Sex, Lies, And Stereotypes: Can Women Really Get Laid Whenever They Want?

"There is such a thing as being unfuckable and female," writes Jessa Crispin. It's a shocking statement, but it also brings up an issue we don't often discuss: what it's like to be not sexually desired, but sexually devalued.

In her review of two books on sexual politics (King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes and Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugresic), Crispin writes of the "lie, which you will hear from your male friends, [...] that a woman can get laid whenever she wants." She explains,

This is meant to be comforting, I think. A woman permits and denies access to sex, and all she has to do is want it bad enough. Bad enough to make the effort, of course. One can't just have a line of men appear on your doorstep just by trying to attract them all The Secret-like, although Craigslist can come in handy for that. But it, too, is a lie. There is such a thing as being unfuckable and female, whether because of weight or lack of femininity or age or poverty or that desperation you start to emit in waves after a few years without anyone trying to get into a dark corner. Because if you are unfuckable - and let's use the right word here - if you are a hag, you have no voice.

Of course, "a woman can get laid whenever she wants" is the opposite of comforting, because it blames any sexual frustration on a woman's choosiness. The thinking goes that if a woman could walk into a bar and persuade someone in it to have sex with her, but does not, her standards must be too high. This argument has lots of problems (not least of which being personal safety), but Crispin claims it's based on a false premise: not all women can get laid anytime, and to be the exception to this supposed "rule" is to suffer a particular kind of marginalization.

Complaining about unwanted male attention is a major part of female culture, especially among the young. Often this attention crosses the line from annoying to disturbing and even dangerous, and often it has little to with sex (the guy catcalling women in parkas in the middle of February is likely more marking his territory than he is appreciating their bodies). But what doesn't really get discussed amidst (often quite justified) rants about men invading our space is that women who don't conform to particular beauty standards often get a different kind of unwanted attention — mockery, scorn, slurs, or the suggestion that they shouldn't show their nonconforming faces or bodies at all. Crispin quotes Despentes:

I think it's wonderful that there are also women who love to seduce, who know how to seduce, others who know how to get a husband... I am not remotely ashamed of not being a hot sexy number but I am livid that - as a girl who doesn't attract men - I am constantly made to feel as if I shouldn't even be around.

Men in mainstream movies are frequently frightened, disturbed, or even insulted by the advances of old or fat or otherwise "unattractive" women (who are for some reason portrayed as extra-horny), and this reflects a poorly-buried social attitude that the sexual desires of the supposedly undesirable are at best hilarious and at worst offensive. Of course, what's problematic about Crispin's argument is that actual attractiveness is far more fungible than what we see in the movies, and that to be a woman Hollywood might call a "hag" is very different from actually not getting laid. Even how much a woman gets hit on doesn't necessarily correlate with how a casting coach would evaluate her looks.

Still, there are entire groups of women who are sexually devalued in a society that privileges youth, whiteness, and a thin-yet-able body. These groups are uniquely denigrated by the statement that women can get laid anytime, because the kind of man who says this is also likely to be the kind who would reject them out of hand. It's true that anyone who rejects you because you don't conform to socially constructed beauty standards isn't worth sleeping with. But it's also true that such people have a loud voice in society — louder, as Crispin points out, than the voices of "hags" and the people who fuck them. Crispin's suggestion is that "Hags International" should carry guns — but they could also use some megaphones.

Beauty And The Beast [The Smart Set]

Related: How To Spot The Slut: A Recipe For UC Students