Hello, again! It’s cold here, but I’ve got a fire in the wood stove, and a cozy lap blanket…and I’m about to heat up this blog with a little sex talk!
If you’re not into that, this would be a good time to bow out ’til Saturday the 31st, since I’ll have sexy topics till then. Still want to visit? May I recommend, one or more of these vintage posts, selected for your reading pleasure?
What attitudes and beliefs do you have about sex? Are they the same as those your parents instilled in you, as a child? If you have children, what attitudes and beliefs have you tried to impart to them?
I was sharing a cuddle with my daughter earlier, and asked her how she supposed, with all the daughters I could have had, I got lucky enough to have her.
“You had sex with Daddy,” she answered, with ten-and-a-half year old certainty, and utterly without shame. To her, sex is just that – a matter-of-fact part of grown-up life, something she’ll probably do herself someday.
Shame was a large part of my childhood. It was used to keep me in line, to let me know when I had let my parents down, to discourage me from doing things I wanted to do that they didn’t approve of.
My mother would often point a finger at me, and stroke another over it, in a motion that reminded me of peeling a carrot, and chant, “Shame, shame on you.”
When it came to sex, shame was her primary attitude. If I had sex, or even wanted to, before I was married, I ought to be ashamed of myself.
‘Nice girls say yes. GOOD girls don’t. Don’t be nice; be good.”
The refrain still echoes in my forty-five year old ears. I was raised to be a good girl. I was raised to ‘save myself’ for marriage. I was raised to deny my sexual drives, to be chaste until my wedding night….
I’m glad I chose differently.
I was eleven, and asked how women got pregnant, my mother said that the baby got in the same way it came out, and she’d tell me more when I got older… but she never did.
I was terrified when I had my first real boyfriend at the age of 17, because the things I felt for him and with him went way beyond innocence. Every fumbling touch brought guilt, even though we remained completely dressed. I couldn’t talk to my mother about these “dirty” feelings of mine, and stay a ‘good girl’.
In my late teens, I had a boyfriend I wanted to marry. My mother coerced a promise from me that I would come to her and tell her if I really wanted to have sex – before I did. I made the promise – I still lived at home, and the consequences of NOT promising would have been severe – but I knew even then that I wasn’t likely to keep it. Why? Because I knew that her intent was to try to talk me out of it, rather than really discuss the pros and cons of taking that step.
I lost my virginity a month shy of my twenty-first birthday. I had recently moved away from home, in no small part because of my parents‘ rule that I was not allowed to have sex while I lived under their roof (my two brothers had no such rule; we were a true Double Standard family.)
The first man I had sex with was twice my age, and married. With all the sexual shaming in my growing up, the denial of information and open, non-judgmental communication, I was nearly defenseless against a skilled sexual conquistador.
Because of the shaming I’d been raised with, I found it nearly impossible, at that point in my life, to express anger, hurt, sorrow, pain, desire, or other strong feelings. In some sense, I was locked into myself,unable to reach out. I couldn’t explore my sexuality first within a relationship; I would have become frozen and unresponsive to be that vulnerable and exposed.
He was skilled, patient, and generous. He took his time with me, and initiated me with tenderness. I’m grateful to him for that, even though, at the time, I was ashamed of my inability to resist his advances – the advances of someone who knew how to break down defenses.
I might not have chosen that, if my own sexuality hadn’t been treated as something to be ashamed of. I would have loved to have had a mother I could talk with about it, as things were developing. I might have chosen differently, and I certainly would have been better able to make an informed decision, rather than being overwhelmed by the charm of this man twice my age. I would have known the allure young women have for men dealing with the anxieties of midlife, and marriages that perhaps aren’t all they want them to be. I would have been informed, and empowered, in a way that I wasn’t.
When my mother learned I was no longer a virgin (through my sister, not me), she ignored me for six weeks. I was twenty-three years old.
Tim and I were together for 11 months and 6 days when he died on a rainy April morning. We were living together “in sin”, as my mother liked to say. If I’d waited for marriage to have sex, I would have missed out on some beautiful experiences – and Tim would have died without the solace and pleasure of sexual intimacy. Instead, we had a rich and varied sex life; one that sustained and delighted us both. There was absolutely nothing shameful about it.
I was twenty-eight when I married my Accomplice. He‘s always been glad I wasn’t a virgin (You see, I learned some things along the way, and he’s reaped the benefit of that experience for nearly eighteen years). Several years after I was married, my mother told me that she still thought there would come a day when I would be “sorry and ashamed” that I wasn’t married a virgin.
Well, I’m not sorry, and I’m not ashamed. What I find shameful in the paradigm I was raised within – the attempt to control my sexuality by denying it, to hold it back so that it wouldn’t be uncomfortable for my parents.
And there’s no way I’m passing those attitudes on to my own daughter. I’m glad she’s not ashamed, that she’s informed, and knows she can talk to me. I’m glad she’ll grow into her own sexuality with knowledge and strength. Better for her; better for her partner or partners in this oldest and most intimate of dances.
Maybe, even, better for the world.