Thursday, September 3, 2015

Don't Apologize for Being a Sexual Person

Recently, a single friend posted a meme about dating other singles, and I, as a recently single person (yes, it's true) suggested "just sleep around, that way emotions never get involved." I was promptly called "whoreish" by a pile of human garbage (a former coworker I've never liked and don't understand why people like her at all, but that's beside the point) but instead of rising to the bait to start a flame war, I replied "you do you" and left it alone. But honestly, that's why I have a blog, and I can't leave it alone. It's no one's right to make a judgement call on another person's sexuality and sexual identity. Gather 'round, kids, it's story time.

Here's a brief timeline of my own sexual growth (this will be TMI for some, so I understand if you don't care to continue reading):

Age 10: First discovered masturbation, completely on accident. Decided this was a good thing.
Age 16/17: Still a virgin, started thinking I might like bondage some day.
Age 21 (22?): First kiss.
Age 27: Lost my virginity (yes, a very late bloomer), first serious relationship.
Age 28 (almost 29): First serious relationship ends
Age 29: I buy my first sex toy (and worth every penny)
Age 29-30: I engage multiple partners and pithily give them Borg designations. I think I had as many as 5 going at one time
Age 31: My first (and only) bondage/flogging experience
Age 31: Second serious relationship
Age 32ish: My libido TANKS
Age 35: My libido is back after eliminating hormonal birth control
Age 35: Single again

What does this timeline show us? That I was a virgin until late in life and had to "catch up," that I am/was a raging slut, that I was a bit socially retarded with sex? Not really. Just because I lost my virginity at 27, doesn't mean I haven't always been a sexual creature. I discovered masturbation early on and the excitement of the lingere section of department store catalogues, R-rated scenes on HBO late at night. I read my friend's mother's romance novels as a teenager, opening them at the creased spine to the steamy parts. I was sexual, I was awakened, but I was shamed. It's a hard thing to express, and I think Pamela Madsen sums it up pretty well in her Huffington Post article:
What we are is fragmented and that is what we are conditioned to be. We are conditioned from the earliest of ages to successfully sever the core of our sexuality, that most basic of human behaviors, from the rest of our lives. 
I don't blame my parents. Ours is a family that doesn't talk about stuff, in general (it's a generational thing) and while my older sister I think tried to give me a sex talk (at which time my brother-in-law butted in an gave me the sage advice of "don't do it") I really relied on media to teach me. And I figured out a lot of things on my own. A lot of the things I figured out taught me that the media lied to me about sex, that society prioritizes and prizes the myth of female virginity, and that I should be ashamed that I masturbated and thought about sex:

We learn to feel ashamed of sexuality in general by being constantly exposed on the one hand to images and messages that say that sex is great and that happy, successful, popular people have sex and on the other hand to messages that say that sex is indulgent and sinful and wrong, and that it leads to disease and betrayal and death. We learn to feel shame about our own particular experience of sex and sexuality by being hit with a steady stream of messages that tell us the only sexuality that is okay is a very narrowly defined one (heterosexual, young, white, non-disabled, skinny, middle class people who do it to make babies and then once a week as an expression of their undying love for each other). The truth is that even if you are some of those things, none of us are all of them. Sexuality can't fit into such a narrow frame. In other words none of us meet this ideal.
Around age 30, I had something of an awakening. I had a "fuck it" moment and realized that at that point, I had been living my life for other people and not myself, and that included my sexual expression. I had come out of a serious relationship with my very first sexual partner and realized that there were other shapes, sizes, and flavors of men to experience, and there was nothing wrong with wanting to explore that. At first, I had to overcome the internal conflict; overcoming three decades of socially-induced sexual shame isn't easy. I had to rationalize a lot of things, and decided that, if I wanted to play and have multiple partners, I needed to take a more business approach to things and define a set of rules not only for them, but for myself. This held especially true when I set my sights on a married man. Yes, a married man. I won't say that I was right or wrong in it, but it was just sex, transactional, emotionless, tension-relieving sex, and a small bit of a power trip (okay, a big one) knowing that I was pretty enough and sexual enough to get a man to stray. I won't apologize for it. 

I won't apologize for any of the sexual experiences I've had, whether society finds them morally reprehensible or "unladylike" or what the fuck ever judgement society wants to pass. I treat every experience as a learning experience, and during the time that I had 4 or 5 guys on retainer, I learned a lot about sexuality, about what I like, don't like, how I am selfish, and how my partners were selfish (I had one that refused me oral sex but demanded it of me). I'm not going to apologize for being a woman who expresses her sexuality. I will not apologize for being a woman who has sex.

And neither should you. Never apologize for being a sexual person. Don't let others tell you you should be ashamed, that "women don't act that way," that you're not being "classy" (again, whatever the fuck that means). The sexual double standard holds that if I was a man, I'd be getting high-fives from my dudebros right now for my sexual past, but, as a woman, I am labeled a "slut" and "whoreish." 

Fuck. That. Noise. 

Do what you want to do and be proud. Fuck who you want to fuck. Explore. Try something new. Stop being ashamed that you masturbate. Stop lying to yourself that you don't enjoy sex when you do. If you want someone, approach them; what's the worst response, "no?" Be proud of your breasts, get to know your vagina and your clitoris. Explore. Be happy. But in no way, in no form, does anyone have the right to pass judgement on how you, as a person, are a sexual person, to impose their own moral belief-set on how you live your life. It'll be hard at first. Take baby steps.

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