Feed on

I got a lot of traffic from last night’s post and received a personal e-mail taking me to task for “armchair quarterbacking” the interview. To that, I must concede a point. The line I was called on was,

Mo and Tracey, if they had any goddamn sense could have made hay on how much fun safe sex and the accouterments thereof can be. Since they failed to, perhaps it’s time others amongst us should.

I was scolded for my arrogance in implying that I could have done better and that my way is the only way. I’ll be the first to admit that I am as fallible as any human and that I’m inclined to rate my own opinion too highly. Yes, my statement that they didn’t say the right things was arrogant. They exercised their right to their own opinion, as did I. I can’t go and say that I think their opinion is dumb without coming off like a godawful asshole. I do apologise for my arrogance, however I maintain that the interview was a wellspring of missed opportunities for intelligent yet light-spirited feminist, sex-positive discourse.

I’ve been thinking some more about what I wrote last night and I think I failed to articulate part of what was on my mind. A point I was trying to make and which slid through the cracks was that despite the fact that I came of age in a place that was still pretty anti-feminist and socially conservative, there was a broader cultural phenomenon of sex-positive discourse going on, and those of us who were primed to seek it out, to read between the lines, and to educate ourselves had a good chance of getting and internalizing the message. There was a shift in mores that led women away from the “gatekeeper role” in which they were principally responsible for determining how far to “go,” and more into the role of an active, informed participant who was encouraged to seek out sexual fulfillment and take responsibility for her health, fertility, and pleasure.

I think there is a need for publicly-available, widespread, sex-positive sexual education. In the time I was a highschool student, our sex-ed, while reasonably comprehensive, definitely took a negative slant toward the entire experience. It was implied that having sex was risky, foolish, and morally questionable. We were told about disease-and-pregnancy-prevention but it was emphasized (perhaps overemphasized) that if you “did it,” you could GET PREGNANT, CATCH AIDS, RUIN YOUR REPUTATION, AND DIE!!!!11ONE!!1 To a kid like the one I was, the message was pretty dark, and yeah, it put me off experimentation for quite a while, but for some of my friends who were less malleable, the XTREEEM doom-n-gloom message rang hollow and they didn’t take much of the advice very seriously.

Some folks feel very strongly that sexual education should be the sole province of a kid’s parents. I think that’s awfully short sighted considering that sexual experience doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Teenagers will and do talk about sex. A lot. I remember the rounds of off-color jokes, the gossip about who’s “easy” or who is a “good lay,” and the salacious joy we got out of listening to music with “dirty” lyrics. A lot of misinformation was bandied about by my peers, especially about birth control and protection. I was a kid who was “scared straight;” I wasn’t willing to experiment sexually, but I was avid for my more adventuresome friends’ kiss-and-tell stories, no matter how far fetched. Discussing some of the sexual urban legends and common misconceptions in a moderated forum like a sex-ed class would have been of immense benefit to the lot of us.

Time for a digression! It’s no secret that I unironically enjoy cheesy girl-pop including cheesy Japanese girl-pop like Hello!Project. A few years ago, H!P’s Morning Musume did a cover of a 1980s hit by a group called Onyanko Club (the song being “Se-ra-fuku wo nugasanaide” which translates as “Please don’t make me take off my sailor-uniform). From a website that discusses this song and gives an English translation of the lyrics, it goes:

Don’t make me take off my sailor uniform.
It’s wrong right now. Be patient.
Don’t make me take off my sailor uniform
It’s bad, it’s wrong to do it here.
Girls are always “mimidoshima” (a girl who experiences sexual activity vicariously through other people’s stories)
I’m studying!
Ah, everyday.
I want to “do H” (meaning anywhere from making out to having sex)
before my friends
But I’m too cowardly to go farther than kissing.
I want to “do H”
like that shown in the weekly magazines (probably refering to Friday , etc.)
But it’d be a waste to give you everything,
so I won’t give it to you.
Don’t make me take off my sailor uniform.
You’ll turn up everything up ’til my skirt.
Don’t make me take off my sailor uniform
Don’t untie the ribbon on my chest.
What do boys do at that time?
I’m so interested!
Ah, such a mystery!
I’m invited on a date.
It’s boring to be a virgin.
Mom and dad don’t know
About us staying out tomorrow night.
I’m a little scared,
But it’s boring to be a virgin.
I’ll become an old-lady, so before that
Eat my delicious heart.

After I looked into the history of the song and found the translated lyrics, I realized that this song , while kind of “scandalous” to American ears, actually is a pretty straightforward representation of the ambivalent nature of adolescent sexuality, at least from a girl’s standpoint. The discussion of the term “mimidoshima” in the comments of this fellow’s site stood out for me, because that was definitely my experience of coming-of-age. In fact, a lot of the attitude of this song, of wanting to experiment but being nervous or afraid really resonated with me. Like many schoolgirls, I had crushes, often on older guys, but was too shy to try to act on that. Due to the impetus of biology, I was interested in, nay fascinated by sex, but I also recognized that I wasn’t ready.

Anyway, back on track. Primed by Sassy inspired by Kim Gordon and made over by the local mall’s interpretations of Cher’s girly-girl clothes a whole rash of us flipped a Hard Candy bird to how we were supposed to look and act, pairing childish dresses with gnarly Doc Martins, asking out boys we liked, and airing our Bust-and-Bitch inspired views of TV commercials, billboards, and slogan t-shirts in tiny acts of what would come to be known as Third Wave Feminism. I’d say that most my early feminist acts were largely superficial, but to put it in context, I was 18 in 1995; very few of us are especially deep at 18. Sars of Tomato Nation wrote an essay a few years ago that encapsulated the credo of many of us pupal feminists of the time. If you said you were, then you were. What you did with that affirmation was up to you, but it was a starting point and a touchstone. I think one of the key points of the Third Wave Feminism was the idea that standing up for your rights could be fun.

Within that context, post-highschool I began to come out of my shell and realize that a woman who took responsibility for her health and safety could have a good time. While I was always pretty conservative in my own behaviors, I had some friends who were pretty wild and I could appreciate how they went about their sexual adventures. There was a lot of emphasis on mutual enjoyment. I came to understand, accept, and internalize the idea that sexual intercourse did not have to exist in an environment of power-play, that a couple should be equal partners. That was empowering, realizing that the idea of equal power extended beyond business, politics, and housekeeping.

2 Responses to “Let's talk about sex – some more”

  1. themis says:

    I am largely unaware of Jezebel except when Manolo links their fluffy gossip-rag pieces from his pop culture blog. I checked out the blow-by-blow after you wrote about the kerfuffle yesterday, and I’m left thinking: I am kind of glad I have been largely unaware of Jezebel.

    What I saw yesterday has me convinced more than ever that women are highly skilled at keeping other women down — and furthermore, the kinds of women who like to keep other women down, by judging them for having different experiences or attitudes or manners of dress than their sainted own, appear to congregate there. So yeah — lots of missed opportunities; lots of two sides not communicating effectively nor listening to anything that deviates from their accepted dogma.

    How about just knowing that all women are worthy and lifting them up and loving them. We don’t all have to pop out of whatever mold.

  2. affovaPar says:

    It’s amazing

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