As we kick off, this month dedicated to sex and the single woman. I’ve thought a lot about this over the past few days and wondered what my expectations of sex was when I was younger. After a call with my Mother who was reminiscing about the days she used to read romance novels for herself and out loud to my Dad, I remembered that I read those very same romance novels as a young girl. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I was allowed to read those books. Perhaps, my mother was just happy to have me not fighting with my sister or driving her crazy with all the things that daughters drive mothers crazy with.
I would read my Mom’s romance novels on car trips, in my room, in the bathroom and wherever I could escape to this “enchanted” world of books with titles like Rogue’s Paradise, Ripe for Seduction or Tender is the Storm. I longed to be that object of a man’s desire, who he fervently pursues despite her early disdain for him, but ultimately wins over. And of course, they live happily ever after.
Aside from the fact that none of the books had a Black hero or heroine, I definitely saw myself as the damsel in distress wearing a heavy petticoat and low cut bodice dress, being rescued and ravaged by a handsome, chiseled rogue steering a black stallion. Naturally, I assumed that would be my experience with love and sex, too. Needless to say, I had a bit of a rude awakening when I discovered there was a lot more to sex and relationships. That it wouldn’t always be an exciting crescendo of music, picturesque scenery, perfect orgasmic timing or end happily ever after.
Though I’m sure romance novels have a bit more of a progressive and feminist message to them these days, I haven’t read one since I was in my late teens. I’ve jokingly blamed them and my Mother for giving me an unrealistic view of sex and relationships. Yet, all the while my Mother and I may have been fantasizing about romance, she lived and instilled in all of her daughters that being independent was expected. That we were not to depend on a man for anything, especially financially. We had to be able to take care of ourselves. She came of age at time where it was normal and expected that she would be dependent on a man for everything, but after she and my biological father divorced she reinvented herself as an independent, working woman who happened to also be a wife and Mother.
One might say I got some conflicting messages from the novels and my Mom, however, they both provided me with a foundation to write my own story. I’m still a hopeless romantic at heart and dream of finding my soulmate (not savior) one day. Yet, I’ve learned over the years that sex and relationships actually require work and communication. And, that often sex and relationships aren’t mutually exclusive and certainly don’t always end up with a happily ever after. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I don’t need a man to swoop in on a horse to save or pleasure me. I can save, romance and take care of myself. I’m my own hero…sans the horse and petticoats.