I used to believe simpering was my greatest power, my secret interpersonal weapon. I affected a coquettish persona, donned the mask which I believed was the key to moving through the world. Later, a therapist and I named this simpering mask the “sex kitten”, as we worked to understand the connection between her and my blackout drinking. But before all that, I learned that if I widened my eyes, batted my lashes and ducked my head a little, people melted. I learned that if I asked for things in a singsong tone or a baby voice they seemed to come easier. Especially with men. Men were helpless against the almighty simper. They figuratively dropped to their knees, palms open, anything and everything on offer. They got out of the way. Or let me hide behind them. They handed whatever it was right over. I smiled and giggled in return, to close the deal. I didn’t know another way. Continue reading
She approached me to ask if I wanted to do a follow-up to last year’s interview, where we delved into her struggle to stay true to her Christian value of no premarital sex, while navigating her first romantic relationship. A twenty-three year-old virgin who had been opted out of sex ed in school by her religious parents, she was facing an experiential chasm in her relationship with her thirty-five year-old, father of two, divorced boyfriend. I’d handed her my copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and a three-pack of condoms at the conclusion of our first conversation.
She was working to come to terms with her identity as a Christian virgin and the fierce sexual desire this man had awoken in her. Flash forward one year and that man has fallen away, unmasked as a lying, cheating, manipulative bastard and she’s moved in with a new man. In between her sexual awakening and cohabitation was a year of heartbreak, a thorough exploration of Tinder, an examination of her religious beliefs and her first time having a penis inside her vagina. Continue reading
I had a chance to catch up with the subject of this interview, whose life has changed rather dramatically since this piece was first published in January 2015. Revisit her story about being barred access to sex ed in school by her parents, and check back Thursday for a new interview about her sexual awakening.
“I was one of those kids you wrote about,” she commented, after reading about the pregnant virgin I counseled at Planned Parenthood, “and you probably want to interview me for your blog.” I leapt at the opportunity she was offering to capture a first-person narrative about the experience of being opted out of school sex ed and how it affects adult sexuality. Continue reading
Reading the news today about convicted rapist Brock Turner, the accounts of his crime, and the extraordinary lenience of his (six month!) sentence have me reaching for my throat. My gag reflex activated by another miscarriage of justice, I stand here staring at the screen wondering if women have any value in society at all. Continue reading
I fixate. I obsess. My mind sticks in a groove, and when it tries to wander, I move the needle back into the groove. I become stuck in a feedback loop that results in rigidity of thought, emotional instability, and a narrowing of life. I have fixated on one thing or another for as long as I can remember, and it’s only recently I’ve understood it’s willful. And only more recently have I begun to understand the foreshortening of horizons this way has caused. Continue reading
I can’t believe Prince died. I’m still reeling from losing Bowie, and now this. Why must our most talented, original artists live such ephemeral lives? I understand the drug ODs and the suicides and the murders for the under-30 set. It takes a certain depth of passionate feeling to make great art, and the aforementioned ways to die are part and parcel with a greatly sensitive and brilliant young life. I don’t expect those who have made it past, say, 35 to die of an overdose. And I suspect there aren’t a lot of data to support this expectation, but I’m shocked every time.
Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Like Bowie, I took for granted Prince’s immortality, and now he’s gone. Continue reading
So what do you guys think of the new Barbie Mattel has rolled out this week? That’s right, after about, oh, thirty or so years of pressure from feminist groups, Mattel has designed three new dolls to better and more accurately represent women. Joining the classically, completely unrealistically-proportioned original are tall, curvy and petite models. It’s almost good, except that tall and petite retain the mini-waist, massive thigh gap, and big tits. Only curvy has an (unnaturally) pointed toe dipped in reality. Are we getting somewhere, though? Continue reading
Continued from Tuesday…
But what were the options in that moment? I couldn’t very well snatch the offer of fifty bucks away, I’m sorry, but I can tell you’re not into this even though you said yes, and in order to preserve your dignity I’m going to make your choices for you? Run out and hope she’d go permanently under the radar so QC could never reach her? I struck a deal with myself, do the interview but pay close attention for signs of discomfort and remind, in such a situation, of the respondent’s ability to skip questions or stop the interview at any time. It never felt like a convenient time to tell the respondent that if they answered fewer than sixty percent of the questions they didn’t get the cash. That wasn’t exactly in the consent form, but that was the expectation.
I dove in, starting at the beginning, questions I knew almost by heart at this point, what services have you been offered by DSHS? What services are you utilizing? And on into questions about ages and special needs of children in the home? What about the children not in the home? What disorders did they have?
She sat on the bed, fixing me with an intent stare that communicated in no uncertain terms, “I resent you for taking me through this.” Continue reading
I was sitting at my dining room table when the voices on the other side of the wall went from a murmur to a sharp, clearly audible argument. In this apartment complex the walls are made of kleenex and spit, which means privacy is often at a minimum, especially if you’re unselfconscious in your own home. Which really, you should feel you can be. But the reality is that builders use cheap materials and what you’re doing and saying next door may be on aural display for your neighbors. In three of the many places I’ve lived as an adult, fights have erupted on a consistent basis on the other side of a shared wall. In one spot the walls were thick and it was the routine slamming of doors, kitchen cabinets and drawers that served as an indicator. In another place it was the shrieking of accusations by a woman to a man with a low voice, altercations that always ended in her bitter weeping.
Yes, I listened. Continue reading
“When it went down originally, people wanted to push it under the rug. I lost a lot of friends,” she told me, as we began our conversation about her experience of being raped during her junior year of college. She had been describing the reaction of a recent long-term boyfriend, and how his response wasn’t unlike that of her social circle at the time of the trauma. After dating for over a year, she had finally worked up the nerve to disclose to him that she had been raped, an important step for relationships with men that appeared to have long term potential. “It’s a pretty defining moment from my life. It creates trust issues for me. If you want to know me, you need to know this.” They were on a ski trip together, and one night after they had some drinks, she ventured into her past. No sooner had she spoken the words than he became angry, visibly upset and uncomfortable. She dropped the subject for the time being, bringing it up again the next day. He became defensive, informing her in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want to hear about it, or talk about it. He wasn’t the one who had raped her, so why should he have to confront her truth?
As she and I spoke we returned to the theme of silence, again and again, brought on by forces internal, social and cultural. Continue reading