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condom 1822413 1280In my mid-20s, I had a casual fling with a man where we only saw each other for sex and did nothing in between our encounters – no meals, movie dates, or hanging out at events together – it was purely physical.

I developed feelings for him, so my heart broke when he stopped our hook-ups after he found someone else. Worse, it was someone that he wanted to be with romantically, which made me question my worth as a person.

But I got over it. During our time together, we didn’t share our sexual history or tell each other if we were currently having relations with other people. There was no need to do so, since it was only a no-strings-attached thing. We just practiced safe sex by using condoms consistently.

Sexual consent is obtained when both parties explicitly and freely agree, without any element of coercion or threat, to have sex. In the case of a fling / friends-with-benefits/ hook-up, it is even more crucial to practice safe sex. Wearing condoms is a basic sexual and reproductive health precaution because you never know for sure if your partner is truly “clean” (he/ she could be lying or just plain ignorant if they don’t do regular testing).

The ethical thing to do in casual sex or non-monogamous relationships is to draw clear boundaries on not just what physical acts are permitted during your sexual encounter with each other, but also to specify the rules of the “relationship” – ie: is it just a physical arrangement without expectations of romance, can the friendship be maintained after the sexual element ends, what happens if either party meets someone else that they’d like to be committed to etc.

Of course the heart sometimes ignores all the carefully set rules of a non-monogamous framework. Although rejection is painful, being an ethical slut means accepting unrequited feelings, holding your head up high, and moving on.

There is nothing wrong with being a “slut” or sleeping around. Women should not be shamed for engaging in the same (consensual) sexual behaviours as men. Neither are women the objects of sex – “man fucks woman” (subject verb object) – because women possess agency to have sex on their own terms – “woman fucks man”. Whether the act of penetration is necessarily the subjection of the penetrated is another debate, but suffice to say, a woman should be able to put her needs first without subscribing to the socially constructed priorities of male ejaculation as the goal of sex.

Women should be free to have (consensual) sex with whoever they want, like men, without the act of intercourse defining their morality, self-worth, or character. Sexual liberation empowers us women to have sex outside the institution of marriage and the suffocating social constraints of saccharine romance.

And why would we do that? Because sex is enjoyable. In the context of a casual fling, sex is just a physical act like playing badminton. Women can obtain the same sexual pleasure that men enjoy without the burden of commitment.

But since we still live in a patriarchal world, women should always ensure that they come out on top. All sex is competition. Some may disagree with me, but the act of sexual intercourse to me is always couched in a power play. I’m talking about consensual sexual relations here, not rape.

By this, I mean that every sexual encounter is a game of power and control between two individuals armed only with their naked bodies to exert dominance in the quest for satisfaction. Mutual pleasure is always good, but a woman’s primary objective should always be to get what she wants. Selfishness is not necessarily a vice and is sometimes even crucial for women.

When it comes to a hook-up, it is imperative to keep your feelings out because emotions cloud your judgment and hinder rational decision-making. Love is separate from sex. One of the ways to maintain a clear distinction is to refrain from actual acts of intimacy, like sleeping over, sharing details from your personal life, or interacting outside the bedroom.

Although I didn’t confide much in my hook-up, I always slept over, which possibly led to my developing feelings for him. Stripping naked and having sex isn’t necessarily an act of openness, unless you’re self-conscious about your body. Sharing your emotional insecurities and vulnerabilities, which can be used against you, is far more dangerous.

We should also remember that the clock for a hook-up starts ticking from the first sexual encounter. So, either party should be prepared for the inevitable end. One of the things I find helpful is to completely burn bridges with a sexual partner after the fling ends. Ideally, your partner is just an acquaintance, not someone you work with regularly. Only a years-long friendship may possibly survive post-hook-up awkwardness.

A sexually liberated woman does not beg for sex or commitment or, worse, cry rape after facing rejection in a casual fling. Hijacking the #MeToo cause for a personal agenda minimises the trauma faced by every rape survivor and risks complaints of sexual assault not being taken seriously in future.

Women have been disbelieved for centuries. We have only started making some strides in highlighting abuse of power and sexual assault issues through #MeToo, so even one woman wrongfully portraying a fling gone wrong as rape is enough to set the movement back several steps.

It’s unfortunate that women are often unable to have their own experiences without being held up as an example. But for the sake of the cause, we should be careful not to let our personal losses in sex and romance – which are not sexual assault or rape in any form – subsume the bigger agenda of battling sexual violence.

The ethical slut is confident enough to wave off sexual rejection and seek pleasure elsewhere because her self-worth lies in her character, not in flesh and bone. She is the subject, not the object, of any sexual encounter where she takes what she wants and moves on with her life to achieve her goals and ambitions, unencumbered by the derisory bids of inadequate men.

Monogamy doesn’t have to be the only acceptable model of sexual relations. Happiness and self-satisfaction can be found in casual non-monogamy, as long as we avoid confusing the intimate act of coupling with love. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. But we learn from our defeats and come back stronger to vanquish our opponents.