have i been missing something?

feminists have talked a lot about sex. Jessica Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism has a large chapter devoted to femisim in between the sheets. most of the things i have read have one basic point, and that is that it is the physical act of sex that we must be aware of and in control of. before donning that plaid skirt and tie you must fully dissect why you and your partner are interested in this sex act and if you are implicit in the violence blah blah blah etc. and this is valid, blah blah blah’s aside. it is important to understand why you have a fetish after realizing that you have one. but all analysis aside, the fact is at the end of the day what gets you off gets you off and that has nothing to do with being feminist in bed.

what i believe, what i realized very recently, is that the media and society have shaped my sexuality in a way i had never been prepared to deal with. domination and objectification i can understand, but the emotional weight that i put on sex has been almost entirely formed by input from the culture i live in. the fact of the matter is i get hung up on sex not because of the kinky things i may or may not do, but because i feel like every sex act has to end in an emotional orgasm along with a physical one. and on the other end of the spectrum, i know many women who feel as though they were told so much how bad it is to put emotional weight on sex that now they can’t get emotionaly attached to their partners. real feminists sex, i believe, goes beyond having control over your body but also means being in control of the emotional weight you put on sex. and again, like all sex, there is no right level of detachment or attachment, as long as you know why andhow you started feeling this way. for me, it means pulling some of the unfair emotional weight off of sex and taking control away from chick flicks in deciding how i feel about the sex i have, stripper heels or no.

just like in the style of sex we have there are always two extremes, so it goes with our emotional connection to sex partners. either you’re the out of control kinky/slutty/wild girl, or you’re the uber-vanilla/lights-off/slow-90’s-pan-to-the-curtains young lady. and as with the fight to fling off these dualities, we must also fight against the emotional/emotionless options. there are layers. there is flexibility. you can have both, or somewhere in between. it’s a tougher fight, in some ways, because the cultural training is a lot less obvious. one example that comes to mind is Zack and Miri Make a Porno, in which the scene that informs the main characters that they are in fact in love and meant to be together happens during sex. so often these pivitol moments happen during or around sex. and it’s always the “promiscuous” women in movies that end up feeling emotionally deprived because lord knows you can’t have that much sex and also have feelings about it.

what do you think? do you find yourself torn on the same spectrum? or is this connected to something else?

About Charlotte

In an attempt to figure it all out, I've broken the world up in to tiny pieces and am conquering them one at a time.
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4 Responses to have i been missing something?

  1. Carrie Potter says:

    Hey, Charlotte. Long time no talk. ๐Ÿ™‚

    This is a really interesting discussion you’ve started. I think that the media (tv, movies, music, books, etc) play an incredible role in shaping our expectations and our perceptions as women, and most of it falls under the umbrella of sex and sexuality. I can’t remember where I heard this, but I want to say that it was a feminist documentary called “Killing Us Softly.” In it, I remember the hostess pointing out that we are expected to be the shrinking violet and the sex goddess simultaneously. I don’t think women are able to fulfill all the roles the media tries to push us into all the time. I definitely have a bad habit of playing the shy submissive role instead of taking the initiative myself when my boyfriend and I have sex. I’m really not sure if my behavior has anything to do with the media, but the correlation is pretty uncanny. Perhaps I’ve been brainwashed, but I feel like it’s more a product of my own personality. I’ve always struggled with backbone and overcoming passive aggressiveness, and I hope the media isn’t responsible for my entire personality, flaws and all. I think that impressionability is an interesting thing to think about, too. Maybe we’re all a little too accepting of what we’re being spoon fed, and maybe we’re buying into our own stereotypes a little too readily.

    As for the emotional aspect, I look at these chick flicks and scoff. Before I’d had sex, I’d imagined it to be this deeply moving moment that would tie me and my partner together in some sort of emotional bond, just like your Zac and Miri example. That, I thought, would mostly likely seal the deal with love. Granted that I’ve only had one sexual partner in my whole life (someone throw me an effing party…), but all the emotional aspects of my relationship were already firmly in place by the time we got around to having sex. Blame my shyness for that one. In any case, my first sexual experience did not have the overwhelming emotionality that I’d once daydreamed about as a high schooler. In fact, it was clumsy, and in need of some serious fine tuning. I do feel closer to Don because we are sexual partners, but that’s not WHY I feel close to him, if that makes any sense. Maybe I’ve broken the mold set up for me by society in this regard. But I also think that I’ve walked right into another stereotype of feeling the need to be in a secure relationship before having sex. Now the bigger assertion: maybe my very values and morals as a woman were predetermined by the media.

    All interesting things to think about. I guess the thing you have to ask yourself is this: What are YOU comfortable with as a woman? If you didn’t have anyone else to defend your actions to, what would you do? If you’re doing what comes natural to you, regardless of the beliefs of many or societal stigmas, I think you’re in a good place as a woman. Put a limit on how much you let others dictate what you should and shouldn’t do, and you’re on the road to happiness.

    Jeez. I don’t even know if that was coherent, haha. I hope it was at least a skosh thought provoking. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hope you’re well,


  2. Ladderface says:

    I’m definitely stretched on the same spectrum. I think some of it may stem from the intimacy factor and a certain level of trust implied. Although a certain chunk of that stems from natural self-protection etc, sex has been so blown out of proportion culturally, that it’s too easy to make these weights a whole lot heavier than they theoretically should be for a modern “enlightened” adult. The romanticizing of sex has been such a dominant force that I can’t think of any media portrayals of emotionally non-reliant sex that works for both parties outside of porn (which of course has its’ own giant set of problems as an industry, but is an extremely interesting product of mainstream culture – but it’s easier to not get into that right now). In, fact I’m struggling to think of any examples that didn’t result in emotional regret or attachment, or are shown in a positive light. Many of the emotional regret situations are depicted as being with somebody separating emotion from the sex, portraying at least one party as either cold or needy, although I’m just restating your examples at this point. Societal pressure is still to wind up married and deeply in love and deviance(heh) from that ideal is generally viewed as failure. I’m still very early in my personal journey of feminism, so I hope I don’t sound too rage-against-the-machine-ey.
    (For full disclosure I am male.)

  3. boatrocket says:

    exactly, that’s the thing. it seems like if we are in a relationship, all sex must be full of deep and undescribable emotional attachment, but when we’re out of one we should be hollow shells just looking for a screw. i think the pressures are in opposite corners for men and women, and i super appreciate getting a male response!

    and carrie, you have no idea how much of you is shaped not just by the media but by the culture (the media being of course merely an outlet of the culture). but then, we can’t tear ourselves away from the culture because it is part of “who you are” and that’s ok. it’s just important to see the culture as a maleable thing that we can change and turn in to something that will help us be who we want to be. wilting violet or otherwise.

  4. Dayo Anderson says:

    Charlotte, you fucking badass.

    Great blog idea. I love it. Can’t wait to read it ALL THE TIME.

    Here’s what brings me to my own sexual conclusions: women weren’t brainwashed to be able to have both meaningless and meaningful sex. Men were. Dudes can, effectively, fuck to spread their seed and that’s that, OR fuck to make love. Most men argue that sex is better in love (as do women).

    What’s odd about this dichotomy, to me, is how much I strive for that and sometimes succeed. When I DO succeed at simply fucking, instead of patting myself on the back, I end up walking myself through a “I’m not a slut, I’m a sexually empowered woman” talk. Less now than back in my formative years, but it’s still there. SIMULTANEOUSLY, when I achieve beautiful, emotional, heartfelt sex, I downplay it for fear of being the “typical girl in the sack.” Heaven forbid your clit pounds so hard it makes you fucking cry.

    I think the ONLY reason men CAN do both (well, most men), is because they haven’t (and I’m speaking of straight priveleged men) been oppressed sexually for as long. Regardless of CURRENT media, there is, even in the most liberated modern societies, the simple fact of history. Our country was based on puritanical beliefs. EW. We’ve all read the passage from the Scarlet Letter where she lets her hair down and the dude nearly jizzes his pants.

    Long story short, perhaps the influence on all of our sexuality can’t simply be blamed on media alone. We’ve got HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF OPPRESSIVE TRADITION to reverse.

    Next time a dick comes near my vag, I’m definitely gonna think about how my vagina can slowly erode all that oppression–let’s be the waves on the fucking cliff. Perhaps a thousand years from now we’ll make a beach!

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