Tuesday, August 23, 2011
When we had D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse something something don't do it kids) at my elementary school, they talked about reasons kids might start doing drugs: peer pressure, low self-esteem, media glamorization, dealers getting you hooked. There was one glaring, obvious omission from that list and from every other discussion in D.A.R.E. - drugs get you high.
Drugs, at least all the ones I've tried, feel good. Alcohol helps you laugh and socialize more easily. Cigarettes simultaneously wake you up and calm you down. Amphetamines make you euphoric and energetic (and skinny). Opiates make you utterly relax and feel like all is right with the world. Marijuana makes you think that you're really smart and deep and insightful, and so is everyone else here, oh my god we are like so connected you know right now and we're like connected to the Earth too you know, maybe connection itself is what connects us, whoa.
Obviously, I'm not saying to do drugs. Everything listed above comes with catch-22s ranging from "you should do it with caution and infrequently" to "you could seriously die." But I'm acknowledging that the temptation is real--that although they're not good for you, even dangerous drugs (maybe especially those) feel good. Because you just look like a liar who can't face up to the obvious if you don't admit that. The conversation on pros and cons is hopelessly stifled if you can't be honest about the pros.
When I had my first sex ed class, they told me that the man would get an erection and put it in the woman's vagina. (They did not tell me about other configurations, which is kind of a shame considering how much those other configurations have become a part of my life. It's like taking an Auto Shop class that has a moral stance against any discussion of the radiator.) What they didn't tell me was why people would do such a thing. To have kids, okay, and... peer pressure? Low self-esteem? Media glamorization? Dealers?
By the time sex ed rolled around again, I'd gone through puberty. (And gotten an Internet connection.) I understood quite well now. And I also understood that the teacher, being post-pubescent and married herself, probably was also familiar with those funny feelings that make you want to do the baby thing. And yet those funny feelings didn't come up at all in sex ed class this time either. In a room full of people who more or less all knew full well what it feels like to have a boner or get wet or masturbate or have a wet dream, we spent an entire semester pretending to wonder why people would do such a thing. Peer pressure, perhaps...
This stalwart denial of the bleeding obvious is still following me around as an adult. Almost every discussion about sex--even the ones by the "good guys"--seems to footnote pleasure if it doesn't ignore it altogether. We can talk about freedom and safety, but we rarely get direct about what exactly we want to be free and safe to do, and why it matters so much to us. Why am I kinky, why am I poly, why am I slutty, why do I support sexual diversity and self-expression, why do I think and write and talk about sex all the time?
Gosh. Peer pressure?