I always got a sense, growing up, that the general script for sexual relations was "Men pursue, women deny." A boy asks for a date and unless he is very well suited a girl says no. She doesn't really want to date, see, but if there are enough compensating factors she'll put up with it. Then on the date the boy asks for sex and unless he is very well suited the girl says no. Because she really doesn't want that.
Hell, they even taught us this script in health class--I remember most of our "hey kids, don't fuck!" education (it wasn't strictly abstinence-only, but it was close) centered around statements like "girls should feel comfortable saying no." A lot of talk about "respect your body" and "don't let boys pressure you." These are good and important messages, taken literally, but my teachers used them to mean "don't fuck." The implication was that of course girls wouldn't want sex. Girls want boyfriends and self-esteem and peer approval and if they don't know any better, they'll endure sex to get those things.
Even as I was aware of this paradigm as a kid and teenager, I was also brutally aware it didn't apply to me. I was unpopular, ugly, and horny. I saw girls being cool by denying boys dates ("like so awesome you totally shut him down girl!"), but I didn't do any of that myself because nobody asked me out. Not once. I went on my first date in college. (When I was fifteen. But still.)
And I remember some jokes made at my expense. The boys in my math class discussing how much they'd pay to sleep with different girls. "Rebecca? Hundred bucks. Katie? Eh, seventy-five. Holly? Twelve cents!" I'm probably a crazy chick for caring what some dumb assfuck said when I was thirteen years old, but at the time it broke my little heart. I desperately wanted sex, wanted it worse than a boyfriend or popularity or anything, and I had boys and girls telling me to my face that I'd never get it.
So when I first got it, I went a little nuts. I was in love. This guy, who was way older and never did much for me besides fuck me, was a saint. I didn't know how he could swallow back the nausea long enough to touch me but I was so goddamn grateful he did. When we broke up I thought I'd never have sex again.
Well, then about six years and a bunch of other partners went by and gradually I got used to the idea that there are people who'll desire me and I'm able to have a sex life just like a regular person. (Better even. Hah.) I'm not totally over my insecurity but it's a fuckload less than it was.
But I still haven't applied the "men pursue, women deny" paradigm to myself. I've never denied without a damn good reason, never played even slightly hard to get. I have never taken for granted that a man will want me.
I've had this conversation with at least three different guys:
Him: So, do you wanna... y'know?
Me: Oh hell yeah. I just didn't want to pressure you.
Him: Pressure me? I'm a guy!
What does that mean? Men will screw anything? Men can't not want sex? You don't have to ask a man's permission? God damn, this paradigm totally sucks for men.
No, wait, it sucks for everybody.