Thursday, June 26, 2008

Let's Talk About the Horizontal Mambo...

Recently, I've been thinking about sex. Not in the respect of wanting a partner or anything like that.. but just how much the social attitudes have changed since I was being raised.

I'm old - but hardly ready for the graveyard. I'm closer to 60 than I care to think about. Still, there have been so many changes in social mores during my lifetime, it's hard to keep up. When I was really young, we weren't even supposed to mention it or talk about it. It was secret. Private.

In fact, funny story.... this is how I learned that boys and girls "did it" together.

When I was six or so, one of the neighbor children whispered in my ear, "You know what dogs do?"

She was giggling and so was I because we both had seen the hoses turned on copulating dogs in the yard at one time or another.


"People do it, too."

I cringed, couldn't imagine that human beings (which meant my parents, too) did that?

Ugh! What a disgusting thought!

Time went along and the 50s became the 60s. It became an open topic, to the point of being crass and tawdry. It was talked about in terms that were vulgar and utilitarian. (I can't stand the "f word" used in relation to what I still call 'making love'.) Women who didn't were told that they should. Commitment and emotional connection was hard to find. The social conservatives of the time made charming remarks like "why buy the cow if you can get the milk free".

Women as service objects, no matter who was talking about it - liberal or conservative.

It was as though something was let loose and restraint just no longer existed. Self-control. Decency. Commitment. If it felt good, do it. If it still felt good, do it more - with anyone you could find.

If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.

It became recreational. No difference really between that and playing tennis or going out to a concert. It became a friendly way to say goodnight. The days of worrying about kissing on the first date became something else entirely. Would we be expected to "put out"?

I am a confessed social conservative (which almost requires an apology now - but I won't) who still believes that sharing oneself physically should be done only with those who have a deep commitment and connection. The way I differ from many social conservatives though is that I support gay, lesbian and transgender issues. I don't care about the configuration of the relationship but I believe the same standards of behavior apply to all - gay or straight. Courage, character and commitment.

I still hold the old-fashioned notion that it has meaning, that 'doing it' means something. While I make no judgments of those who see it differently, I admit to being curious about the way it "feels" now... especially to those younger than me. It's hard to imagine that it feels very good.. and it seems as though something would be missing.

So.. tell me your experience and your thoughts on the topic.


Note: Due to this subject matter, my hits will probably skyrocket. I am monitoring (not moderating) comments and anything indecent will be deleted. Please do not leave spam, websites or comments with vulgar language. This is a family-friendly site - so please be considerate.



meno said...

I look on in amazement at the sexuals antics i hear about. Not in a judgemental way, but without understanding.

I am just not made in a way that would allow me to have sex with someone in a casual way.

Is it how i was raised? Could be.
Is it silly? Maybe.
Could i change my attitude? I doubt it.
Would i want to? No

Defiantmuse said...

welllll.....I've slept around. A lot. A lot. A lot. I don't necessarily regret it but I'm not proud of it either. It was what it was and I would not make the same decisions now but at the time I did what I felt was right for me....I was very detached. It was freeing in some ways but in others I would wake up the next morning feeling a little sick to my stomach about it. But alcohol and/or drugs was always, always, always involved. So. I couldn't even tell you the names of some of the men and women. I vaguely remember some of their faces. It's difficult now, with my current partner, b/c he is so old fashioned in this regard and I know my past bothers him immensely. It's come up a lot more since we've had a child and we discuss the values we want to teach her. We have differing opinions on the matter but have to somehow find some sort of common ground.....I don't think it's a bad thing to have many partners as long as you're doing it from a positive place. I definitely wasn't in a positive place with it. But if someone is able to achieve that balance then I say more power to them.

Amy Y said...

For me, sex in a monogamous relationship has been the most fulfilling. My husband and I have dabbled in other types of scenarios ~ me with other people, us with other couples, etc.

But I often feel much worse when it's over than I did before it started. I enjoy sexual attention from other men, but don't desire to actually have intercourse with anyone else. At least not now...

If it doesn't leave me feeling good, I don't think I should do it.

QT said...

I think you pretty much know my take on this. :)

When I was younger, the one-night stand thing had some thrill to it, but was never really my cup of tea. I think for a lot of the women I have talked to about this, it revolves around a feeling of power over men and that is about it.

That being said, I can be in less than a committed relationship and engage in "the horizontal mambo." I don't want that for the rest of my life, but it suits me for right now.

crazymumma said...

I did the wrong things at the wrong age for the wrong reasons.

I hope for my girls that they make good choices. We are brutally honest with them, at least I am about sex, carefully, not in a scary way.

And I hope they can process what our over sexed society throws at them in healthy and appropriate ways.

dmmgmfm said...

Until recently I would have said that I am polyamorous, but the man I am currently with fulfills all my needs and more, so I am happy being monogamous (at least for now).

Catherine said...

You said: Women as service objects, no matter who was talking about it - liberal or conservative.

Well said.

Olivia said...

I am pretty much just like you, Chani. I believe that physical intimacy should mean something profound.

When I was younger, I didn't always live like this and am now sorry. I don't think people who have recreational sex are doing something wrong, because this is their preference, but I feel sorry for them because I think they miss out on a lot.

I, too, am supportive of GLBT people and issues.

I wonder if there is a label for this?

It breaks my heart that little girls at 12 or younger are trying to look sexy. I think that they role of sexuality in our culture and the media is totally bizarre.

I keep saying this, but...another provocative post!!!

xxoo, O

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I am something of a freak, probably. I went to a party at age 11 where kids were playing Spin the Bottle and refused to play because I knew even then that when I kissed someone I would want it to mean something.

Later, I was sometimes bullied into sex by men I did not love because I was not raised to believe I had enough value to say no. Service object indeed.

I am monogamous by nature and am incapable of being in a sexual relationship with more than one person at a time, or of having sex with someone I do not love. I do not believe I am missing anything of value.

Anonymous said...

I've been in a monogamous relationship for 24 years, married 18. It works for me. Before that, I was fairly promiscuous, but it was stupid and definitely not fulfilling.

I haven't completely figured out what I will say to my daughter, but I'm sure it will be something very conservative.

Anonymous said...

I am compelled to add that eight years ago (or so, it went on a while) I was head over heels crazy about a man I worked with, and while we spent a lot of time together and I did just about everything I could think of to get him to have sex with me, the one time we tried, it was so weird that it didn't happen.

Stacia said...

My 21 year old sister married her 23 year old fiance last year and they were both virgins. I've had a little more experience than my sister, but I've found that without meaning, sex is worthless.

I'm a substitute teacher and hearing middle school girls talk about their sexual partners just kills me. They're too young to know what they're giving up with nothing in return.

S said...

I'm such a prude my mouth is hanging open -- just at some of the comments! Which are wonderfully honest! But wow, who'd a thunk it?

Yeah, monogamy and me, we go way back. I've only been intimate with people I loved -- or liked, A LOT.

Anonymous said...

sorry, I have to clarify again. That's what I get for commenting when I'm tired & in a hurry.

I meant that when i speak with my kids about sex, I'll be OPEN and HONEST, but I will be very values-oriented. Some might misconstrue my use of the word conservative as "I wouldn't tell them much of anything." And that would be bad, because then they'd just have popular culture to misguide them.

RKK said...

Glad this posting system is anonymous...

I was sexually abused as a child, so sex never felt good to me. That's not to say I never had sex, but I also wasn't promiscuous like some abuse survivors.

One day (not too long ago), I discovered that the greatest part of the physiological culmination of the sexual act was to be had only when it involved a "soul mate," and that the physical part almost isn't even necessary. I am in almost total awe of the heights to which loving - truly loving - the person you are sharing the experience with can take you.

I think that's what many people are trying to grasp - an almost spiritual experience - in seeking physical intimacy with so many others. Of course, you do also have the people that are using it for control of another...who see it as just another means to their "survival."

I certainly don't judge anyone for having many physical relationships, but I think: "if only they knew!I wish I could tell them!"

Ian Lidster said...

Wowm dear Chani, such a topic. I could wax poetic and prosaic for ages on sex. I, being of your vintage, understand all the changes of which you write, and they match my own in many respects.
I started young, I was only 14, as was she. In the days in which I was less responsible about it, in my 20s and 30s, I'll frankly admit to having been just a teeny bit promiscuous and had a number of partners both within marriage and outside. But, and this is important to me, I was never, ever uncaring. I adored everybody I got involved with, and a number of them remain friends to this day. Not intimate friends, just friends with a lot of mutual respect.
In recent years, however, my attitudes have completely changed, and for the better. I adore my wife of today, have never been unfaithful to her, and couldn't conceive of such a thing. It would fly in the face of all I believe in. And it's so much better with the one you love dearly. It's a very happy place.

PS: I still don't want to picture my parents doing 'it'.

PPS Thank you for your kind thoughts on my blog recently. I'm doing OK, but am still a bit shaken by it all.

molly said...

Boy Chani, You sure know how to pick sizzlers! I'm old fashioned too. Can't imagine having to contort my aged bones for someone I wasn't crazy about. I think I must be close to being a "party of one," as I've only ever been that intimate with the one,same person. And I don't think I've missed a thing.........

Unknown said...

I think it all depends upon where you are in life. I went through a stage about 10 years ago when I had sex with who ever I felt like having sex with. I was old enough to know that it was mostly about exploration. The only times I did not like it were when a guy pretended that he wanted more than just sex and I got 'burned' that way one time. I don't like games. If you want to sleep around, keep it honest both in your words and in your actions toward your partners and everybody can pretty much do their own thing as long as you are safe and both consent. You also have to be very aware of any emotions or expectations that come up on either side.

Now I am in the most loving relationshiop of my life and none of that is an issue for me.

Angeline said...

Yes I used to hold my principle - do it only after marriage but I didn't for a very stupid reason, to a very undeserving guy, it is the worst decision I made in my teens....

My second time was to my current husband I'm glad he saved me - in a way from my horrible mistake....

Rebecca said...

Great post, Chani. I really love the picture.

Like many others, I was promiscuous in my early adult life for a variety of reasons - looking for acceptance, acting out messages from my father ("boys will only want one thing from you"), acting out my own self hatred. And, yes, drugs and alcohol were involved. I sometimes wonder how my life would have been different if I had made different choices.

I am in a monogomous relationship now with the most wonderful man alive and the physical part of our relationship is better than I could have ever imagined. It is truly a gift. We both have a past, but it does not define who we are; all we are and all we have are in the present moment.

Thanks for a great topic!

Stephanie said...

You and I have this in common - I believe very strongly in fidelity and respect. I still believe in love, and in the sacred nature of the act. But, as you said so well, the configuration of the relationship is not nearly as important as the quality of the relationship.

Janet said...

I really believe that, when you have sex, you give a part of yourself. It's probably more true for females. I think that is what breaks my heart most about young teens having sex. The boys may be doing it for the sheer physical pleasure, but the girls are looking for something in return: love, acceptance, popularity, whatever. I'm guessing that most of the time, they don't get what they are looking for. And that has to hurt.

Michelle Roebuck said...

This is certainly an intriguing subject - and your post is a beautiful expression of your own experience.

You're of my parents' vintage, but they had me young, so I can speak from a place of relative life experience, being in my mid-thirties and "married with children". Like many other commenters, I had my fair share of partners. I do not regret a one, though I certainly would make different choices now, were I not totally enamored of my sweet hubby.

One thing I believe gave me a different reference point was that, prior to experiencing sexual intercourse, I learned to pleasure myself. In that way, I knew the physical pleasure to be incredible and satisfying without the emotional bonds most women associate with sex.

As I learned more about relationships and sex, I built enough confidence with both to be able to find - and more importantly RECOGNIZE - a partner who fulfilled all of my needs, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. He's the best thing to ever happen to my life but I wouldn't have known him to be all the things I desired without those who'd "gone before". My experience in that respect leads me to believe that it is important to experience sex before entering into the sacred agreement inherent to marriage. The saying, "You wouldn't buy a car without test driving it first" is trite and a bit crude in comparison, but I think the basic intent is accurate.

Thanks for providing the springboard to such fascinating mind-food and thanks for stopping by my little blogosphere to comment.

Anvilcloud said...

I was here days ago and didn't knwo what to say. After trying twice I still don't. I am the world's most monogamous male ever ... oh heck ... more uncertain deletions. I give up.

Maria said...

What a great post! I am similar to you in that I am socially conservative. I do worry about the case at the end of a date and quite often I find myself not getting a second date because I am not obliging. Honestly I see it as being a dammed if you do dammed if you don't situation and I think it's revolting. I like the idea of the flirt and being coy and the leading up to what's supposed to be special and magical... and loving. Not a casting of a fishing line and reeling in of the catch of the day!

Now Im called a romantic or Mother Mary by some... but I'll take the romance of yore than the wham bam thank you mamn anytime!

All the best.. great post.. .M

SUEB0B said...

Before I clicked over here I thought "I love Chani because she always makes me think," and then I got here and it quickly became clear how true that was.

Despite all my love of talking smuttily, I would describe my sexual history as disappointing, confusing and sad. I mostly used sex as a way to get men to pay attention to me. I was afraid to communicate about what I wanted. I was too quick to jump into bed with men.

I would say the combination of growing up on the cutting edge of feminism and having parents who refused to talk about sex at all really set me up for failure. I was out there doing things I was in no way emotionally capable of dealing with.

At this point I have been celibate for almost five years and, while I sometimes miss sex, it isn't that often. I am fine without.

Angela said...

Very well written, Chani. In my recent experience, I heard the phrase "adult recreation" dropped. A man dropped it. I do believe that men and women are wired differently and while I know that women are out there messing around just to mess around, I much prefer being in a commited relationship before taking that step. I agree with you, though, that this whole business of judging what constitutes a legitimate relationship (i.e. heterosexual, etc.) and what doesn't is a lot of horse you-know-what. Thanks for the thoughtful discussion.

blooming desertpea said...

I cannot make love to someone whom I do not love - so, I've been wondering, too, how it feels like to "do it" with the next best person.

Stephen Newton said...

Yes, your comments did spike. I share your perspective. I thought the film Juno brought me up to speed on current sexual mores. Sex has become a function of life, for better or worse. When we were kids,fidelity and "saving oneself" was used like a fuel and one of the requirements of romance.

WellSoul said...

Hi Chani,
I've been out of the blog loop for a while. Glad to see your blog is very alive! I've had my wild moments, but as a married woman (about 13 yrs) I'm strictly a one man gal. And its only getting better :)

Anonymous said...

I am very comfortable talking about sex, but as I have gotten older, I have learned to judge the comfort level of the person to whom I am talking. Now, I don't talk about it with those who would be made uncomfortable.

I have no issues with casual sex, as long as it is being done because people want it, not because there is an emptiness they need to fill.

Sorrow said...

This was a laugh, because you and I learned about sex ,EXACTLY the same way, only i think I was 9.

Woman in a Window said...

Sorry, I cussed last comment. I'll tame myself around here. Hope you don't take too much offence.

Sex? For me it's love. When I was younger it was wanting love. I do worry about my children. I hope I can teach them early. We've already opened a dialogue about bodies and some relatively tame notions. I want them to always feel they can ask or tell me anything. I want to teach them to respect themselves. Such complicated times.

painted maypole said...

very interesting post and comments.

I'm very much where you are - I think committed and caring is the way to go, no matter what your orientation. Any other way has only a very fleeting appeal to me, and I've never dabbled. I hear a lot of first hand accounts, though, and am frankly unimpressed.

Unfortunately I get an awful lot of spam trying to get me to go to porn sites, and just the subjects of them make me cringe in horror, and what is SO CLEAR from all of them is that it is ALL about WOMAN AS OBJECT. no wonder relationships are so messed up these days.

oy. don't get me started....

Sai Hijara - Ferraris said...

Such a topic Chani!

I grow up with a better understanding of my sexuality than you...maybe it's our generation...I was raised in away that I believe I have my own space and freedom...I can talk about and watch...though regulated at some point...and because of that, I did not get too curious about it.

I'm liberated with my views yet, I share your stand. I have always believe that making love is more than the act itself...

If you look at my I talk...and even my blogs, it may not be what I seem to be as far as this topic is concern but I'm happy that I waited long enough to explore and learn this act with the man whom I think would be worth it...and we're together for 5 years now...!