Standing alone inside the private single bathroom of my high school’s dance studio, I attempted once again to give up diapers and graduate to tampons.
Girls in my dance company stood outside the bathroom door, cheering and shouting, attempting to help me overcome the man, the myth, the wall.
“You have to angle it! Are you doing it right?”
“It won’t go in; there’s a wall.”
“Just let me in, I’ll do it for you. You’re not doing it right. Angle it towards your lower back. Let me do it.”
“I’ve put it in at every angle. I’m pretty sure I had it between my butt cheeks at one point. It won’t go in. There’s a wall. The wall!”
Like Madonna’s cone bra or Britney’s shaved head, the wall became my icon. It followed me through high school, college, and into my twenties. Even my mother, who is technically responsible for the wall, would join in on the teasing whenever it was brought up. Nobody believed in the wall; referred to as either The Berlin Wall or The Great Wall of China, it was a tale I told as fantastical as dragons or unicorns.
It was so unbelievable that I had a friend tell me he wanted to see for himself if the wall really existed. So I let him, for scientific research, but mostly for proof. Legs unshaven, ages since a bikini wax, and retainers in for the night, I let the experiment begin.
With enough evidence to reach a conclusion, he curled his hand into a fist and knocked on the wall behind my bed. Vindicated. I knew I wasn’t crazy. Just broken. He promised I could use him as a reference in the future when people dared question the very real and very obtrusive wall. (As a second opinion, I saw a gyno who confirmed “the wall’s” existence. It had some legitimate name I can’t remember and over quite a few appointments, she knocked it down. NBD.)
Without getting too deep, this “sexual” interaction got me thinking about the idea of sex without sex. The idea of sexual activity (my friend’s fingers-the wall) without any sexual implications: no pleasure, no feelings, no passion.
What constitutes “sex” is different for everyone. Whatever sex or hooking up means to you, is just an activity, let’s say contact sport, like any other: football, wrestling, or a really intense game of tag. It’s the pressure and value we assign to these sexual activities that make it sex.
Who’s to say what sex really is anyway? Someone once told me that sex is “anything that causes orgasm.” Someone else claimed “any penetration” is sex. Penetration of what? By what? At the doctor’s office, fingers and metal probes technically penetrate the females seated comfortably with their legs in the stirrups. And women pay for those appointments. Does that make it prostitution? It doesn’t feel good because we are uncomfortable, because we are supposed to be uncomfortable. Without the passion (and a good buzz going), these sexual acts are just that. Acts. Just a motion that can, under other circumstances, elicit pleasure.
So what if we took the value out of sex? Imagine you could consummate a marriage by high fiving, spooning, kissing. I suppose these do not qualify because they are too common, too accessible. But so is sex. It is everywhere, it sells everything. We, as consumers and human beings, are saturated with sex. In the grand scheme of things, it has already lost a lot of its meaning and value. And while some save themselves for marriage or love, some use sex as sport, some relaxation. Some see it as a gift, some a prize, some a mistake. Sex can be used as bribery or obtained out of guilt; sometimes it’s just animal instinct.
Personal opinions and certain laws aside, there are no right or wrong circumstances in which to engage in sexual activity. It’s up to the individual (or couple or threesome) to determine what constitutes “sex” for them and what it will mean. For me, you can judge all you want that I’m a 24-year-old virgin; I don’t expect the clouds to part and rainbows to appear and I certainly don’t need, don’t want a rose petal trail leading to a heart shaped bed but at this point, I may as well at least wait for someone who doesn’t think romance is having a quickie in a bathroom stall.