Being raised an Evangelical in Purity Culture, there was a whopping ONE condition under which I could/should be comfortable having sex: Marriage. Because if I wasn’t married, the guy was probably JUST after my hot box. And if he’s JUST after my hot box, he’s probably objectifying me and doesn’t respect me.
And ya know, that’s just what you have to deal with in our world. So instead of teaching men to not dissociate women from their bodies and to respect them as entire humans, not just a hot box…They teach women, “only fuck your husband.” The Christian Church (being led mostly by men) has always been a true innovative force in problem solving.
When I moved to New York City at age 23, I became sexually active for the first time. I never gave intentional thought to the specific conditions under which I would have/enjoy sex. I assumed every man I hooked up with would be a tool because he wasn’t my husband. Sex would be unsatisfactory mostly because punishment for not saving myself but also those were just the cards I was dealt! Life is hard when you aren’t one of the lucky ladies to get a husband with her college degree.
Therefore, my Sex in the City/Kimmy Schmidt life included only a few questions for hot box entry:
Does he want to? Of course he does, I am a smoke show
Is he cute? Idk I’m a little drunk I guess I’ll find out tomorrow
Like, no wonder I was having shit sex for most of my 20s. I was drunk and/or not actively choosing to be there! God bless me.
So it’s December of 2017 and I took this solo trip to London. I had an exceptional time, I saw all the sites and felt oh so independent for taking my second solo trip abroad. I also fulfilled my Mary-Kate and Ashley movie fantasies by meeting a hot dude in a foreign country. Everything was just brilliant.
I know what you’re thinking, reader. “Of course you met a dude while you were in London, Mattie Jo. Who’s surprised?”
The answer is me! I was surprised as hell! Not only was I supposed to be taking this trip with my ex boyfriend, but due to the fact that he got a new girlfriend, I ended up going alone. (You can read about that here) I was a little heart broken. Plus I was rounding off a year of sexual assault recovery. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly “in the mood” for a foreign fling.
But turns out, Western Europe is a great place to have a fling and feel totally respected and safe, as well as have a super fun time in the sack! Who knew?
I went from not wanting to get drinks because I didn’t want him to think I was DTF, to sort of wondering if he’d maybe romantically kiss me later next to Big Ben
So while I’m in London, this guy who I used to work with in New York kept reaching out to hang. I was initially apprehensive, because see: year of sexual trauma therapy. But he was persistent in a way that made me feel like he did genuinely want to catch up. Also, he told me his friends from work were joining so I felt more comfortable with it being a group setting, not just one-on-one.
I went to the pub and had one of the most fun evenings of my life. Turns out, this dude (let’s call him Rugby. Cuz they play rugby in the UK and he looked like he played rugby) went from working at a pub in New York City to being a finance bro in London. All his finance bro friends were super funny and interesting. I guess in London finance guys don't just like do cocaine and watch The Office. Must be the adequate healthcare and sufficient holiday time... All I’m saying is, I would rather shove number 2 pencils through my ear drums than hang with a group of finance bros on a Friday night in New York, but these guys were loads of fun.
I’m laughing my arse off and Rugby keeps introducing me to all his friends as “an actress in New York. But she’s also an incredibly funny writer. She has this blog and it is brilliant.”
He thinks my writing is brilliant? #swoon
As the night progressed my crush for Rugby intensified. I went from not wanting to get drinks because I didn’t want him to think I was DTF, to sort of wondering if he’d maybe romantically kiss me later next to Big Ben. (Not likely since we were nowhere near Big Ben and also Big Ben was covered in scaffolding). I mean, he clearly enjoyed my company. He seamlessly included me in his friend group. He bought me a few drinks and kept saying thanks for coming out...But most importantly, he complimented my writing and called me funny. #pantydrop
The evening is coming to an end and I have a luggage debacle to handle. I’m about to leave when one of his FEMALE co-workers says “Oh that would be awful. Don’t do that. Just stay with Rugby and he’ll take you to your bags in the morning.”
I said “Oh no I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t want to invite myself like tha…”
“Don’t be silly.” She responded. “You’re a guest. Rugby is a total gentleman anyway. I guarantee he’ll offer to sleep on the couch and then take you to your luggage in the morning.”
And then he did. Maybe that female coworker was genuinely trying to help me or maybe she’s London’s best wing woman. Either way, I got my luggage the next day and Rugby definitely didn’t sleep on the couch…
When we got back to his place, he introduced me to his roommate and we all sat around watching British comedy.
Hm, this is nice. Guys in America usually try to smuggle me into their room like illegal contraband when they JUST tryna smash. Wait, is he not tryna smash? Or is he simply treating me like a real person instead of contraband? How confusing.
Then it was finally time for bed. I was heading to his room and he’d arranged to sleep on the couch, then stopped me.
Rugby: Can I kiss you?
Did this dude just ASK PERMISSION to kiss me? That’s it, I’m moving to London! Oh except Brexit is sort of a mess...Shit he’s waiting for an answer.
Me: Yes please.
And then. Ya know. We shagged.
I felt respected, safe, and treated like a whole human
The next morning I did what I usually do in a hookup situation. I scurried quietly to get the hell outta their room before they have the chance to see I didn’t take my mascara off the night before. Plus I’m sure he had futbol to watch or whatever British guys do on Saturdays.
Rugby: What are you doing?
Me: I have to go get my bags, remember?
Rugby: I thought I was taking you to get your bags?
Shit, was he serious about helping me? I thought he was just pretending to be helpful to get in my pants.
Me: Oh, okay if you can still do that, great!
Rugby: Do you want some coffee? And then I’ll get you some brekkie at this place near the train before we get your bags?
Is this dude for real? Post sex breakfast and helping me get my luggage? And he’s hot? And tall? And the sex was great? I REALLY AM NOT LEAVING. Wait, no. Brexit.
Me: Yeah, coffee and breakfast sounds great. Let’s do it. I mean, breakfast. Let’s get breakfast. And maybe do it…again...
So then we got breakfast and I told him guys in America aren’t usually this nice to women they “just” hooked up with. You know, because they wouldn’t want the woman to get the wrong idea that the dude might be interested in “something more.” Which is so fucking presumptuous because like, maybe I don’t want “something more”, dude! Maybe I just want post coital hot breakfast! I'm a simple woman.
Anyway, he laughed and said, “You always get a girl breakfast after you shag. I’m a proper gentleman, afterall.” or something that sounded very regal but also like Austin Powers.
When I got back to America, I couldn’t wait to dissect this experience with my therapist. Together we identified why I enjoyed the experience so much. It was because I felt respected, safe, and treated like a whole human. A human with sexy parts to be enjoyed, but also a personality and a brain that are just as fun as the sexy parts.
It was the first time I’d ever been in a hookup situation where it was like “Hey, you’re totally rad. I had a blast. And we sex! Now Breakfast? How fun. See ya never!” We knew, even if there was no potential of a future relationship of any kind, we could still acknowledge that we were both great people who deserved to be treated as such.
And that’s how I defined for myself, for the first time in my life at AGE 27, under what circumstances I would comfortably and confidently have sex.
No sex with dudes with whom I do not thoroughly enjoy myself (aka laugh at all my jokes and tell me I’m smart. I’m kidding…). No sex with dudes with whom I do not know and feel completely safe. No sex with dudes who have archaic and dissociated ideas about women’s personality, brain, and body.
So anyway, thanks to London for showing me that meaningful sex in singlehood is possible. That people can actually engage in respectful and fun connection without vows or a long term partnership. That shitty/unfulfilling sex can happen 10 years into marriage or a drunk night on the Lower East Side. Because marital status doesn’t define great connection. People do.
Cheers, London! Thanks for the great shag! Good luck with Brexit.