This past week, I tried to find an old journal for my Flash Fiction cover image so I grabbed my first one from 2000. What I had thought to be innocent weird notes of a fifth grader ended up being snippets of high school. I hadn't remembered writing in my journal then. But what I found was an exasperated and inexperienced teenager writing about her first sexual encounters with the depressing point of view taught by movies, porn, and well... society.
Not only had I expressed confusion as to why I couldn't finish, though the poor guy "tried so hard" and was "so selfless", but I described myself as damaged. True I had partners before my first boyfriend, but there was no reason I should have felt ashamed about it. I remember having regretted it at one point, looking back though, I have no idea why. I also have no idea why I was so taken by this boy who I thought was being so patient and kind to me. I wasn't damaged and he wasn't being exceptionally loving, just a decent human being... at best.
What I do remember is exactly what I thought about sex.
Sex was defined by the man. It started with penetration and ended when the guy finished. Because it's harder for the girl to finish, it was sort of a *bonus* if she finished along the way. Though I also thought it would just happen, if it was going to, so it wasn't part of the plan, just a side thought.
I had attempted to search these things on my laptop in high school, trying to find out how other women did it. Then, like most teens, I wound up on porn. Which ultimately did nothing to help my problem. The guys always creeped me out and I already knew how their half worked, they did just fine. But what about the women? Even today most of the time if I see a woman finish she's with another woman. Like there's no choice, someone's gotta do it.
Which is why I was super excited when I found a porn site with actual sex information for women. Sure there are fantasies that will probably never happen for most of the people that view this site. Alongside that though, is honest real-life sex talk. My favorite of which so far is about the orgasm gap and why those men are finishing so much more. And why I had believed those lies.
Luckily, I've moved on from my old beliefs. Enough that when I dated a man that wanted to label me as damaged I didn't believe him. Though, I did have some serious side effects from being treated as a broken person, like depression and loss of sexual desire. Which is where my second favorite post comes in because it introduced me to a new podcast! The first Sluts and Scholars episode I listened to was about recovering from sexual abuse and harassment. Originally, I had listened to it because I wanted to hear this point of view for the fiction I write. I want to write about healthy sexual situations and that could possibly contain someone recovering from sexual harassment. What I hadn't pictured was personally relating to it.
Recovering from sexual harassment is a process for each person that can include rediscovering your own sexual desires and preferences. At the end of my relationship, I was completely asexual. I never thought about it. I never desired it. It just wasn't a thing for me. Sex had become a job, a chore to do once a week to prove I was really in love with my ex. Once I did it, I was literally counting myself as 'good for another week'. It was a horrible situation to put someone in and being guilted into sex is not part of a healthy relationship. Not only that, but being told I was "feeling the wrong things" and there was no excuse for me not to be sexually attracted to my oh-so-handsome boyfriend wasn't helping, but that's another topic altogether.
So when the depression was gone and I was finally thinking about sex again, I felt amazing. It wasn't even the actual act of it, because I did go several months without it. It was just the knowledge of knowing I had my desire back. That I even wanted it.
Both of these finds, including the porn that actually focuses on women, makes this such a valuable thing to have. Women's sexuality should be seen as equally important to men's and equally celebrated, not shamed. So thank you to all the women (and possibly men) that actually believe this and want to spread it to other women and men. Because had either my boyfriend or I found these 10 years ago, those journal entries would have been a lot different.
I hope young women get to grow up knowing what safe, healthy, consensual, open and honest sex is.