Sex + Love

Hot Stuff

Wherein Tavi and Sady chat, electronically, about SESSSSSUALITY.

Collage by Sonja

TAVI: Our theme this month is EXPLORATION, which makes me think of exploring one’s sesssssuality. I feel like I see a lot of stuff on TV, in magazines, whatever, that to me just looks like selling sex, and selling a really fantastical idea of it and of a sexy lady, but it is always explained as being positive: it’s about the lady exploring her sexuality and thusly empowering herself. Like the Pussycat Dolls, or that video from a year or so ago of really young girls, like seven? eight?, dancing to “Single Ladies.”

So what I wanna figure out is what the difference is, really, between exploitation and empowerment. First when it comes to MEDIA and CULTURE. And then when it comes to figuring out your own PERSONAL sexuality.

SADY: I mean, I don’t know! I think everybody is always surrounded with images of other people being sexy and cool and awesome in this remarkably media-friendly way. And then when it comes time for you to figure out what YOUR sexuality is all about, you look at the culture, and it’s like…“Bwu-huh? How does my own weird and uncomfortable and not-quite-defined reality actually fit with that?”

TAVI: Especially when so much of it is contradictory! LOOK sexy but don’t have sex(ual activity) because then you are a slut.

SADY: But also be rebelliously sexual! Assert, along with Miley, that you Can’t Be Tamed! Let Katy Perry convince you that Baby, You’re a Firework (that also is open to an exploratory tonguing of the other ladies in the bar because it is Not What Good Girls Do)! It is like… making people like you is encoded in girls along with “dating” and “being pretty,” and is therefore part of sex. But making people like you is also part of being a “good girl” and not-sex. So ladies need to cover both ends of the spectrum at once. And then it all just explodes into a big mess of the fact that you also have to be FUN and COOL and REBELLIOUSLY EMPOWERED, and that also means sex, so Ke$ha shows up in a rain of glitter vomit and nobody knows what the heck to do anymore.

TAVI: I think it’s good that all kinds of sexual desires are represented in that sense, like we have T. Swift and Gaga and everything, but it gets confusing when you start being told that one kind of sexual desire is WRONG, the way some songs get too preachy about Teenz and Sexz. And then you don’t really know what YOU actually want, or if you want what you think you want because you know that other people will approve of you when you fulfill this “want.” Then sex-related things happen and you don’t really know how to feel and it’s very confusing. It can’t be as simple as just deciding how something made you physically feel, because sexual activity is so tied in to your IDENTITY too, when you are a girl.

SADY: Well, not to get all Welcome to My Women’s Studies Seminar on you, but that’s something with a lot of history. I mean, since forever, having sex was pretty much the only thing we thought of women as being able to DO. It wasn’t like we got to be rocket scientists (though we did get to be maids if we weren’t high-class and couldn’t get rich husbands), so nobody really thought of women outside of any connection but “sex with guys.” That was our function. And it still is, in a lot of ways!

But now, sex is something that we talk about in public. So it’s something you can SELL to the public. So people are constantly trying to come up with the most MARKETABLE version of what sex or being sexy means, which may not have any connection to what sex is actually LIKE. And the people who have to present us with “marketable sexiness,” for the most part, are girls. Girls in the public eye.

And there are all these competing brands of sexy out there. There’s Sexy Bad Girl, there’s Sexy But Not-Sex-Having Good Girl, there’s Moody Broody Sex-Having Artistic Girl, there’s Super Fun Party Times Sexy Girl…I mean, they’re all different versions of “sexy.” In very defined, hit-the-common-denominator ways. But no one’s personal sex life is about the common denominator.

So then, you get the idea that YOU have to be sexy in order to be worthwhile as a girl. But which sexy? And are you being sexy out of your core self, or are you performing “sexy” in order to look like some vision of what a girl should be?

TAVI: Yeah, the performance thing is most confusing to me. When Miley came out with her “Can’t Be Tamed” video and showed more skin and danced differently in her concerts, I was really annoyed with people slut-shaming her. But I also found it very hard to believe that it was truly Miley EXPLORING her SEXUALITY, because there was a whole team behind her crafting her image. Which made it feel kind of creepy and inauthentic. I felt the same way about the Pussycat Dolls. Is that really empowerment? It’s easy to call it that because it makes the ladies performing feel powerful for a moment, but I don’t know that an ego boost is the same as actual progress. (Plus, if it’s LIBERATION, why aren’t non-conventionally-attractive people ever getting liberated?)

SADY: Ha! I remember you said you read Female Chauvinist Pigs recently. And that book! I recommend that people read it! It is really good! Because it covers this very question. (P.S. You will want to fight with it, also.) And people had some of these same problems around SlutWalk, I think. We’re in a really sticky situation right now, where sex is still considered “bad” or dirty or shameful, for a lot of people. But hot sexy ladies, especially very (sometimes creepily) young ladies—those are everywhere! And if you’re not a hot, sexy, (preferably) younger lady, you just get insulted or ignored, really. You either don’t matter, or you’re gross.

One thing that’s really powerful, for girls, is taking a look at what they’ve been told is “bad” for them, and then trying it out. Not, like, setting-fire-to-your-neighbors’-pets bad, but “speaking up in class” or “holding your ground in an argument” bad. That’s empowering. But the culture tells us that sex is bad, so that’s on the list of things to try, when you’re experimenting with power. But then the culture is like, “That rebellious act we’re actually OK with. We’ll let you try that bad shameful sex thing, to empower you. But please be conventionally hot while you do it, and please do it in this way that the majority of straight fellows will enjoy.” It’s a trap! Straight dudes run the world, either way you run!

But I think some people look at any girl who’s flirting with those very culturally popular images of sexuality, and assume that she’s stupid. Or that she doesn’t “really” want to be doing this, and we have to “save” her. And I don’t think that’s fair, either. Because the fact is, everyone’s sexuality is sort of a collage piece. You see ways of expressing yourself, in the people around you or in the media, and you try them on for size. And that is particularly true when you’re just starting out as a sexual being. You try on a lot of roles to see what works. And maybe that girl who takes pole-dancing classes to work out, or dresses in this really provocative way—maybe she’s trying something out, you know? Maybe there are parts of how she expresses herself that are pretty conventional, and parts of her that are all her. You don’t know. But looking down on women, or assuming we’re stupid, just because of how we express our sexuality is really dangerous.

TAVI: That makes sense. Maybe Miley Cyrus really DOES NOT want to be tamed!

SADY: And maybe dancing in a birdcage was the most natural and organic expression of her deepest desires. SHE IS JUST BEING MILEY, AFTER ALL.

TAVI: THAT SHE IS. I mean, I know people are doubtful of Lana Del Rey’s authenticity for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with her sexuality, but I feel like the doubt itself begins with the fact that she is hot and states her desires pretty explicitly in her songs. And then people are like, THIS YOUNG WOMAN DOESN’T KNOW WHAT SHE’S TALKING ABOUT, WITH SEX! SHE IS SO YOUNG, AND SO FEMALE, SO WHAT DOES SHE KNOW?!

SADY: I would just not want to be Lana Del Rey right now. I know that a lot of my own aggravation with her—because I do fall into that aggravated camp, I suppose—has been about the cheesiness of how her sexuality is portrayed. But then I’m sitting there, getting mad at a photo that looks exploitative or cheesy to me, and I have to think: Lana Del Rey has agency, here. Fine. But did she shoot that photo of herself, HERSELF? Did she serve as the photo editor, who chose which shots to use in the magazine? Did she pick out that outfit ALL by herself, did she do the makeup ALL by herself, did she have TOTAL control? Probably not. And at a different times in her life, Lana Del Rey was working a non-Lana Del Rey vibe—maybe less cheesy, maybe cheesy in a different direction—and it didn’t get her voice out there. She’s doing what worked. And it still didn’t stop people from ripping her apart, because she’s a girl, and because she’s an overtly sexual girl, and that’s a dangerous identity.

Girls are told that they have to emote some very specific sexy vibes in order to make anybody like them, or even recognize that they’re in the room at all. But then, when a girl listens, and fulfills that role, people start slut-shaming her, or calling her fake, or trying to explain that “her role is really male-identified, man,” and…she can’t win.

So I’m interested in that tension. How do you pay attention to your own sexuality, and try to honor it, while also acknowledging that, you know, you might not really get your sexuality yet? And that you need to try a lot of roles and attitudes until you know what works, and that your only real guidance for what works is (a) your own emotions and physical happiness, and (b) whatever else you can pick up from the culture or from your friends (who are picking it up from the culture and one another)?

TAVI: THAT is the question. All of this makes a difference on a personal level too—it’s not just for pop stars or whatever—so that’s why I think these are important questions. I, erm, don’t really have an answer. And I don’t expect YOU to have THE ANSWER. But do you have any ideas? Because I am as LOST as an American television series that originally aired on ABC from September 22, 2004, to May 23, 2010, consisting of six seasons. (Source: Wikipedia.)

SADY: Well! I mean, people have written whole books on this! (My friend Jaclyn Friedman wrote a whole book on this.) I think there are some really simple, general answers. Like: If you’re ever in a situation in which you are being pressured to do something, or told that “other girls would do it,” or you “should” like it because “other girls would like it,” you need to know that’s bs. And you need to know that, if you’re getting stereotyped or shamed because people think of your sexuality in this one way, (a) those people are jerks, and (b) nobody knows enough about your personal sexuality to cast judgment on it, not even people you’ve made out with. But that guideline really works for one-on-one, direct-pressure situations. It’s not really so applicable to the wider cultural stuff, the subtle pressures that everyone is facing every day.

I’ve found that sometimes it just helps to acknowledge that you haven’t found the answer, and are just trying to find one, and that you’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way. Being aware of “becoming sexual” or “exploring your sexuality” as a process, or a performance, kind of takes the pressure off you to DO IT RIGHT AND BE COMPLETELY SEXY BUT ALSO NOT TOO SEXY, BUT ALSO SEXY ENOUGH, BUT ALSO NOT SEXY IN A WAY THAT ANYONE WON’T LIKE, AND ALSO BE EMPOWERED, ALSO. That’s a tall order. You’re probably going to have some version of Your Sexuality for the rest of your life, and you’re always going to be figuring out new things about Your Sexuality, so why the rush to resolve it? It will be what it will be, and it is what it is. I think. Don’t be in a rush to figure everything out. Even if you do figure it out, you’re going to have to come up with a whole new set of answers 10 years from now.

(And also, nobody else has figured their stuff out, either. Not even Lana Del Rey, clearly.)

TAVI: So at this point the best I can do is like, be easy on and honest with myself? (That is a lot less pressure than all the other stuff we talked about!)

SADY: I would say yes! I mean. Not to be creepy. But I feel like the only thing anyone has ever actually figured out about sex, in all of human existence, has been: “If it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anyone, that’s probably fine?” And also: “Different things make different people happy?” But if they told you that, the entire relationship self-help industry would collapse overnight. So. FORBIDDEN SECRETS! HERE, AT ROOKIE MAGAZINE!

TAVI: TA-DA. Well that is helpful. Sincerely! Coming from someone who over-analyzes everything. I tried to find a Wikipedia page for a TV series that is not LOST but is also not FOUND but is not exactly IT’S COMPLICATED STARRING DENISE RICHARDS but is kind of just like IT’S COOL I CAN DO THIS I THINK, but no TV shows are called that. My point is, anyway, IT’S COOL I CAN DO THIS I THINK. Thank you, Sady!

SADY: Thank YOU! ♦


  • Susann March 5th, 2012 3:08 PM

    “Be completely sexy but also not too sexy”.. this is so funny!

  • Maggie March 5th, 2012 3:12 PM

    There’s so much pressure to have a sexual identity. It just makes me shut down:

  • FlorenceEyre March 5th, 2012 3:16 PM

    Oh my god, I was waiting for this post so long :D

  • Anna F. March 5th, 2012 3:19 PM

    Yay, new reading material! I don’t have anything new to add AT THE MOMENT but I wanted to say that I appreciated reading this. That, and I hope to one day be as effective at using Capital Letters to Drive Home a Point as you two are. Respect.

    • Maddy March 5th, 2012 3:25 PM

      Ever since Rookie came out, I’ve been using more CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis.

      • sedgwick March 5th, 2012 4:30 PM

        I think the capitals make it more internet-friendly. I can read the bits in capitals quickly and grasp the general point and decide to read the whole thing later when i have time to enjoy it! rookie, so convenient!

  • maggiemadge March 5th, 2012 3:21 PM

    I am so glad that this was discussed. I am just as lost as to the issue of what is sexy and what is not. I get tired of how everything is about our looks and how we present ourselves in a sexual manner. It always seems to be the biggest thing society looks at the most at women. I am so glad that you two have brought up this issue.

  • starsinyourheart March 5th, 2012 3:21 PM

    Omg i love this so much. so much. sometimes i don’t know what’s real and what’s the TV coming at me subconsciously haha.

  • Alienor March 5th, 2012 3:40 PM

    it’s awesome that you guys are talking about that. no one ever talks about that.

  • Aly March 5th, 2012 3:45 PM

    This is such a problem at my school, it’s like if we wear a short skirt then we’re a fake whore but then if you wear a long skirt (or even middle length skirt!) you become a stuck-up, prude. It’s like there’s no middle ground! It’s so frustrating.

  • moonchild March 5th, 2012 3:46 PM

    This is amazing! I never REALLY tried to be a specific “type” or whatever, but I used to really care what people thought, or what boys thought, or SOMETHING , but then this year I was kind of like, screw this! I don’t give a @#$^*^%#$#%! Let them judge me, I’m just going to ignore that WHOLE judgment thing. I think that when people start worrying about how others see them, or their image, or what guys think of them, THAT’S when it starts becoming a big part of their life… Not that that’s wrong though! I don’t think that’s inherently bad, just that’s when life becomes stressful and you start to get delusional and so forth. So I just kind of was like, “Here I am, I’m wearing a shapeless dress, Deal.”


  • puffytoad March 5th, 2012 3:47 PM

    When I started having sex it was with a girl, so I forgot all of the stupid messages society taught me because they weren’t relevant. I don’t know much about expressing your sexuality through clothing or whatever, but I do know that the best way to “have sex” is to find out what makes you and your partner feel good, and do it. Forget anything else you have been told.

  • Abby March 5th, 2012 3:48 PM

    This is so good, and I love it. This article alone should be required reading material for all teenage girls or something. Seriously. It’s LITERALLY THE BEST THING EVER (I love using that reference). Anyway, thank you Tavi and Sady for having such an awkward, funny, enlightening conversation and putting it online for all to see!……… That sounded really creepy…….. Oh well ha.

  • pep.borg March 5th, 2012 3:49 PM

    Make girls think about how to be sexy or what it means to be sexy or whether is a good thing to be sexy and all sorts of questions about sexy. That way they’ll implicitly accept their status as the sex class and forget about overthrowing the patriarchy.

  • AnguaMarten March 5th, 2012 3:53 PM

    i so agree with that last sentence–”if it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anyone, it’s probably fine.”

    the whole sexuality vs. sexualization thing is really complicated. i mean, where do sex workers fit in? what about the girls i know who post pictures of themselves on facebook where they’re squishing their boobs up and making sexyface? who gets to decide what’s sexuality and what’s sexuality? because so many women still try to fit into the patriarchy, even if they say they aren’t. it’s just really hard.

  • Ruby B. March 5th, 2012 4:57 PM

    Man, everyone should read this.

  • poppy March 5th, 2012 5:17 PM

    This is super amazing. Thanks so much for it. It’s really awkward when you feel some sort of pressure. Not long ago there was a situation where I felt like ‘Oh crap, there is all this stuff in the media and I still have no idea what to do’. Slowly but clearly I’m getting more comfortable and less worried and that’s awesome! So thanks so much for this amazing interview!

  • tallulahpond March 5th, 2012 5:25 PM

    LOVED LOVED LOVED this article. I hate how women are a lot of the time either portrayed as complete sluts (because they enjoy sex? WTF!!) or they’re innocent and therefore boring to men. Really interesting article!

  • alien-pizza March 5th, 2012 5:56 PM

    I’ve been with the same boy for over a year, we lost our virginity together and it made us stronger as a couple. Slowly as our friends spread the news to their friends, I became subject to insults and tumblr hate daily. Our friends treated me differently, saying that I “ruined his innocence”. Even though I had never even been sexual a boy previous to him.

    At some point in our relationship, I began to admire a bisexual friend of mine. She slept over at my house and took a shower in my bathroom late that night. Soft french music was drifting out of my radio and she opened the door letting the steam roll into my room, she was in nothing but a towel. I was on my bed sitting in my underwear…like who CAN ignore such a lovely scene? She gently and sweetly gave me my first lesbian experience. Since then I knew that I was definitely bisexual.

    My mom tried to convince me that I was only confused and going through a phase. A friend of a friend sent me anon hate for a whole summer. My boyfriend just chuckled and told me not to do it ever again. But soon a whole grapevine of high school boys that I didn’t even know began to take interest in me. Asking me to do sexual favours with girls for them. Winking and making “V&Tongue” signs at me. It was humiliating, I actually felt guilty for liking women!

    Even more discouraging is that lesbian pornography isn’t even listed under Gay like male-on-male porn is. It’s under the Straight section because men take so much enjoyment out of it. Things like that make you feel so ashamed of exploring who you are. It’s pretty sad.

    • ali March 6th, 2012 5:52 AM

      aw it sounds like you have a sweet and understanding boyfriend!

      okay, i’m almost 17 and i’ve never done ANYTHING with a guy. let’s just clarify. and after asking guy friends, i found out it’s because i am ‘scary’ in my feminist beliefs.

      my guy best friend has slept with loads of girls, and if often called a slut, although in an almost congratulation-ary way, which pisses me off. anyway, his current girl friend once slept with a guy (he was a douche who totally took advantage of her beyond drunk state) at a party and i will never get over the disgust i felt when she was talked about. it was almost like she was removed from being ‘stace’ and sort of became another, anonymous girl who ‘alllllllllllways’ sleeps with boys and is ‘allllllllways’ drunk. This is a different position to you, but i can imagine you’re feeling like you’re being removed from you into this chick who likes girls. so i’m sorry you have to put up with those cruel idiots.

    • farawayfaerie March 8th, 2012 3:09 PM

      I hate that! the whole idea of bisexuality is taken so strangely by society, it’s like people can’t understand it, and I think it comes from the idea of conformity. It’s like, people have just started getting over the fact that some people are lesbian or gay, so that’s fine right, some people like men, others like women, but don’t tell me you like both! what box do I put you in then?

      At my school a lot of girls have kissed their friends, in front of other people, generally when they’re drunk. Some of them do it for attention, and others really like kissing girls, but most of the time nothing really happens between them because they’re just ‘having some fun’. While I think it’s really cool that this is readily accepted, I don’t think i would be as accepted if they actually started going out with one of these friends.

      But really (and i hope you already know this) just date whoever you want, and kiss whoever you want, and ignore those dicks pulling faces ’cause they clearly don’t understand what it means to like whoever you want to like, no matter their sex. You’re way cooler for having realized (even just a small part of your) sexuality, and being able to accept it.

  • MissKnowItAll March 5th, 2012 6:09 PM

    This article just gave me one more reason to love Rookie. I really felt pretty awful when people were slut shaming Miley for her “Can’t be Tamed” video. If it makes her happy, and it’s not hurting you, leave her alone! But I think people are forgetting the fact that your sexuality is not everything. My best friend is gay and he tells me that’s the only thing people see when they look at him. My other friend likes wearing mini skirts and thigh-highs, but she’s probably the most innocent girl I know. I just want to thank Rookie for taking on all the topics that make other magazine’s squirm in their seats.

  • kittenmix March 5th, 2012 6:16 PM

    This actually made me more confused about my ~ sexual identity ~ and what my ~ sexual identity ~ actually entails. Its not really something I think about, or actively try to explore. I just do wut filz rite, y’know?

    • Maggie March 5th, 2012 7:14 PM

      Yeah, I sometimes feel like all the sex talk can make things harder. People over-analyze and become Dawson’s Creek characters.

  • Adrienne March 5th, 2012 7:17 PM

    “Girls are told that they have to emote some very specific sexy vibes in order to make anybody like them, or even recognize that they’re in the room at all.”

    I loved this passage by Sady! Recently, at a Girl Scout Conference, we watched a documentary film called “Miss Representation”. It raises the issue of the image of females in the media, and how women are pretty much portrayed as objects of sex. It disgusts me! There are so much more to people than that! I highly recommend watching the film, except that it’s not available for purchase yet.

  • Amber306 March 5th, 2012 7:46 PM

    I read female chauvinist pigs in 9th grade! I got it from my school library (highschool is awesome when it’s awesome type thing) and it was basically the jump point from when I became a feminist. PLEASE READ IT!!!!

  • MaggietheCat March 5th, 2012 8:01 PM

    Society/culture/the media purposefully send out mixed messages in order to confuse women and make them easier to control.

  • youarebananas March 5th, 2012 8:06 PM

    I’ve been having so many conversations with friends over things of this nature–situations when boys pressure them to do things because IT’S WHAT YOU DO or when they’re not sure if it’s weird that they want something or when everything is just generally a mess because WE ARE TEENAGERS WHAT DO WE KNOW!! So thanks for this. I am sharing it with EVERYBODY.

  • elise March 5th, 2012 8:07 PM

    This completely reminds me of Halloween! Our principle makes an announcement the day before, telling people to dress appropriately. He means well, and probably just doesn’t want to get in trouble. Plus, our school doesn’t really enforce anything.
    But I was thinking of how normal it is for high schoolers, guys and gals alike, to want to dress ‘sexy.’ ‘Tis the age for it. So where I stand is not how you dress, but who you dress as. For instance, NOT Hooter’s waitresses. Not a sexy flight attendant, but a sexy pilot. Sexy president? Sure! Sexy secretary? Not so much.

  • erin March 5th, 2012 8:08 PM

    I never used to think about this sort of thing before I started reading rookie, but now I do and it’s really confusing and hard, but it’s something I can’t unthink. anyways, I don’t really think about whether I’m sexy most of the time. It’s just like, if I feel good, I’m good and nothing anyone could say could touch me. but it’s so true and unfortunate that girls have all these double-standards set up against them.

  • Moxx March 5th, 2012 8:31 PM

    It’s good to read/talk about this sort of thing. Why is it so taboo? It applies to everybody!


    And also where is that picture of the cake from? It looks delicious. It looks like Sunday morning (if Sunday morning were a cake). Yum.

  • Amy Rose March 5th, 2012 9:54 PM

    I wanted to say that “sexz” was the best part of this article, but then the whole thing was the best part.

  • Sonja March 5th, 2012 10:13 PM

    SESSUALITY is my new favourite word.

  • cleobea March 5th, 2012 10:14 PM

    okay, I’m gonna say something people are gonna hate :
    I don’t get why slut-shamming is so horrible. I mean, if a girl dresses really revealingly, like really short skirt and exposing top and such, are we supposed to encourage that? Bcause she’s just exploring her sexuality? What?
    I wish I wasnt ‘judging’ people for their clothing, but I find myself doing it anyways.

    • fullmetalguitar March 6th, 2012 12:55 AM

      Well, one reason it’s bad is because you’re assuming so many things about her just because of her short skirt. For instance, if you call her a slut, then you must be assuming she wears that skirt because she wants attention, or even wants lots of actual sex. But you’re also assuming it in a BAD way, because slut is an insult. But what’s so bad about wanting attention, really? If you’re being honest, everyone wants people to look at them and thing wow she looks fine/good/pretty/interesting/whatever. And what’s so bad about wanting sex? If she does love lots of casual down and dirty action, so what? Is it bad for a woman to want sex? Is that a problem for you? Why?

      You’re making all these assumptions, but you don’t even know her. That’s never okay.

    • fullmetalguitar March 6th, 2012 12:56 AM

      Now if her fashion sense is really bad, you can judge that. I’m strongly against poor taste! But fashion doesn’t hinge on whether something is “modest” enough.

      • ivoire March 6th, 2012 4:31 AM

        wait what? if her fashion sense is ‘bad’ you can judge her? I don’t think you should be able to judge anyone regarding anything. just my opinion

    • ivoire March 6th, 2012 1:41 AM

      The thing is that girls are being labeled as a slut because of the length of their skirt, how sexually active they are etc. We aren’t encouraging anything, we a DISCOURAGING the use of an insulting label ‘slut’ because it well, it’s just mean and no one should be allowed to define your sexuality or how you are seen to the rest of the world.

    • lorobird March 10th, 2012 7:31 PM

      Slut-shaming is horrible because nobody deserves to be shamed for their choices, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone.

      If you had this one hobby, and moved somewhere where your particular hobby was seen as dirty and bad, and were constantly shamed and told to stop “for your own good”… would you be happy?

      No. You wouldn’t. You would like some tolerance, you would expect people to respect your personal choices and your individual freedom.

      A society without tolerance and mutual respect is a poisoned society. We can only be happy as a society if we learn to get along, and stop shaming others for activities that don’t concern us.

      This is not about “encouraging” anything. It’s about tolerance. I encourage that we all tolerate each other and not talk crap about people, whether they sleep around and wear their thongs out, or whether they do Bible study and like gardening, or whether they wear hijab and read revolutionary politics.

      Why do you think depression, anxiety-related illness and eating disorders are so massive among girls (and each year younger)?

      Because we slut-shame. Because we shame, shame, shame them constantly, and we think it’s okay.

      It’s not okay. It’s cruel, unfair and hypocritical. Because we all want to be treated nicely whatever our behaviour or choices (as long as we are not hurting anyone else).

  • Helenus March 5th, 2012 10:19 PM

    Great post. I also love the 30 rock reference in the beginning. SESSSSUALITY. Liz Lemon iz da bomb.

  • cleobea March 5th, 2012 10:20 PM

    Oh, also what’s up with masturbation? Guys are so SO open about it. I mean, i hear them taling about it in the middle of class (its gross, i don;t want to hear it!). But for girls, like you said in a previous article about this, it’s a tabo subject classified as a secret you share when drunk. Why? Why is that? Why can’t girls be more open about it?

    • caro nation March 8th, 2012 12:50 AM

      Society asserts that women are sexual commodities.

      If we can provide ourselves with sexual satisfaction, then WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE?

      I think some girls feel that if they openly discuss their personal sexual endeavors,
      they’re losing their jobs, so to speak. Only they didn’t really have a career choice.

      Conversational masturbation (and society, on occasion) are fucked up.

      • caro nation March 8th, 2012 12:52 AM

        Conversational masturbation RULES (conversational masturbation on its own sounds like an trip hop subgenre)

    • lorobird March 10th, 2012 7:35 PM

      When you slut-shame, the person being shamed internalizes the belief that sex is bad and stops dealing with it out in the open.

      Because slut-shaming is a normal activity and an accepted behaviour in our society, we internalize that anything that may be related to ‘sluttiness’ might be a source for that shaming being directed at you.

      Nobody wants to be judged. Yet we judge. You said you yoursef. So if we constantly judge others about the most natural of behaviours, how can we expect them to be open about such behaviours?

  • SWIZZLEFAIRY22 March 5th, 2012 11:48 PM

    I think sexuality is generalized in popular culture, so everyone will have a preconceived notion that because these people are grown up, they know all about sex and how girls feel about it. I think there needs to be a show (like skins) that show the real and true feelings of being a growing woman and having society tell you whats right. just sayin :)

  • ivoire March 6th, 2012 12:07 AM

    wow this is gold. in my school you either wear a really short skirt and be called a slut or have a longer skirt and be called dorky ugly etc. but the thing is, it isnt the guys who are judging its the GIRLS! and also people thought i was lesbian because i didnt like any guys at that moment. wow, choosing my sesssuality (<3) for me, how low.

  • fullmetalguitar March 6th, 2012 1:04 AM

    I’ve always been really grateful to my mother for the way she talked to me about sex and other related topics, basically just telling me that there were some unpleasant / awkward elements, but that it didn’t mean sex itself was a bad thing. To be careful, but not afraid. And I think that’s what inspired me to really shape out how I felt about my own sexuality, whether that was wearing high heels, or hooking up with people. I felt okay making out with whatever attractive person I wanted to, and I also felt okay keeping my virginity until I was very much in love (and in college). I think that’s what empowerment is about really, being both educated about sex and sexuality but also not pushing yourself into doing something you’re uncomfortable with.

    And I know everyone says this, but confidence is what’s really sexy! Too bad it takes us forever to figure this out when we’re fumbling through the awkward teenage years…

  • hazeleyedgirl March 6th, 2012 2:49 AM

    I do love this post, but one thing that confused me was the idea that people thing it’s bad to ‘speak up in class’ or ‘hold your ground in an argument.’
    For my entire life, teachers adults, parents have been telling me and everyone else that we should do this. It’s like one of the basic things that we learned, like saying ‘no’ when strangers offer you lollipops to get in the back of their lovely white van O.O

  • ghostworld March 6th, 2012 8:32 AM

    this article contains the word “sex”, 57 times.

  • FossilisedUnicorn March 6th, 2012 10:31 AM

    I was thinking about this this morning. It can be quite uncomfortable for a relatively asexual girl like me to live in a society where sex is this really important yet sort of secretive thing. I have never been attracted to anyone, and I don’t have a lot of sexual desires (I’m 20). But I feel like I should, because apparently it’s so important to everyone else. It kind of feels like primary school when the kids would make their own club and you were not allowed to join? But this time it’s not just some kids, but pretty much everyone.

    • Pashupati March 7th, 2012 12:15 AM

      Ummm, maybe I’ll say something really unsmart… but there are asexual forums (like AVEN) on the Internet, so maybe it can help to feel like a part of a club and be able to discuss things with people who maybe have a more relatable view on the thing?

      • FossilisedUnicorn March 7th, 2012 12:24 PM

        Thanks, I’ll check it out :)

  • Kathryn March 6th, 2012 4:49 PM

    I had “LOOKING FOR SOME HOT STUFF BABY THIS EVENING LOOKING FOR SOME HOT STUFF BABY 2NITE” and Liz Lemon saying, “Is it because of my SESSUALITY? Because I am so very… SESSUAL.” alternating in my head while reading this article.

  • maya203 March 6th, 2012 5:08 PM
    thought this would be a good place to post this everyone watch!!

  • MissKnowItAll March 6th, 2012 7:16 PM

    This is so amazing. In my school, If you are a girl and do something even slightly promiscuous you are labeled a slut. My best friend dated this senior in our freshman year and they were so happy together. They were never sexual with each other and they loved each other so much. But a lot of people started talking about how they would have to have sex before he graduated. Pretty soon my friend was being called a slut because of a rumour that was being spread by complete strangers. It was terrible and they ended up breaking up. In short DON’T BE A PART OF SLUT SHAMING! IT’S JUST NOT NICE.

  • Eline March 7th, 2012 3:07 AM


    Why is only white women’s sexuality discussed while women of colour have such a different story, which besides being interesting and IMPORTANT to discuss in itself, could in turn again show how enclosed and prescribed (by the media) women’s sexuality is?

    • discofaerie March 7th, 2012 8:28 PM

      I’d say this article was aimed for both white and colored women alike..

  • Ayla March 7th, 2012 6:26 AM

    I’ve received my “fair share” of slut shaming in my teenage years because I never felt compelled to talk about sex quietly or behind closed doors. I’ve also been slut shamed by “friends” (Telling me to stand on the corner on a night out because I was sporting more decolletage than usual/A friend telling me off because I had sex with my boyfriend after a month and she waited for six months) and strangers a like in the form of rumors.
    I always graciously accepted this slut shaming because to me it’s part of being a confident woman(Though I hope that changes). When you dress, act and love whomever and however you see fit. People will be terrified.

  • stellar March 8th, 2012 1:27 AM

    great question in the first paragraph…maybe the key is getting to choose what it means for yrself!

  • farawayfaerie March 8th, 2012 2:34 PM

    This is really great. I get particularly annoyed with schools, and the way they handle sexuality and sexiness in general. I mean, at my school we have to wear a uniform, and in summer, all the girls have to wear dresses, which is in a way showing off our sexuality, but GOD FORBID our dress is too short! Do you want to look like a bunch of sluts? Maybe. is that your decision to make? They’re the ones forcing us to wear dresses – which are distinctively girls clothes (in high school at least). So, we must make sure everyone is aware that we’re girls, and then the length of our skirt can tell you just how girly we really are.

  • nickz March 8th, 2012 3:54 PM

    straight to the point

  • Toria Crux March 10th, 2012 8:51 PM

    I’m only in 8th fudgin grade, and yet people at my school talk like that all the time! Shame on slut shakers!

  • AliceBuu March 11th, 2012 9:22 PM

    I ahve to say that this post is like MAGIC because I was looking for THIS in this moment of my life and I just open RookieMag and TaDaaa! Thanks :D

  • EdieSedgwick March 12th, 2012 11:18 PM

    Interesting points.

  • clady March 13th, 2012 11:44 PM


  • Nikilodeon March 14th, 2012 6:20 AM

    Tavi, I really respect your opinions and I totally agree with what you’re saying. But I’m a tad confused, how is T.Swizzle preachy about teens and sex? :P

  • Dagi March 14th, 2012 7:10 PM

    The first article I read from Rookie mag and I’m very positively impressed cuz it’s the most honest and thorough piece about an actual problem that I’ve read in a long time. Nowadays all the articles and “news” ARE about how sb didn’t wear any panties to a party and flashed one million people or person profiles how unstereotypically stereotypical some other star is.
    Yours actually got me thinking about how my own sexuality is affected by the media…as well as my behavior on judging ppl I know on their experiments with their sexuality.

    So than You Tavi and Sady for following your own mission – being intelligent and bold young women actually discussing important topics, opening a discussion and being original:)

  • galaxie March 14th, 2012 9:42 PM

    The Liz reference totally made my day. And I think we all spend all of this time talking and talking and talking about this, and what really needs to happen is respect. There is a reason it is always the first rule that went on the class rules board in elementary school. We need to just respect each other’s sessuality and our own sessuality. LETS ALL JUST CHILL OUT ABOUT IT OKAY. okay.

  • mirabella March 15th, 2012 9:10 AM

    I fell in love with Lana a week ago. Completely. “Passionately” :D Her lyrics are SO good, the voice is divine, whole image is perfect and inspiring. I’m pretty sure this will last long, long time :)

    • mirabella March 15th, 2012 9:12 AM

      ps. loved this, you’re so mature, admirable. i was still a naive child in your age, Tavi!

  • LilySpeaks March 15th, 2012 9:37 PM

    Man oh Manowitz is this true! How can we feel comfortable about sex if we are told to be sexy, but not have sex? And what happens if we like sex, because (if done safely) it doesn’t hurt anyone and it’s NATURAL? We get slut shamed. How are girls ever gonna learn about sex, if we are spoon fed crap from the media?

  • Amylen March 22nd, 2012 4:37 AM

    It’s hard to believe it when your fully grown, but especially hard when you’re a teenager, but honestly most people can’t believe how gorgeous you are. Whoever you are. Or how lucky they are to get to kiss you. Just be in charge of yourself, you know? That’s all you need.

  • decemberflower June 15th, 2013 6:57 PM

    Every time I encounter slut shaming and start to feel angry and confused about my beliefs I just come back and read this piece and all the comments, and suddenly THE RAIN HAS GONE.