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NSFW

TRIGGER WARNINGS INCLUDE: Mentions of Extreme Gender/Sexual Ignorance and Assault

**NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED

Let’s talk about Sex and Gender. Let’s talk about Geekery. Let’s talk about Religion. Let’s talk about how a young girl once believed that the first pair of topics had no business being in the same blog post as the second pair of topics. Let’s talk about the layers of complicated, interdependent and sometimes self-predicated bullshit woven throughout this young girl’s psyche. Let’s talk about how this young girl used Geekery and Religion to hide from Sex and Gender. Let’s talk about the inner war that this now-woman still wages because she still uses Geekery to hide from Sex and Gender. Let’s talk about the ongoing damage being done to young girls [and boys] on a daily basis because Sex, Gender, Geekery and Religion won’t be honestly discussed with them.

Some Background:

I may have mentioned on more than one occasion that I grew up in a religious household. My childhood faith isn’t exactly known for its diversity, self-exploration or tolerance, and I was raised in this faith as a woman. Yeah, LOTS of room to stretch my legs. Growing up religious and a woman meant growing up celibate. Scratch that. Being celibate means that you’re aware of what sex is; you’re aware that sex exists; and you make a conscious choice not to partake in it. For me, growing up religious and a woman meant growing up neutered and ignorant. Until I was 18 years old, I made Betty Parker look like Betty Page. Full Disclosure: I did see this movie in theaters, and at the time, I really did believe that she was just enjoying a nice, hot bath.

At the cusp of adolescence, which came later for me than most, I had found all of society’s constructs of what being a woman meant to be trite and pedantic. Until the pain of vertical and horizontal growth spurts hit me, I believed that your gender is universally inconsequential to who you were and what you wanted out of life, and thus should be ignored in pursuit of intellectual achievements, self-recognition, and an unwavering loyalty towards The X-Files. Romantic pursuits were a waste of time, and Sex was an immoral distraction for which one should pay dearly as the activity usurped energy that could be best spent elsewhere. This was the example that led my household, so it must be true for everyone else, right??

Well, like most cognitively undeveloped humans teenagers, I made the grave error of believing that everyone must think like I do deep down somewhere. In accordance with that logical train wreck, I had to believe that my classmates somehow, somewhere within the depths of their subconsciousness shared my view. So you can imagine how baffled I became and remained throughout high school as my classmates delved into the folds of YM, Teen and Seventeen magazines. On the surface, I thought that all of the attributes of being a woman seemed so insipid. I decided that I wanted no part of being a woman, so I staved off the clothes, the makeup, the nail polish, the boys, the delicacy, the sweetness, the grace, the beauty, the tepid nature, the flirting, and the false modesty. At the core, I watched from the outside looking in knowing that I had none of the grace, the beauty, the delicacy, the tepid nature, the ability to flirt and purvey false modesty, all of which seemed necessary to be a woman according to society’s constructs. To make up for the lack of these traits, I declared myself a Neuter and delved into more “serious” hobbies like SciFi novels, Anime and LARPing, particularly those modes which punished its characters for romantic leanings. Add to this spectacular confusion of societal constructs with actual gender identity, I was also being housed and schooled in environments in which the word Sex couldn’t be spoken without a flood of crimson cheeks from the students and yellow demerits from the teachers.

Are you beginning to see the conundrum that this young girl was facing?

A Bit Of The College Years:

Based on the preceding text, you can surmise easily that I did not have much in the way of any sort of insight into gender or sexual identity. As far as I was concerned, I was an 18 year old human being with a penchant for sarcasm, Douglas Adams quotes and a burgeoning addiction to Dragon Ball Z. I hated identifying as a woman because of everything that I had mistakenly believed defined what was a woman; and I hated talking about Sex because I didn’t think that it had any place in a university setting. Don’t worry. I’ll wait for you to stop laughing.

My first exposure to the university life didn’t help sway my rather short-sighted opinions either. At summer orientation, I encountered only those who wanted to listen about to me blather on about Star Trek, Anime and/or Frank Herbert for hours on end. My fallacious ideal of the college life had been affirmed. I didn’t know or care whether my newfound acquaintances were as ignorant as I about gender and sexual identities. I just knew that I wouldn’t have to face those aspects of myself as long as I had these people in my life. I could spend the next four years staying up late in others’ dorm rooms doing nothing except watching Ranma ½ and gossiping about Star Trek Voyager, safe from the horrors of a gender in which I didn’t fit and a natural human process about which I was horrified.

Then came the actual start of my freshman year. New friends and new challenges. And the Purity Test application. (The fact that this still exists 15 years later baffles my mind). As a “good” Christian, I dared not judge any of my new compatriots lest I be judged. So, I steeled myself against the whims of being “dragged” into “womanhood” and sexual activity. Because I had mentally prepared myself, I wasn’t surprised that I was asked to take it as much as I was by my newfound friends’ scores. 90, 80, even GASP! 70% pure. The average friend spent 15 minutes perusing and scrutinizing each question to see if “that time in summer camp” or “that time at the student leadership conference” constituted another tally mark. Then it was my turn. Here is a synopsis of how my round went at 17 years of age:

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OK, I’m done.

95% pure. Eat it, newfound friends, I thought. How envious would they be of my innocence? Yeah, I held onto that thought for approximately 10 seconds.

Friend: You’ve never had sex?

Me: Nope, never been interested.

Friend #2: You’ve never even masturbated?!!

Me: [Pause] Women can masturbate?

Well, how the hell was I supposed to know that women could masturbate? I barely understood, nor exhibited any sincere interest in understanding, how heterosexual intercourse worked. How could I know about that when my attention was focused on which Deus Ex Machina trope Chris Carter was going to use to get Mulder and Scully back on the X-Files?? You couldn’t realistically expect me to have any rudimentary understanding of female self-pleasuring practices when THAT was still up in the air! So, being of an intellectually curious and forcibly neutered nature, I did the most reasonable thing at the time: I asked my newfound friends to explain and demonstrate how women masturbated to me. Yeah, some of those newfound friends became long-forgotten acquaintances well before the semester ended. I was fortunate enough that the friends who hung around me and my excruciating asexuality never judged me for it, and they provided me with yet another avenue to further delay any sense of gender and/or sexual discovery: Buffy The Vampire Slayer. My induction into the Whedonverse had commenced, and while Joss Whedon isn’t exactly known for creating neutered, repressed or shy female characters, the Whedonverse did reaffirm my spiteful belief that pre-adults who have sex should be and will be punished.

Then Chad** happened. During a very particular intermission during a not-so-important variety show, I ran into a fellow peer advisor, Talia** with two of her advisees, Damien** and Chad. The instant that I was introduced to Chad, I knew that something was not right. Suddenly, my eyes widened, which began drying out my already parched contacts. My breathing became erratic despite taking my asthma medication before coming to the show. My heartbeat surfaced through my chest. My genitals warmed with the intensity only felt when my menstrual cycle began. I was scared, confused and excited all at once. I had no idea what was going on, but I wanted more of it.

Three weeks later, I found myself walking from Tae Kwon Do practice to Chad’s dormitory scared at what would lie ahead. Having battled years of forced negation of gender and sexuality, in addition to weight and body image issues, I was absolutely sure that I was not ready to have sex that night. Waging war with my stance on abstinence that night was the idea that I owed him SOMETHING because I had agreed to come over late at night. I took a deep breath with each flight up to Chad’s dorm room. The long climb allowed me to slip into the tough, sarcastic personage that caught Chad’s attention in the first place. This new skin gave me the resolve to remain abstinent regardless of any promises that may or may not have been made. Chad, however, had other plans.

At this juncture of my life, I stood at 5’3” and weighed 160lbs. I had 18 months of Tae Kwon Do under my belt and had yet to be forced to use what little I had learned outside of a do-jang. Chad stood at 6’1” and 190 lbs of Muay Thai chiseled muscle. My options for physically fighting back were minimal at best.

I felt Chad’s weight on my hips after I said don’t take off my pants. He had my arms pinned above my head with one hand.

He smiled at me and said, “You know, if I wanted, I could just ravage you right now.”

I cherished the darkness of his dorm room, for it prevented him from seeing the white hot anger hiding layers of terror flooding into my face.

“And I could scream loud enough for your whole brownstone to hear me.” I replied.

Chad: “You can’t scream if I’m choking you.”

Something snapped in me at that moment. I remember feeling my synapses fire as if to break down walls of ignorance that I had strategically placed in order to protect me. I only had an inkling of what rape was; something that was trivialized in my mother’s Lifetime movies. I had no idea what it entailed; I only knew that it was horrible and I didn’t want it to happen to me or anyone else that I knew.

I felt my voice grow cold as I tried to hold it steady: “Try it. And I swear to God that they will be cleaning both of our blood off of your walls for the rest of the semester.”

Something unexpected happened. Chad backed off. He began laughing and extolling my alleged virtues of strength saying that “most girls would have begged.” Obviously I didn’t exude enough strength for him to let me leave his dorm before he had to go to crew practice. Do you know how to rest without hitting REM? Well, I still do.

I remember laying in his bed waiting, counting the minutes that ticked on his cheap digital alarm clock, knowing that I had to wait to make sure that there was enough distance between me shaking in his dorm room and him on his way to practice. I knew that I had to wait just in case he forgot something and had to turn around. When I could no longer restrain the shaking, I grabbed my things and ran.

I never reported the incident. Until I wrote this post, I have only spoken of the incident in very general terms. In my very grave misunderstanding, I had convinced myself that nothing actually happened, so what would there have been to actually report? We had been dating at the time. I came to his brownstone with the intention of spending the night, and giving away something to him because I felt like I owed it to him. Additionally, because I had been willing to break with my own [severely self-damaging] tenets, I felt like I deserved the punishment that I received. So how could I report it?

I know what you’re thinking: You got wiser, right? You started to love yourself more right?

Guess we’ll have to wait until Part 2 is posted to see if I’ve finally stopped hiding.

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2 Comments

  1. You were fortunate that he stopped. I haven’t read on to see if you’re not so lucky the next time. I pray that you were. It’s not pretty getting through the healing afterward.

    I grew up in a strict church where “emasculated” was how I felt as well. Publicly I conformed, privately – having already been tainted by an adult male – I did not. This made a total train wreck of my life for decades. That man destroyed my ability to enjoy intimacy until Jesus healed me from these heinous acts. Thanks, jerk.

    On the one hand, I didn’t feel “right” being feminine, on the other, God made me female! It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I began to enjoy being a “girl.” Recovery and restoration has been a long, slow, painful process. My prayer is that you can avoid this!

    \o/
    Praise Jesus!

    • Dear Tami,

      I want to thank you for your well wishes; however, I have a feeling that you have not read any of my previous blog posts. I am an atheist and have been for quite some time. At the time of this incident, I was still technically a Christian, though I never felt any sort of spiritual presence in all of the years that I was forced to attend church. That being said, I have to say that I find it upsetting when believers still tell me that I should “Praise Jesus” when I have made it perfectly clear to them that I no longer believe in a Christian god, or any other deity. I didn’t come into my atheism easily, and it makes me feel like a part of me is being ignored in order for believers to better cope with the idea that there is a person out there who has opinions and/or [lack of] beliefs that are wildly different from their own. You seem like a wonderful person, and I trust that you did not make these comments with any type of malcontent, but I would be remiss if I didn’t express my discomfort with you making these comments to me.

      All of this being said, I do sincerely hope that your life plays out well for you. Best of luck in your future endeavors!

      Not Your Expectation.


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