Currently I'm staying with my father as I find a good place to live. He lives in a tiny little town with an elementary school down the street. When I arrived home last night the local hooligans were sitting around a fire on the side of my father's apartment complex. They were being rowdy, and they decided to blast Kid Rock. I shook my fist at them as I made my way up the stairs to my father's apartment. As I tried to fall asleep that night their laughter pierced my drowsiness and I was relieved to know I didn't have to call the police myself as I could see their flashing lights on my window. Hoping that they were patting them down and bringing them into jail, so there would be no more sleepless 11pms. I fell asleep comforted by the gentle thoughts of jail. The next morning (fifteen minutes ago) I awoke to the wondrous sounds of churchbells. First I did not believe they were churchbells but some figment of my imagination. For I have simply never awoken to churchbells before, and they seem to only fit the dead when they are entering heaven's gates. I decided I had to go outside so I wondered onto the porch with my house coat on and stood literally in awe of the morning, with its bells on and sunshine and gentle breezy breath. I'm sure I looked like a dazed old woman who didn't take test her blood sugar levels yet. I'm soon to head for a walk because my body hardly remembers what sunshine and warm breeze feels like. But before I do, I want to speak about pre-marital sex, how it fits into my morning (very marginally), and what it looks like for a new feminist such as yourself.
Pre-marital sex of our hippie mothers (or their wild friends as they'd like us to think), was full of "free love" meaning everyone was encouraged to change sex partners as much as they changed their flower power socks. Independence and enlightenment came through not being tied down to an accepted form of sexual relationship (marriage), and instead creating one's one idea of a relationship that did not "inhibit" either parties. The college crowd was especially confident in this new form of socially accepted relationship.
Is this what relationships and sex mean for the feminist today? Are we still encouraged to sleep with whomever we want, and either commit or not commit to them at our leisure? Is it still a mark of an independent savvy woman to be promiscuous? I have read and heard many a "empowered" woman say that we must be like men in the way we approach sex. We must not view sex as a promise for a future of commitment together, but simply a way to get our rocks off or more nicely put, our needs met. I would like to debunk this ridicilous concept once and for all. Not only does it create a negative understanding of man's ability to bond through sex, but it also encourages a woman to feel inadequate in her healthy desire for an enduring commitment in a relationship that includes sex.
When a woman has sex, the chemical that her brain creates when she breast feeds, oxytocin, starts pumping through her bloodstream. As a result she wants to nurture, and be nurtured. This chemical doesn't simply wear away after sex, but continues to pump through her bloodstream days later creating feelings of wanting to nest indefinitely with her partner. If she has sex and is not in complete harmony with her partner, she can easily feel rejected, empty, or dirty. This is because without the constant flow of this chemical (caused by not regularly having sex), her hormones will be throwing a wild party and wreaking havoc on her mental state. That is why a one night stand is only rubbish as it allows for the beginning of intimacy without the relationship behind it that ultimately stabalizes both parties' mental health. I include men in this because it is important to a man to give and receive sexual pleasure as it helps solidfy the intimacy that him and his partner share. I find a difference to be that usually women find verbal communication as the proof of a strong relationship, while men generally find the ability to give and receive physical pleasure as the ultimate proof that they are in a long lasting relationship. If a man experiences a one night stand he can have the haunting thoughts that he was not good enough (because he will never know). Of course there are execptions in this rule, when these roles are completely reversed or do not exist at all.
But with proceeding as if these roles do sometimes exist, for a man and a woman to not have their sexual identities strengthened through a consistent and long lasting relationship, both suffer the results. Men may not not receive regular genuine affirmation that they are good lovers (they may feel inadequate), and women do not receive the feeling of oneness with a partner if everyone is constantly playing musical beds.
What does this mean? That we should never have sex with someone unless we're sure we want to be with that person for a long time? Maybe. Does that mean we should only have sex in marriage? Anais Nin (one of my most favorite feminists) would roll over in her grave if she heard me say that people should save sex for marriage. But in actuality a long term relationship where both parties feel secure in their love for eachother without the fear of one person walking away, only strengthens and intensifies sex. Knowing your partner inside and out, and not being afraid to express any desire or thought that comes from a long term relationship also strengthens sex. That may mean marriage for some, but others may be able to skirt around this by pledging themselves to a relationship that may not include marriage but includes the trust that surronds it. But, that brings on another truck load of issues that includes insecurities, and the chance that you may be in a sexual relationship with someone that you are actually not compatible with on different levels. One of my favorite poets, John Donne, said "You cannot love someone unless it is spiritually, physically, intellectually, and emotionally." I would take this one step further and make "loving someone" include having good sex with someone. If you're having sex with someone that you are not in a secure consistent relationship with, there leaves a lot of places where you both may not be compatible thus leading to heartache for one or both parties.
In college years a lot of us fall in and out of love. Since we are building our identities, and learning how to have confidence in ourselves despite our shortcomings, we may not be the people we will be five years down the road. That means our confidence may just be budding when in the future we will have fields and fields of good self-esteem to appreciate. As a result, we may be attracted to people who may not be all that great for us, simply because we don't think we are all that great. We may have sex with people who will ultimately not be emotionally available to us after time sets in. That is why it is safer to share sex with someone in which you have been with in a long term relationship, and who has been there for you in a consistent way that has brought you a lot of joy and peace. For if you settle, and settling is what a few of us do when we don't know ourselves well, the sharing of sex will only make you more vulnerable to emotional pain.
Being a feminist means allowing yourself to be happy. Without the trust of a healthy relationship that only consistently adds to your life, your mind, your dreams, your mental health, sex can be painful at best. Some form of respect, kindness, or thoughtfullness must occur for a healthy woman to be happy in bed. This should include that usage of a condom, and the removal of pressure to perform or act a certain way. By having sex with a random stranger, or someone you are not sure you want to be with in the long term, you are risking a lot. As this person may or may not want to use a condom (putting you in an horrible position), and they may disrespect you by ignoring you. One of the most horrible and humourous things I have ever heard is about a woman who was having sex with someone when she had an interesting realization: "When we were having sex he was really into it, but he wasn't into me. I mean if I got up and walked away, but left my vagina, he probably wouldn't have even noticed."
I know of a woman who had sex with someone, yet she felt it was premature, or ultimately somehow she knew her and her partner weren't compatible. She said she cried while they were having sex, but he did not realize it. No one should have to deal with tears of pain in the bedroom!
But what about the argument that sex is good for you? That the more the merrier? In essence good sex relieves stress by lessening the amount of cortisol that is pumped into your bloodstream. It makes your menstrual flow lighter and shorter. It also makes you live longer, feel happier on a daily basis (gets sertonin pumping through your bloodstream), and strengthens and tones your muscles. With all the pressure that college students are under, it makes sense (almost) that everyone easily goes to bed with eachother, and changes partners quickly and effortlessly. Everyone needs to release themselves of the daily intense stresses that weigh us down. And sex is probably still the easiest, and most favorite stress reliever on college campuses. One of my favorite artists Jenny Lewis sings in Melt Your Heart: "What's good for your soul will be bad on your nerves if you reverse it." Good sexual encounters do not always occur within a loving relationship, but ultimately they can make you feel dead as you are being underappreciated if you're having only good sex with someone without them recognizing all of the other wonderful things you bring to the table. It is possible to feel alive in body, but dead in spirit. This is not only if you believe that you have a soul, or that other people have souls. For ultimately no one can deny feelings of emptiness and deadness if they are sexually involved with someone they do not love, or they know does not love them. There is a numbness and zombie like eyes that go along with this disconnect. Also, with the extra time in college sex seems to be the most fun pasttime, and usually the least expensive (depending on what you're into, or the frequency in which you need condoms). In "Melt Your Heart" Lewis sings, "Are we killing time,
or are we killing eachother?"
Does that mean college students should never have sex outside of marriage? Not entirely. We should be very choosy in who we have sex with so we do not have to endure needless pain that goes with feeling used or underappreciated in one night stands or within shallow monetary relationships where one or both parties aren't really invested.
More of my favorite lines of Lewis' song,
"When you're kissing someone
who's too much like you
It's like kissing on a mirror
When you're sleeping with
someone who doesn't get you
You're gonna hate yourself in the morning."
No one should wake up with self hatred. I mean if you're an emo guy with girl pants on it might work for a short time in selling a couple of records, however for the majority of us we should be happy waking up in the morning without shame or emptiness.
So, how does this all tie into my morning? (Review the beginning of this blog to remember what in the heck I'm speaking about). Well, I believe a lot of pre-marital sex can be like the night I had last night: frustrating, waking you up when you're trying to sleep only making you sleep deprived and unhappy. That is why we should either wait until marriage, or for a healthy monogomous and equal relationship where sex can be like bells on a sunday morning with sunshine and an old woman wandering around in her house coat. Maybe without the old woman, but you get the jest.