I have found my younger self and her name is Tiffany.
A 25-year-old New Yorker who blogs on MySpace, Tiffany is more radically feminist than I ever was — before I was chaste, music eclipsed politics in my world — but her dissipated sex life and tortured mental processes are close to my own experience.
I would like to send Tiffany a copy of The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, but her Web site allows contact only from fellow MySpace users. So, I will post a relevant portion of my book here in the hope that she sees it. But first, here is what she wrote that reminded me of who I used to be. Appropriately, it is at the beginning of a blog entry where she favorably reprints The Nation's critique of Wendy Shalit's Girls Gone Mild:
the subject is always sexCompare with the mind-set and personal experiences I detail in Chapter 1 of The Thrill of the Chaste:
Current mood: moody
this is how my life works:
i have sex, i wonder if i should have waited longer, i wonder how long i have to wait between calls, i get frustrated and upset at myself for being so physically driven and not playing harder to get, i let my mind wander to dark places thinking i will never get married because no one wants to marry the girl that agreed to sleep with them so soon (all the magazines, blogs, and advice columns say that, too, and i know because i have read them). i get all depressed and think it's so hard on me as a girl because i express affection/emotion/attachment this way, but men do it for fun or because it's there. oh, i forgot to add that during all this, i have emailed Dani approximately 5-8 times despite the fact that we live together, written letters to friends, i might have called Randall, I might have called my mom (edited version of course), in short i typically exhaust a lot of emotional resources.
then i go to feministing.com or somebody says something inspiring and i start thinking to myself, hey, this isn't right! I start thinking, like right now, that if he doesn't call...or if he calls and the relationship devolves into a sex thing...that there are more fish in the sea. fish who can appreciate.
"[I]t’s safe to say that many single women in the New York City area where I live believe that part of [the right to 'the pursuit of happiness'] is an active sex life. Magazines like Cosmopolitan, many TV shows from 'Oprah' on down, as well as films, books, and pop songs urge single women to take the sexual pleasure that's due them. While love is celebrated, women are told that a satisfying sexual 'hookup' does not require love — only respect. If 'R-E-S-P-E-C-T' was good enough for Sixties soul diva Aretha Franklin, it's supposed to be good enough for us too.
"The fruits of this accepted single-woman lifestyle resemble those of a drug habit more than a dating paradigm. In a vicious cycle, single women feel lonely because they are not loved, so they have casual sex with men who do not love them.
"That was my life. ...
"... [After I lost my virginity], instead of being supremely self-confident, I only became more insecure. I learned that if I played my cards right, I could get almost any man I wanted into bed — but when it came to landing a boyfriend, the deck was always stacked against me.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't transform a sexual encounter — or a string of encounters — into a real relationship. The most I could hope for, it seemed, was a man who would treat me with 'respect,' but who really wouldn't have any concern for me once we split the tab for breakfast.
"That's not to say I didn't meet any nice guys while I was casually dating. I did, but either they seemed boring—as nice guys so often are when you're used to players — or I KO'd the budding relationship by trying to rush things.
"Don't get me wrong; I wasn't insatiable. I was insecure.
"When you're insecure, you fear losing control. In my case, the main way I thought I could control a relationship was by either introducing a sexual component or allowing my boyfriend to do so. Either way, I would end up alone and unhappy—but I didn't know how else to handle a relationship. I felt trapped in a lifestyle that gave me none of the things that the media and popular wisdom promised it would. ...
" ... I hated the seeming inevitability of it all — how all my attempts at relationships would crash and burn—yet, in some strange way, it seemed safe. By speeding things up sexually, I was saving myself from being rejected—or worse, ignored — if I moved too slowly. And after all, if I was eventually going to be rejected anyway, I thought I should at least get something out of it—if only a night of sex.
"It all sounds terribly cynical, thinking back on it now, and it was. I was lonely and depressed, and I had painted myself into a corner."
The rest of the book tells how I got out of that corner and into a better life, thank God.