Can’t we bang already?: Balancing social narratives & individual choice.
I met a couple dudes over the weekend. Ok. Not true. I met one dude, and I already knew the other one. Now, I’m not sure how I feel about either one just yet, and I only bring them up to make some larger points.
Basically, long story short (when do I ever really do that?), my interactions (and lack thereof) with these guys made a few kinda clear. Or, rather… re-established a few things that were already abundantly clear.
- I would prefer to live in a society where asking someone “hey, you wanna just bang?” would be not only acceptable, but perfectly normal.
- I strongly dislike waiting around for the banging. Vagina Brain says CAN HAS NOW PLZKTHX……[five second pause]…..WHY HAS THE BANGING NOT COMMENCED?
Now. This entire thing actually (strangely) comes back around to what we’ve been discussing on Project X, namely as it pertains to narratives. This is really an example of how narratives operate in our daily lives, and not just around serious shit like sexism or racism or homophobia or privilege (to which, naturally, my VB declares “since when is getting some not serious??”).
They affect how we date and engage in relationships, too.
First off, I need to say that the rest of this post lands solidly within my thoughts on hetero-relationships. In my experience, a whole ‘nother set of narratives surround lesbian relationships and sex, so to attempt to keep it simple and short(er), I’m sticking to the heteronormativity. I know that’s kinda lame, but otherwise we’d be here all day. As you can see with just this paragraph.
Where was I? Oh right. Banging requests.
It’s kinda not really all that super-acceptable for me to just ask some dude if he wants to bump uglies already (and there’s another one – since when are our private parts ugly??). That can, actually, backfire, and it sometimes ends in some running towards those hills over yonder – or in assuming the bumping = relationship-ing. Moreover, even if I don’t straight-up ask, but we end up getting down n’ dirty (is it a “dirty” act really?), he may bail for no other reason than we had sex. For serious.
Why? Well, narratives that tell us the right way to have both 1. relationships and 2. le sexy times.
First, those on relationships: The Rules say you shouldn’t have sex so quickly, because the appropriate way to engage in intimate relationships with others is to date, and date, and date, and date some more (Vagina Brain would like to state, for the record, that this is unacceptable) until you enter into a committed monogamous relationship. First comes love, then comes marriage… Having sex too early in this process is a no-no. And, bee tee dubs in case you were wondering, NSA sex or FWB sex never works so don’t even think about it. Or, rather, it actually ends up in a committed monogamous relationship (thanks for the reality check Hollywood!).
Second, narratives on sex: Basically, Good Girls Don’t. Women should withhold sex from men because men just want sex and if you give it up too early, how else do you know if a dude likes you? Make him wait, that’s what a Good Girl does. Moreover, how does a dude know you’re not all Slutty McSluttyPants if you have sex too soon? Because, duh, being all Slutty McSluttyPants is bad – guys don’t actually like Slutty McSluttyPantses - again, because Good Girls Don’t so clearly not “good” – and they certainly don’t enter into the Right Kind of Relationships with SlutPants. They just use McSlutties for the sex, then throw them away.
In addition, sex is just inherently more emotional for women. We say we can handle NSA sex, but we really can’t. Dudes, they have no problem. They can have all the non-emotional sex they want. And also, us ladies don’t really be liking the sex anyways. We just do it for the relationships. Oh, and the babiez. SO the only way sex is ok, and isn’t the girl just getting used for all the sex the dude wants but she doesn’t (not really), is if you manage to wrangle them into the emotional sex/commitment!babies! – so, duhhhhh, make them wait for it!
Furthermore, sex is kinda shameful (hence the “dirty” act of “bumping uglies”) so god forbid we talk about it or have an honest conversation or you know, just. have. some. sex. The conversation makes us uncomfy (because, thanks Society!) and it seems too serious. Too much. We don’t actually talk until we’re in relationships, right? Moreover, anyone else notice how much pressure we’re all under about the sex? Don’t have it – but if you do, make sure you’re a porn star!
So. Yeah. Those would be some narratives around sex and relationships. And, NO, I don’t fucking buy that shiz for even a second – BUT other people readily do. Maybe it’s the other people I wanna have some sex with. Maybe it’s the other people those people will talk to, and they will make the people I hump feel bad about the humping.
I think it sucks, but that’s the Society we live in – these are the narratives we live with. Can we and should we be working to change it? Abso-freakin’-lutely. I think that’s a big part of what being sex positive is about – changing all that bullshit to be less about cultural constraints and more about honest dialogue and personal choice.
However – there’s a line to walk here, and sometimes, like it or not, things have to be handled carefully (are you listening VB??).
An e-mail in response to a mini-vent of mine regarding the lack of, er, interaction with these dudes (basically straight from Vagina Brain – I take no responsibility) reminded me there is a reason we have things like narratives (and clichés and stereotypes): They help us navigate the world. Putting people in boxes or categories help us understand our communities and where we stand in them. This is kinda important for how we exist and interact, how we view ourselves in relation to others and the world around us.
With respect to this particular example, that e-mail response reminded me that there is some importance to having some patience and chilling the F out – perhaps not because that’s what Society expects from me, but more importantly because not everyone is like me (in fact, I’d hazard a guess and say most people are not). Most people need some time to get to know someone before they feel comfortable taking the next step – as an individual choice and not because Society says so. Moreover… might not hurt me to get to know someone a lil better, too (anyone remember T-Bone?)
But it’s a balance, a compromise. Yes, narratives (and clichés and stereotypes) serve a purpose, but they also usually get all out of hand and become harmful to members of a society. They start to stigmatize people into specific categories that are not positive, and to ignore individual differences. They work to rationalize or excuse providing or withholding privilege to or from specific groups.
They make it so I can’t just. have. some. sex. with a willing partner, because he/she may have hang-ups that have nothing to do with what they want, and everything to do with what Society tells them is acceptable.
Yet it’s also not about a pendulum swinging to another extreme. It’s about finding the balance between societal and cultural constructs that are not true or helpful, and true individual choice and comfort.
We can learn to find that balance by 1. being self-aware, and really thinking through what it is we want from life; 2. being culturally aware, and constantly working to ascertain what we’re being told is correct (vs what we know from being self-aware, right?); 3. avoid putting stereotypes and constraints on other people; and, of course, 4. listening to and believing others when they are honest with us (e.g. if I say I just want some NSA sex, don’t assume I really want a relationship because that’s how Society tells you to interpret my words. Please).
This is how narratives may operate in our daily lives and how we interact with people. This is why, even if you don’t really want to care or think about serious things (*AHEM* – augh. you give me a sad), these things still actually do matter to you. They actually are a part of your daily life.
Whether you want to accept that and work to understand it, well, I suppose that is up to you.
Me, I’m going to learn some Patience. It be a virtue.
That…. and watch a lot of porn.