"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Saturday, June 22, 2013

speak now #3: c'est moi

Now Playing: Skinny Love by Birdy (I'm breaking at the bridges and at the end of all your lies)

So...I'm an English and Gender Studies student at university. About half of of my 24 units for my degree have the word 'sex' or 'gender' or 'women' in it. The study of human sexuality was introduced to me in high school English, where we were taught gendered readings and analysis of representations of sexuality in literature and popular culture. Through my time as a student and a blogger and a YouTube fiend and just a person I have learned to become comfortable in facilitating conversation about sexuality in an academic and social context and I think it's very important.

My sex education started when I was eleven, which was also when I experienced a pretty traumatic bullying experience involving little fuckwits being morons about menstruation. In high school the emphasis of sex education was very much focused on anatomy and contraception, and the discussion of sexual relationships and all that other stuff was very brief and limited. I was struck by how outdated and sparse the teaching resources were and how hapharzard the curriculum was, especially in comparison to all the fancy technology and flashy new textbooks that were being dished out by the other departments. All that being said, though, my sex education was lacking but not...damaging, in any sense of the term. In contrast my cousins in Singapore were fed abstinence-based education and remain largely ignorant of and disgusted by sexuality.

At the moment I identify as a cisgender bisexual woman. Bisexuality is a weird thing, in the sense that no label will totally describe your sexuality in a single term. I used to identify as hetero but that's changed and, you know, that's fine. Bisexuality especially is quite a fluid and ambiguous concept, and everyone's experience of bisexuality is different. My experience of bisexuality is that my attraction to people is that I am attracted to men and women, but not in the same way, not to the same degree, and I don't want the same things from both genders.

I am very open about sexuality and comfortable with talking about it and exploring it and understanding and respecting other peoples orientations and identifications and all that jazz. I have friends who are like that and I really appreciate having people to talk to about these things, because I am inexperienced but also very versed in the terminology and ideology of atheist feminism and the sex positive movement, and as you know I'm small and not very strong so I can sometimes get a bit intimidated by the physical side of things. I have some friends who are not so open, which is fine, because this stuff can get pretty personal. But then I also know other people who are excessively secretive about sexuality to the point where they don't know basic anatomy or sexuality-related concepts, they buy in to the lies and fear of sex negative propoganda and openly engage in slut shaming, homophobia and sexism.

Being open about my sexuality has really made me open up not just about myself, but about other people, and is really the key to understanding people who might be different to you and to the societal norm. It has its downsides; people think I'm 'weird', for sure, and I do get bullied a lot. But that's really nothing new.

Am I worried about how my friends will perceive me? Not really. I have learned the hard way that friends don't judge you for what you are, and you shouldn't compromise who you are or what you believe in for social status or a huge crowd of fake friends. This is especially true at university, where you really have to pick and choose and value your friends as individuals; and you really do have to love them, because trying to make time to meet up and maintain a relationship can become a real pain in the ass. Even my more conservative friends respect who I am and what I stand for, and I have actually learned a lot of what people think of as 'that fucked up shit she blogs about' (my blog, incidentally, is somewhat infamous amongst my high school chums) from my friends.

Am I worried about my opinions relationship wise? Definitely no. Firstly, I'm the kind of person who has strong opinions on everything - although I am careful not to have opinions on things I don't really understand or haven't gotten around to researching, which is why I really have nothing to say about economics or the Palestine/Israel thing. It is very important in any relationship of any kind that friends and partners understand and value your opinions and boundaries and that is kind of fucked up when you try and hide what you think or blur the lines between what is and isn't okay for you. Whether I hide it or not my opinions of sexuality are what they are and if you can't handle that then you really can't handle me. Have my opinions made me unpopular? Yes. Definitely. But that's just a by-product of being me in a society where nonconformity is suicide. And in the wise words of Amy March 'you don't need scores of suitors, you just need one. If he's the right one'.

I have a kind of love hate relationship with my body. A severe case of depression and an eating disorder later I am much more confident with my body than I was when I was in my younger and more vulnerable days, but I still have my fair share if insecurities. Learning to love my body is a painfully slow, extremely complicated work in process, but it would not be possible if I wasn't sex positive and dedicated to surrounding myself with sex positive people.

So now you know a little bit about me, let's fall down the rabbit hole of the weird and wonderful world of...being human.

Stay tuned and stay beautiful.


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