In a past life, I slut-shamed my future husband.
Except I can’t really call it slut-shaming, because the standards of morality, chastity, and promiscuity that apply to women don’t apply to men. But at the time I was in a Christian environment that was promoting abstinence until marriage for both women and men, so in this rare moment of equal expectations, I imagined myself talking to my husband about our pasts. Mine would be “clean,” and if his weren’t, I would need God’s help to forgive him.
I had to make this confession after hearing Madam Noire’s interview with Tony Gaskins. In case you’re as clueless as I was to who he is, Gaskins is a life coach, motivational speaker and author famous for Christian and relationship advice targeted towards black women. He can tell you “How to Go from Being His Girlfriend to Being His Wife in 3 Easy Steps,” how God changed his life, and even how many sexual partners his wife had before they were married. About three minutes into the video on Madam Noire, Gaskin articulates his requirements of a wife: she must have had fewer than five sexual partners before him. “When I met my wife,” he said, “her number [of previous sexual partners] was one, and that’s why I made her my wife.”
Oh, the places I could go with this.
It’s none of our business.
Unless you caught a venereal disease from her, it was none of your business.
The magazine introduced you as a former “drug dealer with a strong appetite for women.” Hmmm. So, you held your future partner up to higher standards than you held yourself up to.
“The past is the past, and let’s move forward,” you said, but you have a number? So “let’s move forward” is what she has to do to accept you, not what you have to do to accept her?
Wow, you slut-shamed your wife without even knowing her.
But I had done the same. Because I didn’t know the term “sexual being” when I was in my early 20s. Because I considered sex outside of marriage, and sexuality as a whole, a shameful thing then. Because I didn’t know desire is okay. Because I didn’t know people act on their desire for a multitude of reasons—love, pleasure, hormonal fluctuations, insecurity, loneliness, empowerment, release, healing, exercise, convenience, revolution, relaxation, because they miss someone else, because they deserve a counter to their grief, because touch stimulates the body as well as the soul, because vibrators and dildos don’t do it when they want to feel skin.
I’ve been watching Being Mary Jane on Netflix and questioning the title character’s sexual choices in season 2. She has a “cuddle buddy.” That’s what he’s stored under in her phone. (I think it’s just because the FCC won’t allow him to be called her “F*ck Buddy.”) They are each other’s fix when in between serious relationships. I’m not sure I would have a cuddle buddy (again), but I question her behavior with more empathy for and understanding of 30-something singles than I had 10+ years ago. I’ve witnessed Mary Jane in moments of love, desire, hormonal fluctuations, all of the above, and I’ve been in them, too. I’m figuring out what sex-until-life-partnership means for me at this point in my life and what I want it to mean. And I’m going to assume that Future Husband is doing something like that, too.
And Future Husband, I hope we both come to see double standards and patriarchy as mitigating factors as we figure things out and that you forgive me for slut-shaming you all those years ago. If you’ve been a misogynist, I’m not excusing your behavior–and you better be reformed and a feminist before you meet me. I’m just saying, no judgment from here.
Just wrap it up. 😉