opinion

Why calling a woman 'frigid' is just as awful as calling her a 'slut'.

Hi there, nice to meet you. Are you frigid or are you a slut?

Are you just really easy? Do you just put out? Do you just sleep with everyone and anyone and anything?

Oh. You don’t? Right, so you’re frigid, then. You’re a bit arrogant, have a few too many tickets on yourself and you’re just a bit of a snob, aren’t you?

Me? I’m the snob. The arrogant one, the princess, the one with too many tickets. The frigid girl.

At 22, I still have vivid, striking memories of the twelfth year of my life. My initiation into secondary school was one fraught with schoolyard politics, social climbing, the need for a strong online presence and the desire the kiss the boys you hung out with.

New York times best selling author Peggy Orenstein speaks to Mia Freedman about what hook-up culture teaches young girls. Post continues after audio.

Except I had no inclination, or intention, or kissing the boys I hung out with. They were nice enough, good looking enough, and certainly by my 12-year-old standards, cool enough. I just simply wasn’t interested, and being able to feign interest in anything has never been a strength of mine.

And so the labels came. Namely, the “frigid” one. Of course there were the spin-offs; I was also the virgin Mary, or Mary for short, because apparently being 12 and being a virgin was totally outside the realm of comprehension. (Disclaimer: we were all virgins at 12, but somehow I was the only one worth noting because I didn’t want to have sex with them.)

I remember it not because it bothered me as such, and not because mob mentality and peer pressure made me want to change, but because the word frigid was always the strangest of insults. Even at 12, I always had this fairly steadfast belief that the word frigid said far more about the person using it than the one accused of it.

Image via Channel 9.

So when Australia's favourite villain, Anthony from Married at First Sight, is quoted in a promo for the series' next episode calling his 'wife' frigid, you can imagine how 2007 came back rolling back to my memories.

Except this time it wasn't a 12-year-old boy being insecure about the fact a girl wasn't interested in locking her lips on his. This time, it was someone in their 30s baffled by the idea that a woman wouldn't sleep with him. And why won't she? Surely he deserves sex? He is married, so after all, he's entitled to it.

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Except he doesn't, and I'm obviously joking.

But it does raise a tsunami-sized issue surrounding the use of the word frigid, and why it still exists in our vocabulary. After all, the minute we're calling a girl frigid, we're inherently making the assumption that boys, and men, deserve sex. That they're entitled to sex, and our bodies, and in depriving them of that we're the most arrogant kind of human.

(But wait! Slow down! The minute she has sex? Ugh. What a slut. She's so easy. Don't be like her.)

"The word frigid says far more about the person using it than the one accused of it."

We're forever talking about the girl who has as much sex as the guys, and who, with a heavy weight, carries the 'slut' label because of it. We're forever talking about how ugly that word is. We're consistently drawing attention to the double standards.

But rarely do we give voice to the flip side. Frigid. Unpack it and it has such gross connotations; let it linger for longer than a second and it suddenly becomes so goddamn rapey.

Never a slut, I was always the frigid. But after all, it has to be one or the other.

I asked my colleagues. Some were sluts, others were frigid. One was called frigid before she even knew what it meant. Another was broken up with because of it. One more told a guy she wasn't interested in dating him, he told her it must be because she's a bit frigid.

Forget having standards — they're irrelevant when boys, and men, want sex. Cast them to the side, give them what they want, and pick them back up when they've left.

MAFS' Anthony doesn't own Nadia's body. He doesn't deserve sex. And like those 12-year-olds I used to hang out with, his use of the word says far more about him than it ever will about Nadia.

It's possessive, entitled and insulting.

And it plays into a narrative young girls will be all too familiar with: a woman in this world is one of only two things. Frigid or a slut.

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