sex vs. abstinence: lena’s perspective

what feminist sex looks like

Hey gURLs!

As a self-professed feminist, I frequently get asked what I think about sex versus abstinence, and which is the more “feminist” choice. I think these kinds of questions totally miss the point!

There’s not one “right” way to have sex (or to not have sex) but it’s hard to figure out which choices are empowering when there are so many images and stereotypes that people have of women: virgin, whore, tease, etc. How can a girl develop a healthy sexuality when there are constantly OTHER people telling her what she should or shouldn’t do with her body?

For starters, we could do a little thinking about what feminist sex looks like. (The gals at Jezebel are doing just that in a discussion post today!) Here’s my definition:

  • Consensual, because a good partner won’t be pressuring you into doing something you don’t want to. If you want to abstain from any or all sexual behavior, that’s YOUR choice and nobody else’s.
  • Safe, responsible, and respectful, meaning that you use protection not just to cover your own butt, but also to protect your partner.
  • Fun and adventurous, since there’s a lot of different kinds of hooking up and trying them all out is the only way for you to figure out what works for you.

And remember that we all have different definitions of sex and what feels good, not only because some of us might like hooking up with other gURLs, but also because a lot of straight gURLs don’t necessarily love intercourse — and that’s perfectly fine. Preferences are, by definition, completely individual and your partner should be paying as much attention to what you like as you should be to what they like.

Why don’t you let me know what YOU think makes sex feminist? Share your thoughts in the comments!  And feel free to ask me anything — just email me at!


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Posted in: Ask an Expert, Discuss, Health, Sex & Relationships, Hooking Up, Virginity
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  • luvli

    i agree with u lena. Sex is a subject that really doesn't have a feminist non feminist side. whatever you think is feminism.

  • Anais

    Personal choice.

    Feminism is all about women being able to choose for themselves and having control over their sexuality.

    What would be unfeminist is a woman having sex or abstaining because somebody else wanted her to.

    • Lena Chen

      Exactly my point, Anais! And we should also think about how our personal choices affect others, so we should be truthful with our partners and try respect their boundaries.

  • corey

    i never really thought about either abstinence or sex as either feminist or not feminist. And I still don't think there's a correlation. I'd say feminist sex is when a girl wants it for her own individual pleasure becasue she's gratified by the partner she's with and they are by her.