No matter how much progress we've made as a society to be more accepting of people’s personal, sexual preferences, we still judge people for living differently than we do. This is especially true when it comes to people’s sex lives. If people have sex with someone of the same gender, that's bad. If people have sex before marriage, that’s bad. And if people enjoy casual sex, that’s bad.
I’ve seen countless articles condemn the so-called hookup culture that the millennial generation has embraced. These think-pieces criticize the normalization of casual sex and lament the "good old days” where people only had sex in long-term, monogamous relationships. They claim that sex used to be about love but now it’s not. They say that casual sex is meaningless sex that tarnishes everything sex is supposed to be about; again, referring to a long-term, committed monogamous relationship, usually in the context of marriage.
In reality, what the fuck is wrong with casual sex?
We aren't telling anyone else to have casual sex. Sure, we’re embracing it more as a society, but that’s because it used to be condemned and looked down upon even more than it is now. We faced so much shame back in the day for hooking up with other folks, even if those encounters were consensual and enjoyable to us. Now, even though casual sex is still frowned upon by our conservative society, it's not as scandalous as it used to be.
And you know what? I like casual sex. I love it, actually. It's engaging in a consensual, sexual experience that excites me. Minding your safety while having fun. Turning someone else on and learning what they like and dislike. Wanting them to experience pleasure as much as you do. Those are all things I enjoy, and I don't see what's wrong with that.
People make all kinds of comments about women in casual, sexual relationships. People say that we naturally will get attached to someone after a casual encounter and will be upset when our partner doesn’t want the same thing. People say that we can't enjoy sex without love, or being in a committed relationship. People say all sorts of things, making assumptions about how everyone feels. Frankly, I really don’t give a shit. Everyone is different. What one person enjoys is not someone else's cup of tea, and that’s to be expected. We’re people; we're not monolithic.
I’ve been openly sexual with multiple people, and I’ve had no problems with that because I’m vocal about my intentions. I hook up with people who respect that. In my past experiences, I never wanted a long-term relationship—I just wanted sex. And when the hookup was over, I still didn't change my intention: I only wanted the hookup. We both wanted the same thing. We both enjoyed ourselves. That's all that really matters.
I have nothing against people who want long-term relationships. I have nothing against people who don’t enjoy casual sex and would rather have sex in the context of a relationship. I never will have a problem with people having different sexual experiences than me because of their own values, desires, and needs. I am, however, against the notion that I can only have meaningful sex in the context of a relationship.
Most of all, I’m against people who tell anyone else that they should have sex in a way that’s deemed socially acceptable.
Finally, why are we so caught up with what other people do with their bodies? Who cares what I do with my body, with another person? Again, if it’s consensual and safe, it’s none of your damn business how I’m having sex or who I’m having sex with. If anything, you should be excited that I and so many other folks are at a place where we feel comfortable expressing our sexual desires. We’ve come a long way from slut-shaming, and although we still have ways to go, we’re more liberated than we were before.
The bottom line? We all should feel comfortable expressing our sexual desires in a way that’s consensual, safe, and fun. How that looks is no one else’s business.
Fairley is a writer, editor, and mermaid enthusiast. She is just learning about astrological signs but is 100% sure she's an Aries. Her work has been published in Thought Catalog, Press Pause Press, Armonia Magazine, and elsewhere. She enjoys writing personal essays and advocating for intersectional feminism, LGBT+ rights, BIPOC equity, and mental health support. Fairley loves Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse series books, such as Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows.