Once upon a time, when I was a footloose undergrad frolicking through the carefree experience that was the bill-less, job-less, adult worry-less wonderland called college, I was friends with a fast girl. Around us, she had the kind of fun-loving personality that made her the Kelly to my Beyonce as we sang and pop-locked our way through The Jackson Five’s “Dancing Machine” in the hallway of her dorm. But add a dude to the mix and she transformed like Optimus Prime into this vampy, flirtatious sex kitten, ready to ditch me and the rest of our clique at the bat of an eyelash for the company of a young man.
She was barely out of freshman orientation week when she lost her virginity, and once she pushed past the initial discomfort and awkwardness, that sex thing started to come pretty natural to her. And when it did, she was ready to flex those skills as part of her sales package. She was pretty and funny with natural New York girl flavor, so her blossoming ability to put it down like a porn star was, in her mind, the proverbial cherry on top (since she no longer had one down below). To her, sex was a sign of her liberation: from both the iron-fisted rule of her parents and the social limitations that said women should wait for suitors to make the first move.
But I know for a fact she really didn’t think as highly of herself as her sultry swaying hips and strategically poked-out booty suggested. Under all of that, she struggled with her self-esteem. A lot of women do. There doesn’t even have to be one devastating experience or attributable circumstance at the root of it. Just growing up is sometimes enough to chip our confidence into fragility. But a lot of us try to dress our doubts and uncertainties up in the fanfare of sexiness and pass it off as sexual liberation.
Yep, we have the prerogative to sleep with as many dudes as our beds (and cars and kitchen counters and office desks…) will entertain and we can take on jump-offs in Wilt Chamberlain-like frequency if we want to. But for some of us—probably not anyone reading this, of course—our self-esteem issues are masked by the cover of sexual empowerment. And that’s not empowerment at all.
There’s no greater decision-making opportunity than the choice to lay it down and give up a piece of yourself to a man. In essence, that’s what goes down every time you get it in with someone. Just being able to initiate or pursue sex isn’t the empowering part. There’s some complexity behind saying let’s get it on, and the conscious ability to spread your legs doesn’t cancel out those nagging, underlying issues that subconsciously compromise your self-worth.
Touch your head. Stroke your neck. Rub your chest. Slide a hand across your arms. Get a handful of your legs. It’s your body, yours to feel on, intuit and understand, and hopefully appreciate. If you want to tattoo it or pierce it, you can do that. If you want to pump it full of carbs or deprive it of all things processed and preserved, you can do that, too. Being queen of your body is your right and opening it up, in all of its preciousness, is your choice. If you want to put it down, put it down. But put it down being fully certain that your mind, heart and subconscious aren’t looking for the wild thing to do anything more than what it’s supposed to be doing.