“If A Woman Told the Truth”
Originally printed in Beate Sigriddaughter’s blog
She didn’t like sex. In her honest moments—after two or three or . . . however many drinks, she’d allow herself to admit that. Sex was not great. She never said this when she was sober. She never said it to anyone but herself. It was un-American to not like sex. You were to love sex. You were to be obsessed with sex. Sex was to be the be all and end of all of all existence over all time. Sex was IT!
She thought of it as something you had to get through to keep a man happy. When she was drunk she thought that. That was probably what kept her from becoming a drunk à la AA. “Hello, my name is Jennifer and I’m an alcoholic.” There were too many demons, too many beasts when you were drunk. Of course there were those demon-beasts that made you want to pour a stiff one. Drunk or sober. Here a demon, there a beast, everywhere a demon-beast. It was enough to make her want a drink. She laughed at that.
The man lying in bed next to her moaned and turned toward her when she laughed.
“What’s funny?” he asked.
“Nothing. Go back to sleep. I was just thinking about something.”
“Tell me,” he said and put his hand on her breast and squeezed.
Jesus, she thought. Leave my breasts alone. This damned breast squeezing was almost as bad as, “Did you come?” Thank god she hadn’t heard that in awhile. She couldn’t say this to him. Not after professing . . . love.
Jennifer knew she was not supposed to feel this way about sex, the good old be all and end all. How many women shared her attitude? Probably more that anyone wanted to imagine. Adrienne Rich had written, “When a woman tells the truth she makes room for more truth around her.” If Jennifer told the truth, would it bring forth more? Or would it “split the world open” as Muriel Rukeyser answered her own question, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?” Why weren’t women telling the truth about their lives? Trying to keep the world whole? For what?
He’d thought he knew what he was doing. Yeah, sure. Knew what he was doing. Her parents were in Seattle and wouldn’t be back until the middle of the night. Bill Carson had been wanting to get into her pants for months. Those damned boys actually thought girls believed the lies about really liking and respecting you. How stupid did guys think they were? Everyone knew what it was all about. It was about getting into girls’ pants. It was about ramming it in, that’s what it was about. Well, girls had their urges too. Guys didn’t really believe that; they thought the girls had to be talked around, or coerced into, going along, into putting out. If the little assholes had had half a brain, they would have known that the girls were just as interested in sex as they were.
There was one big difference. Girls wanted it to be enjoyable, fun, a good thing, not like having a bat rammed into your vagina.
He’d arrived with a six pack. What kind of evening would it be if you weren’t bombed? Maybe he needed it to get it up. Maybe he was as scared as she. He popped one open, flopped down on her couch and patted the seat beside him. He threw his arm across the back of the couch and propped one foot on the knee of the opposite leg. Looking casual, Mr. Cool. Imitating someone.
“Come here and keep me company,” he’d more or less ordered.
She should have followed her desire to run screaming though the streets. He did have a certain animal magnetism. He did flip a switch or two. That was the problem. She responded to something in him while her better judgment was telling her to get the hell out. But it was her home, not his. She sat next to him and he started kissing her. The first ramming it in. The tongue. Right in, no preliminaries. It would be a year or more before she found out that kissing could be something other than trying to swallow body parts. His hand started groping around and slipped under her shirt. It kept working its way up until it found her right breast, encased it and squeezed.
Shit. Yeah, shit.
His hand wandered here and there for a couple of minutes, then dove under the waistband of her jeans. Maybe things were going to get better. His fingers were wiggling around, groping. Groping, groping, groping.
“Excuse me,” she said, stood up, and took off her jeans. She turned and stood there in her panties looking down at him. Undressing—at least in part—along with her handing him a condom, had sealed her rep as “hot.” She’d thought if they were going to do it, they should get to it without fumbling with clothing and being coy about condoms. Poor naive little Jen, who’d thought efficiency and a desire for acting responsibly had anything to do with what was going on.
Bill about broke his neck getting out of his jeans. One foot got caught in the leg and he fell onto and then rolled off the coffee table. He wasn’t damaged enough to abort the mission, however. He was primed for the big ride.
Later Jennifer lay in bed hurting and crying. She hurt in a way she’d never imagined. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it? Was it always like this? When she heard her parents’ car pull into the garage, she pulled her covers over her head and stayed real quiet until they were in bed.
Why had she expected anything else? What could any teenage boy know about sex other than sticking it into some hole? Society screamed sex at them and taught them nothing. What was a teenage boy to do? And the teenage girl? The teenage girl was invaded.
It had to get better. She’d identified the problem as lying with the inexperience, coupled with the hormonal urgency, of her first partner. Sex had to get better. Right? Not necessarily.
Richard was the one she remembered from college. There’d been others, but they blurred together. Richard stood out in her mind because he was The One she’d thought would be different.
“Hey, you dropped your pen,” was his first sentence to her. They were leaving an econ class and she had dropped her pen. Off to coffee they went. It was supposed to be easy in college. Meet an interesting guy and he’d ask if you wanted coffee or something and you went off and talked. If you were lucky, and smart, you talked a few times before you fucked. Richard had seemed in no hurry and that was the come on. Pretend interest in the woman, the whole person. They’d gone to a movie, a concert and just sat around in the Rat or on the lawn or on some steps and talked. He’d even been sympathetic when she’d more or less told him what had happened her first time.
“I’m not a ram it in kind of guy,” he’d told her. They’d used her room because her roommates had checked out for the weekend and they had the place to themselves for two nights.
She did have to give him a point; he didn’t ram it in. He was not that kind of guy. Oh no. Richard wanted to instruct her in the fine art of fellatio. “Sucking it,” as he called it. It had been a dreary weekend. Lying around, crouching around with cock in her mouth. Oral stimulation had not included her genitals. “I’m just not into that,” Richard had said.
“If you look good, smell good and put out good (little giggle), you can get just about anything you want from a man.” Her mother said this at a wedding. The daughter of an old family friend was getting married and she and her mother were discussing the bride. How she really wasn’t all that pretty and she didn’t seem to be paying enough attention to the groom, according to Jennifer’s mother. They were standing in front of a mirror hanging in the banquet room that held the after ceremony dinner dance. They had spent a lot of time in front of mirrors over the years; her mother had a homing instinct for them. They were standing in front of this mirror, with her mother taking quick little peeks to see if they really could pass as sisters (as some man into the sauce had told them) when she delivered her dose of woman’s wisdom. Her mother had been delivering variations of this all her life. If you looked good enough, and let men think they were in control, everything would be just fine. Her mother had been, and still was a beautiful woman. Her mother spent a good percentage of her time clutching a bottle of 100 proof whatever-she-could-get-her-hands-on.
“Give me an F. Give me an A. Give me an I. Give me a R. Give me a H. Give me an A. Give me a V. Give me an E. Give me an N. Fairhaven. Fairhaven. Fairhaven.”
All the pretty little cheerleaders in a row and she’d been the captain of The Squad. They jumped. They clapped. They smiled at the crowd. They yelled at the crowd. The crowd yelled back. And she was Jennifer Whitley, Head Cheerleader.
It was an honor. It was what she’d wanted to be since she was little. Her mother had taken her to cheerleading camps up and down the coast. And she had become the one who set the pace, the tone. When they jumped and kicked and cheered and squealed and clapped, she was the one everyone watched the most.
When they flashed their panties, hers were the ones most drooled over. She hadn’t thought of panty flashing until Meredith Hanson had come out with it. Brainy Meredith, future scientist, who thought cheerleaders were empty headed little cock teasers. Meredith who’d go anywhere she wanted to go in this world.
Just how were you to get along if you weren’t going to be a rocket scientist?
* * * * *
Jennifer entered the work force. A modern woman. A woman who was to get the benefits feminists had fought for for more than two hundred years. Her first job was with an insurance company, doing claims. It was a playground of twenty-something males and females. All that hot yearning and cruising and looking for THE action that would save them from all further action, finding the one who would deliver you from having to look anymore.
She’d found Jim. At first he reminded her of a nice guy Jim she’d known in high school. Still naive and hopeful, she’d moved in.
He didn’t just ram it in. He didn’t just want oral sex. He was a man into experimentation. She was to be the subject in his experiments with the knowledge he gained from porn consumption, films in which some stupid broad was willing to let some jerk do whatever he wanted to. Lying there, standing there, bending there, whatever there, while Mr. I’ve-Got-a-Big-Weinie got it off.
“I don’t like that,” she’d tell Jim. “Please stop.”
“No, wait. You’ll like this. This is really cool.”
“No. . . . STOP.”
“Wait . . . You’re really gonna like this”
“You’re hurting me.”
She’d actually had to hurt him before he’d stopped. Then she’d moved out.
She was in her thirties, for god’s sake. It was time to be free of men who rammed and jammed and squeezed and pinched and . . . well, there was stuff she didn’t want to remember. God, there was the guy who wanted to pee on her.
This current man didn’t seem bad. He had rolled over and gone back to sleep. Actually he was basically a nice man. And his tastes in sex weren’t one-dimensional or sick or self-serving, as far as she could tell. Except for the breast squeezing, he seemed okay.
She wondered how it was for Meredith with the brains. Had she found some man who thought sex was for the pleasure of both? She’d like to think some women found that.
Jeremy was the professional one. All the men since college had been professionals, but Jeremy made a profession out of being The Professional. The suits, the ties, the shoes. She stopped noting the designer names that went with the various pieces of clothing because Jeremy changed with each new blip on the fashion screen. He spoke of stocks, bonds, portfolios, mergers and leverages. He learned how to “Manage Like a Lama” from a drivel peddler who made money separating fools from theirs.
“Is that lama as in Tibetan monk or as in the large white animal,” she’d asked.
Jeremy didn’t find that funny at all. He didn’t have permission to laugh from the arbiters of humor for that week. One thing that was a constant with Jeremy were his expectations when it came to sex. There was sex that a man could get with any woman, “You remember that thing old Ben Franklin said about all women being alike below the waist,” and there was sex with a beautiful woman. Jeremy enjoyed “Romps with the Ravishing.” He’d actually used that term. She was to be honored because she had been chosen to be in that elect company.
Jeremy was disappointed in her. He was always disappointed. At first she thought it was something he objected to in her responses. It wasn’t that. He expected Romps to be an experience that put him over the top into a great Olympian paradise of unending orgasm. He apparently thought beautiful women functioned differently from “regular” women. Beautiful women were to orchestrate great multi-orgasmic crescendos of ecstasy.
It’s draining to be told you have disappointed. When she left him, she told him he should become a woman if he wanted to be fucking multi-orgasmic.
The man sighed in his sleep, rolled toward her and put his arm across her waist. She didn’t know if she’d stay with him. He was so proud of being with a beautiful woman. She knew she was beautiful. Her mother was and she knew she looked like her mother. All her life she’d been a beauty, and she’d lost count of how many beasts had come sniffing around. In the story, she thought it was the father who sold Beauty to The Beast. She guessed that was true in her world as well, given men were still running it. Her mother had just been the agent selling the lie. Man’s instrument, like a mother in old China who bound the feet of her daughters, causing the crushing of bones, the festering sores, and the tears in the eyes of those daughters who were in so much pain.
The man beside her would wrap his arm around her shoulders when they were walking down the street and say, “You have no idea of how good it makes me feel to be with you.” He said that on the street where the eyes of men could follow her. He did not say that in her kitchen or his living room or in either of their bedrooms. Maybe this is the best she could expect. She reached for the Jack Daniels on the bedside table, then pulled her hand away. No. She needed to get sober.