In the blog I wrote on 25th March last year I lamented the fact that it might be my last Spring in London. Well, here I am a year and a month on (thanks Endless Winter) and sadly no closer to moving to New York. BUT things have happened, moved on, progressed and it has been a fulfilling year, which is all one can really hope for. I will see New York in the Spring again, I have no doubt.
Unlike last year, instead of making me as horny as a teenage rabbit, this Spring has re-awakened my long-dormant Romantic side. Music, flowers, sentimentality, the works… which is just a little bit ironic as I have spent the last couple of months writing sex. Proper, erotic, sexy sex for a new journal dedicated to erotica. The project is still in its infancy, but it is exciting and original and we are hoping to publish the first issue soon so I will keep you posted when I know more. Maybe then, I am thinking about romance because I am all sexed out? And it’s not just the writing, so far this year I have managed to really hurt someone I care about, royally screwed things up with someone I like and break my cardinal rule by taking someone from work home, for ‘cuddles’. And I think sex, or perhaps my attitude to it, was at least partly to blame for each of these disasters. So, I am taking a vow of celibacy. I am changing the habit of a lifetime. I am finally saying ‘no’ to instant gratification. No sex, just love. And here’s why.
In my opinion, Spinderella needs to cut it up one more time. Despite all of the liberation and sexual equality which western women have enjoyed since the sexual revolution, it seems to me that we are still just as fucked up about sex as we ever have been. As with food, I don’t know one woman who has an entirely healthy attitude towards sex. I’m not even sure I could define what a healthy attitude towards sex might be. I’m not saying that men have a healthy attitude towards sex either, but I’m afraid I can only talk about it from my perspective, as a straight woman, despite the fact I have been accused of having a ‘male attitude’ towards sex in the past… hmmm. The traditional view is that women attach feelings to sex and men don’t, but I find this view patronising and am not convinced that this is true….each encounter is different and every person responds in a different way with different partners, which is one of the things which makes sex so wondrous.
Although my female friends and I talk about sex openly, humorously and often in graphic detail, I don’t think we ever really talk about how it makes us feel which is weird as how it makes us feel, both physically and emotionally, should surely be the only reason we ever do it?
I did not receive, or at least I do not remember receiving any sex education at school which wasn’t purely anatomical and given by a cold and un-engaging teacher. For a young mind, the thought of doing that anatomical act is simply horrifying, and I think I blocked it out of my brain as soon as the lesson was over. Nothing at home either. To not be given any information or advice on the reasons why one might want to have sex and what it might mean to you is at best negligent and at worst incredibly damaging. It was a long time ago now so I don’t blame anyone…to use one of my least favourite phrases du jour ‘things were different back then’ but all we were ever told was to wait until we were in love… which is pretty terrible advice to be honest. Trusting someone is a lot harder than loving someone especially when as a teenager the overwhelming driving force of your hormones dictates that you will most probably confuse lust for love anyway. In fact, scrap the teenage hormones, I often still get the two confused.
In theory I was incredibly lucky in that I lost my virginity at 17 to a boy I both loved and trusted, but in practice I was giving handies to a local hash dealer in my friends attic at 13 because I fancied him and wanted him to like me…oh, and because I didn’t know any better! Just because it wasn’t full intercourse, doesn’t mean it didn’t massively inform my later attitude to sex. I’m not saying that if I had been better informed I wouldn’t have done it, I was pretty wild back then (even at 13 which is somewhat shocking to me now) and my hormones were racing, but at least I would have known what the milky sticky substance which ended up on my Swatch Watch was. The transition from child to teenager is brutal and I’m amazed so many of us survive it.
I would hope that sex education today is better than it was then, but I’m not convinced it is, especially with the apparent re-emergence of conservatism and the prevalence of faith schools. This is worrying because our attitudes to sex are formed at the transition from child to teenager and I suspect my story is actually pretty tame compared to what some young girls are experiencing right now. Once formed we can spend the rest of our lives trying to shake these attitudes off which is why it is so important to instil in girls and boys an understanding of the realities and complexities of sex as soon as they are mature enough to understand.
I am particularly worried when I think about the cold, unromantic and nasty sex which is available at the click of a button today. I have heard too many stories of young men who think not only is it normal to want to do it up the bum, but that a girl is frigid if she won’t. I have even heard a story about a 22 year old man who went to bed for the first time with a woman and on seeing her pubic hair actually said, ‘What’s that?’ These distorted perceptions of sex are becoming more common. Porn has always been available but until fairly recently it has been separated from reality by a certain societal disapproval. Porn mags were rightfully put on the top shelf and only (supposed to be) sold to over 18’s. Because of this, even when younger people got hold of them, they knew they were illicit and from another world. Now the barrier between real sex and pornographic sex is barely noticeable…with young women thinking they have to look and act like porn stars in order to get/keep a man and young men thinking this is acceptable.
Why then, am I about to add to this already over-saturated market of sex? Well, I have decided that if you can’t beat them, join them and beat them at their own game. Laid Bare will be erotic stories, not pornography, and I have written an editorial piece for Issue 2 exploring the difference between the two, and their individual merits. The journal will be real women writing about real sex in a fun, honest, sexy and entertaining way. If a teenager stumbled upon it, I would hope it would at least give them a different perspective on how sex can be, and for the women it is aimed at it will finally give them an erotic publication which they can relate to.
Polemic over. Luckily I have enough ‘experience’ to plunder for a few issues yet so I can maintain my celibacy and explore my own sexuality without the complication of sex. I’m actually looking forward to it. Only by empowering women to view sex as a collaboration, a celebratory act of attraction and not simply as a way to keep ‘him’ happy will we start to regain control of our own sexuality and young women, not just women in their 30’s + who have spent years figuring it out, will understand and value themselves and their sexuality.