When you strive to share every personal experience about your body and sex life with the world at large, the response is inevitably mixed. My grandmother recently watched this short film I co-wrote/directed/produced which opens with three young women (me being one of them) talking about sex and masturbation in the kitchen while the men are outside by the grille talking about babies and fatherhood. My grandmother wanted to know if us girls really talk that openly about sex. Yes, I said. We do. This scene was based entirely on real things that my girlfriends and I actually said. My grandmother was amazed.
“In my day, my girlfriends and I just didn’t talk about that stuff,” she said.
But she wasn’t put off by it like I thought she might be. She was simply in awe.
When I was home recently, we had some of my parents’ friends over for Thanksgiving dinner. Our guests included the parents of my best friend growing up. They too had seen my film. The mother of my friend, after a couple glasses of wine, openly expressed that she found it to be a little shocking. That we would actually talk like that. She too wanted to know if it was based in reality. She mentioned that she also found Girls to be shocking in the way they talk about sex. I weighed my options: change the subject or engage. Obviously, I chose the latter.
“I personally love this new openness. I feel like sex has been cloaked in shame for so long, especially for women, and I think it’s good to talk about these things,” I said.
Two of the older women at the table piped up in unison: “We weren’t ashamed. We were just embarrassed.”
“I just feel like, sex is the most natural thing after, what, eating and peeing.” I couldn’t help myself. My parents laughed and shared a look between them, uncomfortable and embarrassed. “Why is something so natural still considered so shameful and like we shouldn’t talk about it?”
My friend’s mother asked her younger daughter (early 20s), also at the table, if she talked as candidly with her girlfriends about sex.
“Yeah.” She blinked, unfazed.
Her mom looked surprised. “Oh. Okay.”
Someone brought up the recent attack on Lena Dunham for being a “sexual predator” for looking into her little sister’s vagina when she was seven.
“I’m so sick of that name Lena Dunham,” said the father of my friend.
“That made me so mad,” I ramped up for my tirade but, looking around the table, realized I had lost my audience. They’re of a different generation, and no matter what I say, I won’t convince them that we should all be talking about sex and masturbation over Thanksgiving dinner. The topic changed to Ferguson and the decision to not indict the cop who shot Michael Brown, something we could all agree was fucked up.
When I first told my mom I was going to write this blog, she was concerned for my safety.
“You’re really going to write about your sex life on the Internet?”
I chose to make the blog anonymous. Not because I was ashamed, but because I wanted the freedom to write about the guys I fucked and if everyone knew I wrote the blog, I felt it would skew my subjects’ behavior towards me or I wouldn’t be comfortable being utterly candid about my experiences, knowing they might read it.
In the early days of the blog, Mom used to read it. Then she called me one day, outraged. She had just read about a particularly heinous interaction with Gaffer Guy that left me crying on the floor, covered in hot soup.
“Why are you sleeping with this asshole who treats you like shit?” She rightfully wanted to know. I didn’t know how to explain the animal magnetism between us, the fact that I couldn’t get enough of him, despite the fact (or maybe because of it) he was a complete asshole.
As I tried to justify myself, Mom started crying. “It’s really hard for me to read about this. I just don’t understand. I mean, do you have to write about this stuff?”
This made me mad and I exploded at her, “Yes, I do! This is my experience! And you know what, you just shouldn’t read it anymore.”
“Yes, I don’t think I will,” she sniffled into the phone.
And that was that. Mom stopped reading my blog. Which was good actually, because it allowed me a new level of freedom to be even more honest and uncensored and not worry about her getting upset. I actually admire the incredible self-control she exhibits in knowing her daughter writes a sex blog and choosing not to read it. From time to time, if I write one I think she will like and that is light on the sex-with-assholes factor, I will recommend it to her.
As for my dad, he too knows I write the blog and he too chooses not to read it. Actually, that second part was my mom’s idea. But one day, Dad called me out of the blue and said, “I read your last blog.”
“Oh, really?” I held for his reaction.
“It was hilarious. The writing is great, and I love the way the story unfolded. That guy is ridiculous.” He was referring to the Studio Exec who picked me up in the park, fresh off his trip to Burning Man.
Dad laughed and started quoting the blog. “I love when [your ex] says ‘rock the cleavage’.” I couldn’t believe Dad was repeating my lines back to me, and laughing about it. I felt so moved I almost cried.
I suddenly feel the powerful urge to “come out,” to put my face on the blog, to publicly become the Slutty Feminist. Because I don’t want to hide. And it’s a different time than when my parents were growing up. My generation is one of disclosure. Any and all information about everyone and everything is at our fingertips, and nothing is private anymore. This is a mixed blessing, but one thing I find wonderful about it is that there is a resource now for shared experiences, and I think people are realizing they’re not alone. There’s a community for everyone, no matter your kinks or weirdness, to be found on the Internet. This is a great thing for female sexuality in particular, which has been shrouded in mystery and ignorance for so many generations. There is finally an outlet for women to share their stories and realize what they thought was weird or unnatural is actually totally normal. God knows sex education isn’t doing a great job of teaching us about our bodies and our desires, so we gotta figure it out for ourselves, on the Internet.
I listen to this wonderful podcast called Guys We Fucked: The Anti-Slut Shaming Podcast and these gals are not hiding behind a pseudonym. They are Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson and they are loud and proud about it. Every week, they have a guest on the podcast—usually guys they’ve fucked. It seems from the comments they read in the beginning of each show that a lot of their audience consists of teenage girls, which at first seemed a little dubious because they talk so candidly and explicitly about sex. But then I was like, no, this is good that these young girls are getting this perspective on sex. Because most of their sex education is probably coming from the endless steam of porn on the internet, most of which is made for men by men. I’m glad they’re getting a female side to the story, from two smart funny 20-something NYC gals. At least if they’re being prematurely exposed to sex, they have a chance at a balanced perspective, which is more than I can say for previous generations.
The more I read memoirs like Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants by Jill Soloway and Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, I realize there is a community out there for women like me. I think that Jill and Lena would relate to my weird musings. Like the fact that every time I’m on a public bus, I imagine everyone as giant genitalia and I can’t help but picture the bus filled with enormous penises and vaginas; the sheer amount of genitalia surrounding us at any given moment never ceases to amaze me. I think about how so many of our interactions in the world can be linked back to our genitals, and how it’s amusing to me that this is the one thing it’s most socially unacceptable to talk about.
Although I’m sure it would make my parents and their friends cringe, I look forward to a time when we can all talk openly about fucking at Thanksgiving dinner. There’s something amazing that happens when people come out of the closet about sex and really start to hash it out. People’s faces light up. They get excited. I get the sense that this is the one thing people have been waiting to talk about, but they’ve never had permission or they’ve always been too embarrassed. It’s amazing to me what happens when I talk to strangers about my blog, because my candidness seems to give them permission to open up and suddenly I’m hearing about the sex lives of people I don’t even know. There’s an instant connection because we’ve skipped through the bullshit small talk and gotten to something real. Sex is something we all do and we all think about a lot of the time—it’s something we literally all have in common. So let’s fucking talk about it! Every time I get together with my girlfriends, of course sex always comes up, and every time we talk about it, I feel like real progress is being made. Sex is a powerful force, and something that women haven’t had ownership of for far too long. Owning it will be the final frontier for women’s equality and liberation. That’s what I think. (mic drop)