Debate: Is casual sex linked with female empowerment?

“Love Island”. Hook-up culture. Tinder dates.

Like it or not, casual sex is normal nowadays, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

With an increasing number of people moving away from monogamous long-term partners, and casual sex and one-night-stands becoming more widely accepted, it’s important to consider this: does casual sex empower women?

We have a look at the two sides of the debate.


Yes, it does

I’d argue that casual sex is a key part of women’s liberation. Today, women are finally able to throw off the shackles of tradition and be empowered to make their own choices. Now women don’t have to be strait-jacketed by the expectations of society. They can enjoy sex on their terms.

Elizabeth A. Armstrong, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, studies the sexuality of young women. She found that women at elite universities were choosing hook-ups because they saw relationships as too time-consuming and too distracting from their education and career prospects.

Casual sex can offer women the fulfilment they seek without the commitment. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it suits their fast-paced ambitious lifestyle.

It also potentially comes with less of the emotional ties of a relationship. Women don’t always want to have a sentimental investment in their partner’s life. There is less emotional stuff at stake with a casual partner, and separating from them doesn’t mean heartbreak.

Women often don’t want to have to console their partner after they missed a promotion, to have to text them to see if they are feeling OK, or care for them when they are ill. They can have a one-night-stand without having to worry about having small-talk with his mother when she’s in town.

Some argue that the idea one-night-stands leave women scarred or in turmoil is destructive. This portrays women as fragile beings who do not possess the ability to arrive at reasoned decisions.

It can be quite the opposite. Asserting your desires can provide you with a tremendous sense of power. You have the power to choose where you spend your days and nights, and you are in control of making sure your needs are met.


No, it doesn’t

I would argue that the casual approach to hook-ups is actually a backwards step in women’s empowerment, as it cheapens sex.

Having numerous sexual partners may mean that you find it harder to adjust to a more long-term relationship. It can also make it difficult for you to be honest with a long-term partner if you have never associated physical intimacy with emotional intimacy.

If sex is as common place as a pint at the pub, then we may find that sex does not feel as special as we want it to be when it really does matter.

Although the idea of a hook-up free from emotional attachment could seem appealing, some of said that it has tugged at their heart strings more than they would like.

Gena, a 25-year-old recruiter, said this in an interview with Marie Clare: ‘During my senior year of high school and throughout college, I hooked up with this really handsome guy. Whenever he would come over and stay the night, I would play the part of the girlfriend-cook breakfast, snuggle-but we never dated. It killed me. In fact, he got engaged recently and called to tell me, and to my surprise, five years after our last hook-up, I still felt that little pang in my heart.’ [1]

The correlation between casual sex and mental ill health is also something to consider. Ohio State University researchers found that teens who showed depressive symptoms were more likely than others to engage in casual sex as young adults. Researchers believe the study provides evidence that poor mental health can lead to casual sex, but also that casual sex leads to additional declines in mental health.

Finally, it is important to consider that a large majority of one-night stands happen under the influence of alcohol. If a women’s judgement is swayed by alcohol, and she would not do it sober, is it as exciting and care-free as it’s made out to be?


So now you’ve heard the two sides of the debate, what do you think? What are your thoughts on the relationship between casual sex and female empowerment?



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