If you’re of a sensitive disposition I’m discussing all sorts of bodily functions in here and using my personal experience as examples. I think if these things make you feel uncomfortable then you would probably get something from continuing to read.
Jenni Murray does not often annoy me, in fact I rather adore her sensible feminist viewpoint (don’t get me started on the frequent idiocy and far too often sex-negativity of Jane Garvey). This morning Jenni Murray annoyed me. She was discussing the recent Bodyform response to a facebook post by one Richard Neill in which he laments the lack of his girlfriend indulging in extreme sports at that time of the month. It’s quite funny (I particularly loved the little dig at Always and the little wobbly red jelly that was never actually commented on). Jenni brought up the recent Lil-lets campaign as part of the discussion. One of the new Lil-lets posters says ‘If your body makes you feel a bit horny it’s because your body knows an orgasm is one of the best natural ways to ease the discomfort of cramps’.
This is a true statement. An orgasm might not be the best way for everyone and I reccomend a human wrought miracle IBRUPROFEN as being somewhat superior in the pain-killing stakes. I personally find orgasm astoundingly difficult to achieve when on my period and not altogether worth the time taken over it in purely pain-killing/feeling slightly better terms. (I know that some of you are confused and thinking that this maybe icky – a brief 101 for you: I use a mooncup or tampons during my period and prefer clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm, this is usually means I avoid getting menstrual blood on my fingers/vibrator when masturbating.)
Jenni Murray took the viewpoint that, because a male-member of the Lil-lets marketing team was happiest about the fact he got to use the word ‘horny’ in an advert, the poster was an example of men pushing sexuality onto young women even during their periods. Bad and nasty men for inflicting their dirty sex on us chaste girls during our private time of the month! Alright that was a lot of sarcasm right there but I felt so angry whereas when I heard about the Lil-lets campaign I thought ‘FINALLY’. (I did then check that that poster wasn’t all there was to this campaign otherwise my reaction may well have swung more inline with Ms Murray’s.)
Finally we can start talking about sex in a genuine way. Finally we can talk about the grubby bits – because do you know what annoys me most about the male reaction to periods? The refusal to talk about it because it’s a bit gross. This to me smacks of the problem this culture has with it’s supposed over-sexualisation of, well, everything (which is what Ms Murray reacted to in the ‘sexualisation’ of a woman’s period) as well as it’s simultaneous ability not to talk about sex.
Perhaps I’ve confused you. How can we possibly ‘sexualise’ everything and also not talk about it? Well that’s one’s confused me for years…seriously let me explain.
Our culture is not over-sexualised (there were quote marks up there and everything) – it is over-commercialised and we are being fed this bollocks notion that because the comercial images we get are using sex to sell to us that that is what sex is, and that it’s the only thing that sex is. This is problematic because when people try and talk about sex, real, genuine sex we have to contend with this notion that we’re talking in paletable media definitions. A similar and connected thing happens when you try and talk about sex-workers because the media definition is that they’re all exploited victims (which leads to unhelpful rants by sex-positive feminists when they should be trying to raise the level of the conversation). Given that we have the media fed view of what sex is: violent, animalistic penis penetration of vagina by studly men with rippling muscles and blonde women who are passive sluts those of us who talk about sex as openly as we can are assumed to fit those roles and, given that we’re talking about roles from over-commercialised porn-films, are assumed to fit certain stereotypes. If we’re women we’re sluts who have no self-respect and are probably exploited prostitutes, and if we’re men we’re practically rapists taking advantage of those women.
The thing that made me really angry about Jenni Murray feeding into this is that though these media caricatures are problematic for both men and women the people that sex negativity within this revoluting culture really harms are of course women.
Sex-negativity leads to no genuine talking about sex, now this can be a good thing for a minority of people because it potentially allows them to discover sex for themselves, in private with someone they trust and so it has the potential to be a wonderful thing with no external pressures. That’s great in an ideal world. Shame we don’t live in an ideal world really.
When nobody talks about sex this leaves children open to predators. What exactly is bad touch? “My trusted male relative said that this was ok and no-one is telling me that it’s not…” When nobody talks about sex this means that when someone complains people are too embarrassed to want to believe them, too embarrassed to want to take it further because nobody wants to hear about it.
We need to talk about sex, we need to talk about what it really is because although you’d think that, looking at half the naked and sexed up images that are out there, we must know it all by now we don’t. I have had too many female friends over the age of eighteen asking me for maps of exactly what is down between their legs (seriously I am happy to do this should you ask I am simply suggesting that you not knowing is a product of our culture), please take out mirrors and look, use your fingers, no one is going to know if you’re doing it right or wrong and if you can’t work out how to do it right there are a zillion women like you – so come ask. I used to have a lot of male friends ask me what to do with girls bits as well, I suspect that happens less often because I’m less approachable these days to men of the right age.
NOBODY KNOWS WHAT TO DO UNTIL THEY’VE HAD A LOT OF SEX. IT’S A LEARNT SKILL LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE.
Seriously, I’ve had a lot of sex and I’ve come across precisely two people who seemed to know how to do it instinctively and actually both of them were fantastically empathic people. That is what should lead to two people in love having the most fantastic sex ever I would assume but in my experience people who’re in love are often more hung up on impressing each other or not screwing up to get it down because they don’t wait to get comfortable with each other. Now friends it’s easy to get comfortable with.
Me, I’m not big on the love stuff and I find really intimate loving sex hot but I’ll save that for special occaisions as I get very exhausted by emotions. I’ll stick to the fun stuff that’s a bit easier and about technique rather than empathy thankyou very much. (Who said it wasn’t obvious I have Aspergers?)
We need to talk about sex and we need to talk about love and we need to talk about what’s normal, what’s not and what’s dangerous. We need to know what people actually do. This British stiff upper lip is great for getting us through obvious external threats but it’s crap when it comes to sneaking hideousness.
The example that springs to my mind is listening to radio four over a Saturday lunch-time (these were the best lunches when I lived at home as they came immediately after a shopping trip so were full of nom) when a story about pedophilia in the boy-scouts broke. My Dad began a rant in which he exploded with rage about…homosexuality? Now, I was not very old and nor was The Princess (her being two years younger than me) but it seemed to me that my Dad was conflating two things which were very distinct, and I said so. (I did not know at that point that I was anything other than straight, I hadn’t really thought about my sexuality very much, I was a kid). Cue rant turned on me. As far as my Dad was concerned at that point homosexuals and pedophiles were all in the same boat – in his defence he was raised in a culture which thought that way (Australia 1940s-1960s) and at the time lived in a culture which largely thought that way (UK 1980s) but I could not understand it, the two are obviously very separate to me.
Unfortunately in terms of political lobby groups they haven’t always been. Now I was aware of the most disturbing group known to man in America – NAMBLA. That stands for the North American Man/Boy Love Association and it was only kicked out of the Internation LGBT Association in 1994. (It’s membership having been opposed within the organisation throughout it’s history). It still exists. It’s agenda is exclusively to do with homosexual pedophilic sex. It does not believe that trauma occurs during child sexual abuse but rather during societal discovery of child sexual abuse. They are wrong, if they were talking about child sexual experience then they might be correct but they aren’t, they are talking about adults using children and adolescents.
I was not aware of PIE until recently and when I came across it I pretty much cried. PIE is an acronym for the Paedophile Information Exchange and it was associated with the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and groups like Liberty. Hariet Harman has even been in trouble for her associations with it because it was once regarded as a legitimate group.
Now this sort of thing means that a lot of people think that any and all information on sex is a bad thing. The Mail is currently condemning the NHS for funding a sexual information website aimed at teenagers. In fairness I think a host of people could learn a great deal from reading it.
It also means that those of us who believe that everything should be questioned, that everything should be up for discussion so that we better understand the whys are wherefores of society get lumped in with people who want to change safekeeping laws into laws that are harmful ones. Because people prefer to understand via simplicity rather than questioning and discussion you end up with my Dad lumping homosexuality and pedophilia together.
Organisations like PIE and NAMBLA took the possibility of discussion of child and adolescent sexuality away from legitimate discussion and into the realm of the pedophile. (I now have a horrid image in my head of somewhere that looks like Mordor with Jimmy Saville in the role of Sauron.) With that discussion no longer able to be had anyone who attempts it is looked sideways at, the harder it gets for children and adolescents to talk about sexuality with sensible and non-threatening adults weirdly enough the easier prey they become. If anyone is taking away anything from the current media circus of what exactly Jimmy Saville was up to then it should be that whilst we are silent about what sex is it becomes easier for those who wish to abuse the innocent and vulnerable to do so.
The more embarrassed and uncomfortable we are, the more we see sex as this unrealistic cartoon the more real sex gets lost, abuse becomes easier and terrifying, intensely orgasmic loving sex slips away into the land of the fairytale.
I have drifted into the pedophile scandal again – it really bothers me. Pedophilia has always been something that has deeply disturbed me but it is only one of the extremes that a society that doesn’t talk openly about sex faces. A more common occurence is the commercialisation of sex.
By that I don’t mean prostitution. I mean the viewing of sex as a transaction, an example:
Guy takes girl out for expensive dinner. Girl decides that he has tried hard enough and thus deserves sex. Girl puts out.
Time and time again people around me prove that they think sex is some sort of transaction with the man wanting the sex more than the woman. This is part of the problem with the crappy ill-thought through pornography that is around today and which is infecting the mainstream media. I have a tendancy to buy men (and women) I like drinks, this is because I’m damned sure that if they like me they’ll buy me drinks back and if we do end up in bed they’d better know that it’s not because they paid for me. It’s not actually as thought through as that but it does set a particular tone for a night out, especially once they work out that I’m even-stevensing it. I’m concentrating on heterosexual sex because the same expectations are not set up when I’m with another woman.
Oh and yes I do on occaision walk into bars and ask to know who’s buying for the night – this is when I have no money. When I do have money you’d better believe I have an idea in the back of my head who bought me drinks when I didn’t and thus who I go to the bar for when I do. The amount of pretty women who assume I don’t reciprocate because they’ve seen me had drinks bought for me really annoys me.
One of the things that a transactional model of sex usually does is set up the notion that girls aren’t really that into sex (which Jenni Murray seemed to be playing into). If you’re a girl and you’re not really into sex you’re probably doing it wrong, if you need to be warmed up to it then that’s allowed, if you need to read Fifty Shades of Grey that week or something equally embarrassing then that’s allowed, if you haven’t worked out what turns you on then it’s allowed to try out a multitude of different things. I personally found that using a vibrator whilst on a website was really hot but you know what? Most people don’t seem to be into that.
Another thing it does is require the guy to be the initiator and active partner (it also assumes there will be an active and passive partner), well that just sucks for both parties, particularly when you’re as enthusiastic about sex as I am.
Mostly what the problem is though, is that it takes the soul out of sex. Transactional exchanges are at base very simplistic. I give you this, you give me that, we’re done. Wam, bam, thankyou ma’am. Now, in the buffet of my sex-life I am pretty happy with the h’ors douvres of a quickie, but not if it’s the only thing on offer! Sex is more akin to art or a game. I would suggest a game when it’s between two lovers (and thus my preferred sort of sex) – If I do this then you do that, hah I’ll do this here! You did that there, right I’m doing this. Immense fun had by all. (I also like group sex and am missing that at the moment).
Art takes it’s time to build up, it’s about atmosphere, context and communication, this is the sort of sex that Daily Mail readers (well the sex-positive ones anyway) think is the only sort we should be having with the partner we are married to. It’s the sort of sex you need to have been shagging someone for years before having (The Jellicle and I have been shagging for ten years as of this June, Weasel and me not quite four). It’s completely exhausting and I very much doubt that even the most adoring of monogamous couples could do it right more than once or twice a week, possibly a month. I can completely see why people might be trying to promote that as ‘the best sort’ of sex but without the practice/recovery/other sex it is incredibly unlikely. Without the discussion of the reality of sex I think that that sort of sex becomes almost impossible to have.