I was recently told that my sexual adventurousness came from a position of privilege. The inference was, that on evidence gathered from my twitter persona and my writings only, I must be privileged since I was obviously sexually adventurous. This stunned me as exploring my sexuality was actually something that has only recently been an active part of my life. I was a really late developer and had my first orgasm in my late twenties after I had had two of my four children and was already divorced from my first husband.
Granted I had lost my virginity at the age of thirteen and was sexually active until 14 or so after which I got religion and stayed as far away from being a bad girl as I could until I married at nineteen. My sexuality was not seen as a good thing by me or by the society I grew up in and I navigated the treacherous waters of desire with one eye shut and the other raised heavenwards in the hope of not getting pregnant or some other shameful outcome.
Somehow sex has always been a poisoned chalice, one that I am prompted to drink out of by my biology, my physiology and my psychology but that could and would ultimately destroy me. Sex disrupted my second marriage, exposing the bullying, the uncomfortable unequality of gender roles and expectations that no proclamations of love could cover up. It powered through my life scattering all in front of it, razing my my home, my family, my business and my sense of myself in its path.
I have mostly come to terms with this but occasionally this sense of injustice, of unfairness at people’s response to a sexually active woman raises its head again. I had no freedom to explore without judgement as I married young and then married again quickly afterwards. My choices it’s true, but they were formed from a sense of not wanting to be outside the charmed circle of a happy family and that seemed to be not possible if I was open about being a sexual person. Perhaps this is a self fulfilling prophesy that I need to root out like a particularly persistent weed, I need help with that I think.
Sometimes when I interact with people, mainly men I have to say, I am struck by how easy it is for them to have conversations with me whilst their partners are around, and family life goes on regardless. They do not have to choose between a mild flirtation and their settled life. They are able to meet in hotel rooms if they want to, to put expenses through businesses, have nights away without scrutiny and to pursue their own interests. In the main it is expected that they have a separate part of themselves which is not harnessed to the joint project of family and home and there is no shame in this for them.
The irony is for me that I did not have that privilege in the past but the fact that I have stepped forward into this strange new land that is post long term relationship and mothering somehow is evidence of privilege for in someone else’s eyes.
Maybe privilege is always what the other person has? Maybe the pronouncement of privilege in others is actually a covered up envy and desire for what we think they have?
I have no answers, I still don’t know how to navigate this part of my life. I was asked to a sex party via twitter and the invitation was withdrawn when I told them I was outside the advertised age range of the group. It wasn’t meant to be hurtful, mostly nothing is I find, but I smart at the losses and at the perceived unfairness and then I remember that I have a choice about finding the good and the positive in this moment in my darkening room with the sky tinged turquoise and orange-pink as the sun sets.
It is good to be alive even when it is uncomfortable.