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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.

Thoughts?

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
celandineb
Mar. 8th, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
Hm. I think there is something to that. It ties in with the general social expectation of men as active and women as passive...
frenchpony
Mar. 8th, 2012 03:21 pm (UTC)
To the extent that this is true, it should exist only as a status that must be changed. You can make the observation, but today of all days, that observation should come with the addendum "and we've got to do something about that."
spacellama
Mar. 9th, 2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
I think you're right. Actually, Rachel Maddow had an amusing inspection of how Limbaugh doesn't understand how contraception works (based on his rant, it appears that he thinks that hormonal contraceptives work like condoms in that you take a pill and have some sex). Although Maddow's discussion was more on the technical aspects of such ignorance, I think you've brought up a good point about the social aspects and implications. As a woman, I have always felt that contraception was my responsibility, and yes, it's very expensive. I think I was thirty before I had insurance that covered it, but I made it happen because it was a priority for me.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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