Over the past four decades, women have been exposed to a variety of social freedoms that weren’t acceptable in the past – including sexual liberation.
The fairer sex have been rejoicing about their sexual prowess and how liberated they have become in the bedroom. Popular TV programmes like Girlfriends and Sex and the City are credited with fuelling another sexual revolution where women are enjoying the same freedom as men.
Lisa (not her real name) says in order to be a strong woman you have to be in control of your sexuality. Although the 22-year-old feels most comfortable having sex in a relationship, she isn’t in one now and often resorts to one-night stands to get the job done.
‘I think casual sex is OK, but it depends on why you’re doing it,’ Lisa tells Flavour.
‘If it’s really what you want to do – if you just want to go out and have fun and you’re doing it for yourself – that’s OK. But if you’re doing it because you’re feeling lonely or to fill a void or to get attention, it’s not alright.’
But when it comes to her own sex life, Lisa is torn. Although she often has one-night stands, she often finds herself regretting it the next day.
According to researchers, though the sexual revolution was meant to free women to enjoy casual sex just as men always had, the study has suggested that after one-night stands they are not well adapted to the brief sexual encounters.
The study found that men are more likely than women to secretly want their friends to hear about it and to feel successful if their partner was desirable to others. Men reported greater satisfaction and contentment following the event, as well as a greater sense of well-being and confidence about themselves.
However, the predominant negative feeling reported by women was regret at having been ‘used’ – they were also more likely to feel they had let themselves down and were worried about the potential damage to their reputation if others knew.
Moreover, women found the experience less sexually satisfying and, contrary to popular belief, they did not seem to view casual sex as a prelude to long-term relationships, Human Nature journal reported.
The study of women’s attitudes towards sex also revealed that women of all ages believe that sex outside marriage or a committed relationship is wrong.
The popular saying ‘wham-bam-thank you ma’am’ is seen as a thumbs-up for men, but for women it’s seen as the opposite – ‘wham-bam-no-thank you sir’.
But why is a one-night stand for a man perceived differently for a woman?
Mike McDonald is a 22-year-old undergraduate at Goldsmiths College in London. Six years past the legal consensual age of sex, McDonald has bedded over
‘I was a late starter. I didn’t get at it until 18 so I am making up for lost time,’ said Mike.
Sleeping with an average of 37 women per year, Mike continued: ‘I’m too young to settle down. I don’t want to commit to just one lady. Why should I when there are so many beautiful women? If she is up for it and I am up for it, what harm is there?
Sex is a wonderful pastime, which keeps you healthy and fit. It beats the gym any day!’
Men like Mike are seen as a being players and deemed cool, bit if the tables were turned and Mike was a woman, she would be seen as a ‘hoe’ or a ‘slag’.
Speaking to Natalie Lue, a dating and relationships writer, the mother-of-one elaborated as to why one-night stands are viewed differently for men and women. Society, in fact, has very entrenched ideas about how both sexes should conduct themselves despite the so-called sexual revolution for women.
‘Women feel guilty because they bring their emotion into things, even though it may not have been their intention to become emotionally involved. On the other hand, men find it easier to detach themselves and allow sex to be just sex.
‘While men see sex as sex, women tend to read in between lines that don’t exist, which I refer to as the “women justifying zone”. When women have casual sex they tend to look for justifying reasons to tell themselves why they had sex in the first place, which eventually develops into a reason as to why they should stay with or invest in that man.’
Natalie explains to Flavour that while men like McDonald have casual sex for the pure fun of it, women have one-night stands for a string of more complicated reasons.
For example, some women claim they are only looking for no-strings sex and can switch off emotionally. The catch with these women is they say they just want sex and then they get mad when a man treats them like a casual shag.
Other women may be uncomfortable going along with it, but are hoping it will turn into more… they refuse to believe it’s just a one-off.
At other times they may not realise it’s a one-night stand. They mistake the connection they make with a guy as a signal that it’s OK to get down. They think he’ll call (often because he has led them to think that) and then discover that it’s nothing more than a one-nighter. Even worse for them, because she has slept with him, the guy doesn’t see her in a girlfriend light but will happily use her for a booty call.
Finally, some women just mistake sex for affection and seek validation from new sexual conquests all the time.
According to Dr Aruna Broota, the age of a woman is an important factor in determining her attitude to casual sex.
‘For girls in their early teens, who are in no mood to get into a long-term relationship, a one-night stand is just a fun thing and they have no qualms about indulging in the occasional romp. But as a woman grows older, a feeling of guilt starts seeping in and they try to pick one man for a long-term relationship, out of the many they have had sexual encounters with.’
Twenty-nine-year-old south Londoner Patricia Smith (not her real name) has been dating online for several years. She also meets guys at bars and sometimes company events.
Patricia tells Flavour she is really eager to meet someone and settle down but she very rarely gets past a first date. It turns out that she regularly ends up sleeping with or engaging in some sexual contact with her dates. At the time, she feels like they are really hitting off and there is heavy flirtation and a sexual frisson.
‘I really like sex and affection and I don’t believe I should miss out because I’m single,’ says Patricia.
However, the HR manger admits that she is now faced with the problem that the majority of her dates are turning into one-night stands, and on several occasions men have referred her to as a tart or slut.
Now known as a woman who ‘gives it up’ in certain circles, Patricia says: ‘When I realised what some of my past sexual encounters are calling me, I felt very hurt.
Why am I perceived as a slut, when the men that I have had encounters with are doing the same but are seen as bedroom heroes?’
Answers to Patricia’s question regarding why are men are perceived differently when it comes to casual sex are suggested by Natalie, who is a frequent blogger on www.baggagereclaim.co.uk – a website all about dating and relationships.
‘If not rewarded, men are certainly not looked down on for sowing their wild oats. No matter what culture, people almost expect men to have numerous partners and indulge in casual sex,’ says the blog writer.
‘Traditionally, women tend to be regarded as slutty if they sleep around, even though they are sleeping around with men that are sleeping around and aren’t being frowned upon.’
She continues: ‘Men don’t judge their own behaviour but mark women down for doing what they do.’
Natalie also elucidates, interestingly, that most male egos cannot handle the idea of women just wanting men for sex and nothing more. Bizarrely, they want women to want more from them, even if they don’t want it themselves.
‘Men p*nises and egos are programmed to expect that the woman must believe when they’re having sex that he might be ‘the one’. They like the idea of her thinking that she’s falling in love with him or wants ‘more’ from him than he actually has intention of giving.’
‘Let’s face it,’ Natalie says. ‘When it comes to bedroom rules there is one rule for women and another for men. Women who try to emulate men do not come out smelling of roses.’ If you’re a sexually emancipated lady, it might not be what you want to hear. As Natalie concludes, ‘Men don’t like women who play by their rules – especially if it’s to do with something like casual sex.’
10 things you never want to hear from a one-night stand
1. Sorry got to go. I have another date tonight.
2. I can’t do breakfast as I have an early appointment at the clinic.
3. Do you mind if we hurry this up. I have to get home to my girlfriend/boyfriend.
4. Oh don’t worry about the computer. It’s just my friends watching on Skype.
5. That will be £300!
6. Can we go back to yours? I don’t want to wake my parents.
7. I haven’t washed for days! My boilers broken.
8. It wasn’t as good for me as it was for you.
9. It’s nice to have sex with a real person for a change.
10. That was a waste of my time.
Words by Janelle Oswald