Anton Savage: Reaction to Vogue Williams' Loose Women revelation highlights gender gap with sex on first date
Published 23/06/2016 | 07:09
Vogue Williams slept with her ex-husband Brian McFadden the first time they met. She announced this on a TV show, adding that she "wouldn't do it every time" but their three-year marriage was evidence that such liaisons sometimes work.
The reaction of her fellow (all female) panellists was one of total shock.
They believed Williams was revealing a bad thing she did. Even Williams knew it was a significant revelation - the remark she added about not wanting to do it "every time" would not have been necessary if she thought the reaction was uncritical.
Even her protestation that they had a three-year marriage points to a feeling of guilt, not delight. If there's nothing wrong with sleeping with someone the first time you meet, then why did she have to 'excuse' it by pointing to the relationship which followed?
She went further by telling us their sex came at the end of eight hours of conversation.
This is the ultimate excuse - after eight hours, who amongst us wouldn't have sex with Brian McFadden just to make the talking stop?
We'll never know if Williams' urge to mitigate her behaviour was because she herself had a lingering problem with it, or if it was brought on by the reactions of those around her. If everyone around you looks critical, it takes some force of will not to get defensive.
What we have learned from this is that a large chunk of society isn't OK with a woman sleeping with a man she has just met. Judging by the reaction online and on my radio show, another chunk of society is, in turn, furious about that.
The suggestion that Williams should be scorned has caused fury. She is a grown woman, having fun, hurting no-one. She is liberated, independent and mature, in possession of her own body and should be free to make any decision she chooses, free from the scrutiny or judgement of the close-minded.
The most common reaction was 'why is no-one criticising Brian'? Why do women get attacked about behaviours for which men get praised? The ex-couple's first-contact copulation is being perceived as a feminist issue - if men do not get criticised, then neither should women.
It's an excellent and incontrovertible analysis of the problem, but the wrong solution is being applied. We shouldn't seek greater permissiveness in women, we should seek less in men.
Sex is not sport. It brings with it issues of intimacy, emotion, trust and self-esteem (not to mention health risks).
For a few people, these factors will mean nothing and have no effect, but as with all things when we try to assess what society should encourage, we must aim for the behaviours which will benefit the most and harm the least.
When it comes to sex, shouldn't that mean both genders trying to make it to at least a first date before they bump uglies?