Tuesday, July 14, 2015

One Four Nine: Sad Comedy

There's a truly hilarious, albeit sad, post at Salon.com for 13 July 15 that's worth reading---- called something like "Anal Sex Destroyed My Relationship". It's worth your consideration. I'm not at all sure what to think of the girl who's the author. Her pose in writing the story is that she's now married and looking back on the awful experiences of her younger days. That's a risky pose, and one that can be both painful and cruel. 

Here's the story. It's New Year's Eve, and the girl is with her boyfriend at a hotel in Manhattan. Girl is expecting (or desperately hoping, it sounds like) a marriage proposal, since it's NYE, but on the night when she expects a ring, her boyfriend instead asks if they can do anal. She's always regarded having sex at all in a relationship as shameful, as something vile she has to do to keep a man around and move things along to marriage. That's what her mother taught her, she writes. Even her more experienced sister agrees. Sex is what you have to do to get men to marry you. Anything more is shameful.

She's been dating her boyfriend for a while, and she does see sex as something that must lead somewhere. I don't necessarily think she thinks of England while enduring it all, but she's certainly horrified at his request. She tells herself, though, that it'll make him want to propose, so...she does it. And...things go bad. 

Neither of them has done this before, it seems, and by her account they both seem to be less than capable of figuring out the procedures. (In their mid/late 20s? Never? That's the saddest part of all.) Anyway, Bad Things ensue. Her boyfriend ends up in shower angrily cleaning himself off and telling her how disgusted he is. He ditches her immediately. You saw that coming, didn't you?

She now loathes herself for submitting to a "degrading" act and is angry and bitter she didn't get a ring out of the deal. It's Bad Comedy all the way round. Though there were a surprising number of comments by female readers who told the author that she was a fool, that no man who ever thought a girl worth marrying would ask her to do...that. Oh, I know--- Never Read The Comments. But still...this is just Bad Comedy. 

I have no idea what to make of the story or of the comments. I can't imagine that two educated, middle-class Americans in the teens of the century haven't done that before. I can't imagine that two educated, intelligent people couldn't work out what to do with a little joint planning--- or at least do some quick research on their smartphones. 

I certainly can't comprehend the attitudes here. She's angry that he'd ask for such a vile thing, and angry at how he treated her afterwards. I can follow her halfway on that--- the second half. She had every right to be angry at what he did afterwards. But being angry at him for asking? That leaves me blank. He behaved very badly afterwards; no question about that. A gentleman tries to live by old, old advice: function in disaster, finish with grace. Part of that is never, never treating a young lady who's offered up her favours with anything other than politeness and gratitude. Especially if things hadn't worked well.

I have nothing but contempt for the commenters who claimed that no man ever wants to marry a girl who'll do anal sex. The comments about how a man who cares for a girl would never ask her to do something so degrading and disgusting are just...beyond my ken. I'm baffled, too at her own self-loathing about having sex and at her belief that doing this with him would lead to marriage. Of course, she was already crushed and angry even before his request, since she'd gone out with him that NYE fully expecting a ring. I don't see anywhere in her story that he'd been hinting that he was planning a proposal that night. That's delusional, and it is sad.

I've never had a problem with doing that. I knew the act existed long before I had any chance to try it. It was something filed away from the French s/m novels I'd read--- something I always wanted to try with a lovely girl, and something I assumed would be part of any affair between two over-bookish people who wanted to be daring and decadent. It's something I asked girls to do in my lost youth and my undergraduate days, and they almost inevitably agreed. Part of that was the desire to be transgressive, part of it was a very simple desire to explore new things, part of it was (I suppose) a generational thing where when you did sex, you tried everything on the smorgasbord of possibilities. I can recall girls laughing about trying it and shrugging and saying sure, why not? I can recall girls pointing a warning finger at me and reminding me to go slow. But I can't remember anyone ever panicking about how it was a degrading act or a way of humiliating her. I don't recall it as having some huge emotional fraught-ness about it.  

Would I have laughed at the couple if they'd been on reality TV? Yes, I'd have laughed. It's Bad Comedy--- the inept fumbling, the boy frantically soaping himself in the shower, the girl bitterly wondering where her engagement ring was. But it's sad, too. Sad that she was taught that sex was disgusting except as a way to get a man to marry you. Sad that so late in life she still felt that way and that by her mid/late 20s she hadn't tried perfectly ordinary variations. Sad that the boyfriend was a jerk about it all--- and that they couldn't laugh about it, order room service champagne, and try again later, or at least try what they liked later. 

Oh, and it's no less sad that the author is writing a couple of years later from a place where she boasts that she now has a good man who married her and expects nothing sexual from her that might be...vile. (Yes, I wonder what he must think about when he reads that) 

The commenters are less sad than appalling, mind you. Their own attitudes about men and sex are alien to me. I don't find the act disgusting or an assertion of power over some helpless girl. I can't imagine looking down on someone who's done that with me. Reject a girl because she's had some particular kind of sex with me? That's an attitude that I can't begin to deal with. The girls I've loved in my life have all been willing to explore things, to take risks in bed, to regard exploration as good for its own sake. 

Well, Bad Comedy. Though I'd be interested to hear what you think of it all. If you're reading this, tell me what you think. Are there acts and variations you find inherently disgusting? What are your own thoughts on exploration? And...is there ever any reason to be disgusted simply by exploration? 

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