I have wanted to write about this for a long time. I have so much to say about it. The problem is that I don’t have any stories about it– not that I am willing to share, at least. The world belongs to people who have the best stories. Sexual liberation belongs to women who are willing to stand up and say “I have sex! I have this much sex with this many people, and it’s okay!” or “I dress like this, so take that society!” Purity, modesty, and all that is pro-Virgin power comes from personal testimonies and Conservatively told bible stories.
And then there’s me.
Of course, I admire people who do tell their stories. They have changed my life, and the world really does belong to them. Stories have a neat way of improving social consciousness, evolving into full-blown movements. [Insert Pokemon evolution joke here?].
Me, I really don’t have a story that will change your life. I could probably make you laugh, but ultimately I’m not willing to share whether I’ve said Yes or No–certainly, I’m not telling the internet, nor my parents, nor most people I know. That doesn’t make me ashamed, by the way. I am fully comfortable with my sexuality. And I’m fully comfortable with keeping it to myself.
But since stories run the show, I will tell you the stories I know.
I know stories about women saying Yes, and it being a big problem. I know stories about women saying No, and it being a big problem. I know stories about misogyny disguised as miscommunication. I also know stories of miscommunication disguised as misogyny–God bless the little boys who receive mixed messages and lowered bars from society every day.
I know stories about people ashamed of what they have done, because that big bully “Society” told them they ought to be. Then there the people ashamed of what they haven’t done. There’s also shame in the couldn’t do, wouldn’t do–or, God forbid, like to do.
Oh, and there’s shame in what people don’t like to do, too. Sometimes, the don’t likes meet the likes and they confuse and shame each other. Fun, right?
I know stories about women who proudly wear the title “sexually liberated” because, well, they have a lot of sex and they want to own it and good for them. I know stories about women who are “sexually liberated,” or “sex positive,” but don’t have a lot of sex at all. I have heard tall tales from people who pretend they have more sex than they actually do, because they want to be part of the conversation. And then, of course, there are heartbreaking stories from folks who pretend they have less sex than they actually do, because that’s what is acceptable.
To make matters more confusing, these stories can all belong to the same person. Whether you’re in a Eucharist line or a picket line, chances are your sexual history is more definitive of who you are as a person than it should be.
Yes, I know stories. And so many of these stories make want to run up and give their keepers a big hug and say “It’s okay! You’re okay! You aren’t broken.”
Everyone is just trying to figure their shit out. If sexuality was sensible, reasonable, formulated, and mundane, then it wouldn’t be so friggin’ funny. And it is funny. It’s ridiculous. It’s romantic. It’s silly.
Welcome to human relationships, friends–they’re weird. When people take their clothes off, they get even weirder. So no, they don’t need your judgement. They need love, they need information. Please leave the close-mindedness at the door.
Oh, yes, there are serious things involved in sexuality: Health. Pregnancy. HIV. Disease. Emotional well-being. Rape. Consent. And we’re awfully good at confusing people about the serious parts by making up stupid rules about the ridiculous parts. These things need to be discussed honestly, but we keep loading them down with arbitrary social standards. Why? Do we really need to make sex more emotionally loaded and confusing?
Here’s what we need to do: Care about the stories. Let them speak. Respect the storytellers. Share your own stories, if you want to. And whatever your story is, however different it is than someone elses, whatever you choose to do with it: You aren’t broken.
You’re just another person with a story and a body, and no matter what, those two things belong to you and you alone.
Thanks to the overwhelming response to this blog post, I started an online project to tap into the power of sharing our stories. Check it out here: http://tabootab.com/category/sexuality/