In discussions about sexuality, rape, violence, intimacy Julie Gillis knows one thing for certain: We have to talk about them differently.
Today on GMP, a writer, Girl Writes What has a piece up about the lines between sex and rape. It’s a contentious issues and the comments show a very interesting divide of views. Twitter is in on it, with many angry tweets about the piece and the site.
I want to state for the record, I am a feminist. I believe that the way most Americans are brought up to manage their sexual relationships is messed up. We have issues with sex in this country. I also believe that men can be and are assaulted and that the entire landscape around sex needs a major revamp.
Our attitudes about sex in this country are like oil and water – We love it! We use it for much of our advertising, PR and sales. We glorify sex, sexuality and hotness in our media, magazines, clothing lines and more. We have more online porn than one could ever watch! We want better sex in our marriages, we have scads of sex toys online stores! We teach men how to be better pick up artists!
We hate it! We teach abstinence only education in many states (states with extremely high rates of teen pregnancies!), we have wild political fights about contraception, religious freedoms and what women do or don’t have the right to with their bodies! We have bad sex, and no sex in our marriages! We cheat and feel guilty! We tell girls not to be sluts!
Here’s the thing and I’ve said this before. The stakes around sex are waaaaaay too high, and also? They aren’t high enough.
There are issues of entitlement, amazing justification for individuals getting what they want at the expense of others, massive need (apparently) for alcohol as a lubricant to get people doing what they supposedly want to be doing but can’t get to do with out some kind of intoxicant + social codes (I’ll buy you a drink = I want to have sex with you?) which can inevitably add up to sexual acts that one or more participants regret.
Intent is important and it isn’t always evident. Consent should be evident and there ain’t nothing wrong with continually learning how to ask, in sexy ways, if consent is still there. Men and women both (and in all the combinations gay/straight/bi etc) should perhaps learn early in life that sex is wonderful, pleasurable and there is an ethic involved. That bodies are good things and saying no is OK. That saying yes is OK too, so long as everyone is on the same page.
Your pleasure doesn’t take precedence over my safety and vice versa. But also, if I have a bad night of sex? If I regret it? That’s on me, too, as an active agent in my own sexual life.
Why aren’t these things being taught? (rhetorical, of course)
Or things like this: Be kind. Listen. When in doubt, slow the hell down. You can always have another orgasm, so ask if you aren’t sure your partner is into it.
I don’t have the answers, but I do see a bigger problem than feminism or masculism, a bigger problem than “keep your legs closed” or “be a PUA,” a bigger problem than people drinking to loosen up and whose fault is it due to drink.
We’ve got real issues with sex and intimacy and violence in this country.
Can we have a conversation about it without it turning into blaming or shaming? Conservative viewpoints or liberal ones? Or are we gonna keep spinning our wheels, creating poles of victims and perps, not identifying ways to really eradicate rape and sexual assault for both men and women, and coming to a point where human beings recognize that perhaps the problem isn’t sex as an action.
It’s that human beings, all of us, have an unfortunate tendency to want things like connection and intimacy, but we often act in ways that are less than ethical and justify our behaviors in all sorts of ways to avoid ostracism, disconnection and more.
All this? It’s a human problem. And the only way to solve any of it is to treat each other better than human. And to stand down from our poles and try to focus on humane solutions to human problems.
We need to completely revamp our relationship with sexuality, with humanity, violence, intimacy and equity in this country and I’ll be damned if I know how to make that happen. But I’m surely going to try.
photo: artotemsco / flickr