After spending four months studying in Hong Kong, my boyfriend finally returned on Christmas Eve. It’s amazing to have him back and I would be lying if I told you that those four months were easy. It got me thinking about long distance relationships in general, and for that reason I’m going to veer away from my usual OCD anecdotes to address an attitude that really cheeses me off.
I am talking about the tendency for people to assume that remaining faithful in a long-distance relationship is harder for men because they simply cannot cope with sexual frustration and that their sexual needs are more intense than that of a woman. This infuriates me for a number of reasons. Not only is it insulting to men because it implies that they are sexually-driven animals who are incapable of controlling their urges, but it insinuates the incredibly dated notion that women do not really care about sex as much as men do. They can live without it, they don’t have a penis so they don’t have the same longing for a bit of copulation. To me, this attitude is so ridiculous that it’s almost amusing that people can still believe this. I have heard so many variations of this view in the last four months that I was tempted to hang Rampant Rabbits from my ceiling and scream ‘I WANT SEX TOO!’ just to shut everyone up. My favourite comments included: ‘Hong Kong?! How long is he going for? He’s not going to be able to keep it in his pants for that long is he…’ ‘Mmm it’s just it’s so much harder for men though, it’s different for men…’ Why do people still believe this?!
In a 2012 article for the Huffington Post, Rachel MacDonald stated that in 2009, 52.5% of women aged between 18 and 60 had used a vibrator, but by 2012 the UK sex toy market was worth £250 million per year and sales of vibrators reached £5.5 billion. Surely this shows that women love an orgasm and are as ‘up for it’ as men when it comes to sex? Yes, using a sex toy is a bit different to actually sleeping with someone, but this shows that women have sexual urges too and need a bit of relief. Obviously, men and women are built differently, have different hormones and are socialised differently within peer groups and even by parents. However, this sexual double standard is so dated and can be damaging. According to the belief that remaining faithful in a relationship is much harder for men because their sexual urges are more frequent and more intense, if my boyfriend had cheated on me it would have been because it’s harder for men to abstain and therefore it wouldn’t be his fault and he couldn’t be blamed. However, if I had cheated on my boyfriend, chances are I would have been labelled a ‘slut’. This double standard is nothing new of course, but having experienced these beliefs first-hand, sometimes even from female friends, I have realised that old-fashioned attitudes are more widespread than I would have expected. We need to embrace female sexuality and abolish the notion that just because a woman likes sex she is a ‘whore’. Women like sex just as much as men do and that’s great.