Category Archives: thoughts
This week I was reading the Internet (as one does at work) and came across this Buzzfeed article and took the 16 Personalities assessment, and the combination got me thinking. I won’t go into the more practical side of money here (a different post for a different blog I don’t write), but I think we all have money stories about relationships that we wish didn’t exist.
Because I came from a family without money, I always assumed that I would end up with in a fairly equitable relationship. Neither me nor my partner would significantly outearn the other, because I just couldn’t imagine a world in which I knew people that far out of my socio-economic circle. I must have known that most of my friends’ parents’ outearned mine – that I was already outside of my socio-economic circle – but I never thought much of it. I was an optimist, I suppose. My boyfriend at the time did not seem significantly out of my reach, money-wise, and now that we are adults I know this is true.
When I finished college, I realized I had met a lot of rich people – people who went to the Caribbean for spring break, people whose families traveled to Europe every summer, people whose families owned summer homes and personal helicopters rich – but hadn’t really made friends with those students. I’d made friends with the other students on work-study, whose parents lived in modest suburb homes and who wanted to be activists and nurses and teachers. Even the future lawyers I met (and still know) do mostly public interest or government law. I made close friends with zero future doctors. I joked – often – that my brother, who was in computer science, would be supporting me and my parents in our old age. I didn’t date in college; I wished I could date the sons of professors and engineers and lawyers, but they dated the daughters of professors and engineers and doctors.
Post-graduate school was the first time I had to deal with my own money – and my own salary. I’d given up my dreams of becoming a professor to pursue the personal life school had always seemed to preclude me from participating in. I worked contract jobs for a while, earning a significant hourly wage but a low overall wage, and was able to save a little and spend a little, since I was living at home. When I finally took a full-time job, it was a low-paying public service one. In addition to internalizing the belief that I had failed my own potential (whatever that means, of course), I resigned myself to being too poor for many things. Given my salary – and the salaries I could expect – I could never afford a $20,000 wedding, a modest house in a good neighborhood, two college educated children, European vacations with a boyfriend. I couldn’t even afford an apartment with a nice bathtub and air conditioning.
At the time I was seeing someone who seemed to always need more money than he had. It wasn’t that he didn’t spend his money wisely – he was pretty responsible – he just needed all the money he made for necessities. I knew as a single person supporting only myself, I had the luxury of making choices that only affected me. I didn’t have pets, my parents and family didn’t need my help, and if I chose to pay for cable instead of for food that was my prerogative. Suddenly, I became the spender of the couple. When he wanted something nice for himself that he couldn’t afford, I would buy it for him. I bought expensive presents for his birthday and Christmas. I paid for meals when we went out together. I bought us gifts we could enjoy together (nice lingerie) and offered to pay for expenses as small as parking. I never begrudged him this; I knew he didn’t make very much and needed all he had, and I didn’t overspend. I did, however, question his life choices that made it so that he never had his own money. The parts of his life that required his financial attention weren’t parts of his life I could share in, so I was only guessing and empathizing with him.
In Los Angeles, dating is expensive – dating when you spend half your monthly income on rent takes some serious work. When I started dating again, I always split the bill with my date, unless he insisted or was just a gentleman who ordered my drink for me at the bar and paid. It wasn’t that I dated frequently and burned all my money this way; I just never thought to not split the expense. As a woman, of course I ended up coming out behind in the end – buying new dresses, new bras, new shoes, new makeup, new purses, getting my nails done, taking care of my health. But I was securely employed, well-educated, and independent; these were qualities I valued in myself and I needed others to value in me as well.
I haven’t dated “up” yet, despite the fact that I live in Los Angeles. In the words of Friends, I’m not fancy on the inside; it’s hard for me to find myself in situations in which I might meet those people who are higher on the social ladder than I am (it shouldn’t be hard to meet someone higher on the salary ladder than I am; I’m very, very low). I’ve never had a boyfriend that could take care of me. I’m not sure I’ve ever gone out with anyone who could even come close. Would it help? Absolutely. Like many young people, I’m burdened with student loan debt that I religiously pay. I pay my bills and keep a minuscule food budget but try to also enjoy my money and the experiences it can buy. I dream of dating someone who could help me cut expenses in half – food, trips and experiences, gas, rent. I dream of dating someone who could make possible parts of my life I’m not even sure I want – homeownership, namely. And would I let him pay for our dates? Probably.
I’m now dating someone who makes far less than I do (his hourly rate is about half of mine, plus he was briefly unemployed) but at the same time has more than I do. He lives where the cost of living is lower, but he has less expensive tastes than I do (he doesn’t need a theater subscription every year) and is happy someplace I could never really enjoy for long. This time, though, money is a strain. My job is stressful, which means I only enjoy it for the money, which is never enough. We only see each other about once a month; it hasn’t been long enough to see if we will be spending evenly on travel. While in some contexts we try to evenly split the cost of spending time together (he’ll pay for lunch, I’ll pay for the movie tickets; he’ll pick me up from the airport and drive, I’ll pay for the zoo entrance fee), in others I bear the bulk of the cost of us spending time together (we’ll both pay for the plane tickets to get somewhere, but I’ll pay for the hotel room that allows us to be alone together and food) and it makes me feel resentful. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve already done this for someone; I’m sure the mounting stress of my job is a contributing factor – the money that allows me to finance our time together is slowly killing me. But the fact of the matter is that I often find myself feeling angry-sad that he isn’t spending equally on us.
I don’t want him to not buy things for himself or enjoy his life without me. And I certainly want him to continue to save towards his own goals and to be comfortable with his financial situation. I dislike, though, the guilt-cycle that inevitably comes out of it: the resentment I feel at my investment not being met, the guilt I feel at being angry because I know he doesn’t make as much as I do, then the renewed resentment because I want to see him next month so I am contemplating buying his plane ticket. Someone joked that I was the “rich boyfriend” – how can that be, when I can barely pay my own rent?!
(Image from Joy of Lingerie on Tumblr. Click on the image to visit!)
Hello everyone! I hope this Tuesday finds you well. This week’s TMI Tuesday is about filling in the blanks. I worked really hard to come up with a way to make that dirty, and failed miserably. Oh well. Maybe next week.
1. I’m the type of person that likes to be comfortable in bed.
Which, by the way, is totally true. Sinking into a nice mattress and sheets is one of the best things ever.
But okay, more in the spirit of the question – I’m the type of person that likes to be submissive, spread out and used, worn out in bed.
2. If the sexiest person I know propositioned me for sex, I would die of embarrassment.
Actually, I think I misread the question. That’s just if the sexiest person I can think of propositioned me.
If the sexiest person I know propositioned me for sex, I would flirt and be coy while taking off my shirt.
3. The worst part about the lights being on when I am naked is you can see everything.
I have this weird thing about lights on during sex. I can’t stand it. Sex during the day, while it’s naturally light, is fine. But I just don’t like having all the lights on at night. I have no idea why. Snuggling is fine with lights on, fooling around is fine with lights on. As soon as my clothes come off though, I expect the lights to get dimmer. In fact, even if my clothes don’t come off, I expect the lights to go off too. Which is totally weird since I don’t mind walking around naked during the day, but hey. We’re all a little bit crazy.
4. I regret my first reciprocated love.
It’s really sad to me to think that I regret loving. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a little part of me does regret it. I’d loved before but it ended horribly and was overall just a mess. Despite all the problems I could see, I let myself fall in love again with someone who said they loved me. I still believe they did (do), but given the way he ended things I can’t help but wonder sometimes if he really meant it. I know he did, and I know I have only myself to blame because I knew there was no future and no way out but to be hurt, but I think that’s why I regret it. I knew better, but I did it anyway. I was asking to get burned. And I can’t believe I was that stupid. I deluded myself into thinking that because he loved me he’d change his mind about us. I wanted it so badly that I ignored all common sense and good judgement.
I don’t entirely regret it. I don’t even wish it hadn’t happened, because it was magical and special and wonderful and everything that I’d been waiting my whole life to feel. But there will always be that twinge of regret because I let myself get so caught up.
5. The last sexual/kinky thing I expected to like was being on top.
To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced I do like it. But I like the response it gets from guys.
6. Recently, I sexted/sent naughty pictures to someone.
That requires no explanation 😉
Bonus: You have been kidnapped by lesbians and dragged into a lesbian orgy, what are you going to do?
Enjoy it? I don’t really see the point of trying to escape, it’s not like they’re trying to kill me. I’m sure they’ll let me go when they’re done with me, and it doesn’t sound like there will be any lasting damage.
(Image from dystopiantt on Tumblr. Click on the image to visit!)
Miss me? Somehow I doubt it 😉 But yes, I am back, at least temporarily. Part of this is that I have a new smartphone and OH MY GODS IT DOES STUFF. I can post to Twitter, I can bookmark interesting images and sites, I can use Yelp on the go to find lingerie stores… It’s crazy. How did I live without one before?!
The other part is what is with each passing day looking increasingly like heartbreak, which is a lot less exciting. Suddenly my life has a lot of time in it. For someone who was “not a real boyfriend” I built my life around him as if he was, and I’m only now becoming aware of it. No wonder everyone thought I was dating. I have no idea what’s really going on, so I haven’t really had a lot of violent mood swings or cries. If I had to pick, I’d say I’m just nursing a sense of anger and betrayal.
One of the things I cannot stand to hear but have now heard every time someone has broken up with me is, “You deserve better.”
Okay. Maybe they’ve all actually meant this. Maybe they were all being nice guys. But to be honest, to me it always translates to, “I found someone better.” It doesn’t help that it’s always true. Either they literally have found someone better, or they’re going out with someone new within days.
I’m not sure I’d actually prefer to hear the truth. I’m already sensitive about how sparse my relationship record is. I think what I don’t like is knowing that I’m being lied to. I love white lies and sugar-coating. Believe me, I tell them and do it all the time at work. But when it comes to relationships, I feel like any guy who says that to me thinking that I’ll believe him is just patronizing me. As if I can’t see through the patent falsehood, like I won’t notice him with someone else at that party, like I haven’t heard that he’s hooking up with my best friend, like I won’t keep hearing, “I said I loved you, but I guess I just love her more.”
Or is it that it makes it sound like I don’t even know what’s good for me, what’s right for me? I admit that I’m terrible at knowing these things, especially apparently when it comes to relationships. But I firmly believe that even if it’s a stupid decision, if it feels right in my heart, then I can’t go wrong. Not because it won’t explode in my face, but because at least then I took a stand without regret. I don’t regret falling for guys and holding on for dear life. I regret those relationships not working out, of course, but I don’t regret what I did. I literally force guys to break up with me because I won’t let go. But to hear, “You deserve better” just sounds like he knows better. He knows what’s good for me. He knows that I’m just being irrational because I didn’t want better, I just wanted him. He knows that it’ll all work out for me someday, because it all worked out for him, didn’t it?
And by saying, “You deserve better,” he can dust his hands off and never worry about it again. He took responsibility, admitted he wasn’t right for me, and now everything else is my problem. If I’m heartbroken – well, that’s just because I haven’t seen the light yet. If I’m upset because I feel used – well, all the more reason he wasn’t good enough for me. If I feel small and empty and worthless – well, obviously he told me that wasn’t true, so what’s my problem? He gets to go back to his comfortable new relationship and not worry about me.
I’m sure that this is a line I’ll be tempted to use someday, if I ever get the privilege of breaking up with someone (so far I’ve only been broken up with – the downside of being so selective about who I fall for). And I’m sure part of me will mean it. Maybe all of me. And I’m sure he’ll disagree. He’ll feel like I do now (or will, when enough time has passed that I can officially put it down as a breakup).
So someone has to remind me not to. The person I usually ask to remind me about things isn’t around anymore, so here you go Internet, do your thing.
Hopefully I’ll be back on Tuesday for TMI Tuesday. Cross your fingers! I have to teach on Tuesday night so hopefully I will have some time during the day.
(Image from Lovely Derrier on Tumblr. Click on the image to visit!)
Aloha! I’m in Hawai’i for the next week or so, and, despite the layer of sweat that seems to continuously cling to my skin, will do my best to enjoy myself (:
Today I want to return to briefly return to my first post about condoms. While it’s true that I have minimal experience with condoms, I’m at the same time no stranger to them. Trojan condoms, of course, are ubiquitous, and everyone knows about them and what they make. That being said, I’m positive that I’ve never used a Trojan condom. (Those weren’t the ones they gave out for free at Student Health.) And if I have, I certainly had nothing to do with it.
But even if I’ve never personally used a Trojan condom, Trojan has found a way into my life. I can’t for the life of me tell you why I know the brand, but I do. Maybe from TV, maybe from radio commercials or print advertisements. What I think is really cool is that with the Internet becoming a prevalent part of most people’s lives, Trojan has a new and really important way to connect with young people.
Just see Trojan’s YouTube page.
Some of the videos are advertisements along the sexy lines:
But a huge number of the others are informative and surprisingly intelligent. Many of them end with the slogan, “Evolve. Use a condom every time,” or convey a similar message.
For example, my favorite:
This video tells women that it’s okay to deny sex if it’s not going to be safe – and also reminds men that they should always be practicing safe sex, and that the whole “less of a man” line isn’t going to fly anymore. Without mentioning STDs or STIs and relying only on the trajectory of sexual pleasure, the video pushes the importance of safe sex.
(Plus it’s fun, and a little kinky, and now I want to try all of that on my partner.)
Some of them are both funny and more straightforward, like this one:
1 in 4 teenage girls has an STD?! That’s insane for a society of our size, level of education, and relative advancement. Give teenage girls a means to protect themselves, and the knowledge to do so! No teenage girl should have to suffer from an STD or STI from simple lack of knowledge.
And, guess what? Trojan gives you that knowledge in this totally awesome video:
I mean, maybe guys get lessons in how to put a condom on in sex ed (when and where you actually get sex ed) or from parents, but I definitely didn’t get any lessons in how to use a condom. I learned from the Internet. Which is where you learn the best stuff anyway. This video is a pretty solid introduction and is viewer-friendly, and I was really pleased to find this video on YouTube that is informative and encourages young people to be practice safe sex.
Finally, Trojan recently posted a video showing you around their facility and explaining how condoms are made! I’m really a hands-on learner and possessor of useless trivia, so I really enjoyed the video learning about the process that you really… don’t think about all the time!
1 million condoms a day?! Awesome!
(Image originally posted by justanotherdumbblonde on Tumblr. Click on the picture to visit! Thanks to the nifty YouTube search box for the videos. Thanks Trojan!)
Happy one month anniversary to me! Yes, it’s true, I’ve now been around on this blog for a whole month. Congratulations to me!
Since I just posted Friday and plan to post again tomorrow for TMI Tuesday, this celebratory post will be limited to some interesting links relevant to my interests and something I’ve already posted about.
First is an interview with Gary Trudeau, author and artist of Doonesbury, about abortion and sexual politics in his comic strip. Despite the criticism I know some people (even people you’d think would be supportive!), I’m rather refreshed to hear his take on issues and how it relates to what he writes. Yes, Gary Trudeau (along with other commentators such as Jon Stewart) is a man, but let’s face it: he commands a huge audience and following and is funny. I like reading his stuff, regardless of his gender/sex, because ideologically we’re similar and I appreciate satire.
Second is that Ben & Jerry’s has announced that it’s renaming one of its ice cream flavors in the UK to support same-sex marriage. Apple-y Ever After cartons, adorned with pictures of gay couples on wedding cakes, will join flavor Hubby Hubby to celebrate and support same-sex partnerships. And deliciousness.
Now that a month has passed I should be getting to my first full-length review sometime later next month. Not necessarily of the newest toys on the market, but one of my old favorites that I can keep falling back on 😉 Also stay tuned for tomorrow’s TMI Tuesday!
(Image originally posted by stairmastertoheaven on Tumblr. Click on the picture to go there!)
I absolutely love lingerie. I can’t get enough of it. Recently I’ve preferred buying lingerie – which I have virtually no practical use for – to buying clothes of any kind. I discovered today that I own zero suit skirts. I have no idea how I’ve gotten by this long without one; I suspect that I’ve been wearing the same two pairs of dress slacks with my variety of blazers and vests. The point is: I need clothes, but I don’t buy them. Instead, I buy lingerie.
It really started as a joke in college. My first roommate and I agreed that we’d one day own a wardrobe of only sexy panties. For me this mainly means things with lace, frills, and unnecessary sparkles and/or bows. Cotton is really not sexy to me, though if it’s soft enough and a cute color then I do get a kick out of it for its presumed innocence. I’ve been slowly working towards this goal ever since, buying a few pairs here and there as I find them and fall in love with them. Of course, I should simultaneously be throwing out old and worn cotton underwear that has outlived its usefulness, but apparently some degree of frugality runs in my nature.
Plus there are just times when cotton undies are necessary.
I just love the way different fabrics and shapes feel against my skin. I like the way mesh is soft and makes my jeans and slacks fit more comfortably. I like the way lace leaves no seam-line so I can wear it under skirts. I like the way cheekies are just too cute, and the way that a bikini cut makes me feel sexy but covered. Satin-y fabric is slippery but gentle. Ruffles can bunch but they can also peek out for a certain someone to see. The variety is incredible.
But, in general, despite the now famous line about black underwear being meant to be seen, I mostly bought sexy underwear for myself. Even when I finally started buying cute bras (it took me until my sophomore year of college before I bought a bra that fit – I had previously been squeezing into A cups when in actuality I was a C) they were mostly for me. I liked the way they felt, I liked the way my breasts finally looked right and filled out certain cuts of shirts and dresses, I liked the way that I was finally comfortable. And I loved knowing that I was wearing a cute red bra or one with little bows or one with lace trim. It made me feel good, sexy, and confident. Which, considering that I had never quite had the “right” kind of body or shape, was saying a lot.
Years went buy, and finally I started thinking about what I wanted a potential partner to see. I bought my first lace bra (with a nude underlay, so it wasn’t totally useless) because I started seeing someone. It turned out to be a moot point, but from them on there was always an aspect of someone else seeing. What did I want them to see? And how much did I really care?
As it turns out, not that much. Even when I found myself single not long after, I bought my first babydoll. It was adorable and on sale, and surprisingly comfortable. I’d bought some slips and chemises before, but only a couple, and only because it was so damn hot in one of my dorm rooms. I could sleep in this babydoll. I loved it. And yes, I loved knowing that should I ever need to show it off (it hid some of the parts of me I hated the most well) it was there, but I liked just having it for myself.
I wore sexy lingerie whenever I needed to or just felt like it. Presentation days? Check. Test days? Check. Meetings with my thesis advisor? Check. (Suddenly I realize that sounds kind of… dirty.) Even just days when I woke up and felt kind of gross and low. The right pair of lacy underwear could really brighten my day. I’ve even worn some cute corsets out to regular, every day activities. Given the choice, I’d wear it all the time. It just wasn’t very practical to wear into the field on lab days. And I don’t do laundry enough to wear it on the days I stay home cleaning or lounging. (But wearing sexy underwear under a soft pair of pajama pants? Feels awesome.)
Sometimes when I was with guys I wondered if they even noticed. They were so anxious to get my clothes off me. They sometimes asked if I was going to take off my lingerie. Now that I think about it, I suppose I should have been flattered that they wanted to see me naked (I don’t even always want to see me naked). But I really wasn’t at the time. I felt so pretty and interesting with sequined babydolls and lace-trimmed slips. Why would they want to take that away from me?
Now that I have dedicated myself to one partner I find myself thinking more and more about what he would like. Because believe me, he loves lingerie. I used to buy things just because I liked them. I still do, but over Christmas I found myself debating between two babydoll/panty sets. One was much more flattering; the cups gave my breasts more support, and it was a dark color so it hid my problem areas better. The other was pale pink (I have a lot of pink lingerie – does everyone?) with rhinestones. It flattened my chest a bit, but what really convinced me was the panty. I just knew he’d love the ribbon bow at the back (he’s such a sweetie and thinks that my ass is great. He has yet to convince me of this, but he’s pretty on board with anything that allows him to stare openly at my backside), so I got it.
It’s not that now I buy things I don’t like. It’s just that now I always think about whether or not he will like it too. (Yeah, he really likes that black pair with the gold sequins.) For the first time I really have an audience to show off to, and I’m sure as hell not going to waste it.
Why do you wear lingerie? EdenFantasys wants to know! Their theme for the month is #sexyYOU, and answering that question on Twitter, Facebook, or in your blog earns you entries into their weekly contest. Visit their website to find all kinds of fun lingerie, from corsets to panties to garterbelts to costumes! My wishlist of lingerie is getting longer as we speak. And I cannot afford this habit!
I had honestly and truly intended to blog about small, local toy stores and supporting them (which I did this week), but my musings and comments on them were superseded by, once again, politics.
Let me say now, for fear that everyone will think I actually like controversy, that I dislike politics immensely. I was a politics/political science major in college, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I am and always have been a strong believer in the representative and democratic system, and I believe I should vote and so should others and that we should be aware of the world. But, since politics is often divisive, I prefer to keep my politics to myself. For the most part. (There’s just no denying that I’m a liberal.)
However, Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke have simply left me angry and speechless, and I think that it’s too much to be silent about. I think often about how my sexual behavior intersects with other aspects of my life, and this is just too much of an attack on women and our sexuality to sit quietly by. The short story is that Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown University, was blocked from testifying before the Congress in support of employers providing birth control. When she was asked by Democrats to testify for them, Limbaugh called her a “slut” and a “prostitute” and said that if employers covered her birth control, she should post video of her having sex in exchange.
That is absolutely and undeniably wrong. That kind of behavior should not be tolerated by anyone, because it tells women and girls that they don’t have a right to their own body. Some man with money and power can tell them that they are only worth something if they are performing an act for his gratification. It’s so much more than misogynistic. It makes women feel unsafe. Not just because contraceptives are used by many women for reasons other than birth control, but because it means that a woman’s very body is not her own.
I know that Rush Limbaugh is just a stupid, crazy man who says things and I don’t need to take them seriously. But someone is. Someone is teaching a little girl that sex is wrong unless she’s willing to get pregnant. Someone is teaching her that asking for protection means that she’s a prostitute. Someone is teaching a little girl that controlling her body means that she should be performing sex acts for a man with money and a voice and that she should be silent.
The Democratic Senators have launched an online petition here. According to the Huffington Post, the petition has collected well over 100,000 signatures. Donate as well if you want, but at the very least stand with people who know how wrong it was for Rush Limbaugh to say what he did. Put politics aside and realize that even if it is political, it is also so much more than political. If not with the Democratic Senators, then sign ThinkProgress’s petition here.
I can’t even imagine how much this must be affecting Sandra Fluke. To be publicly attacked like that for speaking out about something you believe in – and because she wants to protect a friend with ovarian cysts. I had a cyst that ruptured when I was a senior in high school; I ended up in the emergency room for a whole night. Was the pain bearable? Well, I guess. I needed two doses of Morphine before I calmed down enough to sleep, and I waited 7 hours for that. The next day, it was gone. But the doctor said that they might come back, and the only way to prevent another emergency room visit was via birth control. From just one night, 17 hours, I can say that I hope no woman ever has to go through that every month. According to the Huffington Post, President Obama called Sandra Fluke and told her he supported her and that her parents should be proud.
It’s not just that this whole thing has ramifications for women’s sexuality and health. It’s has much wider implications. If a smart, well-educated, respected woman is attacked for presenting facts and a well-reasoned argument in support of a policy change, what kind of message does that send other women, young women, and girls? As if girls didn’t have enough pressure to be or act a certain way already. Stand up for what you believe in, and you get called a prostitute. Not that your argument is ill-reasoned, or that there are facts that contradict what you say. No, you’re a prostitute. You should be demeaned and humiliated.
We should be teaching girls – and boys, of course – that they should be confident and educated. They are smart. They can make good decisions if they are given the right tools. They should stand up for what they believe in. They are not lesser because they are women or because they want to have sex someday or because they want to protect their bodies. When you demean a woman in part for being intelligent and educated, or say that Girl Scouts “sexualize young girls” in an environment filled with “feminists, lesbians, or Communists,” you tell her that she does not deserve a voice. She does not deserve to be bright, educated, or confident in herself. And when this kind of message about gender is coupled with sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, ability status, or any other classification that adds other layers of discrimination?
I can only wish that I were as strong as Sandra Fluke.
(Image originally posted by sinfulbitch on Tumblr. Thanks to The Huffington Post for the article links.)
As a relatively young person (only my students and my taste in music and movie stars can make me feel like an old lady), it seems to me that my entire adult sexuality has intersected with politics in some way. From the simple fact that I am a woman to the more complex question of using birth control, my body has existed in a network not just of personal decisions and thinking, but of very present and demanding social “suggestions.” My decision not to pursue my doctorate was influenced by the realization that I needed to “plan ahead” and think about the family I wanted to have. My decisions on sex and partners in college were influenced by the pressures of what scholars (some of my professors included) call “hook-up culture.” And on and on.
Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences of my college career occurred at the very end of my senior year. I was working on my last major paper in the computer lab when one of my friends rushed in exclaiming, “Condoms for everyone!” and literally showered me with condoms taken from the student health center. He helped me pick them up, and I won the grand prize of 25 condoms, absolutely 0 of which I needed. Later, as a grad student, I would shop for condoms in Japan with one of my friends from high school, who picked up a package of glow-in-the-dark condoms similar to the ones pictured above.
Yet I realized yesterday that I have never purchased – or even picked up for free from student health – my own condoms. I did win an assortment in a giveaway last May, but I consider that something of the coward’s way out, since everything was conducted under the protective (relative) anonymity of the Internet.
Sure, I can argue that I generally have no use for condoms. I could use them with toys, but I could also not, especially if I don’t share and am good about cleaning (which I am). I kept some in my drawer as a college student because my roommate was more likely to need them. (Another memorable college experience is being woken at 3AM by a text message from my roommate asking if I had any to spare.) But at the same time I sense that part of my reluctance stems from very subtle social pressure I experienced – and probably continue to experience – to be a “good girl.” In short, I suspect that I am simply too embarrassed to buy condoms.
(Now I realize I should have made that one of my printed New Year’s Resoluations. Alas.)
Just a quick, in-the-bathtub analysis of such a simple issue made me hesitate to think about all the more complex, emotional decisions about my body, health, partner, family, and sex I may or will have to make someday. I am an avoider by nature; I avoid the tough stuff in hopes that eventually I’ll be strong enough to deal with it or that it’ll just magically go away. (In general, neither of these things happen, and I just have to tackle the issue like the weakling that I am.) But I could not argue that no matter what the decision is or what I decide, my politics as a woman, Asian American, liberal would somehow play into it, and that one small decision could become “representative” of something much bigger.
Not that this is a new realization, since that’s what I think half (or more) of my college education was about. But now that I’m ostensibly an “adult,” my decisions seem to have much greater meaning. I’m not sure that’s true, but that’s what I’m led to believe. And I find myself astounded that I have not done what I’m fairly certain most of the stupid boys I knew in high school and college have done. And, moreover, that it’s simply because I’m embarrassed.
It’s strange to think that this issue, that frankly I would consider a relatively small issue, based on my life experiences, has taken center stage in politics and completely usurped the more fundamental question of health care. Newsweek published a very interesting article last week, right before Valentine’s Day, about the culture wars and contraception. The full article can be read here. But questions of sex and sexuality are dangerous, and so it’s not surprising that anything related to them ends up embroiled in much bigger discussions.
I should just be honest with myself: buying condoms? A very, very small matter. I can do it if I put my mind to it. (Much like I can drink milk, take Vitamin D pills, and floss when I put my mind to it.) Even though it seems like the whole world is talking about it, I don’t have to listen. I can safely walk into a drugstore, pick up a box, and pay for it at the counter. I’ve paid for Plan B, and that wasn’t so hard. (I avoiding making eye contact with the pharmacist, for fear of the JUDGMENT in her eyes, which made it easier.)
Besides, compared to the birth control I could be buying? A little package of condoms is the least intimidating. Especially if they’ve got cute little bears on the packaging.
(Thanks to Newsweek for the links; they’ll take you to The Daily Beast for reading/viewing. Also, if you’re interested in Rilakkuma condoms, you can get them from White Rabbit Express here.)