March 7th, 2012


Sex is a Noun

I had a Thought on the bus today. It may be complete rubbish, but I'm hoping not.

If you've been watching the news you've heard about Rush Limbaugh's calling a Georgetown law student a slut (Daily Show commentary) for wanting health care coverage of contraception. I'm not diving into the larger issue here, but I have been thinking about the thought process behind Mr. Limbaugh's comments. And as I said, I have a Thought. Essentially, it's this: for many men sex is a verb whereas for women it's a noun. Specifically it's me, or at least part of me. As a woman I am a slut or a virgin or (in some circles) something in between; but whatever I do or don't do with sex, it becomes a part of who I am. Guys on the other hand get to have sex, but it's not really their identity, it's just something they do.

This makes perfect sense given how birth control and the results of failed birth control work.A guy gets to purchase a condom as a one-time deal, put it on, and have sex. The most common form of female birth control is a pill you have to take on a daily basis whether or not you are having sex or not. If you get pregnant in many social circles and classes fatherhood is still very much optional; motherhood is inevitable. And, again depending on the social class, women with kids are much likely to become mothers that work rather than workers first and mothers second, as opposed to the men involved.

I don't want to attribute too much credence to Rush. But this line of thought is consistent with how I've heard many (but by no means all) guys I know use the language. They get laid; they aren't sexual or promiscuous, that's the way we talk about women.