Casual sex is a con: women just aren't like men
Former groupie Dawn Eden explains how she realised morality made more sense for women than free love
The Sixties generation thought everything should be free. But only a few decades later the hippies were selling water at rock festivals for $5 a bottle. But for me the price of â€śfree loveâ€ť was even higher.
I sacrificed what should have been the best years of my life for the black lie of free love. All the sex I ever had â€” and I had more than my fair share â€” far from bringing me the lasting relationship I sought, only made marriage a more distant prospect.
And I am not alone. Count me among the dissatisfied daughters of the sexual revolution, a new counterculture of women who are realising that casual sex is a con and are choosing to remain chaste instead.
I am 37, and like millions of other girls, was born into a world which encouraged young women to explore their sexuality. It was almost presented to us as a feminist act. In the 1960s the future Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown famously asked: Can a woman have sex like a man? Yes, she answered because â€ślike a man, [a woman] is a sexual creatureâ€ť. Her insight launched a million â€ś100 new sex tricksâ€ť features in womenâ€™s magazines. And then that sex-loving feminist icon Germaine Greer enthused that â€śgroupies are important because they demystify sex; they accept it as physical, and they arenâ€™t possessive about their conquestsâ€ť.
As a historian of pop music and daughter of the sexual revolution I embraced Greerâ€™s call to (menâ€™s) arms. My job was to write the sleeve notes to 1960s pop CDs and I gained a reputation for having an encyclopedic knowledge base, interviewing the original artists and recording personnel. It was all a joy for me, as I was obsessed with the sounds of the era. I would have paid just to meet artists such as Petula Clark, Del Shannon, Brian Wilson, Harry Nilsson, Alan Price, and the Hollies â€” and instead I was getting paid to tell their stories. I became the top woman in my (overwhelmingly male) profession. The opportunities for shenanigans were endless.
Rock journalism had an extra bonus for me because I was deeply attracted to musicians â€” all kinds, though drummers, unused to being appreciated for their minds, were easy marks. While I was unaware of Greerâ€™s injunction to make love freely, I read the supergroupie memoir, Iâ€™m With the Band by Pamela Des Barres, envying her ability to drink in everything that was desirable about rockers â€” their good looks, wit, creativity and fame â€” without seeming to lose any part of herself in her (extraordinarily numerous) dalliances with them.
I tried to emulate her and I suppose to a large extent succeeded. In some ways, the touring rock musician was my ideal sexual partner. By bedding them I could enjoy a temporary sort of fairy-tale bond; knowing it was bound to be fleeting as we would both move on meant that I never had to confront my own vulnerability about properly making a connection with someone. I could establish a transient intimacy and never have to deal with the real thing â€” and the real rejection that might entail.
Of course the rejection would come as the latest lover moved on to the next town and the next woman â€” but somehow, being able to see it coming made me feel more in control. I was choosing, I thought, the lesser pain.
But in all that casual sex, there was one moment I learnt to dread more than any other. I dreaded it not out of fear that the sex would be bad, but out of fear that it would be good. If the sex was good, then, even if I knew in my heart that the relationship wouldnâ€™t work, I would still feel as though the act had bonded me with my sex partner in a deeper way than we had been bonded before. Itâ€™s in the nature of sex to awaken deep emotions within us, emotions that are unwelcome when one is trying to keep it light.
On such nights the worst moment was when it was all over. Suddenly I was jarred back to earth. Then Iâ€™d lie back and feel bereft. He would still be there, and if I was really lucky, heâ€™d lie down next to me. Yet, I couldnâ€™t help feeling like the spell had been broken. We could nuzzle or giggle or we could fall asleep in each otherâ€™s arms but I knew it was play acting and so did he. We werenâ€™t really intimate â€” it had just been a game. The circus had left town.
Whatever Greer and her ilk might say Iâ€™ve tried their philosophy â€” that a woman can shag like a man â€” and it doesnâ€™t work. Weâ€™re not built like that. Women are built for bonding. We are vessels and we seek to be filled. For that reason, however much we try and convince ourselves that it isnâ€™t so, sex will always leave us feeling empty unless we are certain that we are loved, that the act is part of a bigger picture that we are loved for our whole selves not just our bodies.
It took me a long time to realise this. My earliest attitudes about sex were shaped from what I saw in the lives of my older sister and my mother â€” especially my mother, a free spirit who was desperately trying to make up missing out on the hippie era.
My parents split up when I was five; a few years later Dad moved across the country, so I was raised by my mother. While my schoolmatesâ€™ mothers were teaching them how to bake cookies, mine was letting her goateed boyfriend teach me, aged eight, the complex mechanics behind his water bong for smoking pot. (He thoughtfully stopped short of letting me take a drag on the weed.) My father held traditional values, but he didnâ€™t want to seem prudish and was clearly uncomfortable setting down rules for a daughter he rarely saw. He almost never talked to me about sex. It was simply understood that I would have sex when I was ready â€” whether married or not.
I learnt from my sister and my mother that a woman can be intelligent and beautiful and yet have a difficult time meeting a responsible, gentlemanly man who wishes to be married for life. This was the 1970s and early 1980s, the age of the Sensitive New Age Guy or aptly named â€śsnagâ€ť. My mother attracted them because she was new age herself, doing kundalini yoga and attending lectures by various gurus.
More at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...545852,00.html