So I bought FiftyShades of Grey, the chick porn series that is flying off the shelves. Professional, strong women are getting all hot and bothered by hideously lazy and trite writing and messages even worse than Twilight.
I read a chapter or two, mainly because I was curious about whether I could still get horny. Synopsis: boring virgin college girl rejects appropriate advances by a nice guy and a good friend and instead chooses to be the sex slave of a high-powered, arrogant CEO who has her sign a contract allowing him to do any violent or abusive thing he wants to her. How deliciously orginal. Flipping to the middle I saw the word “suspension,” and thought:
“Tracee have you had men treat you like shit? Have they used you for sex? Have they tried to control your behavior and isolate you from your friends, family and outside interests? Have they been violent towards you, even hurting you during sex?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Was it sexy?” I asked.
“No! It totally sucked! It was painful, humiliating and made me ashamed for years and years afterward. It changed the way I felt about myself and men in general,” I remembered.
“Do you want to attract more of those kinds of men into your life simply because they ‘make one hundred thousand dollars an hour?’ or find abusing you an irresistible temptation?” I asked.
“No way,” I said as I tossed the unread book into the recycling bin and hauled it out to the curb where the garbage man carried it off to its appropriate destination.
What the hell is wrong with us? Women, I mean. That’s what I keep wondering. There must me some kind of character flaw, deeply imbedded within women either straight up in our DNA or so deeply ingrained by over 2,000 years of culturally-enforced submission, that we think being treated violently and abusively is sexy. Even for pretend. I mean, would women have even tolerated domination by men if there wasn’t something in us that wanted to be controlled and desired the act of submission?
Are we so desperate to be wanted and desired that we are willing to see any advance or attraction as good?
Here’s a truth you might want to ponder. . .
Reading sexually explicit material or looking at sexually explicit images is going to be sexually stimulating no matter what the content or subject matter is. Need I say more about this than to utter the name V.C. Andrews, author of Flowers in the Attic? Those books are filled with incest and completely abusive coercion, yet my generation could not resist passing them discretely to each other in junior high because of the explicit sexual content. (Do girls still read these?)
The choice is in what you want your brain to be wired to for a sexual response. If you read about submission and domination over and over and become sexually aroused, then that will become your fixation and fetish. Child molesters don’t just wake up one day and attack the nearest kid. They first dwell and fixate on the idea until their brain is so wired to this deviant sexual behavior that they then act on it, making all sorts of justifications to themselves in the process. It is the same with rapists. It is the same with any and all sexual behavior. What you focus on expands.
If, instead, you choose to entertain fantasies of making soulful and deep-heart connections with a strong and gentle, respectful, committed lover, your brain will be aroused and respond sexually to that.
What you focus on not only expands, but it is in fact, invited into your reality and attracted to you.
Consider for a second what kind of message the mass purchasing and reading of this garbage by educated, strong, independent women gives to men. “Treating us like shit actually does turn us on. Keep it up! We love it!”
Explore the idea that we have expanded the domination and submission archetypes of gender and expanded the abuse of and violence toward all women around the world, (the reverse of what I imagine we would all say we want) by the mass consumption of this type of material. We’ve practically handed them the stale, old excuse, “but she likes it.” Think I’m exaggerating? Read this post about what junior high boys believe girls like: She liked it.
For me, having experienced the disrespect, violence, sexual abuse and coercion of men in my life already, I know that I now prefer to fantasize about, and attract, the deep soulful connection I deserve. In reality there is nothing sexy about being treated like shit.
I’ve been Pro-Choice since I read Orson Scott Card’s classic Ender’s Game, in which, the government limited the number of children parents could have, based on some sic-fi reason of intelligent selection, only parents who had especially bright children could get a waiver to have a third child who might save the world. I figured if the government could make birth choices — well, then they could control birth choices. China controls birth choices. The United States controls birth choices. I don’t like the idea of that at all. I think parents should make birth choices. Since mothers carry the responsibility of birth, and the primary responsibility of raising said children if dads choose to skip out, then mothers should be allowed to make the choices around the carrying of the child.
So, I’ve been Pro-Choice. I’ve been a supporter of Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade holds that the termination of pregnancy is lawful until the viability of the fetus or if the mother’s health is in danger.
With current science, the viability of the fetus is changing every day. Meaning, younger and younger babies are living outside of the mother’s womb. More babies are being saved with medical intervention. Michelle Duggar’s 19th baby, Josie, at 25 weeks, weighed only 1 lb. 0.6 oz., and she lived. Not only has she lived, but she’s thriving after the first year of a lot of medical intervention. Premature babies that never would have lived in 1973, when Roe v. Wade became law are living full, meaningful lives.
My perspective has changed from when I read that book as a freshman in college, as a 16-year-old kid. I, now have these little kids, five and nine. They aren’t just “cells,” as I have heard some pro-choice abortion activist try to minimize them as. They are people. It bothers me. They aren’t hypothetical anymore.
A 20th Century Debate in a 21st Century Reality
The debate should be different than it was in 1973. Yet, somehow it’s not. I find this incredibly frustrating.
In 1973, there were hardly any birth control choices that were reliable. Condoms sucked. The birth control pill was like 75% effective. There was no Nuva Ring, no Depo Provera shot, no Norplant, no Ortho Ethra patch.
In 1973, having a baby out of wedlock probably did ruin your life or at least drastically change it. Your parents might kick you out of the house or disown you. They sent you off to relatives to avoid the shame you would bring to the family. You would get kicked out of high school, you might be forced into a terrible marriage. You would likely not go to college. You would likely be doomed to poverty. Certainly there was a terrible social stigma.
Today, I’m in my late 30s and have known lots of girls who have gotten pregnant out of wedlock and it’s been long enough that I’ve seen it play out. Here’s the thing — it hasn’t ruined their lives. . . . I know it’s crazy, right?
In fact, some of these women are the best mothers I know. Some of them married the baby-daddies and have solid marriages and went on to have other children and have careers. Some have been kick-ass single moms. Some had abortions and went on to have other children out of wedlock and went on to be great single moms. Some gave their babies up for adoption and went on to have families. Some had their babies, were single-moms for a time and then married and had more children and normal lives.
Having a child did not ruin their lives. Didn’t ruin one single life. Not their’s, not their baby’s. Isn’t that funny? It turned out to be a total fiction, meant to scare us into not having sex, I guess.
This year two women close to me chose to go through unplanned pregnancies, one very young and one in her 30′s. Several relatives of mine also went through the same experience. It was beautiful to watch how warmly those babies were received into this world. It was wonderful to watch how the mothers were warmly embraced and supported during their pregnancies and after. It was an honor to participate in. Was their road harder? Harder than my own road of witnessing 9/11 in my last month of pregnancy and experiencing devastating postpartum depression with my first planned pregnancy? Maybe. Maybe not. Is their future less bright because of their unmarried status? Maybe. Maybe Not. When I look at their future I have no problem seeing a very bright future in front of any of them. I don’t see a scarring social stigma of unmarried, unplanned pregnancy attached to them anymore. In fact, what I see is motivation, they have been motivated to stop playing childish games and get a move on in their futures, enroll in schools and seek out their futures with ambition and energy that they had not exhibited before.
Need I mention that the President of the United States is the son of a single mother, the product of an unplanned pregnancy? Probably not. Though I do think it’s relevant to the conversation at hand.
The Morning After Pill
But, the real turning point for me has been the invention of the Morning After Pill. With the invention of the Morning After Pill, I simply don’t see the need for most abortions anymore. The Morning After Pill prevents the egg from dropping so no pregnancy can occur. You can use it five days after sex and no pregnancy will occur.
Which means if rape, a date rape, a bad decision, the condom breaks, a drunken episode you wish hadn’t happened, something you don’t quite remember occurs or you get slipped a roofie, you can take this medication and though grief may be had, babies will not.
See, for me, this should make everyone happy. It’s a brilliant and necessary compromise. This should be legal and available for everyone regardless of age and without parental consent. It should be over-the-counter without a prescription, right next to the condoms on the shelf in Walmart.
The Pro-Lifers have a point. It’s Life. Life is essential. Life is beautiful and lovely and worth protecting. So are women’s choices. So are women’s rights. So are women’s bodies. Sore women’s dignities.
But, the reality is that girls and women will make bad choices sometimes. The reality is that men and boys will violate girls and women sometimes.
There has to be something available for women and girls in these cases. But, that something doesn’t need to extend into the lives of babies. If something happens, women and girls should know . . . they can do something quickly and efficiently.
We can educated them about what needs to be done, so they are ready and they can quickly go to any store and get the Morning After Pill. We should educate about it, like we educate about the use of condoms. Let’s just be done with this 30-year-old unsavory, hostile and embarrassing battle that has run its course and has gotten very, very stale.
Before you think I’m speaking from my Ivory Tower, in my younger years, I assure you there were plenty of times when I woke up and my first thought was, “Oh my God, I made a terrible mistake!” But, I assure you, it was my very first thought. And after a date rape, I did take the Morning After Pill, and it wasn’t pleasant, but it was better than the alternatives.
Hope & Reality
Will the Morning After Pill resolve every single instance in which every single woman might want to seek an abortion? Of course, I am not that naive. But, I don’t want to keep having an outdated 1973 conversation about abortion given 21st Century medical advances and a lack of social stigma about untraditional pregnancy timelines and circumstances; my tolerance for legal 2nd trimester abortions is gone because I consider them “viable” as defined by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade; I no longer believe many of the hypothetical fictions and “justifications” often touted by Pro-Choice advocates are acceptable reasons for getting an abortion; I think we can do a hell of a lot better job educating about birth control methods and providing access to them; we should be making better use of and educating about the Morning After Pill; and I think we should be romanticizing the hell out of adoption as a beautiful option.
Comments Note: You are welcome to leave a comment on this post. However, due to the history of hostility on both sides of this debate I request that comments left follow this form, Agree/And (agree with something in the post, then make your statement as an AND statement rather than a BUT statement). For instance, “I agree that science and medicine has changed the viability of a fetus, and I also feel that the Morning After Pill won’t resolve the issue of mid-life pregnancies in the case of women who . . . “
A brief recap: Kevin made an inappropriate comment about Ericka’s curvacious bod. Ericka slapped him back in line. He wrote to The Girl Revolution to find out why Ericka didn’t like her curves. I wrote back, saying maybe Ericka is groovy with her curves – but, didn’t like strange men ogling them and treating her like an object at first meeting. He said he was sorry and asked her out. Ericka agreed to give him a second shot.
They’ve had a wonderful summer dating.
Ericka has since kept in touch. Sending me an email every now and again, giving me updates and asking for advice. I’ve asked her permission, and Kevin’s, to publish some of our conversations for a few reasons.
First, I think you all might have some great advice for them.
Second, I’ve received a few comments from other young men saying they find the stream helpful to their own navigating respect and dating.
Please, leave comments if you have further advice or experience for Kevin and Ericka.
Hi Tracee. Don’t mean to bug you, just checking in. It’s always nice to be able to talk to an adult other than my Mom. Kevin and I are having a great summer, trying to take advantage of the outdoors with swimming, hiking, etc. We do have lots of fun together. I want to take things slow. He gives great foot massages and back rubs and we have kissed many times but that’s as far as it has gone. Does it sound like I’m doing the right thing? Just wanted to make sure. My friends aren’t as conservative as me when it comes to dating. I even got teased by my friends the first time I met Kevin. “I can’t believe you slapped him, you’re such a prude, you really need to lighten up.” But I was proud of how I handled myself and I think Kevin respected me more for it too, so in the end it all worked out.
Go slow. You’re right to respect yourself. I only know this because I was more like your friends as a teenager and it caused me a great deal of heart-ache. When you’re young, you don’t really understand that your actions and behavior, choices and consequences, will follow you far into adulthood. Most of my regrets showed up when I had a daughter and I realized the high price I paid by being promiscuous. I mean, I would never, ever want my daughter to go through the pain I went through.
One thing that sticks out in my mind is something I recently read in a Christiane Northrop book. She’s a world-class OB/GYN and scholar on women’s wisdom and women’s health. She wrote of a study that shows women have a chemical in their brain called Oxytocin which spikes when they have sex with someone. Anyone. Everyone. When women go through oxytocin withdrawal it is as painful as withdrawal from drugs. She said it can take 2 years to get over it. It chemically alters her brain, her body, her psychic energy – not just her emotions. So imagine having casual sex and having this emotional and physical rollercoaster over and over. That’s not really a fun ride for girls. I know. I rode that ride.
Kevin does seem to respect you. It’s not prudish to guard your body, mind and soul from casual sex and pain.
I thought it wouldn’t matter when I was younger. I thought it was just a game.
Take that advice for what it’s worth Ericka. Know that you make the best decisions for yourself.
Gosh Tracee, I don’t know how to thank you for this. It must not have been easy for you to share all of that. We’ll definitely go slow. I don’t think sex has to be an important part of our relationship.
There is something that’s quite personal that I wanted to ask you about. If you’re not comfortable with it, that’s ok. My friends say that Kevin will eventually lose interest if I at least don’t allow him to massage my breasts. I’m a little nervous about it but maybe they’re right. If you have any thoughts let me know, if not that’s cool too. This is all so confusing and tricky. Life was so much easier before puberty, lol.
Kevin will not lose interest if don’t let him massage your breasts.
Want to know why men don’t calls girls back after sex? It’s not that he doesn’t “respect” her. It’s that he already achieved his goal.
Men are weird. They want you more if you don’t do stuff with them. When he achieves his goal, he makes a new goal. Breasts, down your pants, sex, etc. Then it’s new girl = new goal.
You should do what you’re comfortable with. For your own pleasure. Responsibly – emotionally, mentally, physically – responsible to your own self. Knowing that men are goal-oriented creatures. Not allowing him to achieve his goal right away is how you keep a guy interested and trying. Women and girls get far more attention and affection from men when they DON’T have sex with them. (Because he’s still motivated to achieve his goal.)
How old are you again?
Thanks again Tracee. To answer your question, I’m 17. I wouldn’t say Kevin has put a lot of pressure on me, other than me having to push his hands away from my bra area a few times. He’s never said anything about it. All of my friends allow their boyfriends to do that, some fully clothed some not, and obviously some of it goes beyond massaging, so I am starting to feel like a nun, lol. But, I think we’ll keep things right where they are because that’s my comfort level. Plus, we’re having lots of fun together in many other ways that don’t involve anything sexual.
Appreciating and embracing our sexuality is a key part of flourishing. All life is, after all, sexually transmitted. Most of us were conceived with an orgasm, even if it was just your father’s. The main reason why sex sells everything from cars to shampoo is that we are naturally drawn to life-sustaining and pleasurable energy. Our cells recognize it just as instinctively as a bee recognizes honey. Sure, you can sublimate sexual energy into other areas of life besides actually having sex. But your body will respond to the erotic until the day you die. We are hardwired from birth for sexual pleasure. It is our birthright. Humans are the only primate whose sexual desire and functioning are not necessarily related to the reproductive cycle. Women’s ability to enjoy sexual pleasure is virtually limitless, which is why marriage and family therapist Pat Allen, Ph.D., refers to women as “orgasmatrons.”
This book should be on the night table of every woman, especially one with a daughter. It’s so insightful, intuitive, and wise about the woman’s body. The best part about the book is the connections she makes between our physical bodies and our spiritual energy and emotions. When I read it I feel a sense of . . . connection and peace with my body and an excitement about being a woman, especially the beautiful creative phases that comes with it.