Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Truth, Sexologists and The New York Times

I named this blog Living Life Loudly with a purpose. The purpose was to never have to explain myself before posting. "Loudly" can be subjective I have realized. Sometimes it is what we don't say that says just as much about us.

I think. A lot. Most of the time, I think too much, too deeply and too analytically. I am an over thinker and often it makes me paranoid and sad. I also talk. A lot. I explained to a friend recently that talking is my method of processing. I am not the type to process on my own. I need sounding boards, feedback and opinions. It is just how I am built. I am loud. I am opinionated. I am honest to a fault. I think all of that bravado often leaves those outside of my inner sanctum to assume I am strong and impervious. Recently I had an acquaintance tell me that they assumed I cared little about judgement or the opinion of others. I am not sure how I feel about projecting that persona, but it could not be less true. I am unbearably sensitive, easily hurt and needy.

After years of making excuses for the loud extrovert I am, I have come to terms with both sides of me. I am often the loudest person in a room. I am rarely without an opinion and I can talk to anyone. Those parts of me have been (mostly) an asset in my career and my life. Lately however, I have found that I am always making excuses or apologizing for the other side. The part of me that needs to feel loved, understood and important. The amount of "I'm sorry" I have said even in the last week is startling. Especially, when I have not really done anything wrong. Most of my apologies have been in response to being me. For being honest and allowing people on the receiving end to make me regret my honesty. And that leaves me raw and vulnerable and well...unsure about honesty as an art or science.

It was with that mindset that I read Logan Levkoff's Blog A Penn Grad's Response to the NYT's 'Sex on Campus'
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-logan-levkoff/a-penn-grads-response-to-_b_3599326.html. Let me say that Logan is amongst my heroes. Here is a U Penn dual degree grad , similar age to me, who works as a Sexologist, HuffPost blogger, Author, Today Show expert guest etc. She uses the words sex, vibrator and masturbation on national TV without so much as a smirk. She is open, honest and sassy to boot. She never comes off as crass or inappropriate and she says what the rest of us are thinking. Logan takes issue with a recent NY Times Article http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/fashion/sex-on-campus-she-can-play-that-game-too.html. She says "I am upset that yet another article about campus hookups suggests that women's empowerment is being achieved through merely "acting like stereotypical men."

The NY Times author, Kate Taylor, writes: Because they believed that talking publicly about sex could come back to haunt them -- by damaging their reputations at Penn, their families' opinions of them or their professional future -- the women spoke on the condition that their full names would not be revealed.

Logan writes "Herein lies the first problem. How empowered are we when we cannot own the statements that we make about sex? As a young adult, there is nothing more satisfying that being able to state your beliefs and being accountable to yourself and yourself alone. (Yes, I recognize that parents still take care of their young adults, financially and emotionally.) But true freedom exists when you take control of your body, your desires and your politics. Talking to a reporter about something that you feel proud of (and are boasting about in a New York Times cover story) and requesting anonymity is counterintuitive."

Technically, I don't disagree with Logan at all. I am the first to want control of my body, my desires and my politics. I want to be able to state my beliefs and be accountable to myself. I want nothing more than to teach that to my daughters (who are just beginning to become aware of sex and their bodies and their own opinions and minds). But what is wrong with wanting part of that control to be about privacy? What is wrong with deciding what you share with one (or two or three if you are into that) person is not anyone else's business? What is wrong with sharing your experience but not your name? Like it or not, there is almost no anonymity today and when you are given the choice to keep yours, it is just that...a choice.

For younger girls it's no longer that simple. We can't ignore the rampant bullying associated with young girls and sex. We can't separate this desire for "true freedom" from the stigma social media has put on the game of telephone. Sex, even between two consenting parties often turns into something all together different when one of those parties decides to share that information with their "friends." Teenagers are a cruel and unusual bunch.

I was lucky enough to be raised by parents who never avoided the topic of sex. They made it clear that it was normal and natural but always better when with someone you cared about. Their main concern was that I was safe and that I made my own decisions. I plan to do the same with my daughters, but with the added
burden of technology and social media. Now I have to add, "don't send naked pictures of yourself to anyone, don't write anything in email, text or on Facebook that you wouldn't want everyone you know to know etc."

For adults it's not so much about being judged by the public at large either. We have all had the kind of sex so mind blowing that it makes you want to stand on a mountain and announce it to the world. By and large though, we don't. We make that choice each for our own reasons. But again it's our choice. Sometimes it's because the idea of sharing it with anyone who was not there would somehow lesson the experience. It's also about realizing that sometimes there are truths no one else wants to know. That those you love do not want your burdens as theirs.

I for one, am glad that these women had the opportunity to share their experiences and the choice of sharing their names. At the end of the day the concern I share with Logan is that the article implied "that women's empowerment is being achieved through merely "acting like stereotypical men."  This is where we need to focus, where we need to change the script, for ourselves and our daughters.



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