Alright fools, settle in for a long read. I haven’t had a “serious” blog in a while and due to some recent events I feel the need to finally talk about what I’m going to talk about in this post, so this shall be a long AND serious blog (aren’t those just the BEST?)
But never fear…there is some fun to be had. This blog is about SEX!
SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX!
(Or lack thereof.)
(So I guess it can’t be too serious if there’s sex involved, right?)
(Sorry, I’m really hyper.)
Just a warning: for any of my readers for whom sexual assault/molestation is triggering, this contains NOTHING like that, so there’s no need to worry about that. It’s more a “stupid grade school kids do stupid stuff” type thing, alrighty?
I’ve never told anyone about this, mainly because for the longest time I never really thought much of it. But the more I’ve pondered it, the more I realize that it’s probably had a bigger effect on me than I’d ever actually considered when I was younger.
So as some of you know, I went to a Catholic elementary school. We had “religion class” every day, we had Bible story coloring books, we put on these huge Bible-themed musicals every winter and every spring, and we went to church every Friday morning.
The school was also pretty strict about the things you might expect a Catholic school would be strict about. We couldn’t cuss—“crap” would get us sent to the principal (who was a nun, of course). We couldn’t talk about “naughty parts.” We couldn’t take the Lord’s name in vain, we couldn’t wear holey clothes (holy clothes were another story), all that kind of stuff. So you can probably imagine what our sex education was like.
Sex was bad and anyone who ever had sex was bad and even if you THOUGHT about sex you were bad and even the word “sex” was bad and everyone who had ever had sex ever (outside of marriage and/or for recreation) was bad.
In fifth grade we had a special night session where we sat in the auditorium and listened to a guy who did nothing but tell us about 11-, 12-, and 13-year-old girls who got pregnant their first time having sex and were therefore SUPER bad. We were basically told that if we had sex out of wedlock (and even if we had sex DURING wedlock but it wasn’t for procreation), we would be shunned by the Lord FOREVER and would never get into heaven.
Now as ridiculous as that might sound to people who don’t believe in God or heaven or anything like that (those of you who are saying “haha, no one would ever REALLY believe that!”), let me remind you of something: this stuff is being hammered into the heads of young children, most of whom leave the religious-heavy environment of school to head to homes that are as equally religious-heavy. I didn’t—I went home to my atheist mother who was always like “PFFFFT JEEZUZ”—but most of these kids had parents who were VERY religious and therefore by age 11 were deeply, deeply into Catholicism and truly believed this stuff.
So by the time we’d gotten halfway through fifth grade, we all were primed with this idea that sex outside of marriage and for reasons other than procreation would, 100% of the time, result in ACCIDENTAL BABY that no one would ever want and therefore was like the worst thing you could do.
(Aside from spitting chewed-up holy wafers at each other.)
(Which we did.)
(Blasphemous little heathens.)
So sex = bad, people who have sex = bad, blah, blah, blah.
Fast-forward a bit to spring of fifth grade. Back then I actually had a fair number of friends and we were all pretty close (heck, our class size was like 23, so we kind of had to bond with each other). Two of the people in our class, Jack* and Jill*, were related somehow (I’m still not sure exactly what they were), and for whatever reason in like March of fifth grade year they decided to have a huge sleepover at Jill’s family’s farm.
It was mostly a bunch of us girls—there were two dudes there, Jack and Joe*. We watched Space Jam and ate pizza and all that fun late ‘90s nonsense, then decided to just all stay up all night. The girls, including myself, were downstairs in this funky basement room thing with our sleeping bags all sprawled out everywhere. They wanted to watch another movie or something and I didn’t, so I decided to go see what the guys were doing.
Joe and Jack were hanging out in the kitchen and I joined them, and in a very short amount of time—because we were in fifth grade and rebellious and hyped up on sugar and Michael Jordan—we decided to go up to the attic and play Truth or Dare.
And as per the unspoken rules of Truth or Dare, things got dirty.
Well, I guess “dirty” is a relative word.
You know that “sex” thing that we weren’t supposed to even THINK about? Well, we thought about it. And really, thinking about it was all we did. I have to say here that Jack was never the brightest crayon in the box; he had the brilliant idea to dare me to let him have sex with me, to which I was like “OH GOOD LORD NO” (see, I’m not a TOTAL idiot) and luckily Joe thought the same as I did. So he came up with a milder dare for us: Jack and I would take off our shirts, he would crouch on all fours above me as I lay on my back, and we would “fake” having sex.
Which was okay with both of us, so we did that.
Let me stop here and emphasize a few points:
- Pants stayed ON. Hell, I think we still had our shoes on.
- By “crouch above me” I meant that he literally stood on all fours above me as I lay looking up at him. Our bare skin didn’t even touch.
- I didn’t have boobies at that point, so it probably looked like two shirtless dudes trying to do some weird yoga together, now that I think about it.
- “Faking sex” meant panting “OH JACK!” and “OH CLAUDIA!” while he wiggled his butt around in the air as if he’d taken an enema of bees.
- Again: WE. DIDN’T. EVEN. FUCKING. TOUCH.
So we did that for like two minutes before we got bored of it. The rest of the night involved mooning the empty barn across the way and licking various farm animals (that was actually probably the dirtiest part of anything that went on that evening).
The next morning everything was back to normal. No one—apart from myself, Jack, and Joe—knew about what went on upstairs, and so nothing was said about it.
Now fast forward to the week post-sleepover.
St. Mary’s is a pretty tight-knit school. Due to its size and its number of mandatory full-school activities, everyone pretty much knew everyone else. Usually this wasn’t a bad thing. But when it came to rumors, things spread like the plague.
You can probably guess where I’m going with this.
I think it was the Tuesday of the week after the sleepover. We were obsessed with 4-square and played it incessantly at recess. During our lunch-period recess, I distinctly remember standing in line behind one of my girlfriends, waiting to play, and she leaned over to me and whispered, “So you had sex with Jack, huh?”
And of course I was like, “Who told you THAT?” And it turns out she heard it from a friend who heard it from some other friend who had heard it from another friend who had heard a whole group of people talking about it.
I remember being in total shock about this. Obviously I didn’t start the rumor, so I knew the source of it had to be Joe or Jack. The following day during lunch I remember walking over to where he was sitting in the cafeteria and just blatantly asking him.
“Are you telling people we had sex?”
He just smiled and nodded.
“Why? We didn’t have sex.”
“We kinda did.”
“No, we didn’t. We had our pants on.”
“Well, that’s still kind of sex.”
The group of guys at his table were kind of staring at us by that point and I, of course, was about ready to cry (because that’s just how I am), so I just said, “No, it’s not! Stop telling people we had sex!”
Surprisingly, he agreed to this quite readily (I think my being upset really freaked him out and he didn’t want some crazy chick freaking out in front of his friends) and I honestly don’t think he continued to spread the rumor. I don’t think he was smart enough to be vindictive like that.
But the damage was already done. Walking back to my table, I was getting DEATH STARES from people. You know those over-dramatic teen dramas were a rumor is being spread about someone and you can hear people whispering about said someone as he/she walks down the hallway? That’s literally what it was like. I could HEAR people whispering about me.
I had sex. I was a slut. I was a sinner. I was a bad girl who should have known better. I was dirty. I was to be publically shunned.
Which was pretty quick to happen. I lost a large proportion of my friends over the rumor because they were convinced that I was a bad seed and that I had brought the shunning upon myself by behaving in such a blasphemous way. I honestly don’t think anyone willingly spoke to me (apart from teachers, of course) for like a month after the rumor began. People were more than ready to cast me aside as someone who had committed an egregious act and therefore didn’t deserve to be bothered with.
And you know what the worst part of all this nonsense was? The part that I didn’t really consider until probably three or four years ago? I actually believed them. I was on their side. I was a slut. I was a sinner. I was a bad girl who should have known better. I was dirty. I was to be publically shunned.
EVEN THOUGH I DIDN’T ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING.
EVEN THOUGH IT WAS
I felt shame. Buckets and buckets of shame.
(What’s the unit for shame? Prevention’s in ounces; is shame in liters? I’ll say it’s liters.)
I felt liters and liters of shame. I had never felt so shamed in my life (and actually, I’ve never felt so shamed since).
In fact, I had fallen so far into my peers’ same belief that I had actually convinced myself that Jack and I did in fact have sex. I know that sounds obscenely stupid and you all probably think I’m an even bigger moron than you originally thought, but let me say a few things here:
- I was always a really shy kid. Fitting in naturally wasn’t really something I did because I’d never taught myself how to do it. Because I never really had the social graces to counter anything my peers did, and because peoples’ opinions of me had always held a fair amount of sway (I WAS just a kid, remember), I figured that they were right in disliking me.
- It was my claim that the whole thing was a rumor against the rumor itself, which was perpetuated throughout the school by every single other person who heard it. I never heard a single person express anything like “no, actually, that’s a rumor. She didn’t do it.” I didn’t really have much backing to defend myself.
- As I mentioned, this idea of “sex = bad” was BEATEN INTO OUR HEADS. Some kids vehemently believed this and were not afraid to show it. Hell, I was getting rocks and bark and sticks thrown at me for a while there.
So yeah. As stupid as it sounds, that’s what I felt. Multiple times, I was a breath away from telling my mom that I’d had sex and that I thought I was pregnant (another stupid belief; I hadn’t started my period yet, but I was CONVINCED that I’d had sex just as I was supposed to have my first period, so I was in fact pregnant). Thank Jeebus I never said anything to her.
So now that I’ve rambled about this for…*scrolls up*…four pages, you’re probably wondering why in the hell I’m telling you all this, and what it actually means. “This happened when you were 11,” you say, “and obviously you didn’t have sex or pop out a spawn or anything like that. So who cares?”
Well, as I said, I’d kind of pushed this whole thing aside for many years. I never really thought much about it after things finally started going back to normal (I think the fact that I didn’t pop out a spawn convinced a lot of people that I actually hadn’t done anything), and in fact didn’t really think about it at all for several years.
But when I was in my second semester at UI, Sean and I started talking over Messenger about sex. I think I’d told him that I was very cautious about sex and my virginity and whatnot, and he was curious as to why. We didn’t hit on this particular point of my past specifically, but the more I thought about why I was so cautious about such things, the more I kept coming back to this one incident.
It’s really, really hard for me to separate sex from shame…at least for me personally. I don’t think that everyone who has sex should feel shame (and don’t automatically shame my friends when they say they had sex or whatnot). But when I think about myself and I think about myself actually having sex (vaginal sex; I don’t have an issue with oral, apparently. Giggity.) I just can’t shake that feeling of impending shame. If I have sex, I feel like I will feel shame and will feel like I deserve to be shamed, and I think that that belief is quite clearly tied to the incident that happened in fifth grade.
Again, I know—it sounds really, really ignorant of me. You’re probably thinking “holy hot damn, this girl is a fucking moron!” But please note that I’m not saying that I should feel shame or that I should be shamed for having sex. I’m saying that that’s how I would feel.
I think those are very different things.
And so why the hell am I talking about this today, the 23rd of June, 2013?
Because I don’t have anything else to blog about
I think it’s because of all the women’s reproductive rights nonsense going down in Texas and in the country in general as of late. The whole notion of shame being so closely connected to sex and how “in the news” it all is just keeps bringing me back to that feeling. It’s an interesting visceral response. And it’s one of the main reasons that I have difficulty watching the debates or listening to anyone talk about the debates or even read about the debates, because the whole thing just makes me incredibly anxious.
Holy crap, this is a long blog. Haha, sorry.
I just figured…why not finally write it all out?
*Names changed to protect the innocent (?)