Dicking around

By CAROLINE KNAPP  |  August 8, 2010

I was jealous because my memory of being 16 years old and sitting in math class is so decidedly less sexual. Back then, I sat there and worried about zits. Or about what I was wearing. Or about why some particular boy I like hadn't seemed to look at me that day even once. Probably he was too focused on his screaming erection to look at me, but I didn't know about those things back then, so I figured it was my fault: I wasn't interesting enough, or pretty enough.

And that's precisely the point. It would be so much easier to grow up male and to be so in touch with your sexuality and sexual impulses, to have your whole being dominated by that singular wish: to get laid. It's an equation: you have a dick, you want sex. And you are taught from an early age that this is okay, the way it should be.

But when you grow up female, you get a much weirder set of messages: your vagina is a) a place that oozes a disgusting bloody substance once a month, and b) something dangerous and scary. If you're a man, you're taught to see sex as a goal; if you're a woman, you're taught to avoid it. So of course you don't think about sex – or talk about it – with that male brand of graphic bravado. Your sexuality gets deflected onto all those annoying externals: how you look and what you're wearing and how you behaved every single time a boy came within spitting distance in the cafeteria.

Simply put, when you grow up female, you get saddled with all the burdens of being attractive – and few of the pleasures of being attracted.

Beyond that, even if you happen to be attractive naturally, you're not allowed just to sit back, wallow in the attention, and learn to enjoy your sexuality. This may be 1992, but, as a man might say, I'd bet my left nut that boys will still call you a slut if you sleep around.

This is most unfortunate. It's hard enough, as my reticent friend suggested, to have the kind of anatomy that doesn't scream sexual messages at you the way male anatomy seems to. It's hard enough to grow up in a culture that sometimes equates sex with deep, romantic love and sometimes makes them seem mutually exclusive. But when you add a million mixed messages into that stew (be attractive! not too attractive! be sexual! don't sleep around!), it's no wonder that women get all weird when they talk about their own bodies. It's no wonder we come up with 11 different names for stupid trivial things (lipstick is "lip gloss" is "lip colour" is "lip stain") instead of meaningful, important things. When you're taught that something isn't valuable in its own right, you don't give it a name.

Think about it, all you one-eyed trouser snakes.

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  Topics: Flashbacks , CULTURE, jealousy, gender,  More more >
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