, loss of family, jail, reputation and many
other things to get their sexual needs met. This is
because sex is a drive that is in all of us.
More important, your sexuality defines quite
literally everything else you do! It dictates the
clothes you wear, how you walk, the words you
choose, your friends and literally every other
aspect of your personality in a very direct way.
Once someone else understands this, they also see
that by controlling your sexuality, they can
control you too! Your parents, your church, your
city, state and federal governments, "special
interest groups", individuals with their own
agenda, etc., etc., etc., are all trying to control
your sexuality by dictating everything from when
and where you can have sex to with whom you can
have it to how you actually go about it!
There are laws on many books dictating
specifically how and when you can have sex for
instance. In some states for instance, it's illegal
to have oral sex! Why do you think that is? Simple:
control a person's sexuality and you OWN that
person. When someone chooses to NOT be owned by
someone else and to get comfortable with their
sexualities, you pose a threat to those that want
to use it to control you.
This is why labels like "slut" and "deviant"
exist. In fact, nobody is a slut; male or female,
and as long as a person's sexual interests don't
inflict themselves on or cause harm to anyone else,
they aren't deviant either. Many people live in
fear of being labeled and this fear is often enough
to "keep them in line".
Interestingly, many of the dumb beliefs we carry
today came out of just this sort of need to
control. Take a look at the (absolutely ridiculous,
harmful, dangerous) belief that a person should
stay a virgin until marriage. Frankly, I think that
sort of teaching is criminal! What would you say if
your church or government or someone you didn't
even know tried to make you not believe in your God
or religion until you were married? You'd be at
their door with a pitchfork!
Sex is very complicated and takes many years and
many experiences to learn; let alone master.
However, by learning it well and growing in your
own comfort of it, you become a far more powerful
person because of all the aspects of your own
personality that it controls.
Indeed, there were reasons why men were directed
to marry virgins while not having the same stigma
themselves. This certainly included knowing who the
children belonged too, but in fact, that wasn't
very practical! Do you know that in
turn-of-the-century (20th) England that as many as
1 out 3 babies were father by someone OTHER than
the husband? Obviously, these women were having
lots of sex outside their marriages.
Today, we use stigma, disease control, guilt,
responsibility, funding and tons of other ways to
try to control people's sexuality. Many buy into it
and are simply harmed in the process. Many others
come to the realization that education is the real
answer to preventing these negatives and
enthusiastically and safely explore their
sexualities - and those of others.
Don't worry about other's labels. Focus on what
you want in your life and let other, lesser folks
grovel in their own limitations. Trust me; you'll
have a far richer life because of it.
© 2009, Dr. Dennis W.
Other Relationship Issues,
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Relationship is a pervading and changing
mystery...brutal or lovely, the mystery waits for
people wherever they go, whatever extreme they run
to. - Euroda Welty
Dr. Dennis W.
Neder is the author of Being
a Man in a Woman's World
I and Being
a Man in a Woman's World
II. Have a love, dating,
relationship, sex or man/woman question? You can
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