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February 26, 2007

Cosmo thinks I'm a slut

Now I don't normally read Cosmopolitan, however I happened to come across a copy the March '07 edition in an office waiting room and couldn't resist. Oh the shame. I should have resisted. I thought that by now Cosmo would be a little bit less stone-age, but apparently I thought wrong.

I found the online version of the article that confirmed my dislike of Cosmo: When Should You Sleep with Him? by "relationship expert" Ryan C. Browning. (He suggests you wait at least a month before doing the deed). The article irked me for a few reasons...


1. The title implies that there is any clear cut "appropriate" time to have sex with a man for the first time.

(I'm not sure if this advice could be applied toward lesbians as well, but it's unlikely since as far as one can tell from Cosmo they don't exist. Either that or they just don't care about the hottest new mascaras and ab-toning exercises?) The reason this bothers me, is that... surprise! Not all men are the same. Just like not all women are the same. So therefore... not all relationships are the same. What might be "too soon" for one relationship, is not soon enough for another... and vice verse. It's a gross simplification to assume that any advice can apply to all relationships equally, but since it's Cosmo and they base their entire magazine on generalizations... I'll cut them a little slack and move on to #2.


2. The author suggests that withholding sex will give a woman power over the man she is dating.
"Once you give up the goods, you lose the upper hand in the dating power dynamics."

"The longer you hold off, the more intrigued he'll become, allowing you to set the pace and control how things develop."

"As long as you dangle the promise of sex in front of him, he'll be fixated on you."

Um... what? I thought we were past the time of The Rules-style dating manipulation and game-playing. The fact that anyone should have the "upper hand" in a relationship is offensive. If I'm going to be in an actual relationship (and not just a casual one, which it's evident Cosmo isn't recommending here) I want to be on an equal level with my partner. There should be no upper hand, period. I'm not going to "dangle" anything! (That sounds dirty doesn't it?) A relationship should be based on mutual respect and trust, not power plays and bribery.


3. The article implies that women can't tell the difference between sex and love.
"...sex creates a false sense of intimacy, so even if you were iffy about a guy, you'd suddenly crave a commitment. Now to problem number two: This guy might not be there yet, so while you want to move forward, he's locked in place."

"...hot sex can cloud your judgment. If you click sexually with a guy, you might overlook a lot of his flaws or inflate his good qualities in order to justify your reasons for sleeping with him"
So basically, you shouldn't sleep with him too soon or it might make you have "feelings". But he of course won't have that problem, because... he's a man? Why wouldn't the reverse be possible? He couldn't be confused by that sudden false sense of intimacy and scare you off? I realize that sex and love are often linked (as they very often should be) but they aren't the same thing. I think most women nowadays are smart enough to know the difference between an orgasm and their soul mate.


4. The advice given seems to put too much emphasis on the importance of "the first time" and claims that the longer a woman waits, the hotter the sex will be.

Even though he admits that the initial time you sleep with someone new, it's not always completely earth-shattering, he also implies that waiting will somehow make it better. Actually he doesn't imply it, he outright says it.
"The sex will be better."

"The longer you have him in this holding patter, the more fulfilling the sex will be when it happens."

"First-time sex isn't always the greatest, but because you've been looking forward to it for so long, it'll seem more intense."
Or... maybe because you've been building it up for so long, it'll be a Big Let Down. It's possible that it will be the best sex ever. But if you go into it thinking "I waited, so it'll be the best sex ever", you're setting yourself up to be disappointed. It's too much pressure... too much build up... It'll never live up to the hype or expectations. It's like those girls who put so much importance on losing their virginity, that if it's not the most romantic and meaningful sexual encounter ever (which few virginity-losings ever are)... they're forever crushed.


5. Everything in the article is contradicted in the final sentence.

"Coming to the decision on your own terms, at the right time, not only boosts your confidence, but it makes you feel more empowered in the relationship overall."

Even though they never bring up moral issues, there's still a vibe of "only slutty girls do it on the first date". I don't think that there's ever one specific amount of time that is right for everyone. (I've had one night stands that turned into years-long relationships, but that's me). The fact that throughout the entire article he's giving reasons to wait, makes his final line about "coming to the decision on your own terms" seem like a hell of a loaded statement. It implies that your own decision would - and should - be to wait. What if I happen to come to the decision in my own terms that the "right time" is right away? The article implies that there is a "too soon" as well as a "not too soon enough" but it's all subjective.

The answer to "When Should You Sleep With Him?" is different for everyone. For one person it might be right away. For some, it might be after a few dates. For others it might be much longer. And for some it might be after marriage. Or not at all. In my humble opinion, the only important factor in making this decision should be "am I ready to sleep with him?" Your definition of what makes you "ready" is part of your personal decision... it might include physical attraction, emotional intimacy, issues of safety, level of trust, moral beliefs, and how comfortable you feel. It should never include what anyone else might think or what a stupid, sexist magazine article (written by an actor-turned-lifecoach) says is the right answer.

3 comments:

Teresa said...

"...sex creates a false sense of intimacy, so even if you were iffy about a guy, you'd suddenly crave a commitment. Now to problem number two: This guy might not be there yet, so while you want to move forward, he's locked in place."

Good thing I'm an ethical slut, otherwise all sex I had would create a craving for commitment.

Please people.

All the more reason I do not allow that mag in my house...

lollylou said...

Women should be able to do what they want and not be considered 'loose' for doing it! Sex is important in a relation and you have to be compatible in the sack as well as mentally. However trialing this if you like someone is dangerous. Men have an ability to have sex without the emotional attachment. Women, I believe, find this extremely difficult (come on girls don't kidd yourselves). We all want to feel wanted and we do try and pretend we're not bothered when he doesn't call as much after we've done the deed. Maybe I've had a bad experience but I think men nowadays want to have lots of partners and don't need a long term relationship as many women are prepared to offer themselves on a plate to find there 'Mr Right'. I don't think we're sluts, we're just trying to separate the weeds from the wall flowers(if that makes sense). However, bottom line is....sleep with a man too soon he doesn't want to know!

Anonymous said...

Your article is spot on. If you suspend your judgement in favour of Cosmo's, you're simply contributing to one of the many reasons relationships become so complicated and unhappy....it all becomes a game. Forget its advice, everyone (and most every other 'dating rules' or 'what he/she's thinking' advice for that matter) because often they don't apply and will often get in the way of what could otherwise be a simple, happy relationship.