The Internet had good sex!

The Internet had good sex!

I figured, since much of my interest in writing this blog is in pointing out what about the rhetoric of “The Internet” needs to change, that I should try positive reinforcement, too.

As such, today marks the first edition of “The Internet got something right!”

What it got right today was sex. There was a conversation about sexuality had on The Internet in which men weren’t, as a group, deemed predatory and women weren’t supposed to act like they don’t also enjoy sex!

Some of the commenters have valid points about how a post on not demonizing men’s sexuality ended with advice from a woman to men on how not to seem like you’re on the hunt, but I find it fitting in a world where many a guy I’ve talked to has expressed utter confusion when it comes to expected and accepted human courtship.

I appreciate this nuanced and, frankly, new (relatively speaking) perspective because I have been on my own sex-positive crusade for several years now, after 13 years of, well, brainwashing at a religious school. I was taught that sex before marriage was wrong, that males couldn’t be held responsible for their urges so I had to go out of my way not to cause them to fall into sin or whatever, and that I was not to have any sexual desire whatsoever before my wedding night. Oh, and failing at any of these tasks was a big ol’ sin.

Looking back, I’m pretty sure I never fully bought into this load of cockamamie—hah, little old unmarried me said “cock” and there was no Lightning Bolt of Judgment—but I didn’t realize the damage it had done until I had some distance from the issue.

See, I actually thought for a time when I was younger that having any sexual desires or thoughts—let alone strong opinions—made me abnormal for a female. And if women don’t have sex drives before marriage (or opinions ever), that must make me a male, right??

When we learned about sex chromosome abnormality in Biology, I was actually concerned that maybe I was one of those poor souls who wouldn’t know she was biologically male until Dr. Gregory House uncovered the truth (see: “Skin Deep”). Thankfully, Wikipedia exists and my hypochondria was cured. For that matter, I owe The Internet on that front, too. I may hate Cosmo now, but it was pretty reassuring then.

And with my liberation from a realm of purity rings and unprotected sex (because: “My parents might find birth control or condoms in my room!”) and much older males telling me whether they thought my attire was appropriate or lust-inducing (the creepiness of which still makes me want to shower), I realized that I had some things to say about it. After all, if I could have sexual urges, maybe I could have opinions, too!

I didn’t go all “preacher’s kid” (or “PK” as we used to call it) and sleep with a gang of bikers because my mom, thankfully, was always pretty realistic with me about sex; but, I did start reading feminist and sex-positive literature, and a lot of Wikipedia because we never really had Sex Ed.

One of the more important things I realized is that it is nothing short of expecting a miracle to condition women to feel guilty for inciting desire and men to feel dirty for experiencing it for… let’s call it, a decade… and then think all of that will simply melt away into positive experiences with marital sex.

I pity the newlyweds who suddenly have to try not only to get over feeling awkward and ashamed (not to mention uninformed), but to feel appropriately blissful in what must be an otherwise confusing experience because suddenly the entire force of an omnipotent god is what’s holding that boner up. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, kids!

Of course, the change in my thinking wasn’t immediate and I won’t pretend that I didn’t think some of my college friends were huge sluts at first, but I was an ignorant fool, so cut me some slack.

The weirdest part of all of this for me was that sex positivity was still this alternative, marginalized rhetoric (at least in my recollection) and plenty of the girls around me in college who didn’t go to crazy religious schools were no more comfortable owning up to their sexuality than I had been. They still thought, for varying reasons, that: (a.) women needed men to scratch their itches, (b.) there was something wrong or dirty about finding an, uh, alternate route until you could find the right person or situation in which to have sex. Some would drunkenly throw themselves at anything with a penis, but stop short of actually having sex because their desperation blessedly failed to override other needs, such as a desire for an emotional connection. (I’m not saying they all required a connection, so slow your roll, Puritans. And yeah, I was thankful they didn’t have super drunken sex with not-quite-strangers because that’s dangerous, no matter your other beliefs.)

At the end of the day, causing women to feel this way about an inborn desire upon which our species’ survival was literally predicated (much more than it is with 7 billion people on the planet today), is DUMB. I believe that exposure to sex positivity would alter the sexual landscape in a way that would redefine hook-up culture, slut shaming, that whole dreaded “how to approach a woman” thing, and, yeah, rape culture. Because why wouldn’t it? If everyone comes to the table as equals, rather than predator and prey, and with their cards showing, it’s a hell of a lot easier to know when “no” really means “no” and not “I’m ashamed, but yes.”

So good job, dear Internet, for allowing this conversation on what it means to be “masculine” and “feminine” and “respectful” and “sexy” and “sexual” to grow. (I’m excited to poke around that section of The Internet that is The Good Men Project and to further explore their contributions to these topics!) Thank you for being a resource–vast and contradictory though you may be–for all the young people whose elders have failed them in this realm. May you continue to feature good sex and may you someday soon have much more positive, reasoned, egalitarian thoughts on sex than all that weird, creepy, and otherwise bad sex that you also give voice to. But then, you are The Internet.

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