Category Archives: Slut-shaming

The female blogger Silverdrop, shown from shoulders to waist, nude, with her long brown hair covering her breasts.

Breaking up with Religion – part 1

If there are Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, there must be just as many ways for a devout person to leave their religion. Some relationships gradually erode over time until one person realizes there’s nothing left. Some have explosive fights and betrayals with a grand storming out.

A painting of a woman, her nudity covered by serpents, standing next to a tree and holding a fruit in her hand. A beam of light from above and behind the woman highlights her face, right arm, and fruit.For me, it was somewhere in between. I remember doubts going all the way back to childhood, when I realized the 6-day creation story didn’t account for dinosaurs. I wondered why God insisted on killing so many people in the Old Testament. I agonized about Hell, imagining all of my friends and teachers and neighbours who didn’t go to the right church suffering for eternity. I had a very vivid imagination. When Jabba the Hutt told his prisoners that they’d be digested in the Sarlaac for 1,000 years, I was terrified. That was far worse than just being killed! But then I remembered that Hell would be worse than that.

The big fights and betrayals though – that didn’t happen until later. Family tragedies, innocent people suffering – I won’t go into detail, except to say there was a child (not mine) and that child died. Everyone knows about grief. Everyone has a story of the first time they discovered that the world isn’t a safe place, that terrible things will happen no matter how good or how careful you are, and no matter who their protectors are.

When you expect an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being to have all the answers, your psyche takes a hit when you discover otherwise. And just like a person in a failed relationship who doesn’t want to admit it, I made excuses for my religion. Maybe God isn’t perfectly omnipotent. Maybe he wanted to prevent this from happening, but something worse would have happened if he did. Maybe this path really is the one with the greatest good. Maybe he isn’t perfectly omniscient. Maybe there are just too many people for him to handle every detail. Even though we’d all prayed so hard and had all the faith possible that the child would survive, he’d somehow looked away at the wrong moment.

Of the triad, the last thing I considered was “What if God isn’t omnibenevolent?” What would it look like to have a creator God who made everything, could see everything, could control everything, but wasn’t good? When tsunamis or hurricanes made the news, I imagined God as a kid with an ant-farm, pouring in water to watch them panic. I thought of gay people being told they were going to Hell for who they loved, and for everyone being told that they have to live by all these crazy strict rules about their own bodies and their own sexuality*. I considered what kind of God would give people the desire to have sex while forbidding them to do it.  I wondered why Adam and Eve would be punished just for wanting to know. They didn’t eat from the Tree of Evil, after all. It was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

I came to believe God was cruel. But somehow, in all my questioning and pain, the one thing I wouldn’t do was admit, “Maybe God doesn’t exist.”

To be continued

* See Shame and Redemption for more of how my upbringing screwed up my sexuality.

 

 

Slut-shaming in unexpected places

The White Dragon

Good girls don’t like violent sex.

SilverHubby and I are avid readers. In fact, part of our daily routine is to read aloud to one another before bedtime. Though you might expect it to be erotica, it’s more likely to be fantasy and science fiction.

Currently, we’re reading the Pern books. If you aren’t familiar with them, the premise is that on a world called Pern, dragons exist, and at the moment of hatching, that dragon chooses a person to bond to for life. The dragonriders have special privileges and responsibilities and there’s a really dangerous lifeform known as Thread – and really, you don’t need to know any of this to follow the rest of the post. Suffice it to say, the books are fun and not terribly deep, the first one was published in 1968. The author is female.

In Chapter XII of The White Dragon, a young man named Jaxom is training his dragon when there is a dragon mating flight nearby. Since dragons are telepathic, the mating flights tend to get everyone nearby rather aroused. He goes to visit his lover Coranna, interrupts her at her work, and takes her forcefully on the tilled soil of her family’s farm. The sex is completely consensual, and the scene as it’s written is very hot. SilverHubby and I enjoyed it.

Then a few pages later, this happens:

Jaxom was not pleased with himself. He was thoroughly disgusted and revolted by the way he had used Corana. The fact that she seemed to have matched what he had to admit was a violent lust dismayed him. Their relationship, once innocent pleasure, had somehow been sullied. He wasn’t at all certain that he cared to continue as her lover, an attitude that posed another unpleasant burden of guilt. One point in his favour, he had helped her finish the hoeing his importunity had interrupted. That way, she’d not be in trouble with [her father] for shorting her task. … But he ought not to have taken Corana like that. Doing so was inexcusable.

~The White Dragon, Anne McCaffrey

Bam. And just like that, the hot scene was completely ruined for us. It wasn’t exciting or erotic that he had given into his lust and that she had responded with enthusiasm. It was dirty and wrong. It even makes it sound like he would have been happier if she had been disgusted or traumatised by the event. If she had, would he have kept going? The implication is that he would have.

I’ve gotten used to seeing slut-shaming online, often in a religious or political context. To see it in a novel that I read for the first time when I was in high school stunned me. I had gotten plenty of conditioning from religion to tell me that sex was dirtyfilthydisgusting, but it’s only now that I start to realize that my church wasn’t the only source of it. I was getting it culturally as well. I was getting it from places I don’t even remember getting it from. I’m still getting it.

Fuck that shit.

I love sex. It does not “sully my relationship” to give in to violent (consensual) lust. I’m not burdened with remorse or shame for my desires.

I’m a slut, and I’m proud of it.
Sultry Saturday

 

Sex Talk Saturday: Shame and Redemption

I was raised by conservative parents, so of course, I was going to save myself for marriage. I was quite sure of that, right up until the night in college that I found myself in a car with a man, making out. He was a few years older than me, and definitely more experienced, but there was something kind of goofy about the way he asked me if I wanted to “go steady” with him. The moment I said yes, I knew deep down that it would eventually lead to sex. How could it not? He wasn’t a Christian. He wasn’t going to wait until marriage. More importantly, my libido, which had lain quiescent through my adolescence, had suddenly woken up and said, “Yes, please. I’d like some of that.”

Of course, I had to find a way to make it okay with my conscience. I wouldn’t sleep with him until I knew I loved him, and that he loved me. That’s what I decided the night in my dorm room a few weeks later, when he crawled up under my shirt and played with my breasts for the first time. Less than a month after our first date, I told him I was ready. We couldn’t possibly have known each other well enough by then to be in love. But that’s what my mind needed to let my body get what it wanted, so I believed I was in love rather than lust.

That night, I tried to create a sexy outfit, from a wardrobe that belonged to a good Christian girl. I wore the one skirt I owned that wasn’t below the knees, and a top that could be unbuttoned. I daringly undid one button more than usual – not that my tiny A cups created any cleavage. My underwear was, in retrospect, hideous. I cringe just remembering it.

We both had roommates, so we ended up in a cheap motel. There wasn’t much talking, because we were both too nervous. Me, because it was my first time, and him… well, because it was my first time. He had never been with a virgin before. He started by eating me out, and must have been badly disappointed at my lack of response. My mind was racing. “What is he doing? Is that his tongue? Is he really licking me there? Why would he do that?”

“Believe it or not, it tastes good,” he told me, when he had finished. Things improved once we got back to kissing and touching, which felt better to me. I daringly put my hand down to touch his erection. I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I think I was afraid of hurting him, so I only touched it lightly.

We were in missionary style. He tried to be gentle, but it hadn’t occurred to him to bring lube, and I hadn’t known to. It hurt when he broke my hymen, and it continued to hurt with each thrust, but I didn’t mind. Despite the awkwardness, and the fact that the sex was terrible, my body was responding. It wanted what was happening, enough for me to ask for another round of terrible sex the next morning.

We got better at sex, but we were never well suited as partners. We got married when I graduated college, even though I had a sinking feeling that I was making a horrible mistake. But I couldn’t call it off. If I married him, then I had at least saved my virginity for the man I would marry, even if I hadn’t waited for my wedding night.

The same logic kept me married to him for almost ten years. I couldn’t divorce him, because divorce was sinful. I had vowed “Till death do us part”, and I simply could not break that promise.

Meanwhile, the sex, that had been so good for the first few years we were together, started to go downhill. He stopped initiating. Eventually, he started complaining when I initiated. He was always too tired. He said that I was too demanding, that I was trying to wear him out. If he caught me masturbating, he laughed at me. The shame, that I had almost overcome, started to return. He made me feel like there was something wrong with me for wanting sex. He never called me a slut, or any other names like that, but he didn’t have to. The disdainful expression and the mocking laughter was enough.

Still I stayed, because I couldn’t imagine leaving. I became more and more secretive about my masturbation, always afraid of being caught. I bought toys, but rarely used them, because he would hear them and know what I was doing. Most men, if they walked in on their wife playing with a vibrator, would be turned on and join her in bed. He never did. I don’t think he felt threatened by them. I think he was contemptuous of them. He had first been attracted to the innocent, inexperienced girl, and the more I tried to assert my sexuality, the less he was interested. Though my libido never slackened, my insecurities told me that I was unsexy, unattractive. Unwanted.

The internet saved me. I started to flirt with men online, and they flirted back. I started to feel like, just maybe, I might be sexy. I had cybersex – quietly, fully clothed, just reaching my hand inside my clothes to touch myself under the table, so that if he walked in, I could pull my hand free and hide the chat window before he noticed what I was doing.

It’s embarrassing to admit that it took the affirmation of men to rebuild my shattered self-esteem, but it’s the simple truth. Every time I made a man come with my words, typed onto a screen, I felt empowered. Every time a man told me I was hot, I grew stronger. I began to see that my high libido, so long a shameful secret, was a highly valued asset.

And when I was strong enough, I set myself free and ended the marriage that would never have existed except for shame.

I like to think, in another reality, there was a me who made out with the hot man in the car, and had awkward terrible sex with him in the motel room. She let him teach her about sex, and then had an amicable breakup a few months later when it became obvious that a long-term relationship wasn’t going to work. She moved on, dating and fucking men that she wanted to have sex with, whether they were marriage material or not. She wasn’t ashamed of her toys, and if any man was bothered by them, he was soon kicked to the curb.

Maybe the other me met someone and settled down, or maybe she didn’t. I’m sure she had her own set of problems that I’ve not experienced. But one thing she didn’t experience was shame. And for that, I’m envious.

Note: this was originally written a couple of years ago to show to SilverHubby (then my boyfriend).