Porn, Pubic Hair, Sex & Reality

I know I’m supposed to be writing about sex, sex, sex (and I certainly have a lot of it to write about) and I know ya’ll want to see more sexy pictures (how do I know this? well…my hits go way up when I post naughty pictures, that’s how!) but there is another side to my life.

I have a family: children, sisters, parents.
I read books (even ones with no sex in them.)
I crochet.
I have houseplants and a garden.
I hike. I run. I play board games.
I even (gasp) watch television occasionally.
I work and go to school and clean house and do laundry (not often enough, but oh well, life is short.)
I have a neurotic dog and am allergic to cats (tho I love them.)
I’m a really good cook, but not a chef – I can follow a recipe but not create one.

I adore my children.

I never wanted children when I was young. Never babysat, never took care of the neighbors’ kids, never did all that mooning and dreaming about getting married and having children.

Course then I was the one that ended up moving in with my boyfriend when I was barely 16, but at least I stayed in school (though I graduated early) and never got pregnant. At least until I was 20. Then along came my eldest – and I fell head over heels in love with him.

Still, I never planned to have more children, and in fact, I made the choice not to have a second baby with my first husband. I knew that having that baby would have sentenced me and my firstborn to a life of violence and misery with him.  I sacrificed my unborn child so that my son and I might escape, might live a better life, one without fear and violence in it.  I have never regretted that decision.

Then along came my daughter and my second son…what an amazing thing a family is. These three individuals that I brought into the world…

They are a joy that is nearly inexpressible.

Besides just being a joy to me, though, I recognize that I have an obligation and responsibility to them, as my children, but also as human beings whose way of seeing the world, and interacting with it, I have a chance to influence.  I take that responsibility seriously.  “I will always be truthful with them,” was one of the promises I made. I will never say, ‘That’s not talked about,” or “You’re too young to understand,” or “Nice girls/boys don’t talk about that/think about that/ask about that.”

I am not my mother’s daughter in so many ways.

In my house, no topics are off limits, as long as they are discussed with respect for each other’s opinions. Debate is encouraged – as long as you can back up your opinion with reasoned argument, logic, and sound thinking. And honesty, no matter how painful, is of utmost importance.

They’re kids. Honesty doesn’t always come easily – but we work on it.

Openness, it turns out, is easier.

“Kids won’t want to talk to you about those things (sex, drugs, emotions, drinking, failure, hopes, dreams, money…etc etc.)” people said.

They couldn’t have been more wrong.  They talk about everything. With me, around me, with each other. No, they don’t share with me every nuance of their emotional landscapes. They don’t share with me every detail of their feelings or actions. I don’t expect them to. But they share enough, and far more than most kids do with their parents.  And I welcome whatever it is that they want to talk about, even if it makes me uncomfortable (because I am my mother’s daughter, it does make me uncomfortable at times. But that, too, is important. It is a learning/stretching and growth for us all.) I let them know that any topic is safe, and in return for their openness, I offer them mine. If they want to know, I tell them. I don’t hide my relationships or opinions from them, and I encourage them to challenge those opinions, to question them, to form their own.

Topics of conversation are wide-ranging and varied, from (at the dinner table last night) discussion about a recent Supreme Court decision, to Roe v Wade, to state rights and the death penalty, to what a President’s most important/lasting contribution is.

Tonight’s topics were:

  • Writing, and why being an avid reader makes one a better writer
  • Pros and cons of different types of birth control
  • The challenges of writing flash fiction and non-fiction
  • The story about Newt Gengrich wanting an open marriage, and the concept of ethical non-monogamy and how it applies (or doesn’t) to that situation
  • Death, and how different people deal with it
  • My shoe addiction
  • The Missy’s growing shoe addiction
  • The fact that the Missy and I are both pushovers for puppies, and that as long as Ad isn’t around to say, “No!” we both need to stay away from them, or we might find ourselves homeless when he gets back to discover we brought home a new puppy.

We also talked an awful lot about sex. We talked about:

  • The fact that they suspect their Dad and stepmom have become almost celibate, but Ad and I obviously aren’t, and if it’s because I have another relationship that Ad’s and mine is still good. (Consensus was that it works for us, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to keep a long-term relationship hot.)
  • The Missy’s FWB/Booty Call relationship
  • Her and my synchronization: apparently she is an afternoon sex girl, as am I. (Her FWB is not. Her: “Maybe I need to find another boy for afternoons.”)
  • The phrase “vagina dentata” came up (I didn’t even know they knew what that meant) as well as the phrase “I didn’t know a girl could get a boner.”

And my 16 year old son talked about his shock at discovering recently how much pubic hair a girl had. I won’t go into the specifics of his encounter, that’s for him to share (or not), but suffice it to say that we were talking about his first explorations into sexual experimentation, and, apparently, it came as quite a surprise to him that a girl would have quite that much hair down there.

This was in a conversation that I was not an active part of, so I didn’t speak up at the time, but it did bother me on one level, and later I brought it back up to him.  And this is why I love that “openness” thing between me and my children. He and I could talk about it, with maybe a smidge of discomfort, but still – neither one of us shied away from the discussion.  (And no, I didn’t go into all the “safe sex” stuff. We’ve talked, specifically and in detail about that, and about the costs and potential emotional risks for him and the girl with whom he eventually has sex with.) What bothered me was his impression that a 16 or 17 year old girl shouldn’t have hair down there, or least very much. And the reason this bothered me was because I knew that he’d gotten that idea from whatever pornography/media he has seen.

In Writing Erotic: lived vs mediated experience, Remittance Girl talks about the essential unreality of pornography:

Yes, in porn, the actors are actually penetrating, ejaculating, etc. But they are actors. They are having sex in order to produce a piece of entertainment for others. They fuck in positions that allow camera access. They withdraw and ejaculate where the camera can capture it. This is not how people actually have sex. This is how porn actors producing porn have sex. 

And porn stars are displaying their bodies (and modifying them) for entertainment value. Yes, some women shave their cunts (hey, I do.) And some women don’t. It is the expectation by someone who is young and inexperienced in the real world that what he sees in a porn video is reality, that bothers me.

W and I have had this discussion numerous times. He thinks that, (to a degree) access to images of sexual intercourse are good, because it undemonizes sex. It makes sex a “normal” thing, which it is and should be. (And shows a young person what goes where and how to do stuff.) And yet I have always struggled with that, because while I get off on porn occasionally myself (see some of my earlier musings on porn here: I’m a woman, and I like porn and over on Eden Cafe: Pro-Porn) I also know that it portrays sex in a hopelessly unrealistic way, and frankly, I don’t want my son to be one that learns about sex from it.  Sex is about so much more, and is so much better than pornography. I want his experiences to be authentic, and for him to compare those entertainment images with reality could hopelessly skew his reaction to the reality and his potential pleasure in it.  As I said in my post The Normalization of Kink, or Why Everyone is Taking It Up the Ass

I do agree that there is a very real concern there that this “normalization” of what have always been considered transgressive sexual acts (anal sex, BDSM, guys coming on a girl’s face) may create a culture in which men assume and expect women to be into those things, as part of normal sexual relations, just because, well, you know, “everyone does it.”  That’s as wrong as painting it as a bad, wrong thing in the first place. 

But I go on to say,

But…well hell, isn’t making sex–and any and all of its various flavors–not a taboo topic what I’ve been trying to teach my own children? All sex was taboo in my house growing up. Hell, all bodily fluids and functions were. My sex education? “Keep your legs crossed.” Um, gee, thanks, Mom.

So obviously I am conflicted about the value of pornography.  What I want, I guess, is for it not to be the only way my children understand and learn about sex (and relationships.) Just as I want them to know that there are as many ways to have a relationship as the human heart and mind can conceive of, I want them to know that sexual experience is as wide and varied as the human body and heart are.

And so I have to be willing, unflinchingly, to discuss those topics with him.  Because porn is out there. Nothing I say or do is going to keep my son from seeing it, if he really wants to.  But I want him to know there is more than that, and that just as a television show or movie is not reality, and no matter how “real” porn looks, it ain’t. And the reality–even the hairy, messy, smelly part of reality–is so much better.

And so I talked about porn, and pubic hair, and men and women and sex and reality and love and intimacy with my son last night.

I think we’re both better for it.

Comments

  1. Sabrina Swings (@SabrinaSwings)

    This is an amazing post. What our boys are seeing in pornographic images and videos online can be shocking. How do we help them understand that reality is so much different (and better) than what they see and/or masturbate to online? It makes me sad to think that today’s teenage boys never get to experience the innocent pleasure of simply looking at naked girls in magazines, but instead they are assaulted by online porn that is often created for shock-value and to push taboos. Even though I personally love to push the envelope on sexual taboos, I think this is something that comes with age and experience. When humans are just starting to explore sexuality outside themselves, I would hope that they could enjoy the simple pleasure of looking at and touching natural naked bodies.

    Reply

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