**Those of you who are regular readers will know I have nothing against feminism. I make jokes sometimes but I also have four sisters and was raised in a family that was very firm on everyone, all people are equal. This is just a story and some thoughts about a particular individual and situation.**
As this relationship with Stephanie winds to its inevitable end (I’m seeing her tomorrow, break up time), I find myself reflecting on relationships and life. I’ve been remembering the great loves and losses, the good times and the bad, what really worked for me and what didn’t.
During this reflection I came to think about one of my first relationships.
In high school I started dating Anne (not to be confused with Ann St. Vincent, that was later). The story of the relationship is interesting, I’ve written about it previously (Anne pt 1, Anne pt 2). I’m not going into all the details, you can read the previous posts if you want that, but I’ll give a quick summary.
I’d known her for years but one or the other of us was usually dating someone else. She was smart, talented, and attractive, if a bit shy and reserved. In our Senior year of High School we were both single and started dating. Neither of us were virgins but we were still young enough to not really know what we were doing yet. Over the next year we’d change that. She ended up going to University in a different state, we tried the long distance thing but it didn’t work out.
Anyway, this post isn’t about any of that, it’s about sexuality and her version of feminism.
I knew Anne was a feminist when we met, pretty much everybody in our little high school clique was a mix of grunge-hippy-feminist (hey, it was the early 90’s), but she was a bit more outspoken about it than most of us were. She was very, very… opinionated. I’m struggling to find the right word. Some might have called her a feminazi but I don’t like that term.
The feminism wasn’t a problem for me, I grew up in a house with four sisters and a mom that wore the pants. No big deal. In fact, it was fun at times because I love playing devil’s advocate and we were both smart enough to have good conversations about it.
Anyway, on to the edgy bits.
When Anne and I first got intimate (look at me hedging words), I quickly realized that she had the biggest bush I’d ever seen. I mean, this tiny girl (she was a ballerina) looked like she had an afro wig between her legs.
Before anyone sends me hate mail, it’s her body and I had no problem with how she chose to groom herself. However, I did bring this up with her because it was literally in the way of me giving her pleasure. Trying to go down on her was like searching the jungle for treasure. She doesn’t want to trim, that’s fine, I just wanted her to know that there might be a practical reason for trimming, not an aesthetic one.
Her answer didn’t really surprise me. She never trimmed her arm pits, legs, or groin because she shouldn’t have to change her body for a man. She blamed society and media for putting pressure on women and giving men an unreasonable expectation of what women should look like.
Cool, I had no problem with any of that, I agreed with most of it. If it was a big deal to her, and she didn’t mind a little fumbling when I was down there, no problem. Moving on.
Anne was just as interested in sex as I was, she was up for just about anything. However, she was very reserved during the actual sex, barely moved or made a noise. At the time I didn’t think much of it, I didn’t have much to compare it to. We were together long enough that I learned how to read her reactions, how to give her orgasms, but it was difficult because it was like she consciously held back.
Things ended later on and I never really thought much about all of this, but this week as I reflected I saw things a little differently. With a little time, distance, and less hormonal sex drive, it’s a really different picture.
Anne was quiet, always wore loose clothes, kind of baggy, she didn’t trim her body hair, she was reserved in bed… I think in her head a warped sense of feminism really limited her. I think she was so worried about NOT being seen as a sexual object that it hurt her ability to enjoy her sexuality. Like her body, her sexiness, her enjoyment in bed were bad things somehow, playing into some sexist stereotype she wanted no part of.
It’s kind of sad in a way. At the time I thought she was happy, had a good family, was going to have all this success in life. Yet, in hindsight, she was so uncomfortable in her own body. I don’t blame feminism, I think that was just the face that she put on her personal issues. Also looking back, I think there were some things going on with her family, maybe her mother, that were the underlying issue. I wish I had realized it at the time, I would have done more to try and bring her out of that shell.
The good news is that I found Anne on social media last year. For the previous ten years she’d been invisible, no one knew where she’d gone, what she’d done, she could have been dead and no one in our home town would have known. But a recent search turned her up on Twitter, those ten years have been good to her. She lives in a different country, has died her hair a rainbow of colors and has a huge smile in her profile photo. I might not have been the one to help her, but it seems she’s found her own answers.