Helen Boyd joins us from (en)gender:

I was reading over at feministing.com about casual sex, & read a recent bulletin from GenderPAC about the increase in Purity Balls, & then was mourning over the loss of another trans woman who got beaten to death by a guy who she’d previously given a blowjob to, & it got me thinking.

See, I wasn’t comfortable being a nubile when I was younger. I wasn’t comfortable ever being a nubile, & am still only wont to dress in sexier ways in very safe spaces - like DO, or certain queer/drag/fetish events, or the like. As much as I know it’s never a woman’s fault if she is hurt because of the way she’s dressed, I also had enough contact with non-sexual street violence to be twice as cautious about leaving myself open to any kind of sexual abuse or harassment, much less violence.

Which probably makes me painfully Second Wave, but there you go. I just don’t get it, & I’m never going to get it. I never had good sex that was casual; a long-standing “booty call” type relationship was a little closer to my experience of having good, non-committed sex, and maybe here we’re just defining “casual” in different ways, and the folks over at feministing are talking about the same kind of relationship.

But for young transwomen who are getting killed the stakes are WAY higher. Not that a lifetime of dealing with the trauma of being raped or beaten isn’t enough, but at least you live through it. Stark, but there it is.

What worries me is that women are still defined by being sexual, and in some ways, are sexualising themselves instead of letting men do it. It’s kind of the Hugh Hefner version of feminism; sexually-liberated women means guys get laid more.

That is, I’m not sure it’s a world that women can be safe being sexual in. In fact, I’m pretty sure it isn’t. I’m not sure that encouraging women to be sexual in a world that still denigrates women and blames them for violence directed at them is a good plan. I don’t think Purity Balls are a good plan either; I find them ridiculous and frankly, kind of incestuous in their traditionalism.

I don’t really know what the answer is. I do know that I think young women need to feel more secure before having sex. I know that they need to tell someone where they’re going, & what their date’s name & address are. Trans women especially need to bring a friend the first time they meet a guy, & in a lot of cases, they need to be upfront about being trans *if* they’re going to date guys off the internet.

As usual, I find myself between the two sides of this ongoing argument. On the one hand, I think a lot of women become sexual in order to be sexy, not to be sexual for their own pleasure or their own selves, but for the validation that comes from our culture for it. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with remaining a virgin until you choose to have sex. In either case, I think women are being told too much about the right way to think about sex as a woman: either you’re supposed to be cool & groovy about casual sex or you’re not sufficiently liberated, or you’re a whore for even wanting to have sex without getting married & pregnant.

Be cautious, you beautiful young women. Not all men will respect your sexuality, & it’s worth waiting for one who will.

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