Nothing soothes the shame of my secrets like finding a kindred pervert.
“Does it make me kinda serial killer-y if I keep track of all the names of my sexual partners? Like trophies? Is that a thing?” Another 3 a.m. text message for the books.
When I saw my best friend’s text, I jumped at the chance to admit I do the same. I replied with as many exclamation marks as my thumb could muster and smiled until my dimples polished my molars.
I don’t want to focus on the surface subject of my friend’s question, but on the fact that it had to be a question at all.
We’re taught to exalt the uncomfortably archaic value that the more private sex becomes, the more precious it is — that its position is in the bedroom, and elsewhere it is repugnant smut.
But the more we exile sex to the closed and cryptic doors of mystery, the less we know about ourselves. And the less we know about ourselves, the more we’re deprived of the illumination that is sexual fluency.
I used to think sex was just naked people kissing. That’s all I saw in the movies. One day, as a prepubescent girl, I found the adult cable channel, and its 24/7 broadcast penetration became the missing puzzle piece to my nonexistent sexual education. Thanks to that fateful lesson, my thumbs etched invisible exclamation marks and my dimples polished my molars years before I could write the sentence that named the feeling.
The feeling of knowing.
It’s the same feeling I got replying to my friend’s 3 a.m. text message, and I hope it’s the same feeling we get from reading about sex.
Today’s slut-shaming and leaked-nudes culture tells us sexuality is a thing to expose. Whenever a thief hijacks a celebrity’s private photograph and besieges the Internet with it, Google’s top search results become a collective of crowdsourced outcasting. I’ve never read about Kim Kardashian without an online commenter resurrecting her sex tape. (How about we start calling it Ray J’s sex tape? Wait, who?). For Duke porn star Miriam Weeks/Belle Knox, and our own UC Berkeley School of Law porn representative Jeremy Long, the enticing hook of their public narrative is the “double life” — the idea that sex and intellect are the ultimate contrast.
The Daily Californian launched this column in 1997 to marry sex and intellect into an accessible union and divorce it from the confines of taboo. Well, taboo makes for shitty tradition. It brands pleasure for the sake of pleasure as heresy, until sexuality begs to have its name cleared into what it really is — a respectable part of humanity.
A few weeks ago, I thought of my disclosures for sex writing as a sacrifice. I don’t mind burning alive like a hunted witch if it means bringing to light a better understanding of that which we’ve repressed for so long. But when I started writing this, I reoriented myself to think of it not as a sacrifice anymore but as an offering. The Sex on Tuesday sub-URL of the Daily Cal is an archive of engaging, selflessly volunteered experiences that I want to nuance with my own.
My first sexual experience in a public space scarred me. I felt pressured to do it in the first place, and a woman and her two children walked in on us. She saw my knees parallel to a pair of men’s Converse. “Can’t you do that somewhere else?” He climaxed down my throat. “Fucking whore.”
I speak as cis-female, Chinese American and nervously queer. I speak as a 20-something voice of youth fascinated by the digital strain on new-age sex practices. I speak as polyamorous, a newbie kinkster and as a graduating senior succumbing to anxieties of postgraduate financial doom, to which my antidote is sex work. I speak as a fucking whore. And I speak for myself when I dispel my experiences here every Tuesday, just for you and your pyre.
I am not you. But I very badly want to know you. My virtual ear sits at the bottom of every article in the form of an email, and it welcomes every voice I’ve never heard. Kindred perverts especially welcome.
I write for the day sex bores you, for the day we realize that sex does not make us lesser and for the day we let bygones fuck bygones. I write for the day our sexual experiences become trophies you text me about at 3 a.m., for the day sex stops being a Tuesday special and becomes everyday — learned, mundane, accepted. I write so the Daily Cal can stop warning writers about the potential of this column to ruin job prospects, for the day I can tell someone I did this and their eyebrows won’t go into upwards pinball-paddle positions out of horror for my moral character.
I write as a fucking whore. I just hope you don’t mind listening.
Jennifer Wong writes the weekly Sex on Tuesday column. You can contact her at [email protected].