People, I tell you,
childbirth is hard
and killing is evil –
so be a little loving
– Langston Hughes
I’m trying to stop being such a damn thing.
Badut OMGYES subscription. I have had them As you come like waiting unread on my Kindle for the last two years. Sometimes I watch Twiker tutorials on TikTok. Yesterday, I wore a swimsuit that showed a severe fracture – in public.
I don’t talk to my kids about the importance of humility when it comes to clothing. I wonder, How do you feel about this? Will this outfit serve your purposes today? Will it hinder or confuse you from what you want to do? I tell you, I love knowing what you like.
I check for the conditioned fear that arises when the sun looks at my eight-year-old daughter’s summer skin and reminds me that other people will soon realize that she is also beautiful. I check the impulse to warn that its beauty is a threat, the tranquility that comes before sin. I look at myself and say instead, “You’re running so fast, boy. You’re so happy.”
If you’ve grown up in the thick evangelical culture of purity, you know: There’s a mole that God put in your chest to warn you that it’s too low for your neck. There are almost righteous men around you, who have installed power over you, who would never have sinned if they did not exist where they saw you. It’s the perfect way to be beautiful, and it falls below the knee. He likes it; is controlled. It is not revealed.
I grew up in the late nineties, the bright, penetrating ear of the Texas Bible Belt. Abstinence was the air we breathed.
There, in a summer church camp, middle school girls and I went into the woods back from the pool because some boys were approaching the path and we couldn’t let them see the new wet. I was almost 12 years old: a chunky pair of glasses, glasses full of fear, and my oversized one-piece T-shirt glued to my Walmart would drag my brother to lust and hell.
There, in an old Jeep in an abandoned parking lot, a loving high school boyfriend and I cried together in regret after we reached the second base.
There, at my private Baptist University, college students were introduced to the campus chapel to learn about the spiritual harms of masturbation.
So I’ll probably never be a mother who can talk about sex, desire, and pleasure without feeling like I’m doing very, very badly. I can’t be quiet.
The key element of the cleanliness culture I grew up with was the retention of information: about sexual experiences, about reproductive health and monthly cycles, about consent, about contraceptives, about pleasure. What use can you make of this information if you are well on the border of the holy virgin fear?
My intention is to arm my children with all the information I can. When they ask me questions about sex, I give them age-appropriate honest answers, even when I want to dissolve them into a huge laugh. (“What’s that? Oh, that’s your clitoris. What does it do?” it feels good. Cool, eh? ”)
The hardest part for me, as a byproduct of the purity culture, is making sure I don’t overlap those answers with a divine import.
YesI want you to know yourself well and make prudent choices. No., I don’t want you to live hanging in your head with the sword of God’s righteous despair, the constant condemnation of every session.
Yes, your very existence is sacred. No., sex is not such a holy and serious thing, having it in the “wrong way” will ruin your soul forever and condemn all future relationships. No.Having sex before marriage will not make you like a chewed piece of chewing gum, a dirty strip of tape or a car pulled out a lot. No., sex has no power to diminish your value or change who you are as a person.
Another thing I can do is teach my children to reveal themselves.
I can focus their attention on the soft sheets at bedtime: doesn’t it look pretty on your skin?
I can celebrate the explosion of a strawberry in their mouths: isn’t that sweet on your tongue?
I can enjoy the beauty of human bodies: how is the slope of the neck so gentle?
I can cry out what I have been taught to erase: is it not so good to love and be lovable?
Because pleasure is immeasurable: he follows himself, he enjoys himself, he swallows everything whole. And in the name of pleasure, I will rejoice while my children watch and learn. I will open my mouth and laugh. I will kiss their father to admire the stars lying on the trampoline and I will wear the dresses above the knee. I no longer suspect things that feel wonderful.
Instead, I will say to these little people: Do you see this taste, this smell, all that you feel? Listen to me: the world is good and so are you. Isn’t it delicious? Everything will be fine. I love you, unconditionally.
And then when they grow up and discover sex, they may not be ashamed of it. They may not shrink from enjoyment with a quiet embarrassment. Maybe they won’t even feel guilty.
Maybe they will enjoy it.
Meg Embry is a writer who started working as a journalist and editor in the Netherlands. He currently lives in Colorado and specializes in higher education and career issues and uses his personal blog mixed between the thirties.
You will also remember it Meg’s notable comment, which everyone loved; and I’m happy to say that he will be a regular contributor to the Cup of Jo.
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