Why are we denying that women use Ashley Madison?

Even Amy Schumer’s comically excellent Trainwreck gives us a female lead whose many hilarious sexploits signify that she’s not happy and won’t be fulfilled until she’s in a “proper” relationship. The message is that all loose women ultimately want to swap indiscriminate sex for a stable union.

But men, we’ve decided, are perfectly capable of dealing with the emotional fallout of promiscuity — both on screen (look at shows like Entourage) and off. We refuse to see that this could also be true for some women. Or, on the flipside, acknowledge that perhaps not all human males can handle a high volume of sexual partners without being psychologically compromised.

In college back in the U.K. nearly two decades ago, the majority of my male friends wanted to be in loving, monogamous relationships. Some of them only slept with a couple of people the entire three or four years they were in college. Meanwhile, many of the girls I knew coveted fun sex with a lot of different men — and didn’t seem especially traumatized by it. I realized then that how we view sex and commitment isn’t decided by whether we’re male or female. But by insisting, as the press has done over Ashley Madison, that our motivation for and emotional reaction to sex divide along gender lines, we’re dangerously misrepresenting both men and women.