I found Caitlin Flanagan’s January 22, 2012 essay, “What’s A Girl To Do”, both intriguing and moving, and although my initial reaction was enthusiastic because what she wrote aligned so well with my personal values , I found I was challenging myself on her very thesis.
Basically, she made the case that the book Forever was horrifying to the adults in her life when she was a young teen because it espoused the viability of sex without marriage. She felt those values were antiquated and that the book was actually a potentially positive force since it still espoused sex within the context of a loving (albeit young and thus very possibly, superficial) context.
But now she is bemoaning the sexual activity of the current younger women because they have gone one step further and divorced sex from emotional commitment. What she is observing among her daughter’s peers is that they often take part in sex as merely a physically pleasurable activity, or perhaps one with short-term emotional pay-outs.
Caitlin, maybe it’s time we “older women” (the mothers) challenged ourselves and examined our need for a “meaningful relationship” attached to sex as another version of the “needed marriage. “Maybe the current view of sex is okay, Caitlin. Maybe it’s just another step in the road to demystifying and taking away some of the over-dramatizing of sex.
I can already feel the angry eyes upon me. “What????? You are suggesting that sex be so casual that it is OKAY outside the context of a meaningful relationship”? Well…Maybe. Maybe that’s not what I want. Maybe in the long term most of us are looking for a meaningful relationship and love that includes passion and sex, but maybe, just maybe, sex can also exist in a context outside of a meaningful relationship for its own sake — and maybe that’s not such a terrible thing.