When I look at the most influential female celebrities (especially musicians) in my life, I realize I’ve grown up listening to a lot of women who own their sexualities and haven’t given any shits. Starting with Britney Spears, then Christina Aguilera, then the Pussycat Dolls, to Amy Lee of Evanescence and Pink, to Shakira, to Lady Gaga and Beyoncé and finally to the most risqué and bizarre of them all, Yolandi from Die Antwoord, I’ve been letting sexually liberated women subliminally teach me how to be a bad bitch since I was six years old. And I think that’s awesome.
(my parents are actually pretty stoked that I went with the Sinead over the Yolandi)
While there is a lot of controversy surrounding whether feminists should be trying to reclaim the label “slut,” similar to the reclaiming of “queer” and the use of the n-word in black communities, I think we should be trying to at least reclaim the topic of our own sexualities. Our bodies belong to us. We should do what we please with them.
However, there’s a confusing intersection between self-objectification and owning one’s sexuality for some. The question of Beyoncé–is she objectifying herself and holding back the feminist movement, or is she owning her sexuality and moving it forward? In my opinion, the former argument is so weak it can barely be made. The line blurs more when one thinks about women like Rihanna and Miley. Miley has been getting a lot of hate, especially after her performance with Robin Thicke. Many claim that Rihanna and other black artists (Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj to name two) suffer from internalized misogyny and are overly sexual, which have extremely racist roots in themselves.
Owning one’s sexuality can look different from Lady Gaga’s “do what you want with my body” and “I wanna be that girl under you” consenting but sex-saturated ideology. Being empowered doesn’t mean you have to sleep with every guy who shows interest in you, but it can mean being free from sex, or asexual. It can mean putting on your Freakum Dress every now and again for a significant other. And it can mean you just want a Rude Boy (or boys…). As long as it’s, again, consensual on both sides and the other party is totally down for all of that–because owning your sexuality doesn’t mean objectifying anyone or expecting sexual favors from them.
Nobody should feel ashamed for the sex or lack thereof that they’re choosing to have. Nobody should shame anyone else for it. And it’s not just men who are shaming girls for perceived sluttiness: A study called “Birds of a Feather? Not When It Comes to Sexual Permissiveness,” shows that women, even those who have more sexual partners, are less likely to befriend a girl who has a number of sexual partners. And that really bites.
So let’s take the advice of our beloved female pop stars and own our sexuality. Don’t feel ashamed of your sexuality–whether you’re not that into it or you’re the nymphomaniac 50 Cent referenced in Candy Shop. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t do with what you got goin’ on; only you can decide how you use your sexuality. And that’s pretty damn liberating.