I decide it’s ok to give a shit.

Do you get a weird source of inspiration from public transport? Like, I always feel like I’m at my peak of inspo wen I’m on a train, plane or bus. I’m not sure if this is a normal thing, but I always get my best thoughts out at the expense of a $3.65 metro ride…or $178 round trip flight.

I say this slightly intoxicated on my flight back to Boston. By slightly I mean 3 whiskey shots, 1 Sam Adams Summer and 2 vodka sodas deep. Sorry, mom.

I’ve had an interesting love life the past few months. Active, yet unactive. It’s strangely familiar. Guys have sorta sucked, but that’s nothing new. Again, it’s familiar.

I expressed my sentiments to my best friend, sober, “Why don’t guys wanna date me?” I felt desperate asking this question, yet I find myself genuinely curious. It sounds like plea from sad, single girl who is searching for love in all the wrong, yet seemingly right places. Yet, I don’t really give a shit. I’m just curious.

I see couples all of the time. Holding hands down 14th street or intensely making out at my bar, I replay my girlfriend qualifications.

-smart

-friendly

-attractive

-kind

-gets along with moms

-gets along with friends

-cool

-chill

-fun

etc.

I engage in an internal debate about casual sex. While I once was so confident in the fact that I, Beth Cormack, am SO ok with casually sleeping with men, recently I have began to question that notion. I feel like from a societal standpoint, my reaction towards casual sex should be, “This man’s penis entered me. We were safe and consensual. Welp, onto the next one! It’s cool!”

Am I allowed to feel there is something more to sex than just sex? Can I believe that I am able and willing to engage in “casual sex” yet still expect to feel some sort of way about it? Is there an in between on the sliding scale of a giving a fuck?

Names have been changed

***

Are you going to talk to me after we have sex? Drunk words slur from my dry mouth. He’s laying on top of me in my twin size bed. My phone lights up. “Want me to sleep at Kate’s and leave you two alone in there?” My roommate was good at casual sex. I told myself I didn’t like one night stands.

Because I didn’t.

Of course I’m going to talk to you. I just can’t really do girlfriends right now. Those words weren’t enough. In the moment, I pretended like they were. The next morning he was gone. I picked the red condom wrapper up from the floor and felt my eyes fill. I was ok with this. I can be cool. Days went by. A blank response to my “Hey how’s your week going text?” Crickets.

I saw him at the library the next week on campus. I smiled and looked his way. He burrowed his face in his book.

***

Hand jobs and blow jobs were fine. I let him touch my breasts and basically do everything but “go all of the way.” For a while anyway. When you have sex with a man right away, he’s going to view you as a slut and will therefore never date you.

I didn’t want to be a “slut.” Well, I didn’t want other men to label me as such.

It took a few weeks of drunken sleepovers before I let him enter me. I felt safe and comfortable. I didn’t feel like a slut. Nor did he make me feel like one.

We didn’t have “casual” sex for too long before I started to question where this was going. Late nights turned to longer mornings. Drunk sex turned into sober sex. Less casual sober sex.

I love you, he muttered. I love you too. Maybe casual sex wasn’t so bad. Maybe men would still acknowledge me and want to date me after all.

***

I was excited to start swiping left and right in my new city. I sat on my bed in night one and scouted out my prospects. Different from Boston. More attractive, yet more douchey, it seemed like.

Hey, how are you? David messaged. Jack Rose was our first date spot. I, in a black mini dress paired with gold sandals and a long necklace. He, a suit with a pink tie. A consultant at Deloitte. Attentive via text before and after our date. Did I hit the jackpot within my first few weeks in DC?

I felt an instant disconnect after the first night we spent together. A not-serious relationship hanging on by threads. We sleep together a few more times. Texts less frequent. Sorry super busy at work. Can’t hang this weekend. Eventually leading to nothingness.

A few months went by. I hardly remember his existence. My phone lights up. It’s David. “Hey, I hear you work at Hawthorne. Any chance my friends and I can cut the line?”

Crickets.

A year goes by. I’m his bartender. Can I have a Tanqueray and tonic? Oh, wait, your name’s Beth right? I pour him Bowman’s. Your Tanqueray is going to be $11.00. 

I wanted to say, yeah, it’s Beth. Your penis was inside me, remember? Same.

***

Harry. How do I explain Harry?  He’s a guy that I had been on and off hooking up with for the past 2 years. Very very on and off. I consider him more than a late-night text even though 95% of our texts took place after 2am. Definitely didn’t “date” although when we were together, I considered what that would look like.There was a connection we acknowledged, sober and drunk.

A connection defined on our first “real” date after 2 years of nothing but late-night texts. Coffee followed by laying in bed fully clothed, reading the depths of each other’s personal essays. Silent yet intense. “I don’t meet many women like you.” “I keep you at an arms-length because I don’t want to hurt you.” Divorced with two kids, I guess I kept him at arms length, too. “Casual” sex that I’d label as something a little more than casual. Emotions were felt on both ends. At least I think so.

Things came to an unexplainable halt the week after he drunk called me spilling his feelings. I don’t know what could be. I’d be lying if I still don’t think about it.

I wonder if he does too.

***

I was intrigued by Luke within the first few moments of catching his glance. The bar was crowded, full of intoxicated fools on Sunday evening. The music was loud, the shots were cheap. Who’s that? I asked my friend. That’s Luke, she introduced me. We hit it off instantaneously, chatting at the bar for quite some time. Tall and handsome, we continued to show interest in the coming weeks. I noticed hints of jealousy on his end when he saw me with other men. Interest from both ends intensifies.

I call him out for being a minor fuckboy. In a joking way. I recommend him to a friend for a job. Thank you so much, this is really going to help me out. I’m happy to do it.

Sleeping together was inevitable, although the sex was less than decent. The flame was short lived. He has a way with words to get women into bed with him, perhaps that’s all he wanted from me. I can’t be sure. I still run into Luke on occasion — we pretend like the other doesn’t exist.

He doesn’t even pet my dog. I can’t explain this. Have you seen my dog?

My half-joking preconceptions of his fuckboy tendencies were accurate. Maybe he expected me to get attached — to give him attention or fit into the “clingy” mold.

It’s a strange juxtaposition. I care but I don’t really care.

My interest in him was short-lived even though I continued to sleep with him. I never cared to date him. Our feelings were clearly defined the last time we slept with each other. Afterwards, we laid in bed and talked about how much we missed our White Buffalos. Yet, I still sort of give a shit.

white buffalo: a term for “the one that got away” or “first love” 

It was the initial spark that drew me in and the sudden disregard that keeps me engaged to some extent. This draws up a debate in my head. We had sex…a few times. Yet to him, I am no longer worth a hello. I am nothing. Is this worth mulling over? I don’t know.

***

I met up with John for coffee about 6 months ago. We both swiped right! He was in the midst of a 30-day alcohol detox, so he suggested Colada Shop. Coffee? Obviously I’m down. I had just re-downloaded Tinder and I was lucky to match with this attractive, down-to-earth, successful & super sweet guy.

The date was wonderful, so much so we made out a red light in his car. I felt like I was in high school again. Months went by and with our busy schedules it was hard to make something out of it although we occasionally kept in touch via text and Snapchat.

Our second date took place at the Kygo concert with his friends — an evening that I never wanted to end. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with this guy, although I wasn’t really thinking about it. It was a fun, spontaneous date. What happens would happen.

A week goes by and neither of us reach out.

In a sweet and genuine (and very long) text about a week later he informed me has been hooking up with another girl and apologizes for not reaching out sooner.

Is now the right time to tell him that I hooked up with someone else the night before the concert? I didn’t feel the need to share my sex life with him. Is that wrong?

I showed the text to my guy friends. They read it as “he totally wants to see you again but he’s just informing you of the situation.” I don’t really know how to read it, but it was a sure sign that I have grown numb to disappointment in the dating world as my initial reaction to his text was, “wait, lol, is it bad that I don’t care?” It wasn’t an I don’t care that actually meant I do care but I’m trying to pretend like I don’t care because I’m ~chill~. It was truly and I don’t care.

Wait, so am I ok with casual sex? Again, this confuses me.

***

I decide it is ok to give a shit when a man’s penis enters you.

I decide it is ok to expect some sort of respect from the other party.

I decide you can still engage in casual sex while also giving a shit.

I decide to expect respect. I decide that this is OK to expect.

I decide I give a shit when there is a lack of respect.

I don’t think I’ll ever be the woman to not feel some sort of pit in my stomach when I don’t hear from someone after spending the night together. Even if the sex is shitty.

I believe sex is a natural, liberating experience that should be enjoyed in a safe and consensual setting. I used to fear the word “slut.” Years later, I realize the ignorance behind labeling others as such.

I look back on my sexual encounters and the men involved. The debate over casual sex continues. I don’t quite know how to define “casual sex” but I also believe there’s no, single universal definition to it.

Most of the time, the pit in my stomach feels unwarranted for. I don’t expect nor want a relationship from most of these men, but I still expect something from them after the fact.

I fear falling into the “clingy, psycho girl” mold. A mold constructed by (mostly) men — I decide to be ~cool~ and not care.

Maybe I shouldn’t expect anything. Maybe that’s where my disappointment lies.

Maybe respect is too much to ask.

What we REALLY should be talking about in High School Sex-Ed

We all remember our first introduction to “sex ed” in middle school. You probably watched a video, showing diagrams and words that made you giggle. Boys and girls were instructed to separate into different rooms, where you were preached the same type of ideas. If you didn’t know how babies were made prior to this, than I’m sorry that this was your first experience with it. We then progressed to health education somewhere around the 7th/8th grade where we talked about what foods to nourish our bodies with, the importance of exercise, and maybe your teacher even lightly mentioned the topic of relationships.

For me, health and sex ed ended after the 9th grade. It ended after we talked about sexual harassment in the workplace, maybe followed by a brief conversation about preventing teen pregnancy. It ended before I even began to understand the deeper meaning behind any of it.

It ended before we had to worry about getting rushed to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, before our judgement was clouded by drunken decisions, before we allowed ourselves to trust random college bros at a party to understand the word “no.” It ended before any of these issues began to surface. But, the problem is, we never even talked about them.

We never talked about the word “rape.” We never talked about the signs of an abusive relationship, or even how to get out of one. “Anorexia” was a vocab word in our textbook but it never became more of an issue outside of memorizing it on a flashcard. We talked about condoms, but never about what to do if it breaks or how to find the courage to insist on using one despite the hot college guy who is trying to convince you otherwise. Alcohol was “against the law,” and the word translated to “automatic suspension,” but it was never connoted to the greater issues that come out of a black-out night. We were told to not get pregnant, but what happens if you do? What are the options?

Instead we were given handouts that had juvenile pictures of penises and vaginas all over them, ones that usually just ended up in the trash bin immediately after class got out. I would sit there doodling on my notebook, paying no attention to my awkward 45 year old male teacher who was preaching things that simply weren’t relevant to me at the time.

The class was anything but engaging, but I’d like to argue that health education should be the most engaging of them all.

High school students won’t remember the 45 minute one-time lecture on healthy relationships. If that was the case, perhaps I wouldn’t have invested myself in such an emotionally scarring relationship the first month of college (read about that HERE). I didn’t understand what an abusive relationship was beyond blood and bruises. All I understood was that this guy was giving me so much attention, but it turned into a nightmare that I couldn’t escape. It’s unfair to place blame on anyone for my decision, but perhaps it could have been prevented if it had been made more of an issue.

We should be talking about the depths and complexities of an abusive relationship, because oftentimes they are much more than blood and bruises. Safe sex doesn’t simply mean wearing a condom. It means consent, it means having the power to say “no,” it means feeling completely comfortable with who your with. Drugs are against the law, but that’s not all they are. How about we stop attempting to drill the word “illegal,” into student’s minds and start educating about the dangers? I’m not asking to discuss the proper dosage of MDMA, but maybe start discussing how easily it can be made into a drug that can kill by simply Googling the recipe. Why aren’t we talking about the complicated aspects of eating disorders? Why are the complexities completely eliminated and limited to how the glossary defines “anorexia” and “bulimia?”

Alcohol means “no junior prom,” but is that seriously your attempt to stop students from participating? It’s what the cool kids do in high school, simply because it’s defying what teachers and police are telling them to do. Alcohol is cool, so that means blacking out is cool too. That means drunk driving is fun, it’s risky, it’s what all the cool kids are doing. Blacking out shouldn’t simply translate to “no junior prom,” it should be much more than that, especially at the age of experimentation. If she had known not to chug a bottle of UV blue, maybe she would have remembered losing her virginity to the senior that paid no mind to her in the hallway the next morning. 

It’s time to start talking about slut shaming, drunk sex, shitty vodka, emotionally abusive relationships, and how to deal with a cold hearted bitch who is trying to ruin your life. It’s time to talk about the real dangers of drugs, how consent isn’t just defined by screaming the word “no” in his face. It’s time to extend health education past the 9th grade, and perhaps consider making it a mandatory requirement all 4 years of high school. Ditch the handouts of penises and instead invite young 20 year olds in to talk about their experiences. Don’t just make it into an assembly, because an assembly translates to simply, “missing math class 3rd block.” It’s time to start actually speaking to students, rather than going by the text book.

I’m not asking for you to burn the sex ed textbooks, I’m asking you to stop being so afraid of touchy subjects. I’m asking you to make students feel something. There are so many issues in our society that have to do with health and sexual education, but oftentimes we don’t really understand them until we find ourselves in the middle of them. Stop making these touchy subjects such as sex, drugs, and alcohol something to fear and start making them into an engaging topic of conversation. I understand that there are certain restrictions as to what can be discussed in the public school setting, but maybe it’s time to reconsider what we are really teaching these students.

To anyone in high school who reads this: You might think you know it all. I did. You might think that he really loves you, or maybe if you have sex with them that he’ll be your boyfriend. But don’t define yourself based on your sexual experiences. As for alcohol, chugging it out of a plastic water bottle is considered a rite of passage into rebellion. However, don’t let partying get the best of you. You won’t remember (maybe literally) that high school party you went to that one Saturday night, but you will forever hold on to the regret of getting into the car drunk with a friend. We are all probably going to have that one shitty relationship, but please, understand your worth. Understand that you are much more than how he makes you feel. He doesn’t have to hit you for you to be in an “abusive relationship.” I can’t give much advice on drugs since I don’t much experience in that category, but I can tell you that you will receive multiple emails about drug related deaths when you get to college.

I still drink cheap vodka, and sometimes too much of it. I still expect the best out of shitty boys only to be let down. I don’t have my life figured out yet, but I guess I never really understood the value of health and sex ed until now. I don’t know if I can do much to change it, but I hope the conversation develops more beyond a simple blog post. I hope a health educator out somewhere out there reads this and takes my words as something to consider.

Talk to your students about getting into an Uber alone the night after one too many shots at the bar. Warn them about the dangers of entering into a relationship with someone who controls what you eat and what you wear. Ask them about pornography, and whether or not they understand the concept of objectifying men and/or women. Sexual harassment in the workplace is relevant, but what if he/she thinks that they have fallen in love with the perpetrator? And is it still considered sexual harassment in a different setting if she’s wearing a short dress at the bar?

Students will drink alcohol, perhaps too much of it. They will wear short skirts and crop tops. They will get labeled as a “slut,” and a “whore.” They’ll skip meals to look good for spring break, and perhaps make a dangerous habit out of it. Drugs are easily accessible, and they probably won’t get caught doing them. They may have to take Plan B the next morning, or even forget they had sex at all. These are all real issues your students will probably face if they haven’t already. Stop just attempting to prevent them and start educating. Make health and sex ed more than memorizing flash cards and handouts that end up in the trash bin. These issues shouldn’t be taught in the same way we are taught “how to solve x.”

We should stop preaching abstinence and start preaching healthy behaviors.