Audio, mostly poems
- SONG: portrait 19 August 2014
- POEM: there’s a spring poking up in the corner of my bed 18 August 2014
- Capsule Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy 17 August 2014
- Let’s talk about sex 17 August 2014
- Suggested slogans for NPR 16 August 2014
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Guardians Of The Galaxy was spectacular. I got into comics in ’77 or ’78, and the first comic I ever loved was Nova. My cousin Todd Jacquot was into Nova, and I was into whatever Todd was into, so I read Nova, too.
Nova was my Spider-Man; a kid I could relate to who suddenly gets superpowers and has to figure out how to use them and what to use them for.
Nova himself isn’t in Guardians, but the Nova Corps is, and so are many of the cosmic races and entities that swept me into the Marvel Universe when I was growing up. Guardians is extremely well written, well acted, well directed, and beautiful to look at. Highly recommended.
Talking about sex is a good, healthy, fun, important thing.
It took me most of my adult life to realize those two things. I grew up in a house where we didn’t talk about sex at all, and where the one conversation my parents and I ever had about it was very negative. I’m not blaming them. Neither had been given any tools to address the subject, so they didn’t. Unfortunately, the combination of their silence and my youthful Christian upbringing meant that I was terrified of sex at the same time I was hugely attracted to it. As a result, it took me till my mid-30s to start developing a healthy and real attitude about my sexuality and my needs.
(We also stigmatize masturbation. God forbid anyone should explore their own body and figure out what makes it tick. And if you’re not supposed to have sex until you’re married, and you’re not supposed to masturbate, what are you supposed to do?)
Part of the problem is that our hypersexualized culture is actually very limited in what it considers “normal sex.” In the words of George Carlin, we’re mostly given the image of “good, old-fashioned, man-on-top, get-it-over-with-quick” sex, or various kinds of porn. And while it’s certainly possible to find positive images of sex in porn, that spectrum leaves most of us without a way to navigate our own desires, or any language with which to figure out what we, or our partners, need. If the only time you see the kind of sex you want to have is when you’re sneakily watching it in a darkened room with the sound turned down or headphones on, how are you ever going to be able to find the kind of sex life that will make you happy?
Another key point is that different people have different sex drives. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a lot of sex, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting some sex sometimes, and there’s nothing wrong with rarely, if ever, wanting sex. Unfortunately, we don’t have models for differing sex drives. If you’re a straight man, you’re supposed to want to fuck everything that moves, all the time. If you’re a straight woman and you feel that way, you’re a slut. If you don’t really need sex to be happy and fulfilled, people think there’s something wrong with you or that you’ve had a bad experience. (If you’re gay, in many parts of the US, an open conversation about sex is often off the table entirely.) But without an understanding of the varying levels of desire for sex, people end up paired with partners whose sex drives don’t match theirs at all, which then becomes a source of tension in the relationship.
I was very lucky in my late 30s to meet someone with a very healthy body image and a very healthy approach to sex and gratification and communication. That opened up an entire world for me that I was starting to think didn’t exist. But it shouldn’t have taken that long. If we have healthy conversations with our kids, and create public spaces for honest conversations with one another and in our society as a whole, we can eliminate much of the stigma and shame and fear that goes hand-in-hand with sex in our Puritan country. I think this will lead not only to better sex, but to more appreciation and respect for one another as human beings. We live in a horrifying anti-woman society, and I think part of the problem is our lack of open discussion about human sexuality. A condom and a banana in health class aren’t enough. We need to talk about respecting one another and seeing each other as humans, not as desire receptacles. Our conversations need to stop being about the birds and the bees and start involving real talk about how people actually are.
I’m not pretending that this is groundbreaking, original writing. It’s not. Others have said all this before me or more will follow after. I’m writing this stuff because I wish I’d read something like this years ago, and maybe somebody will benefit from reading this now.
I used to report for NPR’s Morning Edition, and I’ve worked for, and raised quite a bit of money for, several large NPR affiliates. Over the years, my opinion of NPR has greatly diminished, and its middle-of-the-road, anybody-could-be-correct style makes me crazy. So here’s a bit of satire.