Cosmopolitan provided a list of reasons to have sex on first dates in a recently published article entitled "Sex on the First Date? Experts Say Hell Yes!"
The article contains five quotes from “experts,” and only one of those quotes actually speaks to having sex on first dates. Although filled with supposed facts from experts, the article is nothing more than a weak argument for casual sex and doing whatever you want.
The Author Perpetuates Virgin-Shaming
The author states that “virginity was a stand-in for purity and morality, a misogynistic ideal that was - and is - used to repress female sexuality.” First of all, virginity was not (and is not) a stand-in for purity and morality. Virgins were viewed as pure and moral because by definition, they were.
Virgins were viewed as pure and moral because by definition, they were.
People used to abstain not just for the sake of saying that they were pure, but because their morals dictated that they act in such a manner and because they wanted to act in such a manner. Choosing to abstain was (and is) a difficult decision that is nearly impossible to follow through on if you don’t have a solid moral reason for doing so.
Virginity is not, therefore, a “stand in” for purity and morality; rather, virginity follows from purity and virtue. Virginity is not the only outcome of purity and virtue, but it is inherently tied to purity and morality, and is certainly more than just a stand-in.
Misogynists Want the Opposite
Second, what misogynistic ideal seeks to repress female sexuality? Last time I checked, it seems that misogynists get grief for taking advantage of women and reducing them to nothing more than their sex appeals, and it seems that a true misogynist would be more than happy to accept sex devoid of meaning and consequence.
Virginity is not the only outcome of purity and virtue, but it is inherently tied to purity and morality, and is certainly more than just a stand-in.
Misogynists by definition view themselves as superior to women and would seem to put no value on the sexuality of a woman. If no value is placed on a woman’s sexuality, then no value will be placed on her lack of sexuality either. If a man views the sexuality or lack of sexuality of a woman as valuable, then he is certainly not a misogynist.
“Experts” Said No Such Thing
The title of the article is dangerously misleading and blatantly false. The two psychologists referenced in the article provide a total of five quotes, three of which have nothing to do with claims that justify sex on the first date, and one of which actually suggests not having sex on the first date. The author says that “sex can be liberating and exciting” and cites Dr. Shannon Chavez who says it “can help you break down your own personal biases around sexuality, heal shame from the past, and improve your sexual self-esteem.” If the “it” she is referencing is indeed sex on the first date (it isn’t specified so there is no way of knowing whether or not it is taken out of context and if “it” means sex in general or sex on the first date), Chavez says it can have these effects.
No evidence or elaboration is provided, and the word “can” certainly implies that these effects are not guaranteed. This one anecdote is a far cry from the resounding “hell yes” experts are supposedly shouting about in regards to the benefits of first date sex. The author’s own opinion that sex can be liberating and exciting could be accurate from her own personal experiences, but it's by no means the factual opinion of an expert.
Many things appear liberating and exciting, but that doesn’t mean they are wise choices that bring benefits to your life.
Furthermore, many things appear liberating and exciting (from something as meaningless as jumping in cold water to as dangerous as hard drugs), but that doesn’t mean they are wise choices that bring benefits to your life. The rest of the article lists a few quotes from Cosmo readers on sex and relationships, but the information is nothing more than anecdotes and opinions.
The article begins with the author completely undermining her whole point with the byline “Get it, girl! (But only if you want to!)” and ends by saying, “It’s your decision whether you have sex on your first date or your ninth date - or never!” The irony here and the problem with much of modern day society is that no matter the truth, you should ultimately do whatever you want and whatever makes you feel good. Both the author and Cosmo felt it worthwhile to write a whole article arguing the supposed truth of benefits of sex on the first date, only to undermine the argument by saying that ultimately you should still do whatever you want.
The irony here and the problem with much of modern day society is that no matter the truth, you should ultimately do whatever you want and whatever makes you feel good.
When truth and facts no longer matter, any and all actions become justifiable and morally acceptable because in the end it really doesn’t matter. The real evidence for or against having sex on the first date is irrelevant regardless of the facts because you should still go about doing whatever you want anyway. If you’re going to make the argument that sex on the first date is good and there are valid reasons and proof of this, fine. But don’t write an entire article justifying this opinion only to completely undermine yourself with subjectivity in spite of truth before the article has even begun.
Good writing begins by making a point and driving it home. The main point of the Cosmo article, as evidenced by the opening and the closing, is not that sex on the first date is full of benefits, but that it really doesn’t matter what the benefits are (or aren’t) because at the end of the day you should just do whatever you please.
What the Research (and Yes, Experts) Say
One of the recurring points of the article is that there should be no stigmas or “slut-shaming” around first date sex, especially those directed towards women. Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman, psychologist and relationship expert, says that “many dating experts preach that when women have sex, it is a reflection of the value that she places on herself and her worth. This is only true if sex means that to her.” This idea of the value one attaches to sex is critical in determining where the real “stigmas” of shame and regret originate. Dr. Fran Walfish, a psychotherapist, explains that the women she has seen who feel devalued and regretful the morning after sex do not feel that way because of “anything the guy did but what they self-imposed.”
The women she has seen who feel devalued and regretful the morning after sex does not feel that way because of anything the guy did but what they self-imposed.
Sex has value and is the deepest and most intimate way to express yourself to another. Most people will admit this to some extent, and women, in particular, attach meaning and value to sexual acts that are tied to their self-esteem. Healthy and lasting relationships require much more than sex, and because of this Walfish says that sex on the first date does affect the formation of long term relationships. Walfish states that “strong, healthy long-lasting relationships are built on good communication, ethics, mutual value system, character, and shared interests. Without taking the required necessary time to get to know the other person, this relationship becomes foundationally built on sex instead of the other important values.”
Without taking the required necessary time to get to know the other person, this relationship becomes foundationally built on sex instead of the other important values.
While sex certainly brings a unitive value, it is not the foundation for a relationship, but a byproduct of that foundation. A study published in the Journal of Sex Research confirms this sentiment, citing 11,000 unmarried individuals who reported lower levels of communication and relationship satisfaction in their long-term relationships than did those couples who waited or abstained from sex. At best, sex on the first date seems to have little to no positive impact on the future of the relationship, and at worst, lowers relationship satisfaction or leaves women who value themselves and their sexuality with feelings of regret.
Research consistently shows that the fewer sexual partners a woman has, the lower her rate of divorce. The Institute for Family Studies shows that groups of women who have been with over 10 sexual partners consistently have the highest rate of divorce at 33%, compared to women who have been with three to nine partners (26%) and women have had zero or one partners before marriage (5%). Sex is an intimate expression of love and understanding that is tragically cheapened and devalued in our modern day society. Your sexuality and dignity deserve much more thought and care than the shallow “hell yes” that is (poorly) encouraged by Cosmo.