Perhaps I should explain.

I am a slut.

I’ve always been this way — since I could remember. I don’t know how child’s play devolved into playing ‘doctor’. I don’t know how the neighbor girl and I ended up playing with each other with our clothes off. I don’t know why my friends at the time were interested in roleplaying a married couples’ struggles with sexual desire. I don’t know where I got the idea to see and touch other peoples’ nakedness.

I do distinctly remember the first time I found pornography.

I was mesmerized. Fascinated by all this new content, pretty ladies in pretty clothes, their nethers being photographed in extreme close-up. I remember my favourite section being the letters section, where I would read story after story of some fabulous sexual tryst. I locked myself in the bathroom, delicately pulling the magazines out from their hiding place, turning the pages slowly, carefully, drinking in every detail. I felt feelings in places I’d never felt feelings before — tightenings in my sides and tinglings down under. I knew I enjoyed all of this talk and the sight of all of these naked ladies, but I was terrified of what it all meant.

All of my first sexual experiences had been with women. Women, and their nakedness, their warmth, their curves and softness. Pictures of these women aroused me. I had never had a boyfriend. My train of thought, as a young woman just beginning teenagehood, was one of constant anxiety — the petrifying circular fear that I was a lesbian, a pervert, abnormal, different, set apart in some way.

I was precocious. In a house where my mother talked openly about how little girls who wore makeup looked like whores. (I wanted to wear makeup.) They talked about homosexuality as if it were sick. When my mother found out my father had pornographic magazines in the house, it was a Big Freaking Deal.

I grew up with a twisted sense of what sexuality was, or what sexual identity was. This was further exacerbated by the fact that I was lucky to go to a school that discussed puberty as a topic — let alone sex.

I believed when growing up that since I’d had sexual contact with a woman, that made me a lesbian. It was like a disease that I had caught, that I couldn’t get rid of. I tried to rationalize it — maybe as I got older and more womanly I could “shed” it like a skin, love boys, get married, have an easy life and that would be it.

Eventually I started reading about what being homosexual actually meant. I felt relieved to be attracted to men, to not be this big “L” word, to not have to tell my family I was going to cut my hair like k.d. lang and the whole works. But to be attracted to women at the same time was strange. I ignored it, wholly, though I maintained sexual relationships with women. The tension was huge and I had crushes and loves. I said to myself I was just ‘curious’ but it wasn’t curiosity that caused my head to lean a little closer to hers, to make my heart stall a beat at the thought of kissing her.

I dated men. I grew up. I met bisexuals, who told me it was okay to be the way I was — how unfortunate that this message came at the same time as a large number of other ones. The signal-to-noise ratio was not a good one. I was coming out of a long-term relationship with a man I’d thought (naively) I was going to marry. My mother called me a slut for having sex with him, at the tender age of 16. I was crushed. She grilled me as to why I would do such a horrible thing to her. I was encouraged to ask the man to apologize to her. I didn’t understand then, what I understand now. I didn’t understand the old-school idea of my virginity as the property of my parents. I just knew that while it was he who’d pushed me to have sex with him, it was me who was being called the slut.

That stuck with me, that word. My one [real] male sexual partner had made me into a slut — whereas the four or five girls I’d had relationships with before didn’t. True, my mother didn’t know about the four or five girls — or not that she let on, anyway.

Thinking back, perhaps I was a bit sluttish. I say [real] because I’d had sexual contact with men before — wondering what all this fuss was about, about this singular act. More learning when I discovered that what I’d thought was a singular act — sex — was actually a series of acts, acts which a woman was expected to be proficient in, without ever having practiced.

The inequality did not strike me at the time; at the time what I was most struck by was how little I’d been told. Even though I’d been exposed to such topics as oral sex and multiple partners, I’d never thought about the implications of such things. Suddenly things that weren’t sex were sex and things that were sex weren’t sex and it all depended on who you spoke to. Some girls weren’t sluts because all they did was suck cock — the ‘technical virgins’ that are commonplace in today’s media, which, as usual, is about a decade behind the times.

I resolved to raise my children differently with regards to sex, and walked into my relationship with my now-Master feeling very much like damaged goods. I’d lost my (value) virginity to someone else, I’d fooled around much since then, what was to make my sexual relationship with my sweetheart anything more meaningful than a pair of drunken tourists fucking in a hotel room?

My society taught me not to expect sex better than the sex joked about on TV. My society taught me that to want more or to expect more or to, Lord forbid, demand more, was anathema. I would take the cock I got, and damn it all, I was going to like it whether I liked it or not.

I’d like to lodge a complaint.