I recently had a session with a client, which I can't shake off, even some days later. To be clear, it's not the client who has left a residue,  more the content of the session and how despite the best efforts of all concerned, we are still pushing water up a hill when it comes to sexual equality. 

The client repeatedly used the words "Atrocious" to describe her behaviour and "Disgusting" to describe herself. I have worked with this client for a long time; I am confident in the security of our relationship, in their honesty within the room, that they have shared parts of themselves over the four or so years we have worked together for me to - with humility -  say that I think I know them pretty well. And yet, I found myself having to double check that I was hearing them correctly and that it actually correlated to what I thought they had been talking about. Sure enough, after receiving clarification I was still aghast that these words were being used to describe the "shocking" act of this client having had multiple sexual encounters in their past. It is important in this context to state that these encounters were consensual and whilst, depending on your particular flavour of ethics, some may have been morally questionable, this is separate and distinct to the actual physical act of intercourse which was what my client was describing. 

As a  female therapist who often works with both women and men through a feminist lens, I was disappointed, angered and frustrated that language like this is STILL being used to describe the sexual exploits of women. The internalised misogyny that women are still carrying around with them, given to them by institutions such as the Church, the judicial system (which saw marital rape become a criminal offence as late as 1994), by society who stigmatises, ridicules and judges women for their looks, their bodies, for aging, by legislators who deny women in countries around the world terminations, even in the aftermath of rape and.....I could go on, but at some point it has to stop....doesn't it???

Sex CAN be atrocious and disgusting, but if it is between two fully consenting adults (and I mean this in the most absolute way - no grey areas here), then that can be disappointing and frustrating, unfulfilling and sad, but it is the ACT we are judging, NOT the participants, and certainly not playing gender favourites with whom we choose to let off the hook of these judgements. 

Like my clients, I too want somewhere to put my burdens down and writing about them can be helpful, But what would be more helpful is if we all just stopped...stopped holding women to a different standard to men; stopped judging women for having multiple partners whilst applauding men for doing the same; stopped seeing sex as something dirty and to be ashamed of if it's a women having it, but something to boast about and be proud of if you are a man; stopped using it as a weapon to punish women with,  either literally, through sexual violence or through the insidious, drip feeding of judgement. And please, can we stop calling women sluts, slags and whores.