This "double standard" you'll hear feminist types ranting about quite a lot refers to the phenomenon of men being applauded for promiscuity whilst women are derided for the same behaviour. However, I've never really been that convinced of just how prevalent this is these days. I've often been derided for *not* being promiscuous - both men and women have accused me of being "frigid" for not being interested in shagging random strangers in nightclub toilets. It has always seemed to me that the expectations of people with regards to sexual behaviour have evened out, that now both men and women are expected to shag everything that moves.
I'd like to say at this point that I have absolutely no moral stance on sex whatsoever - the reason I don't do casual sex is just that I'm too shy and that it takes me a while to feel physically comfortable enough with someone to actually enjoy it. I have to know someone for a little while before I can seriously lust after them. And I'm buggered if I'm doing anything I don't feel comfortable with just because Cosmo tells me I've got "issues with sex" if I'm not shagging someone by our fourth date.
We all know of course that sleeping with someone on the first date is a big no-no. He won't respect you in the morning! And yet, if you hold off until the third or fourth date, he will be a lovely romantic creature who will provide gargantuan quantities of respect, adoration, jewellery and cunnilingus. Fuck that - I'd suggest that if he's the type of guy who won't respect you in the morning, then he's a misogynistic arsewipe and definitely not relationship material, so it doesnt matter whether you sleep with him or not.
I was chatting to a fellow feminist at a party a few weeks ago, who told me that she always sleeps with people on the first date, because she's not sure if she'll get a second date. Although the girl in question immediately became my personal hero, she was at pains to tell me that people often reacted very badly to her shagging antics. Many men really did lose respect for her. Obviously I was very wrong in my theory that both men and women are supposed to be racking up as many notches on their bedposts as possible.
But what is a girl to do? I've got a bit of a controversial take on this: I think all of this double standard and virgin/whore arsemongering is actually very liberating. Women can't do anything right. There is no ideal. However you behave sexually you will be judged, called names, whatever. You can't get it right, so don't even try. Just do exactly what you want to do in the happy knowledge that however you conducted your sex life, somebody would be pissed off about it. And here's a hint - if you feel like sleeping with someone, do it. He might not respect you in the morning, but at least that way you get laid.