“I’d climb that boy like a tree.”
“I would let that man have my babies.”
“That man looks delicious. Om-nom-nom!”
“I wouldn’t say no.”
My mouth has a bad habit of saying things it shouldn’t. I like to pretend I’m making up for years of misogynistic societal sexualization of women when talking like this, but to be honest, I am just a bit of a perv. I objectify men I see on the street, and shamelessly stare. Horrifying? Probably, but at least I don’t whistle. That’s crude.
The thing is, I find sex HILARIOUS. There is nothing as funny as a well placed ‘reminds me of my first time’ or ‘that’s what she said.’ Double entendres? Love ‘em. Sexual innuendo? All over it. Overt sexualization of completely non-sexual things? Its like you know me! A rather rambunctious Norwegian and myself even managed to make blenders sexual – I’m still not sure how, but with time to waste waiting for Wicked to begin, blenders went from making smoothies to making sweet, sweet love – all before Glinda the good could float down on her magic bubble.
Oh, and the word ‘balls’. Gets me every time.
If you think about it, all sex is, boiled down to the very physical core, is two people showing each other their business bits, inspecting each others business bits, and putting said bits together. It is sweaty, sloppy, and not particularly pretty. Especially the bits. You know how some dogs are so ugly they almost cross over to cute again? A penis wishes it could be that lucky. At least vaginas come with curtains.
But still, sex is funny. It is a lot of other things too: beautiful, awkward, pleasurable, painful, awkward, affirming, disarming, wonderful, uncomfortable, did I mention awkward? Whether you are having it or not, the potential for sex can lead to some embarrassing situations. Like calling a friend to tell them about this new craft project you learned that turns old romance books into hedgehogs, only to learn that while you are folding pages over ‘quivering members’ and ‘swelling lips’, they are busy with tactics explained on pages 147, 163, and a little bit of 189. Or pretty much any night you spend in a youth hostel. There is something in those musty rooms and squeaky metal twin beds that turn patrons into exhibitionists. I thought it was youthful hormones, but an elderly German couple in London taught me that any age can feel the magical lure of sneaky sex in an 18 bed mixed-dorm. Though, to give credit where credit is due, those men were smooth. If I hadn’t needed a late night pee, I would never have known. Travel tip: ALWAYS bring shower shoes.
For all my sexy talk, I’ve been single longer than Obama has been president. I try and keep dating though. The last date I was on ended in an uncomfortable moment where I went in for the hug, knowing the evening would end with me in my pajamas (alone), and he went in for a kiss, imaging a rather different ending. I was caught in this weird limbo, one arm smashed between us, the other hanging off his shoulder holding the flowers he had given me. I tried to pull away but his hand was placed at the back of my head, endearing in a kiss hold, but just then, it felt like a claw machine clamped down on the head of a 50-cent stuffed animal. I ended up patting small circles on his back, destroying his thoughtful flowers. He drove home alone with pollen on his shoulders; I drove home with tulip stems. Needless to say, there wasn’t another date. To be fair, the existence of Tom Hiddleston has almost eradicated my personal need – pop in either Thor film and by Loki’s first sexy smirk, I am ready to light up the metaphorical post-coital cigarette because, ladies and gentlemen, that’s me done.
The only problem with sex is the way we talk about it. Or, the way we don’t talk about it. Think of the words we use for genitals: lady garden, snatch, va-jay-jay, cunt, cock, rod, one-eyed monster. With varying degrees of creativity we hide from the real words. Even the deed itself is often masked: ‘the beast with two backs’, ‘the horizontal tango’, ‘plowing the field’, etc. Sex isn’t mentioned in polite conversation, but in whispered tones behind closed doors. Which is sad, because when we make something taboo, or shameful, we don’t make that thing go away – we just teach it to be quiet. And we let other people choose our words for us.
I was 13 the first time I understood what that word meant. I was riding the bus home from school, my legs folded up against the seat back, knees pressing through the cheap green vinyl and into back of the girl in front of me. My friend Tara and I were playing M.A.S.H, a game that tells your future by numbers. I couldn’t lose; I was destined for a spacious mansion in New York, driving a Jaguar, all on the salary of an award-winning journalist. All fate had left was to choose which boy out of the four listed I was to marry, but instead of counting, I raised the paper in the air, and said I would take them all! Tara called me a cheat and laughed. The boy in the seat behind us called me a slut. I pulled my legs off the seat, traced the impressions the wrinkled vinyl had made on my knees, and wondered what I had done wrong.
The crickets were stereotypically loud outside my boyfriend’s truck. I picked lint balls off the bench seat with my fingernails while rap played out of the thousand dollar sound system. Those were the days when I still wore skorts (skirt/shorts for those not fashion challenged) and paint stained batman t-shirts. I went through a phase where I shopped in the boys’ department of Target. We all have phases; don’t judge. I could smell my deodorant, so I knew it was trying, but failing, to keep my pits dry. I rubbed my hands on my shirt, hoping that if he reached for them, he wouldn’t notice they were clammy. But despite all that, I wasn’t afraid. I had never felt more mature. Until that word came up. The v-word. And you don’t get to be that word at that age. Not anymore. He drove me home, kissed me on the forehead, and called me sweet.
We need better words, and better options. I’m tired of society pulling a Goldilocks on my vagina – telling me when is too much, when is too little, and when is just right. We need to claim our sexual identity and enjoy it in all its semi-awkward, yet beautifully moving glory. Talk about what makes it powerful. Talk about what makes it healing, what makes healthy. Find the right words and remove the shaming ones. Because you should never be ashamed of consensual sex, no matter how you take it, when, or with whom.
So these are my words: Women who celebrate themselves in sexually healthy and explorative ways, awesome! Rock on and fuck away! I’m with you! Women who choose not to, fantastic! Rock on and watch more Tom Hiddleston! I’ll bring the whiskey and chocolate.