Fuck Your Quiz: Female Sexuality Is Not Up For Debate

CANUNOTIt is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of massive entitlement, must be in want of a woman to harrass.

(Obligatory disclaimer that Not All Men, but at the same time enough men to make this complaint an uncomfortable and reoccurring theme. TW: discussion of rape culture.)

Today we’re talking about feminism. Specifically, we’re talking about why it’s misogynistic as hell to interrogate, debate, or otherwise pester a woman about her sexuality, preferences, and sexual history.

The Quiz, in short, is an intense line of questioning coming from a stranger/acquaintance (or even friends!), re: the intricacies of a woman’s sex life. In the context of my life, it almost always comes after coming out/being outed as bisexual, but it’s an ugly hydra that has a head for every woman, really. Questions that can come up on the quiz:

 

  • ARE YOU A VIRGIN?
  • WHAT TYPE OF SEX STUFF DO YOU LIKE?
  • HOW DO TWO GIRLS _____?
  • DO YOU MASTURBATE TO PICTURES OF YOURSELF? (This is a real question that I’ve gotten, I’m not making this up.)
  • ARE YOU HAVING SEX WITH [PERSON X]?
  • WOULD YOU HAVE SEX WITH ME? WOULD YOU HAVE A THREESOME WITH ME?
  • HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE YOU SLEPT WITH?
  • an endless number of other ill-advised queries

Now, this is something that should very obviously be off-limits, especially when the women being questioned is visually or vocally expressing discomfort. (Or even if she’s playing nice because the person doing the questioning seems like a wild card.) But let me break it down for you:

Pressuring someone to reveal intimate details to you is a exertion of power; it relies on the assumption that the questions will be answered and that it is within your right to ask. It expresses an assumed ownership over private information, and by extension, over her body, and to be abundantly clear: it is not okay.

In some scenarios, the quiz is a lead-in to sexual advances — corner a girl, ask her a bunch of shitty questions, try to make a pass at her. For queer women, it can be an attempt to evaluate of her “true” sexuality, where the answers (or lack thereof) will convince the questioner that she is not really a lesbian, or that a bisexual woman is secretly only into guys and looking for attention, or any one of a hundred other stereotypes. (Revolutionary idea: just believe people! Nobody is actually faking it!)

Every single solitary reason is absolute garbage; the only person who gets to declare a woman’s sexuality or interest in another person is the woman herself. End of story. Any attempt to override or invalidate her sexuality relies on the misogynistic idea that the questioner should have more influence over a woman’s autonomy than she does.

This attitude rears its head in a whole lot of situations other than this:

  • When a woman says no to a sexual activity, only for her partner to try and convince her to participate. (Reminder: a “yes” given under duress is not consent!)
  • When people talk debate the legitimacy of a sexual assault based on dress or intoxication or sexual history.
  • When a woman is written off as “crazy” for having a dissenting opinion.
  • When her emotions are invalidated because of the perceived effect of her menstrual cycle

This line of questioning, and the attitudes that accompany it, is indicative of misogyny and, depending on the situation, racism and homophobia. (Think about the way women of color are stigmatized sexually, often being treated either as undesirable or as hypersexualized, with no middle ground.)

Women’s bodies are not public domain; nobody has a right to information about our sexual experiences against our will. It’s not flirty to pressure a woman into telling you personal details; take it in good faith that any information someone feels comfortable sharing will be freely given. The long and short of it: female sexuality is not up for debate, period.

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