Laura Sessions Stepp, a Washington Post reporter, pissed off a whole lot of people a few years ago when she published a book about why hooking up is bad for women, called Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose At Both.
Now the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy have asked the controversial writer to host a podcast on their new site aimed at 20-somethings and sexuality, SexReally, which promises to educate women on sex and relationships, especially how to “steer clear of unplanned pregnancy.” Somewhat predictably, Stepp’s first podcast is chock-full of both outdated ideas about “what women want”—not to mention baseball metaphors all about how it’s a bad idea to “make a home run” with someone who isn’t your boyfriend!Once upon a time, Sessions Stepp begins, women anticipated a progression “as she ran the bases” with a man. “But that scenario is not so common anymore,” she says, as nowadays women are “running the bases backwards.”
Is it a good or bad thing that sex happens before there’s a relationship? It’s a fair enough question to ask, Sessions Stepp just answers it in way that’s not particularly empowering for women, and assumes all women must want the same thing from men at all times. There’s no good, unattached sex for good, unattached sex’s sake in her universe, like when she says, “Some young women are lucky—their hookup buddies become their honeys!”
Still, Session Stepp was fair enough in presenting both sides of the hooking up story: she interviewed two women who had sex before making a commitment, one woman is happy the way things worked out, and another who isn’t.
Amanda met her current boyfriend at work. But before they were an item, he invited her to fly off for a weekend in Vegas, where, (surprisingly!) “he was a gentleman” and “nothing happened.” The next weekend, Amanda invited him over to watch a movie. Of course, “we didn’t watch the movie.” They had sex within the hour—and now they’re happily boyfriend and girlfriend.
Marisa had sex with a guy a month after she met him, though she eventually realized he did not have feelings for her. Marisa tells Sessions Stepp, “When you are just a friend with benefits, things like that aren’t supposed to bother you…You didn’t know him well enough to read how he would feel about it. There would be know way of knowing how he felt without asking him and I never asked.” Sessions Stepps asks Marisa what would she tell herself if she could go back in time. “Just wait for it to be in a real relationship,” Marisa said.
Or….ASK HIM HOW HE FELT!
Does Sessions Stepp suggest she should have done that? No. Instead she confides, “You’ll be afraid you’ll scare him away if you bring up that dreaded word, ‘feelings.’”
Sessions Stepp may not trust women enough to make good decisions for themselves, but I trust her listeners enough to see how stupid Marisa was being —not because she slept with this guy before they were in a relationship, but because she didn’t communicate with him clearly at all.
Even with her biases, I can’t condemn SexReally as harshly Jezebel did (“Is It Too Soon To Call SexReally The Worst Sex Website Ever?”). It’s not the worst sex web site ever —not by a long shot. I think idealogically-skewed, pro-abstinence sites like True Love Waits have the monopoly on that!