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Post #15 - Samantha Jones & the sad irony of the sexually liberated woman

Note: this post acknowledges that the definition of ‘sexual liberation’ is an open one, with this term being ambiguous in nature - there is no set definition of a sexually liberated woman; this will mean something different for every woman.


Hey!

Welcome back to the May instalment of the blog that I have just about managed to write before the end of May… I hope you’re good and looking after yourself! I watched the new Sex and the City recently, and that, as well as some conversations with friends inspired this post. Enjoy!


Samantha Jones. She is the ultimate sexually liberated, fierce and empowered woman we all grew up with. She is what many women, including myself, have always wanted to be. A beautiful, successful woman in her own right, who is anything but tied down AND has a supportive and cool group of girlfriends. Oh, and on top of that, she has a wild sex life. Sounds brilliant, doesn’t it?! But like so many other TV shows and movies, I am not sure she is an accurate depiction of what being a sexually liberated woman is really like.


Like Samantha Jones, it is becoming far more normal and acceptable nowadays for a woman to have multiple sexual partners and to be what many would consider is sexually liberated, in a way that was almost unthinkable 50 years ago. Society has come so far that characters like Samantha Jones even exist on TV and in movies. In the past, women would have been shamed for such behaviour, for having a sex drive and wanting to explore their sexuality. These were activities that were solely limited to the heterosexual male population, or at least they were the only ones who were allowed to explore their sexuality without being shamed for it.


So many women, nowadays, and rightfully so, claim it as their power to be sexually liberated and to release their inner Samantha Jones. They’re making the most of the privilege we have fought for. And it’s so refreshing to see! For many women, including myself, it has become part of our identity and values that we live by, not to limit ourselves to outdated and prehistoric concepts of women having to remain ‘pure’, ‘keep our body count low’ and keep our sexual desires and fantasies quiet. It is not only empowering to see so many women own their weird and wonderful sexual desires, but it is also empowering to see this as part of a wider movement of women throwing out outdated concepts and creating their own rulebook.


Often this will shape these women’s reputation amongst friends, lovers as well as themselves as empowered women who are shaping their own path, in life as well as sexually. More often than not, they are celebrated for it and become the sex guru all friends go to for advice, tips and stories from the bedroom. Just like Samantha Jones.


Sadly, these women, like all women, can and will find themselves in sexual scenarios where they are not entirely comfortable and may not want what comes next. This is the part that Samantha Jones never seems to struggle with or encounter. She is always empowered, confident and knows how to assert her boundaries. This is where Samantha Jones sets unrealistic expectations for women who want to explore their sexuality and throw the old rulebook out. For many women, including those who enjoy exploring their sexuality with multiple partners, sadly, can and will, understandably, still find themselves in situations where they aren’t ‘in control’ like Samantha Jones is. They find themselves in scenarios where they struggle to assert their boundaries. Or they are unwillingly forced into sexual activity despite asserting their boundaries, and therefore lack control over the situation. So why, despite so many women being so empowered, is this so often the case? And why isn’t this spoken about? Why does it sometimes feel like being sexually empowered and liberated as a woman equates to not being able to talk about the scenarios where you felt like the opposite?


Sometimes I think one of the reasons for this is the idea of reputation. If being sexually liberated and throwing out the old rule book is part of your identity it can put a pressure on you to have loads of sex, try new things in the bedroom and have multiple different sexual partners. It can sometimes mean that women feel a pressure to live up to their inner Samantha Jones. But sometimes, like all women, we find ourselves in scenarios where we really don’t want to be Samantha Jones in that moment. But sometimes the inner voice in our head is trying to prove it to ourselves that we can be her, that we can be as sexually liberated as our male counterparts. Samantha Jones says it herself in her first line on the TV show ‘you can bang your head against the wall and try to find a relationship or you can say screw it and just go out and have sex like a man’. But it is also okay not to want to be Samantha Jones every second. Even if we do want to be her, and the inner voice is putting pressure on you to release your inner Samantha Jones, it still does not justify being forced into unwanted sexual activity or make unwanted sexual activity your fault.


But in addition to this self-inflicted pressure, there may be a pressure from the sexual partner too, which makes the whole thing even worse, and even more uncomfortable. Maybe they don’t know you well and you’re worried if you say ‘no’, you will be called ‘frigid’. This is a horrible misogynistic insult to hurl at anyone, but for someone putting pressure on themselves to be Samantha Jones, it can also add pressure on the situation to perform, despite not wanting to, because ‘frigid’ insinuates everything you’re trying not to be. And whilst intellectually you may well know that a partner calling you ‘frigid’ for saying ‘no’ is wholly unacceptable and sexist, often in the moment, it can be difficult to believe this.


In other cases, the sexual partner may know that you enjoy having casual sex and trying new things but may be under the false illusion that you are therefore willing to try anything, without taking into account your boundaries. And characters like Samantha Jones don’t help on this front. Because Samantha Jones is usually open to most things, and always manages to set her boundaries. So, it creates the idea that a woman who is open to having sex with multiple partners will always be open to try anything and will always be able to set her boundaries, when as much as we may want to, the power dynamic and the situations that we find ourselves in often make this easier said than done.


Therefore, despite wanting to be super sexually liberated, have a sense of control in the bedroom and be able to set our boundaries, in reality it can be super difficult for women, who enjoy having multiple sexual partners, to say ‘no’, just like it can be difficult for women in relationships or women having sex in less casual situations to say ‘no’. This is the sad irony of the sexually liberated woman. We are trying everything in our power to be sexually liberated and make the most of the privilege of being a woman in the 21st century, but at the end of the day, we still find ourselves in the same situation as so many other women where we struggle to say ‘no’, to have a voice and set out boundaries. It’s heart-breaking because women should be able to enjoy having sex with partners, whether they are a serious or causal partner, and try as many new things as they feel comfortable doing in a safe and consensual environment.


So maybe, the real test of whether our society is allowing women to be sexually liberated is whether women feel comfortable enough saying ‘no’ in any sexual scenario. Whilst society is making steps forward towards this goal, we still have a way to go on this front.


So yes, it is okay to be Samantha Jones. But real-life Samantha Jones will also have trauma and consequent boundaries. Being Samantha Jones, or trying to live up to your inner Samantha Jones does not justify any unwanted sexual activity or make any unwanted sexual activity your fault. Samantha Jones is also allowed to say no. Samantha Jones is not any less Samantha Jones for saying no. Samantha Jones is also not any less Samantha Jones for not liking every sexual activity. It is also okay to not want to be or feel like Samantha Jones every day. Real life Samantha Jones should also try not beat herself up for not saying ‘no’, because Samantha Jones is also just a woman and being a woman is hard and comes with a lot of sh*t, so give yourself a break and be a bit gentler with yourself. You are wonderful, beautiful and cool. Samantha Jones or not.


All the love and hugs as ever,


Your GINA sister


Xoxox


PS: Here’s a quote by Samantha Jones, because as much as she’s not an accurate depiction of a real-life woman, she also has some iconic one liners, which sometimes have some good life advice behind them: “I love you, but I love me more”

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