Monthly Archive for: ‘September, 2012’

WHAT WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT

WE WON’T ADMIT WE DID IT

I can remember when the air was clean

 And sex was dirty.

George Burns

When it comes to pre-marital sex, most of the people my age say one thing and do another.  There is no doubt that since the fifties, most people have sex before marriage.  But if you were born in the thirties, you will have a different mindset.  Sex was a danger for women, not a pleasure.  It could destroy a girl’s life forever.  For men it was a wild adventure fraught with the danger of venereal diseases that had no cure.

 

I was born in 1933.  When I was twelve years old, my mother sat me down and told me all about reproduction.  She discussed ovaries and fallopian tubes, penises and menstruation.  She never mentioned need or desire.  She did manage to convince me that any contact with anyone of the opposite sex including the dog, would destroy all my hopes for a decent future.  Gone my hope of a college education: “Smart girls don’t do it, Lynn Ruth,” said my mother.

 

Do what?  Menstruate? Ovulate?  She had never actually named this horrible act that would destroy me but she convinced me that I didn’t dare do it.   If I succumbed to temptation (and I have to say she didn’t make it sound very delectable) my hope of marriage would vanish.  “Men don’t want anything used,” said my mother.

 

That one really puzzled me.  I couldn’t think of one thing on my body that hadn’t been there ever since I could remember and I attributed the changes I was beginning to notice to eating too much chocolate or not getting enough sleep.

 

Today, you might think my mother was a demented alarmist, but remember she was talking to me in 1945. The pill did not exist.   Men did not use condoms.  Abortions were taboo and illegal.  You had that baby even if you were raped and most people blamed you instead of the rapist.   A venereal disease was virtually incurable and a stigma that haunted you for the rest of your life.

 

The girls I went to school with discussed love and sex continually, but they all agreed that it was way too dangerous to even consider such a thing before you had  the ring, the china and that piece of paper that locked the guy into supporting you ‘til death do you part.

 

I listened …indeed I believed.  I was a virgin when I married and I now know I was one of very few who actually held out until after the ceremony.  I believed that sex and love was the same thing.  I would no more have had sex with a stranger than I would have used his toothbrush and I assure you oral sex was not an option.  I did not know it existed.

 

Your parents were brought up with the same taboos that I had.  They didn’t always believe them and they didn’t always pay attention to the ridiculously rigid rules that limited me.  Like all parents, they brought up their children on the premise that they should do what they say not what they did.  It is as ludicrous for your father to tell you never to smoke pot when every kid who lived and breathed in the sixties tried it as it is for your mother to tell a daughter who knows about the pill, understands birth control and can take a morning after medication if all else fails that sexual intercourse will destroy her life.

 

To people of my generation, the danger of pregnancy was so immense it immediately erased any desire no matter how powerful.  That is why your mom told you to wait until you are married to have sex even though it is ten-to-one that she didn’t.  When you hear this kind of advice from my generation, you need to understand where it is coming from and why they believe they are saving you from pain and unhappiness.  You need to remember that they have not bought into the sexual revolution and deep down they still think sex is a dirty deed.

 

I am not sure if I would have been better off had I been more promiscuous.  I always believed that my first husband was the only one I had a right to sleep with…and I firmly believe that, for me, love must come first.  After two failed marriages and much heartbreak, I finally accepted that a marriage license was not the only permit for sexual intercourse, but I still held on the premise that I have to really care about a person before I drop my pants.

 

Most of us in my generation understand intellectually that this maxim only applies to them.  Times have changed and morals have loosened.  But when it comes to giving advice to your children or your nieces and nephews, it is a different story.  You want them to have extraordinary lives.  You don’t want them to suffer what you suffered.  Your head tells you sex is not the big deal it once was, but your heart wants to protect them from the hurt you suffered.  So it is that if you are a girl, your mother will tell you to keep your legs crossed to protect your virginity and if you are a boy, you will be told that girls who give you sex too easily are sluts.

 

You know it isn’t true and so do they.  Just don’t tell them you figured it out.