Updated: Jul 11, 2022
When I was in my late teens, early 20s, I subconsciously had to make a decision, and it was this:
When out dancing, be provocative, flirty, fun BUT limit sexual relations only with boyfriends Or Be who I wanted to be with sexually BUT not be flirty when dancing as that would be slutty.
The truth is, as women, it doesn’t matter what we choose, there is always going to be a feeling of compromise somewhere.
A compromise on our behaviour so we can have an element of control of how we are perceived by others and then treated.
The thing was, when I was a teenager, in my 20s, I desperately sought love. The kind that whisks you off your feet. The kind that saves you. The kind that means you are the only person in the world that they could ever want.
The kind that would meet the needs of my inner-child.
Firstly, let me tell you that doesn’t exist. There is no love that will whisk you off your feet and solve your problems. A real relationship is about communication and growth. (But that can be for another post).
Secondly, what this meant for me is that because of the stories we are told of pious women and those who bag their prince charming, that for me to bag my prince I would need to be a ‘good girl’. A man doesn’t marry a slutty woman.
Take a look at the role models: Cinderella Mother Theresa Mary mother of Jesus Sleeping Beauty Snow White
Be quiet + bide your time + act appropriately = be rescued and married.
And I played the role very well. Of being the ‘good girl’. In a local nightclub there were old barrels turned upside down and I would spend my evening dancing provocatively on one of those. There would be young men from the village who ‘knew me well’, who would stand there most of the night dismissing young men trying to get to me saying ‘she isn’t like that mate’.
I remember my cousin telling me one of her male friends who was interested in seeing me say ‘She will make a good wife will your Carla’. (I’m in the North West of England and that’s how they speak here.)
It felt really good to feel protected. To be put on a pedestal (excuse the pun). I felt special and different to other women who were being with who they wanted. I felt that at some point I would get that man who would rescue me. And the other women? The ones who slept with who they wanted?
I judged them for it.
I judged them for sleeping with who they wanted to. From not worrying about what other people thought. From behaving how they wanted.
But that judgement was projection.
Having done shadow work, I now know that the judgement was a longing for me to be able to act the way they did without consequences.
To not feel restricted.
To not worry about what others might think of me.
To not worry that my behaviour might affect my long term plan - marriage.
To explore my sexuality.
To be carefree.
To experiment and try new things.
Stay safe and be loved while doing it.
Because as women we are taught we can’t have it all.
I recently got into a discussion on a group about someone offering nude cleaning and one person replied ‘if you’re putting yourself out there like that then you’re asking for trouble.’ The problem is that the person who replied couldn’t see that their statement was victim blaming. That if someone chooses to offer work naked, they still have the right to have their ‘no’ respected.
This is the problem we come across. We are often told we are not enough. But it’s also true that we are told not to be too much. Because we wouldn’t be safe. Because we won’t get a husband. Because we will be called names. Because we won’t deserve respect.
Women’s bodies and how we use them are not ours. Being a woman means following arbitrary rules that are complicated and suffering.
So I invite you to dance how you want to, dress yourself in what lights you up, laugh loud if that’s what you feel like, be playful and sleep with who you want (as long as it’s ethical!).
And if reading this you feel judgement, I invite you to take a look at where you are repressing your desires and refusing to live your best life.
What about you?
Did you monitor your behaviour to increase your chances of a relationship?
How did you feel about dancing provocatively?
What judgements did you make about other women regarding these topics, can you see your shadow being reflected back at you?
Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at email@example.com.