L.L is currently in the World Bachelor of Business Program at the University of Southern California. We were in the same group at OCAC Summer Camp back in 2012. She is someone who I've always thought of as way beyond her years and someone who is very independent. In this feature, she debunks the idea that meeting people through dating apps is something to be looked down upon and explains why the sex positivity movement is so important.
*Due to privacy reasons, she is referred to by her initials.
STEPH: Can you explain what sex positivity is?
LL: For me, sex positivity is whatever you want to do with anyone at any time, as long as it’s consensual for both parties and it's good reasoning. If so, then it’s fine. You aren’t a slut just because you have sex. That’s your own body and you should know it. Do you have to have sex at a certain age? No. Do you have to see this many guys at once? No! If you get to do what you like to do and people aren’t judging your personality or your values arbitrarily, then that should be what’s happening.
STEPH: You said that it’s recent that you started getting more into the sex positive community. Growing up on Long Island and then moving to Monroe, Connecticut, which is even more suburban and conservative... Were you always so open growing up in these two places?
LL: I think I’m much more open now in college. In high school, I’m sure I was leaning towards what I’m saying out loud now, but I don’t think I clearly formed these thoughts to myself because I didn’t have the experience to do so. I had a boyfriend at the time so I didn’t have to worry about “hook ups." Now, I’ve had my Tinder stands, (laughs) still have the app, and I’ve allowed myself to live this lifestyle where I have trials to go out and meet people.
I noticed that people from where I come from generally are more traditional. That got me thinking, “This is what people expect of you… Is it like this everywhere?” My program (World Bachelor in Business at USC) lets me be with a lot of people from various backgrounds who have different experiences, especially with how sex and relationships are portrayed in their country. I was telling a British guy that Americans are really open to casual dating. In England it’s not like that at all. You talk to someone for months and then you ask them finally. I just think it’s interesting to see different perspectives on how relationships should be.
"I've definitely have met a lot of incredible, impressive people on these apps. Do they come by often? No. You have to look and see. But how is that any different from real life? You’re not going to see someone in real life and go, "Oh, you’re in real life, you must be ok. In that same way of thinking, you can’t be on Tinder and think, “You’re on Tinder, you’re definitely not ok.” I think that people don’t quite understand that they’re being a little hypocritical when they think that way."
STEPH: What is one issue you have right now with how sex positivity is perceived as in the real world?
LL: I have a friend from a more conservative background that asks me questions pertaining to sex and herself that I thought ran along the lines of common sense, and that worries me. Because tying it back to education about yourself, I think that’s important. The most relevant thing you can do is learn more about your body and how to take care of it, because you only have yourself and your health. Everything else can be obtained or lost easily. For example, if you break your back, that injury never gets healed. You’re always going to feel it and that’s the same with your sexual health. There has to be some sort of push to modify the education system to allow people to learn about themselves where it matters.
At this point, what makes me so angry about these health classes is that they’re allowed to say anything. They let religious views and their own opinions get in the way of just unbiasedly teaching somebody about their own body. In the end, it’s just learning about how to build a foundation for the future properly or accurately. It's something that should be based off of fact and right now it’s not.
Censorship is dead, and this is going to be a huge issue if it isn't already. If kids aren’t learning what they’re supposed to be through regulated schooling, then they’re going to learn about it through the internet. That might be worse because it could be inaccurate evidence and they see it as real because that’s the only source they’re getting it from and they don’t know better.
"In health class you learn about your own biology. They do a great job about your exercise. But your love life is also a huge part of just being human. Why shouldn’t that be discussed as well? I hate that some people just act like that’s something you don’t talk about or that it's taboo. Why is it taboo when everyone experiences it?"
STEPH: Did you start getting involved in sex positivity because you saw how you were being seen from your friends? You realized that people were misjudging you?
LL: I started getting into it before I started getting widely misjudged because I peruse the internet. I fell into it more when I felt like I was being held to this image more frequently and more strongly than I intended it to be. It might also be because in my program there are very few of us, and that means myself and very few others are of the same mindset. So it’s like, “Oh, L. is that one.” It's more of an issue when I meet friends of friends, and my friends who know that part of me will bring that up casually or a little too early for my comfort. I really don’t enjoy it when that happens. I think the people that don’t know me very well do have this image of me because I was introduced to them in such a strong sense and because it's still not a widely conceived notion.
"I want to be pushing this positivity forward, but at the same time I don’t want it to be damaging my own public image. That’s something I have a bit of a struggle with."
STEPH: Can you recall any experiences where you felt like you were discriminated as a woman?
LL: I go to recruiting and networking events because I’m a business student. Most of these events take place in bars where you have a nice drink, have a discussion, and exchange cards. A lot of times, I get frustrated because businessmen will hit on me instead of network with me. That’s something I don’t appreciate because that never happens to my male counterparts. Yeah, it’s at a bar and it’s more loosened up. But at the same time, it’s insulting that you think it’s ok to hit on me when I'm there as a working professional, because it’s not. How ridiculous is it that I am a 20 year old college student saying that isn’t appropriate for a 40 year old businessman to do?
It’s shitty because the first time it happened to me, I went home contemplating, “Was I was wearing something too revealing? Should I have worn something more loose fitting?” No, I was wearing business casual. That’s not fair for myself to be asking these questions. These situations lend you to question yourself when you shouldn’t be. I take a lot of pride in my appearance. Fashion is very important to me -- when I look good, I feel better.
Typically I have dated guys that are respectful and are open to discussion. I personally haven’t been very victimized by anyone or too discriminated against. But I do feel like I’m very fetishized. I do run into guys that are like, “I like you because you’re Asian.” But I'm L. Preferences are fine to have, but to have a fetish is something different. It’s objectifying and I’m not down for that.
STEPH: Why are you so passionate about sex positivity?
LL: I want people that are not in a relationship to feel open. They think that a relationship will make them a lot happier and they’re really worried that they haven’t been in one at a certain age. A lot of people who don't have a significant other should be happy that they have such a road ahead of them. It’s scary if you don’t know where you’re going in the future, but it’s also fun to have all these choices you have to make and embracing life is so important.
"Live your single life. Don’t be afraid to date and meet new people because that’s probably not what you’re going to have for most of your life. Living with no regrets is a priority to me. It should be like that all the time, not only if you’re in a relationship or vying for one. Being single and making it something that I really love is so valuable. You have to learn to be happy with all your circumstances."
STEPH: What's something you don't like about the feminist movement?
LL: I think feminists have to admit certain things that they aren’t doing correctly. For example, some feminists get offended that the guy didn’t treat them for the bill. If you’re really for the movement, then you would be down to talk about splitting it. I’ve discussed it with some guys and they say that they actually like paying because it makes them feel like they can take care of someone. Some people are going to think it’s misogynistic since a man has to take care of a woman. No, I think it’s just a human want to be caring. I don’t want to pay for my friends because I want to show that I have control over them, I’m doing it because I want to. People get worked up over things they shouldn’t be worked up over. Just chill!
STEPH: Are there are any women that have inspired you?
LL: My mom is a very successful business woman. I always have her to look up to. She is very respected wherever she works and that’s the way it should be. People don’t look down on her because she’s a small Asian woman right? She is, trust me, a force to be reckoned with. (laughs) She even jokes about how she walks into the room with a lot of executives that are giant white men while she’s very little. She’s always been a huge inspiration in terms of my career.