Slut, Prude or Tease. Is There Another Option?

February 26, 2014

someecards teaseYoung women today feel very boxed in by the way guys perceive their sexual behavior.

Women who have casual sex are called Sluts by the men they hook up with.

This is not a label most women aim for. They get a lot of male attention, but no respect. While a few women wear the Slut label proudly, most women hook up in hopes of getting into a relationship. That strategy is rarely successful.

Women who avoid the hookup scene altogether or make it explicitly clear they don’t do casual are derided as Prudes.

They are summarily dismissed as a waste of time by most socially active males.  Twenty year-old virgins are shamed for being unsuccessful in sustaining male interest, but mostly they are ignored once the word gets out. 

Tara Texts 

Note: This is a real screenshot from one of the women in my focus groups.

Women who enjoy being social, hanging out in groups and flirting with guys must choose between Slut or Cock Tease.

A woman who won’t go to a guy’s room is a Prude, but a woman who wants to stop at making out is a Cock Tease. 

“Why did you let me come up here if you didn’t want to have sex?”

It’s a challenge, and an accusation. It’s often followed by an attempt to induce guilt by playing the dreaded Blue Balls card. The implication being that the woman has not played fair. She deceived him into thinking it would be worth his time to come up after the bar closed. Of course, she is suffering from the hopeful delusion that he would be pleased to get to know her better. Maybe make out, then snuggle and talk for hours. (That’s what girls really like best early on with guys they are into.)

USC freshman Arianna Allen has penned an article depicting her frustration with being labeled a Tease.

A “tease”: a female who entices you into thinking you have a chance.

In other words, a girl who flirts with you without the intention of “hooking up.” This has been my label for, well, as long as I can remember. 

…I’ve never intended on falsely leading someone on. Does the fact that I value substance over sex make me a tease? Or does the concept that I’d like to hang out with a guy outside of his bedroom constitute as teasing? The fact that I’ve chosen not to partake in the hookup culture does not justify my classification. 

I don’t go out with the intention of hooking up; I go out to hang out with my friends and make new ones. At the risk of sounding cliché, I go out to make memories, to have stories that I’ll continue to laugh about for years to come. I go out for the college experience. 

Even as she protests, she feels the need to justify her choices as a rebel who does’t hook up:

“I’d rather avoid the infamous I-know-you looks in the campus center, the obligatory gaps in communication post drunk hook-up and the awkward trips to collect your forgotten belongings on his nightstand. I’d rather dance until the beat drops, talk about the time he went sky-diving, and make fun of his drunk frat brothers. Admittedly, it is much more meaningful to me for a guy to be able to tell his friend one thing about me, as a person, instead of, “oh yeah, I hooked up with her once.” 

I’d also like to know something about him besides if he sports boxers or briefs. I’d rather have an encounter of substance over sex.”

Arianna wants a social life. She doesn’t want to stay in the dorm on Friday night. And yet she doesn’t blame these would-be players, all itching for their pound of female flesh.

“After a long week of classes, these players and the game itself keep life interesting and fun. Players have a great sense of humor, unbelievably reckless stories and, deep down, they usually have the remnants of a heart…In this hook-up crazed culture, oftentimes the only thing we can do is just keep playing on.”

Allen has chosen the “buddy” approach, but she shouldn’t have to. She should be able to go out and flirt like crazy, all in the name of good fun. That’s what young people do. Sarah Jacobson wrote a piece while a student at NYU defending her right to tease.

 I’m at the apartment of a boy I’d been dating for about a month. Things are heating up, so I think it only fair to warn him, before we get too far into the moment: “I’m not going to sleep with you tonight.”

“Okay,” he replies in stride and goes back to kissing me.

The next day he asks me if I’m waiting until marriage.

“Um…no,” I assure him, “Sex is just…kind of a big deal to me.”

“Oh,” he replies, “Yeah. I feel that.”

Well, apparently he doesn’t “feel that” because the next time I ask him to come over he hems and haws before remarking that I am a tease and he has a paper to write.

Sarah consults her good friend Max for a clue as to how to interpret this asshole behavior.

“Well, what, aren’t you attracted to him?” Max asks. “Are you going to sleep with him? Because otherwise, aren’t you just dangling something in front of him?”

One month is clearly unacceptable as a waiting period in college.

“Where do you draw the line? Where do I get to be a normal girl who just wants to know the guy more than “just sort of” before she sleeps with him? What am I supposed to do in this situation—not touch him at all, for fear that he might get turned on and then I’ll end up leaving him all…you know? I don’t know about you, but it kind of feels like anything short of going for the main event brands me with a scarlet “T” for Tease.”

Sarah puts the responsibility exactly where it belongs. Guys, get a clue.

“If I don’t want to sleep with you, it’s not an insult to your masculinity. It’s not even that I don’t find you attractive. And it’s not that I just want to string you along. Maybe my mother taught me to be a good girl. Maybe that lesson took. Get to really know the guy first, you know? Be comfortable with what you do with your body.”

Being a cock tease requires signaling impending sex and then not following through. It requires deception, an effort to mislead a guy with false expectations. Are some women cock teases? Yes. They do it for the male validation, they deliberately get a guy all riled up and hopeful so that they know they’re desirable, when they have no real intention of hooking up with him, and may not even find him attractive. That 180 degree flake at the end of an evening is something guys have every right to resent and call out. 

Flirting isn’t being a cock tease. It’s a normal and healthy form of mating communication that allows people to single others out for attention in an effort to show interest.

Making out isn’t being a cock tease. Dry humping isn’t being a cock tease. Even saying no at the last minute isn’t being a cock tease if you have genuinely changed your mind because you don’t feel ready. Of course, guys are free to peace out and disappear if they don’t want Round 2, but they shouldn’t be calling you a tease if you did not have the intent to profit at their expense.

Sarah says it well:

“If we girls have to choose from the slut at one end, or the prudish princess at the other or maybe some playful teasing in the middle while we think it over, I say teasing is the way to go. No giving it up right away and no sitting at home for the rest of your life with your cats. There is [another] option. Call me “respectable.” I can handle it.”

Do you feel this way? Have you ever been made to feel there was something wrong with you because you weren’t interested in having sex with someone you “sort of” knew?