When I was little I wanted what every little kid wanted: to grow up. And as a girl, I was taught that being beautiful was part of being grown-up. The fact that most of the grown women around me did not fit the stereotype of what was "beautiful" seemed to have little impact.
My father ignored me. He treated me like an inconvenient little thing. He had a subscription to Playboy and looked at his magazines often. Thatís all he ever did. Heíd come home from work and sit in front of the TV, reading his newspaper or looking at his Playboys, while my mother served him dinner.
Sometimes my Dad would show pictures from Playboy to my Mom and ask why she couldnít look like thatÖeven though she was very pretty and he looked nothing like the men in Playgirl. My Momís self-esteem was already low and sheíd always had issues with her body and her weight. My father was very critical of my Mom in other ways as well.
I figured out early on that I didnít want to spend my life cooking for and cleaning up after somebody else. I decided that I didnít even want to have kids. I became very rebellious against my parents because I didnít want to end up like either one of them.
I had learned that as a girl, my only value lay in looking good and getting a man, and that without those two things I was nothing. At age 12 I started teasing my hair out, putting on heavy makeup, and wearing tight jeans and miniskirts. It made me feel more independent and grown-up. I craved male attention, although I didnít realize it. At the young age of 14, I almost killed myself because the boy I loved broke up with me. It wasnít his fault that I reacted so badly. It had to do with how I was raised.
Whatís strange is the disparity between the way that boys think and the way that girls think. Weíre raised very differently. As girls we read teen magazines that tell us how to look good, how to get a boyís love, how to tell if a boy likes us, etc. It was all very exciting and romanticóor so it seemed.
Boys never read this type of thing. There are no teen magazines like that for boys. Instead, boys are exposed to pornography at a very young age. The average age of first exposure is 11 or 12Öabout the same time that girls start reading teen magazines.
I didnít know how the boys saw me. I dressed up so they would like me, not because I wanted sex. Itís not that I didnít have sexual desires or feelings, because I definitely did. Itís just that I understood sex within the context of relationships. I wanted to be close to boys and perhaps be sexually stimulated, but I wasnít dying to have intercourse anytime soon.
If boys were romance objects to us, we were sex objects to them.. While we thought we were attracting love and attention, the boys thought we were trying to attract sex. If we wore miniskirts, it must have been because we wanted sex. If we wore lipstick it must have been because we wanted sex. If we spoke to them or looked at them it must have been because we wanted sex. If we stretched our backs out because they hurt, it must have been because we wanted them to look at our breasts because we wanted sex. It was ridiculous.
Of course, we did want sex, but not all the time and not with everybody. We wanted it at the right time, with the right person, and in the right way. Itís not that we didnít have a strong sexual relationship with our own bodies either, because we did. Well, at least I did. But for me, as for most girls that I knew, it was all clitoral. I had not been bombarded with all the imagery of typical pornography that the boys had.
However, thatís exactly what they believed in. Intercourse became the sex act and the only sex act. The first time I had sex, at age 15, it was amazing how little of anything else besides intercourse actually happened. I didnít even know the boy that well and I wasnít in love with him. I was just anxious to have sex by that time and had already given up on Prince Charming. I thought it would be a really wonderful thing - like when I masturbated, except a million times better.
I knew the boy was supposed to wear a condom, so I made him put one on. However, I apparently didnít know why. When he put his penis inside me, I thought "He actually puts it inside?!" I thought it was the strangest thing. Of course, Iíd heard the word intercourse, but I thought it just meant just the rubbing of genitals together. I didn't have an accurate picture of what the actual act of intercourse was. Now I could almost laugh at my ignorance, but whatís sad is that nobody told me. My mother had given me a sentimental view of sex that involved a "mommy" and "daddy" who love each other naked in bed together. Anyway, I didnít say anything to the boy because I didnít want him to think I was ignorant. I just tried to relax and enjoy it, but there wasnít much to enjoy. It wasnít very painful, it was just wasnít very good, either. I never had anything vaguely resembling an orgasm at any pointóbut he did, of course. When it was over he just laid there, stared at the ceiling, and didnít even touch me. He was 17.
I wondered what went wrong. I wondered why my clitoris wasnít getting any action. I thought that maybe I was supposed to have an orgasm through intercourse, that there was something "inside" me that was supposed to go off but that I just couldnít find it or that mine was broken or something. So I kept having sex with different guys because I thought I was missing something. Eventually I learned that I wasnít missing anythingóthey were.
They say that pornography teaches people about sex, but really it just keeps people ignorant. Itís amazing that no matter how much porn men watch, they still donít know jack shit about womenís sexuality.
Hereís another example: one time in high school I was sitting with a group of boys and another girl and one of them said a girl could theoretically take a bag of dope and hide it in her clit. I asked, "How could she hide it in her clit?" They all looked at me like I was stupid. The other girl laughed and said, "She must have a really big clit." I said, "Maybe she could hide it in her vagina but she couldnít hide it in her clit!" The boys all stared at me angrily. I could feel the hostility. Finally one of them said "Clit, vir-gin-ia, whatever!" They all got up and left without saying good-bye, like they just wanted to get away from me. And now at the age of 22, after seven years of having sex and nearly 20 partners, I do not cease to be amazed at how little men actually know about the female body, what women want sexually, and what pleases women sexually. Some women are afraid to speak up about it because they are met with such hostility.
Of course, itís not all about the clit. Itís the complete lack of sensuality in general. Just stick it in and pull it out. I mean, how much fun is that? At worst itís painful and at best itís boring. To me, as to most women, sex should be a full body experience, involving all five senses and pleasing every part of the body.
We should know that pornography is bad because it objectifies women, degrades women, and takes advantage of impoverished and abused women. However, something rarely mentioned is that pornography actually promotes bad sex. From the women Iíve spoken to, my experience isnít uncommon at all. I want to enjoy sex, but itís hard to when pornography is coloring what goes on in our bedrooms.
Pornography claims that it will give us freedom of speech. However, it has only given us silence. Pornography claims that it will give us sexual freedom, but it has only given us sexual slavery. Pornography claims that it will give us sex that is fun and exciting, but instead it has given us sex that is boring, and sometimes brutal. Pornography claims that it will give us sexual education but instead it has given us sexual ignorance. Pornography claims that it will bring men and women closer together, but instead it has pushed as farther apart.
Our problem is twofold. First, pornography is telling us so much about sex and its version of what sex "is" and second, everyone else has told us so little. Oh sure, we learned about STDs and stuff, but no one tells us how to have sex or be sensual.
The only thing to fill the silence is pornography, and it speaks mostly to the boys. Some girls trust that boys will teach them about sex because they are the ones who are supposed to know. However, what we learn is they know nearly nothing, and that too many of them treat us as nothing more than poke holes. We continue to blame ourselves for not enjoying sex, thinking that we are "frigid" or defective because our sexuality does not conform to what has become the status quo.
I donít advocate the censorship of pornography. I don't know what the solution is, beyond being educated about it, educating others, and speaking openly about it. I think that those three things are very powerful themselves.
What women need to start doing is speaking the truth about how we really think and feel and what we really want sexually, regardless of what others think of us or say about us. We donít have to be overly sentimental about if we donít want to and, simultaneously, we donít have to prove to anyone that we can fuck "like men."
We need to let people, men and women, know that the pornography industry did not invent sex and it doesnít own it. We can take our sexuality back, but we need to have courage. Sex is really a beautiful thing and together we can make it beautiful again. It will be difficult, but in the end, it will make life better for all of us.
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