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UNCOMFORTABLE

Cindy Maddera

I've had some thoughts rolling around my brain for a few weeks now that I haven't felt eloquent enough to put down into words. Those thoughts center around the #MeToo movement and all of the commentary involved. Several days ago, Michael was trying to remember the name of some celebrity and he asked "Who's that guy who recently exposed himself?" and I replied "which one?" We narrowed it down to James Franco, but still...it could have been any male. I think that most guys hearing these stories of exposed penises think that this is a rare event or it's not so bad as long as the guy is not in a position of authority. First of all, exposed penises are not rare occurrences and secondly exposing your penis is bad. END OF FUCKING SENTENCE!

I'm going to make up some statistics and just say that one out four women are unwillingly exposed to a male penis every day. More often than not it is some random stranger on the bus, subway, in the park, walking down the sidewalk, standing in line at the grocery store, at the gas station. Pretty much anywhere. My friend Sarah was recently talking to a group of women about the #MeToo movement when one woman spoke up and said that she didn't understand how so many women could be coming forward with these kinds of stories. She said that nothing bad had ever happened to her. Then she told a story about how there was this one time while working at a fast food place when the other employee working with her that day pulled out his dick, but nothing happened. She thought this was maybe not normal, but just something that occasionally happened. No big deal. Just a penis. This brings me to my next topic, which I've been struggling to articulate about in discussions and that topic relates to the Aziz Ansari story where a woman described an encounter that made her cry. People are wondering if this qualifies as sexual harassment and why she just didn't remove herself from the situation. It also applies to that poor woman who didn't realize she was being sexually harassed by her co-worker.

Women are enculturated to be uncomfortable most of the time. And to ignore their discomfort.

That sentence comes from a really well written article called The Female Price of Male Pleasure. I recommend that you go over and read it right this minute because it talks about an issue that is just not discussed and it is an issue that really really needs discussion. In fact, it is the type of discussion that could clear up some things for the men who are confused by all of these tales of sexual assault. If you read that article, you will find that women and men have way different scales for what constitutes good sex vs bad sex. Women consider the sex 'good' if she didn't feel coerced or more likely it didn't hurt. Not if she orgasmed. Our pleasure comes second if at all or when we are alone and have no one to please but ourselves. According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 5% of women between the ages of 25-29 masturbate more than four times a week compared to 20% of men who do. That number evens out a little for those who masturbate multiple times a month (something like 21% of women 25-29 and 25% of men in the same age bracket). But I'm curious to know how honestly those women responded to that survey. 

We got the Cabbage a new electric toothbrush for Christmas and it sounds like a vibrator. Over the weekend, I was walking through the living room and I asked "did she brush her teeth?" Michael replied "No. Did you here her vibrator?" Which we both laughed at and then I said something about when the Cabbage is older we're going to wonder why she brushes her teeth so much. Though we were making a joke of it at the time, it made me realize that female masturbation is not something often talked about, particularly when it comes to teenagers. When people talk about teenage masturbation it is almost always in regards to their teenage son. No one ever mentions the idea that the teenage daughter is masturbating. So right off the bat, as young women are learning about their bodies for health reasons, they are also learning that their own sexual pleasure is something that doesn't happen or is shameful and should be kept secret. 

When Michael and I started talking about the issue with Ansari, Michael said that it was that girl's responsibility to say something and get herself out of the situation. I agreed with him, but said "it's not as easy to do as that sounds." He was dumbfounded by this and I stopped talking because I couldn't find a way to explain to him why it is that getting out of unwanted sexual encounters, even if the guy is nice about it, is so difficult. It's almost even more difficult if the guy is nice. Because women have been cultured to please, even in disregard to her own pleasure. It may be hard to understand, but sometimes doing the thing you don't want to do is the easiest solution to a get away. Raise your hand if you have had sex when you didn't really want to have sex. I am positive that there are men out there who are raising their hands because I've heard Michael say it. So I ask you, why didn't you just make it clear that you didn't want to have sex and leave the situation?

It is not an easy question to answer.