Hello All! My name is Jenna, and I am excited to join the stimulating conversation this community has begun. I first met Wendy in the Fall of 2007, when I invited her to speak at my undergraduate institution, Fordham University. Wendy talked about the subject of her book, Girls Gone Mild, attracting a record-breaking crowd of 300 students, male and female, to talk about their dissatisfaction with the "hook-up culture" and how the hook-up culture discourages any type of emotional involvement in sex. The overwhelming response to Wendy's message has stuck with me, and is a subject I continue to return to, both in conversations with my friends and as a research pursuit. As a member of Generation Y, I am a young woman who has benefitted tremendously from the many sacrifices my predecessors have made to achieve gender equality in all aspects of life, from the classroom, to the boardroom, to the bedroom. The representation of women in business, politics, the media, etc. has continuously been on the rise throughout my lifetime.
Yet there is a paradox: In many ways, women's empowerment has been achieved by eliminating the perception of vulnerability or weakness in our dealings with men, to prove that we are their equal. Showing one's emotions has traditionally been linked to signs of weakness, and therefore, emotional suppression has been encouraged to prove our "toughness." The suppression of emotions may be more appropriate in a work environment, but we have been taught to take this same approach towards our private relationships. Many young women have bought into the notion that the only way to gain and retain control, and avoid being hurt in our private lives, is to keep our emotions out of any intimate relationship. We are told that showing one's emotions only reflects weakness and vulnerability, and will lead to ultimate heartache. An unfortunate side-effect of this misguided belief is that many women have suppressed the natural amorous feelings they may have and, as a result, internalized feelings of shame for taking part in a casual sexual relationship they may have never wanted in the first place.
The article, "The Shame Cycle: The New Backlash Against Casual Sex," discusses the effect this emotionless and noncommittal approach towards sex has had on many women of my generation. A particularly compelling quote is from Julie Klausner, author of the book, I Don't Care About Your Band, when she talks about the hurt she experienced after realizing a guy she had been intimate with didn't care about her, and then the additional shame she felt for actually acknowledging that she was hurt: "When you cry about things not working out, you're crying not only because a guy you slept with now doesn't seem to care you're alive, but also because you're ashamed of yourself for crying."
Imagine that! Now we don't have to only worry about being hurt by someone who doesn't value us as an entire person, but also about feeling ashamed for feeling hurt! It's a preposterous cycle that needs to be broken. The article goes on to talk about a new movement towards being honest with one's self about one's own definition of empowerment, and as comedienne Tina Fey so aptly puts it, "We have been handed a sort of Spice Girls' version of feminism. We're supposed to be wearing half-shirts and jumping around. And, you know, maybe that's not panning out."
What do you all think? Do any of you feel like you've been promised a world of equality, empowerment and sexual liberation but really have just felt used and dissatisfied by your "relationships" at the end of the day? Time for a change? Please share.