Friday, August 23, 2013

I killed the dragon in DA2. Hooray! Also, more talk about my teenage sex life.

It might not sound like a big deal, but that post about virginity narratives was actually kind of a revelation for me.   I've felt uncomfortable around teen-virginity stories for a long time, and I always attributed my discomfort to the disconnect between those stories and my own experience.  I still think that's true.  But I've misunderstood the nature of the disconnect.  When I watched all these teen heroines agonize over the will-I-or-won't-I, what stood out to me was their ability to make that choice for themselves.  I thought that I would have understood what these TV girls were going through, if only the choice hadn't been taken away from me.  Watching those stories made me very aware of my own teenage powerlessness.  It gave me this combination of self-pity, for having sex be something that was done to me, and a kind of self-criticism because I have always felt like I let him do it.

But the thing is, I rejected that stereotypical teenage-virginity narrative long before the choice was taken away from me.  I didn't have the will-I-won't-I debates with myself because I didn't think they were worth having. If teenage me were hanging out with Buffy, and she said

I don't know. I... I mean, 'want' isn't always the right thing TO do. To act on want can be wrong.

I would be confused.  I mean, seriously confused. As far as I was concerned, the only relevant question after "Do I want to?" was "Can I get away with it?"   This whole "right and wrong" thing?  Did not care.  Teenage-me would have said that should and shouldn't were just the dictates of stupid, close-minded, prudes.  I didn't recognize the choices that these TV teens were making, not because I wasn't making a choice, but because I didn't think about it the way they did.

It's an important re-framing of my teenage years.  Yes, I struggled with self-loathing, and yes, I accepted assault, coercion, and emotional abuse, all of which I labeled love.  Yes, there was a time when my agency was taken away, but there were many, many, times, both before and after that, when I did make my own choices.  After Boyfriend #2, I decided that I wanted to scale down my sexual activity, and I told boyfriend #3, flat-out, what was and wasn't on the table.  And with #4, when I wanted more, we planned and prepared together.  I had never really thought about it that way before.

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