Aside from our inverting the roles of romantic love and marriage, another striking feature of our new view of sexual morality is the embrace of serial monogamy as the pinnacle of sexual virtue. Indeed, serial monogamy is now generally considered more moral than lifetime marriage, because it facilitates an unfettered focus on romantic love. Women especially are regularly advised that it would be an act of virtue and courage for them to leave their marriage should they be experiencing anything but quintessential romantic love.
Serial monogamy is elevated to such lofty heights in our society that it would be easy to forget that all it really means is one at a time. Women will always search for a societal definition of the boundary between good girls and sluts, and our current answer is:
Good girls don’t do more than one man at a time.
Many would assume that modern women no longer care about such trivialities as the difference between good girls and sluts, especially since we now have sluts literally marching down the streets of every major western city. While this mistake is understandable, it misconstrues what the slutwalks are all about. The slutwalkers claim to embrace the term slut, but if they didn’t feel a powerful stigma they wouldn’t be protesting. If the slutwalkers really wanted to show how unconcerned they are with the stigma of the word, they would proudly display the number of penises they had personally sampled, each eager to one up the more prude and inexperienced in their ranks. But this would be taking the whole slut thing a bit too far, so very few women would be willing to march with an honest number.
Rebecca Vipond Brink at The Frisky recently posted an excellent example of all of this in Girl Talk: It’s Not Wrong To Date While You’re Divorcing:
I started dating immediately after I told my now-ex that I wanted to get a divorce. This was because, as one of my friends very aptly put it, I wasn’t really “rebounding” so much as just “bounding” — rebounding assumes that you’re bouncing off of something, and I wanted a divorce because my marriage no longer qualified as a relationship.
The problem occurred when some of the men she was dating declined to have sex with her because she was still legally married:
I think I dated maybe eight men in a six-month period. Two of them (so we’re talking 25 percent) enjoyed my company, enjoyed the sex, and then all of a sudden decided to tell me that they “couldn’t” date me because it was morally wrong because I was “still married.”
Obviously she felt the burn of being slut shamed by these men, or she wouldn’t have bothered writing an article complaining about the terrible unfairness of it all. For those who aren’t familiar with the Frisky, it is important to note that this isn’t a site with anything like a traditional bent, and Ms. Brink is anything but conservative. If you doubt this, take a look at Ms Brink’s other articles*, her Flickr page, or this picture, one of many of her self portraits.
Yet even a free spirited woman like Ms. Brink feels compelled to write an article explaining that in having sex with new men before her divorce was finalized, she wasn’t really violating the “one at a time” rule of modern chastity.
All of this is important to remember when you hear women complaining about how terribly oppressive the old rules of sexual morality were to women:
- No matter how free spirited the woman, she will still seek out the current definition of chastity in order to separate herself from those slutty women who don’t follow the rules.
- No matter how low the bar is, women will always loudly complain that the rules are too constrictive, and therefore cruel to women.
Take a number picture by Eric B.
*July 18th Edit: The original link for “other articles” mistakenly pointed to a meetup page of for Ms. Brink. I had intended to link to the full list of her articles at The Frisky. I have since corrected this error.