I read this post on The Belle Jar this morning and it made me happy that this point is being brought up.
So maybe this is too much self-disclosure but my dating experience was admittedly different than Anne’s. I began a relationship with my first “serious” boyfriend when I was fifteen years old. We dated for over two years, which in high school, basically meant we were married. We broke up just before I finished high school. After that, I wasn’t the type of girl who always had a boyfriend. Then again, I never wanted to always have a boyfriend. I valued my times of being single and being able to spend a lot of time with friends. Though I’m now married, I still value my friendships immensely. To me, my friends are a part of my family and I love them dearly.
I generally had a decent amount of male interest in me. If I do say so myself – haha. Who knows why? I was pretty shy as a teenager and younger adult. Must be my damn good looks. JUST KIDDING. About that last part, I mean. Still despite being pseudo popular w/guys, sex and dating were not all fun and games for me. I certainly was rejected more times than I’d like to publicly admit. I was not able to have sex every time I wanted to either. Nor am I able to now either. Neither my husband nor I would assume that we are entitled to each other’s bodies any time we are in the mood. And yes it was/is a bummer to be turned down. And you know what? Because I was raised in a culture that tells women that they can have sex any time they want, those rejections hurt in a way that’s not been discussed much, though it was in the Belle Jar post. In the past these rejections hurt even more because they made me feel like, “this is not supposed to happen to women, so what’s wrong with me?” And that was a crappy feeling, like rubbing salt in the wound, so to speak. I have always known that this idea that men ALWAYS want sex and women can have sex any time they want is BS. But it took a long time to fully expel the notion from my mind. Because when you grow up in a culture inundated with this belief, you will find yourself buying into it from time to time. And it seems to be really good at popping up when you’re rejected.
But you know what? Being rejected is a part of life. And it is not true that men naturally have higher sex drives than women. Anecdotally in my life, my friends and I have found this to be often untrue. And so, it then stands to reason women are not able to fulfill their sexual wants whenever they damn well please. But women also know we’re not entitled to men and their bodies. Entitled men, who are often batterers, believe they have the right to always get their way, even perhaps especially when it comes to sex. But women and non-entitled men (which thank goodness is most men!) know that in life, you just can’t always get your way, ESPECIALLY when it comes to sex. No one’s desire to have sex is more important than anyone else’s right to safety, dignity and bodily integrity. In other words, no one’s sex drive trumps someone’s right to not be raped and/or killed. It’s not rocket science, it’s pretty much commonsense and basic social skills. So you got it?!???
Yes it is disappointing to be turned down. Yes it can be frustrating. Yes because of ludicrous social norms, I used to feel a pang of insecurity that there was something wrong w/me when a man turned me down. But there was nothing wrong with me. And more importantly, there was nothing wrong with the men who turned me down. Many people aren’t going to be attracted to me, and this is true and okay for everyone. So I certainly never wished nor thought of causing any harm to someone who rejected me.