Are women who indulge in casual sex, sexually empowered or are they just setting themselves up for heartache? This is an explosive debate that has enthusiastic supporters on both sides.
One argument is whether women, by virtue of the way neurochemicals work in our brain, are simply not biologically set up to have casual sex. Helen Fisher, PhD biological anthropologist,and Research Professor at Rutgers University, says, "women should be prepared to fall in love with people we have sex with". This suggests that the female brain reacts with bonding, attachment and love after sex, in a way that makes casual sex decidedly less than casual.
But, this is a determinist argument, suggesting that "biology is destiny," in a way that the feminist movement has rejected for decades.
Does hooking up result in the kind of risk and emotional harm that we fear? A published article on the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality examines the issue of casual, or recreational sex, and finds that for both men and women, casual sex improves their feelings of sexual satisfaction. But, for men and not for women, recreational sex improves their overall feelings of happiness and sexual self-esteem.
It's interesting that this debate is a favorite between women. Frankly, most men could care less. Most of the negative social consequences women experience for sexual behaviors come from women. A 2002 article by Roy Baumeister and Jean Twenge (in the Review of General Psychology) suggests that women more frequently work to suppress other women's sexual behaviors, far more than men do.
Ultimately, I like the answer by the "Sex Academic" who says that women should be supporting each other to make their own decisions, rather than making their decisions for them. If a woman wants to be a self-proclaimed slut, while another woman wants to wait till marriage, women should equally support both of them to have the right to make their own sexual decisions.
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