Remember that plug in Jailbreak the Patriarchy? It’s been too long since we gender swapped the internet, don’t you think?
A few weeks ago, Harry Styles, the 18-year-old member of the pipsqueak band One Direction, was interviewed by OK about his sexual history. He speaks quite candidly his safe sex habits and about how the first time he had sex, he was “terrified” that he might have gotten his partner pregnant (even though they used condoms).
Generally, I think it’s none of my business who celebrities are having sex with or how, but if we’re going to talk about it, I kind of love Styles for talking about it like this. It’s matter of fact, it’s honest, and it reinforces the idea that safe sex can be sexy (at least as sexy as mop-topped teenagers). But just take a minute and imagine the reaction if an 18-year-old female pop star spoke in exactly the same way. Genderswapping in 3, 2, 1….
“She is a bona fide heartthrob with all the male attention any young woman could want. But Harry Styles has revealed that she was not always that confident or experienced with men. The One Direction star has revealed how after the first time she had sex she was terrified she may have gotten pregnant. Speaking to OK! magazine, she said: ‘The first time I had sex, I was scared I got pregnant. And that was despite the fact we were safe. Luckily, we were fine.”
Harry, 18, has built up a reputation as quite a manizer but despite the many rumours she admitted that she always practices safe sex. She told the magazine: ‘I would never risk not [having him] wear a condom, it’s too much of a risk. If you’re not ready for a child, then don’t risk it.”
Can you ever imagine reading that about Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato? Even from the mouth of a 25-year-old actress I would floored to see such sexual candor in print. Here’s what jumps out to me:
- “Having all the male attention she could want” – Women are expected to shy away from attention, to minimize it, or at least pretend it’s not what they’re seeking. It’s completely acceptable for a male pop star to admit that he enjoys it.
- “Being experienced with men.” – How many people read this and kind of smirked. “Experienced with men” is code for slutty, right? If a woman were to claim that she was experienced, especially a teenager, she would absolutely pilloried for setting a horrifying example for her fans.
- “Manizer.” - Ha. Genderswap doesn’t even have a word for this. You know why? It’s because a “manizer” is another code word for “slut.”
- Safety - When a 18-year-old guy swears by prophylactics, he’s a responsible, stand-up guy (and seriously, if he’s telling the truth, good for him!). If an 18-year-old girl swears by contraception, she gets Sandra Fluked (who, by the way, is 31).
The goal here is not to berate Styles for being sexually active or to idolize him for his avowed commitment to condoms. The point here is to acknowledge how differently we treat burgeoning sexuality among teenaged boys and girls.
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