“He is a big ol’ slut.”
“He’ll pretty much put his dick in anything that moves.”
“He’s such a whore.”
“If it’s long and has a point, he’ll be sitting on it in no time, you watch.”
“He gets around, has gotten around, and will continue to get around. Gross.”
Statements like this are common stance in the gay community; we hear them from our friends, our partners, our co-workers, all over the place. What we may not realize is how often such
judgments come out of our own mouths as well. Statements like these are extremely powerful and we as gay individuals use them with far too much enthusiasm and far too little context. This is a problem that absolutely needs deeper analysis and change within our community.
So what’s wrong with calling people out on their business? It is a fact that some people in our community absolutely have more sex than others. Some are paid for it. Some lie about it. Some cheat. Some are upfront about it. I am a total fan of calling people out when their mistakes make too great an influence in my own social circle. If a guy who I know is unsafe and irresponsible in his sexual practices and is trying to date my best friend, I will absolutely be the first to let my friend know precisely what my experience and interpretation of that individual is. Again though, what is wrong with that? The issue is not calling out wrong-doers when they need to be called out. The issue is context and judgment.
Too often we as individuals are scared of “judging others.” We don’t want to appear as though we are “passing judgment,” because it isn’t politically correct or it’s impolite or some other nonsense. Here is the truth people – we judge people every day and judgment in and of itself should not be feared. For example, when a man is walking down the street holding an automatic assault weapon and is shooting at anyone nearby, we judge it to be a smart idea to remove ourselves from that environment. Hide behind a car, run away, etc. We do not go up to him and try to shake his hand. This is a judgment that I would deem well and deserving because there is adequate CONTEXT for our judgment. We see what is going on and deem the situation to be dangerous, so we act accordingly. Now let us move into a less dramatic example. I see a friend of mine making out with a guy at a club. I know the person he is making out with to have also hooked up with a few other of my friends. What is my course of action? Many people would find it appropriate to share their opinion of this guy to their friend at some point during this night; especially under the influence of alcohol. This is where the problems lie.
In order to pass adequate judgment of this individual and situation we need to give the situation its context. What is the context? The context is that I have some second hand information about an individual who I have not personally interacted with. I may know his name, where he lives, a few things he’s done with my friends, but hardly enough information to get a potent and reasonable understanding of WHO he is as an individual. Also, what type of person is my friend? This individual is the one I am likely to have much more experience and knowledge about, and should be my primary concern. Is he the type of individual to be irresponsible and crazy and hook up with anything that moves? Or is he a sensible, grown-ass adult, capable of making his own rational decisions about choosing sexual partners as he sees fit? If he is of the former category, my decision to speak with him about the individual he is kissing might make more sense.
Though the conversation would be geared toward HIM and HIS practices, rather than my flimsy judgment of the individual he was making out with. If he is of the latter category, I might go give him a pat on the back and ask him to ask the guy he’s making out with if he has a buddy for me.
What is a healthy sex life? I would argue one very simple statement – quality over quantity. In the U.S., we have ideologies in play throughout our culture, which are systematically indoctrinated into us to one degree or another. We are a country raised in Christian values. Christian ideology is written into our basic cultural functioning, whether we recognize it or not. It is why the image of someone virginal appeals to most of us. We want the individual who is “purer,” who has had fewer partners. That is why women get married in white dresses, why finding “the one” is so romanticized and popularized.
At the same time the capitalistic nature of our American society is also powerfully in play, spinning its own ideologies. The thing about capitalism is that sex sells. People buy things that are sexier and naughty and suggestive, that is just a fact of the numbers and consumers. The conflicts begin when people try to reconcile these two ideologies. Phrases like “we want class on the streets and a freak in the sheets” are popularized to demonstrate that men want partners who represent both of these ideologies. Someone they can flaunt as virginal and classy but will fulfill their sexual and erotic fantasies. Many people are incapable of doing this. The fear or insecurity of being labeled a “whore” and not being able to find a suitable partner is rampant. People begin to lie about their sexual exploits. They will try to represent themselves in a “better light” rather than an honest light. This deception creates problems and moves people away from the honesty that is needed for a healthy sex life. Thus, we are all told to have lots of sexual partners. Sex sells, it’s cool, it’s amazing, sex feels great, have more of it. But at the same time we are told don’t be promiscuous; don’t let people know how many partners you’ve had, be an angel, be virginal. This message translates into – I have to lie, I have to hide the truth, no one will want me if I’m honest, I don’t want to be dirty, etc.
So what is this fear about numbers of partners? Yes I understand it comes from Christian values but the Christians have been wrong about a lot of thing: the earth being the center of the universe for example; or that women should be stoned if they cheat. This virginal quality is only valuable because back in older times, when women were still used as bargaining tools to obtain land and unify family wealth; then being desirable was connected directly to them being a virgin. If not, they were considered used and not as valuable. We are WAY beyond this type of thinking people. Those values wrapped themselves around heterosexual views of relationships and the homosexuals too often pick up on those same ideals. It is not dirty to have more than one partner. Frankly the numbers are not the issue.
This brings me back to quality over quantity. Numbers are scary because we think of STI’s and HIV contraction and that’s a practical fear to avoid those things. However, we should all realize one very simple fact: people contract diseases not because of how MANY people they’ve had sex with, but because of the MANNER in which they had sex with ONE individual. You don’t contract chlamydia automatically after having sex with 100 people. You contract it after having sex with one individual who you didn’t use a condom with, or who you picked up at a bar randomly, or who you trusted more than you should have.
An individual could have sex with 300 people say and never contract a disease because he uses condoms every time, maintains safe oral sex practices, and knows all of his partners on a significant level, not just a meet and greet off a hook up site or a bar. Another individual could have sex with three people. He won’t use condoms with any of them and knows almost nothing about them, besides their body proportions. He could contract gonorrhea from the first partner and transmit it to two others before he realizes that something was wrong. Thus, it was not the numbers that were the issue here but the responsibility to protect one’s self and their partners, which one of these individuals did not do. The QUALITY of his sex life was less than what it should have been and not only did he pay for it, two others will also pay for it. He has compounded his own misfortune. We are all grown ass men having sex with other grown ass men and we need to take responsibility for our choices and our actions. If I am confident in my life and my principles, who is anyone else to tell me how many people I can or cannot have sex with? You do not pay my bills; you have no say in how I conduct my life.
The only thing an outside entity could ask of you is that you are responsible and safe, because that is practical and conducive to a healthy sex life. My best friend cannot tell me to not have sex with ten people in one day. She can tell me if I don’t use condoms she’ll chop of my balls and keep them in her purse as trophies. That is a judgment based in quality not quantity.
This is not my way of saying” everyone, go fuck everyone and let it be a massive orgy!” What I am saying is each individual knows within themselves what a healthy sex life is for them. The number of partners you maintain is completely up to you and completely grounded in your own identity and needs. I am a proponent of sex. I think people should have more of it, as long as it’s responsible and with people you trust.
My point in writing this is we need to scrutinize ourselves and how we judge others. We should not be worrying about the numbers of partners people have. Frankly, if you find an individual sexy and attractive, a good more will agree with you. We should be worrying that our loved ones and friends are being as responsible as possible to maintain their health and the health of their partners. Remember, we need CONTEXT to our judgments.
Phrases like the ones I shared at the beginning of this article come off as trite and ignorant. Just because someone enjoys sex does not make them a bad person and you sound incredibly foolish for judging them as such. Now if you KNOW an individual to be incredibly irresponsible and uncaring of whom they hurt in their life – well what did I say earlier – I would be the first to put that person on blast and I sincerely hope you all hold the people in your social circles accountable as well. The message here needs to be thinking before you speak; a bit cliché, but honest. Do not judge unless you know with true absolution what the hell you’re talking about. If you don’t have enough information, it’s better to keep your lips silent, or engage the person firsthand to get a better perception with your own interaction.
The issue with “sluts” is much deeper than we superficially try to make it to be.