Why is casual sex still such a controversial subject and how can a set of stories help shatter all those taboos?
The first time I had a one night stand I was so mortified that I even invented a more embarrassing story to stop my friends (who saw me leaving with this person) from telling the story. It wasn’t the experience itself that made me feel that way; it was quite ordinary, to be honest. However, the idea of having casual sex with a complete stranger made me uncomfortable. Why? Well, let’s say that I grew up with the quite outdated idea that sex should be an activity shared with someone you have an emotional bond with and not just a random person you met at a party. As time went by, I kept trying to forget that story and move on with my life, but then one day I realized I had been acting stupidly about it and that there was nothing I should be ashamed of. I shouldn’t really care about what people might think of me, and that experience didn’t really change who I am.
It’s no surprise that I’m not the only one who felt something like that. I’m actually sure I was part of a wide majority who still thinks casual sex should be something to be embarrassed about. But why do we still have that stigma about casual sex? Why do people who engage in it are constantly repressed and condemned by society when we’re fighting to be free individuals able to explore our sexuality? Well, with that in mind, in 2014 sex researcher Dr. Zhana Vrangalova started the digital project casualsexproject.com, in which she encourages people to tell and share their one night stand stories with the world. Her idea was to start a discussion about the subject to see what were the main conducts associated to casual sex, the embarrassment, the fear, the discomfort, but also the glorious and exciting part of engaging in those activities.
The project receives around five thousand visitors a day from people looking for stories they can relate to or who have the courage to post their own. According to Maria Konnikova’s article in The New Yorker, the website holds about 22,000 stories to date, which talks about how people are really interested in sharing their stories and their impact in their life. To make the experience more dynamic, the stories are sorted by themes and color to make the navigation easier. Nonetheless, the idea goes beyond just sharing your intimacy. For instance, if I were to share my own experience, I would first have to answer some questions like my age, race, nationality, occupation, religious affiliation, gender, orientation, when did this happen, how I felt, and many other topics I wouldn’t even include if I were to share the story, to be honest.
So, what is that interrogation for? Well, as you keep reading the stories, you can tell that every person starts noticing things they'd never thought about before. There are questions that range from asking if you or your partner were intoxicated by a certain drug or alcohol, how fulfilling the experience was for you, if it was satisfying for your partner as well, if you reached an orgasm, how many times, and so on. As I said, you can tell how as other people answer these questions, they start discovering new things, not only about the experience, but about themselves. In the same way, as you read the stories, you immediately start thinking about the subject, and without noticing it, you form an idea of what would you do if you were living that and how would you react at the moment.
To sum up, I do think that the idea of the project is brilliant. Even if you visit it out of curiosity, it makes you reflect on the matter and have a position on the discussion. Do you think casual sex is a great way of exploring your own sexuality without any emotional bond, or do you think sex should only be experienced with someone you trust and have feelings for? Beyond those questions, the great thing about this project is the fact that it offers a variety of views on the subject. Through personal stories you can see people's stance. So, while it doesn’t hold any important truth, at least it gives you necessary information to form an opinion and learn all the different experiences out there, and for that reason, it’s a project to be applauded.
If you want to delve into the thousands of stories available you can do it here: The Casual Sex Project
Here are other short stories you should read:
Images by @eyesofjune