“If we can see that not everyone is having sex like this, it becomes easier to talk about the ways in which our own sexual experiences deviate from that ‘norm’.Or at least to acknowledge that the norm is more arbitrary than it might seem.” For sexual ‘freedom’ to be just that, it needs to be about what women want to do, not what they feel they ought to do.Such sexual ’norms’ have slipped insidiously into our dating culture, perhaps without us even consciously realising it. Rachel Hills, a researcher, speaker and writer whose forthcoming book The Sex Myth explores ideas around these supposed regular sexual behaviours, says, “There are a lot of people for whom three dates is much too soon to initiate sexual contact with a new person.“But there is an expectation that you need to be sexually active very early on in a relationship – that can be intimidating for those who want to take their time.” Let me be clear: this absolutely isn’t about slut shaming or having rules about what “nice young ladies” should or shouldn’t do.
What I’m talking about is those women who aren’t comfortable with going there so quickly, but feel forced to conform – we’ve reached a point where sexual freedom only goes one way.
It’s not enough to say, “no thank you, not yet.” Rather, there is an overwhelming pressure to say, “no, because…” Sometimes, it feels easier to just lie back and think of England (or Benedict Cumberbatch).
It’s not only women who've bought into the notion they need to explain if they wish to abstain. They’re convinced that if a girl hasn’t got her kit off three or four dates in, she’s simply not interested.
Otherwise, it's just another set of rules to control us.
Rachel Hills' book, The Sex Myth, will be out in August 2015, published by Simon & Schuster in the US, and Penguin in Australia The Big Short, the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' book of the same name about the causes of the financial crisis, opens in UK cinemas this weekend.
We now have the freedom to say yes, but not to say no.