Lately it seems, it's everywhere I turn. Sex.
Recently some children were visiting in my home with my children. One of them asked me if "my man" had bought my house for me. To his surprise (and maybe my own), I blushed a little and then laughed. No, my man wasn't the owner of my house. And by the way I don't have "a man."
I read a blog about how women in many evangelical circles these days are viewed as the "weaker vessels" and therefore unable to resist men if said men want to have sex with them. Apparently our free will flies right out the window in the presence of a penis.
It reminded me of the gender issues of my childhood brand of Christianity...that is...if a man strayed in his marriage, it was because a temptress had taken over somehow. He couldn't help himself. Men could not be expected to control their carnal urges when women flaunt themselves in front of them.
This reminded me of the women I know who think a man is incapable of being faithful and monogamous, because they are, well, men. And that reminded me of men who think women are all secretly lusting after some other man, not their mate.
This reminded me of the demise of my own marriage and how I spent a long time thinking about what all I had done wrong, and how perhaps my yo-yo weight lead my husband to look elsewhere for sex.
This reminded me of recently watching my 8 year old daughter flirt with 14 year old boys, and how uneasy it made me. That she already felt the need to try and impress these boys with her charm and lip gloss.
This reminded me of all the conversations I've had with female friends that have included some sort of discussion of men and how they want sex too often and how
"we" don't need sex nearly as often as "they" do.
This reminded me of how, in the end, societally speaking, it comes back to a few assumptions. None of which are flattering to women. Or flattering to me.
First, women are really only here to meet men's desires for sex. Second, we are on one hand really powerless and yet we hold all the power when it comes to sex. Of course neither position is tenable. Third, the pressure to be "desirable" or "acceptable" to men is so pervasive and strong, I'm unsure if my daughter will learn any of things I want her to learn when it comes to relationships, sex, men.
When I was still a young girl, I remember having so many ideas about men and sex and marriage and babies. From my earliest memories, my father used to talk about women being whores. My brother was supposed to avoid pornography, because having that around the house would "turn your sister into a whore." I was to avoid boys because all they wanted was sex, and they didn't really like girls. "If you kiss on boys, you'll end up pregnant." I thought I was pregnant when I was 9 years old because I let Kenny, the kid down the street, kiss me. I spent months looking at my belly in the mirror, trying to think of what I would say when I had a baby at 10. While the kiss from Kenny wasn't much to write home about, it made me feel special. Loved. Worthy, somehow. A few years later, it became evident to me that men sometimes just took what they wanted from you. And as I had no say about that, neither would I have say about whether a man would "pick me." I remember in my female-dominated college feeling as if I needed to dumb it down so that men would desire me more.
Even now, all these years later, there is a certain discomfort I feel when someone says I'm single. While I am, and I chose to be, this feels a bit like when Kenny kissed Terri. Even though I had rebuffed his advances, I knew he had chosen her over me. And it hurt. I wanted to be desired. Deep down, I suppose I still do. But yet, that desire...to be desired...still feels a little like being a whore. Good girls don't want sex, do they?
While I would like to claim to be highly evolved. Afterall I'm a feminist. I'm a lawyer. I'm raising children on my own. And still, there is some sense of shame in being alone, not having "my man" to buy me a house. And perhaps even more shame in admitting wanting to be wanted.
I want more. More for my daughter. More than the tired old stereotypes and strange misconceptions I know about sex. I want more for me. I still want to believe that people, men and women, can be well-intentioned and good and decent and loving. And that sex has a place in there somewhere.