My friends would never slut-shame – oh wait…

I am in Switzerland, having spent a manic but wonderful week in Rome (so much classics!), followed by a blissful few days with Alexander. Before I begin, let me wish anyone reading this a belated merry Christmas, and (more importantly to me, since I’m Jewish), a very happy Chanukah, plus general festive merriment all round, of the secular variety. Basically, I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday.

Now, onto the sexy stuff. Firstly, there has been an update about My sex positive little sister. Before I flew off to Rome, Camilla not only asked if she could borrow some condoms (though I sincerely hope she won’t be giving them back!), but asked for my advice on getting the pill. I told her which ones I’d been on, and what to definitely avoid (microgynon in particularly *shudders*), and she says the whole experience went well for her. I also told her that you can get the morning-after-pill for free if you go to Boots, which she said she didn’t know, and that it was useful information. So  it’s all good! I can’t stop her getting hurt as she starts to navigate the stormy waters of first-times, but I feel much better knowing that at least she’ll be safe. And hopefully more confident now that she’s better at talking about it.

That was the good news part of this post. The bad news is a conversation I had recently with a girl who is actually very close friend, that managed to hit all the feminist bingo squares when it comes to slut-shaming. Let me be clear, Daphne and I have been friends since we were twelve, first at school and now at university. She had one serious long-term relationship, and while it didn’t end badly exactly, there were a lot of unresolved feelings and issues. I know she hasn’t felt as strongly for anyone since, and seems to flit fairly quickly from one crush to the next, which is a perfectly valid approach, if it works for you. I’m not sure that it does work for Daphne, however, as she never actually goes after what (or rather, who) she wants, but waits for them to come to her, while ‘playing it cool’. (She would probably agree with Atratinus’ view of my methods for getting laid.) The result is that she often seems conflicted as to whether she is after an actual relationship or just casual sex, and so doesn’t tend to achieve either. And I think this is upsetting her, because while we don’t talk about this stuff in detail very often, she does give off the impression of being frustrated and unsatisfied, and implies that each new crush will remedy that for her.

Maybe I’m completely wrong and she’s actually totally fine, and I should stop projecting and just mind my own business. I am cool with that. Or rather, I would have been, if it hadn’t been for what happened with my friend Myrrhine. Myrrhine is like, the opposite of Daphne. She has almost the same approach to sex as I do, and has done everything from ongoing threesomes to sleeping with a teacher (I don’t advise it, and nor does she), and is flirtatious and seductive to boot. She is also pretty damn hot. Not that Daphne isn’t – she is – just Myrrhine dresses to emphasise her figure, wearing incredible bras, short skirts and high heels. However, like Daphne, I think she is also kinda looking for more of a relationship, and had a particular crush on the same cute thesp boy (Caelius) that I tried to take home for a threesome. Sadly, we were both unsuccessful, and I think Myrrhine was a little cut up about it, especially because she is a theatre person too and sees him around often. We all know how that can be tough.

Now, Daphne doesn’t really know Myrrhine, but if you hang out at the theatre enough, you sort of come to vaguely know everyone. And there was a party one night, and we all got drunk in the bar and there was crazy dancing and singing around the piano and all that jazz. I was there with Leander, and so were Daphne and Myrrhine (and also Caelius, which may have had something to do with it, since Caelius and Daphne are friends – are you following?). Myrrhine was wearing a tight low-cut top, a short skirt, high-heeled boots, and thigh-high stockings. She looked awesome. She shyly admitted that she’d run out of tights and hadn’t had a chance to do laundry, so had to wear the stockings instead. I don’t know if that was true, but regardless, it was a good look. And Caelius was drunk and was dancing with her, and she was flirting outrageously with him and everyone else, and I don’t think anyone went home with anyone else, but it was a good night.

A week later, I’m having coffee with Daphne, and Myrrhine comes up in conversation. I mention how she’s been feeling a bit insecure, so it’ll be good for her to be in the play that I’m directing. I do not like that girl, says Daphne. I ask why not. I just think she’s ridiculous. The way she dresses, the way she simpers after men. It’s pathetic. Did you see those outrageous stockings she was wearing the other night? I say I think the stockings looked awesome, and besides, Myrrhine can wear whatever she likes. I mean, of course she’s allowed to, I guess. I just refuse to feel sorry for her when she’s totally asking for it. What guy is going to take her seriously when she dresses like a slut, and acts like she’s anyone’s?

Now, I admit, by this point I was getting slightly heated. But I held back from saying something I’d regret about how Daphne was just bitter and/or envious – never a good way to try to make a point – and attempted to be rational. I pointed out that Myrrhine just has a different attitude to these things, an attitude which I tend to agree with, and that the fact that things with her and Caelius didn’t work out was hardly a reason to condemn her to a single life until she changed her ways. I said that subtlety is one way to go about things, but it’s perfectly fine to be clear and direct about what you want, if that’s what you prefer. It just comes across as desperate, Daphne countered. I can’t imagine why any guy would want to go out with a girl like her. I know I wouldn’t go near her. Half an hour later, when discussing a different girl, Daphne came out with: And why does everyone think she’s so fit? She’s typically just dyed her hair blonde and everyone’s started giving her attention. Plus it doesn’t even suit her, she’s too pale.

I am not about to comment on whether this random girl who I do not even know looks good with her blonde hair, but as far as I’m concerned, if she likes the way it looks, good on her. Daphne’s attitude, however, I find worrying. I don’t want to dwell on what’s making her say this, or make any assumptions about her being bitter or frustrated at her own situation, because that’s not my place. What I do know is that this girl is usually sweet and lovely, with what I thought was a healthy attitude towards sex, and has never shown any signs of that ‘girlish bitchiness’ that romcoms would have us believe lurks beneath the surface of every woman. And yet she is happy to condemn a girl who’s pretty much a stranger to her, on account of her short skirt and stockings. According to Daphne, Myrrhine doesn’t deserve to be in a happy relationship with anyone, because she acts like too much of a slut. And by ‘slut’, I think she just means a girl who enjoys lots of sex with lots of different people.

Where is that idea coming from? It’s not so far off from the ‘she was asking for it’ rape apologia that we’re all so used to hearing. I have to wonder what Daphne’s response would be if, heaven forbid, Myrrhine was raped or assaulted. And I can’t help feeling that maybe, at the heart of it, Daphne feels threatened by Myrrhine, with her confidence and flirtatious outspokenness. Which is ridiculous, because there’s no single way to get what you want, whether it’s a one-night-stand or a serious relationship, and Daphne could always choose to be more forward if that’s what she wanted. But she doesn’t, and I respect her for that, although her utter disgust for girls who choose a different approach makes me wonder if that respect can ever be mutual.

I hope Daphne finds what she wants, and ends up in the happy, secure relationship I think she is after. I hope Myrrhine works out whatever it is she is looking for, and gets that too. Most importantly, I hope they both have lots and lots of incredible sex. And in the meantime, I’m wondering what on earth I can do to change Daphne’s mind, how I can possibly make her see that dressing in a sexy way, whether it’s for yourself or anyone else, is a valid choice, and that it’s okay to ask someone out directly if you find them hot. Maybe if she could accept that, she’d finally allow one of her crushes to see that she actually likes him.

At any rate, I hope Myrrhine keeps wearing stockings, because they are fucking hot.

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