When Your Boyfriend Treats You Like a Porn Star

This is a semi-graphic post about my sex life (at one point). Proceed with caution.

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I used to talk to groups of junior high and high school students about healthy relationships and sexual integrity. We talked about boundaries and unrealistic expectations and self respect. At no point during those three years did I question my sincerity. I never felt like a hypocrite. 

It wasn’t until a year after I stopped speaking in schools, three years post my last serious relationship that the biggest lie I believed about sex was revealed to me. I sat in my car listening to a radio interview about a man who had cheated on his wife in unimaginable ways. With prostitutes and call girls, with porn, in different cities, with different bank accounts, for years. At the end of it, he and his wife decided to stay together and mend their relationship. The interviewer asked the man what the most difficult part of reconciling with his wife was. His response: “it would have been so easy to treat her like she should be a porn star.” 

I wept.

I had been taught by a lover of many years that women should behave like porn stars. I grew to believe that the problem with many sex lives was that women didn’t behave like porn stars. That women didn’t wait at home in fresh lingerie every week. That they didn’t attempt to maintain sex appeal at all times. That they weren’t constantly available for sex. And I do mean constantly

Those had been truths in my life.

I wept because I grieved the voice I didn’t know I could have (you know, that voice with which you don’t have to say yes to everything) but mostly I wept because I didn’t realize how a lie could be planted so well you never noticed it was a lie. 

I never noticed it was a lie.

I wept because that’s what you do when someone reveals to you the truths you had based your sexuality on were the biggest lies you’d ever been told. I wept because that’s what you do when someone gives you back your right to be a person and not just a thing for sex.

I don’t think women are told “you should behave like a porn star”. I don’t recall those words ever being spoken to me. But women are told to dress sexy. To say sexy things. To be sexy. Like sexy is something you pick up at Victoria’s Secret when you go in for fishnet stockings. 

Let me tell you, it fucking isn’t. 

Nothing at Victoria’s Secret will make you feel sexy if your lover breeds insecurity in you.

Insecurity is a plague that convinces you it isn’t. It starts in your heart and infects your being so that by the time you are treated like a thing solely for someone else’s pleasure you’ve already committed to finding security in pleasing. And the trick is there is never security in trying to please someone. There can be joy, sure. There is joy in gift-giving. There is joy in selflessness. But there is never joy in washing cum out of your hair. I promise. 

There is only the merciless cycle of giving up more and more of yourself until you can longer make the distinction between giving and giving up.

I talk more openly about sex now. And about my body.
As it turns out, they’re both so much more interesting when they aren’t imitating others.

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