I was sixteen the first time I experienced shame. I'd been intimate for the first time with someone and chose to share the information with my best friends. We'd always shared everything else, so I didn't see a reason not to also share this. I don't remember who I told first. Whether it was Liz, or Morgan, or Stephanie, but doors were slammed in my face each time. Steph was the biggest shock. She had a boyfriend. She'd presumably been doing these things for some time. I knew Morgan had already been up to something from the vague allusions she'd made about inebriated evenings at unchaperoned parties. Liz, though. Liz was where I knew it would come. If I couldn't spend time with someone who wasn't her, she'd leave me nasty messages, so sexual activity outside of a relationship was definitely not going to be congratulated.
I wasn't raised with shame. Catholicism was casual for me, sex wasn't discussed. My body was mine to do with as I pleased in large part. When I choose an opportunity to take, I don't debate whether it's good or right to do so. My emotions don't and shouldn't have anything to do with it. Granted, my body houses who I am and I respect and appreciate that fully, but I've never understood why simply giving in to its base desires is something to feel badly about. I eat ice cream because it tastes good, not for its nutritional value. Sweet and fat and salt satiate specific physical yearnings, but there isn't nearly so much shame in eating as there is in sex. Because our culture says food is something we need but sex is not and you don't have to be in love with your food in order to consume it. Is it better when the person you're with makes you feel giddy and you'd spend every minute with them if life allowed? Yes. But that's also comparing a Michelin starred restaurant to Burger King. One is so much more readily available than the other. Some would argue quality over quantity, but there are also those who would take fries over potatoes dauphinoise. Me, I'll have either depending on my mood and so it is with other things, too, because neither is bad.
Perhaps my approach is brazen, unconventional. And yet, I'm still the person who finds a reason to leave the room during a sex scene if I'm watching with my parents. They don't need to know in what I engage and nor I they. Doors are closed for a reason. Pillows hurriedly placed over mouths. Because it's always my business and I don't want it unwittingly shared. While I'll still do what I want, when I want, and with whom, it's the distribution of information I try hardest to control. Maybe because when I was sixteen I told my best friends what I'd done one drunken night with a boy who didn't belong to me or anybody else and they yelled at me.
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