Hello and happy Wednesday. We know what we’re here for, so let’s get started, shall we?
Last week I started sharing my thought about 21 Myths (Even Good) Girls Believe About Sex by Jennifer Strickland, which is a book I got via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, and decided to divide the post in two so that it didn’t become one long-ass rant.
Obviously, as a book reviewer, I can’t just talk about the content of the book, especially when there were aspects of the format that I didn’t like one bit. In the first chapters of the book, the author took quotes and inserted them in this text frames or whatever you call them in the middle of the page. She was literally quoting herself within the same page. What’s with that? Was that really necessary? I don’t think so.
I’d previously talked about how heteronormative this book was, and again I felt the need to take notes on that issue. One example of this book being heteronormative is the fact that it revolves around reproductive sex and the seemingly “natural” desire everyone has to have sex. Here’s a fact: some people love having sex. Maybe even the great majority of people do so. But that doesn’t mean that we all have the desire to have sex, and it doesn’t mean that we want to reproduce, either.
There are many experiences in life associated with sex and pleasure, different from sexual intercourse. Some obvious ones are kissing or touching, but there are other experiences like eating, watching a movie or reading a book that can provide pleasure comparable to the sexual one. I’m not talking about watching porn or reading erotica, although that might be more attractive to some people that having sex with another person. I’m talking about seeing sex as an experience.
Experiencing sex can be a priority to some, as it can be something that “just happens” to others, a natural part of life. It can be something you seek, and it can also be something you avoid or simply don’t think about. Sex as an experience means you have a choice to decide what role it plays in your life, if any at all, and that choice you make is just as respectable as any other.
I’m in my happy place right now, physically and mentally because I’m happy writing this post, but when I was reading this book there were times when I became annoyed, and others even infuriated. The contents of the book got to me, they really did, but so did the poor writing style of the author, up to the point where I thought “man, I’d never want to meet or even go near this woman, thankyouverymuch.” I’m a teacher, and I get upset when I see people trying to spread teachings that are just wrong, and I’m not sorry about that.
I previously talked about how this author sees marriage as the ultimate reward in a woman’s life. Only married woman should have sex, according to what I read in this book, but something the author didn’t manage to explain is how the glory of marriage will prevent an STI. I know the facts, okay? I know that having a stable partner reduces the chances of getting an STI, but it doesn’t prevent them. And even so, people don’t need to be married to be in a committed, stable relationship. People cheat, whether they’re married or not, and people can get a sexually-transmitted infection or disease whether they’re married or not. That is a fact.
Okay, I went from my happy place to an angry place for a while after I read the following quote I wrote down in my blogging notebook: “Kind of like ‘Blacks don’t associate with Mexicans.'” Now, if I’m not mistaken, the author was talking about assumptions people make, right? This is just an assumption, according to her. It is really, an assumption, I agree, and a very stupid one, but it’s also really problematic.
In terms of race and ethnicity, as well as gender, sexual orientations and other social “issues” that some people just don’t seem to understand, I think the best policy is for “some people” to keep quiet. Mrs Strickland, the author of this book is clearly part of “some people,” given that she’s very heterosexual and very white. There’s nothing wrong in being any of those things, and if you think I said that, then the problem is all yours. But I do believe that there is something wrong when you are those things and make assumptions about people who are not.
Nobody has the authority to speak for somebody else if not explicitly asked to. Heterosexual people don’t want the LGBTQ+ community to speak on their behalf, so why is it okay when it goes the other way around? POC need real representation, not white people wrongfully appropriating aspects of their culture and background because it’s on trend. And in that same way, blacks and Mexicans don’t need to be an example for a misleading book on sex by an white American woman.
After that comment, I was left exhausted, really, and I kind of stopped taking notes because I felt like I was repeating myself and becoming angrier by the minute, but that in the end I was getting nowhere, so I decided I’d just read. It was tough, getting past the random, out-of-context Bible references (and this is coming from a person who loves reading the Psalms), but I finally reached a point where I could see a hint of light, something salvageable, something that it’s safe to read.
Dear Mrs. Strickland, I want to give you credit for the whole chunk you did on STDs. You know what chunk I’m talking about, the one that was scientifically accurate, the one where you cut your talk about what G-d wants and went ahead and said “if you’re having sex, in or out of marriage, you should be responsible.”
I want to personally thank you for that one, and for the chapter on LGBTQ+ people, for your honesty and your openness. I think that chapter was the reason why I decided to give it three stars as opposed to two, because it literally was the light at the end of a tunnel that I felt was narrowing down by the second. And while we’re at it, thank you for your definition of consent. If I were you, I’d put those three (which I know are the most controversial) chapters first. If I were you, that’s all I’d put in the book, if I’m being honest.
I wouldn’t recommend this book for the life of me, but if you have any cool resources that can help young people learn about sex, please share them in the comments.
Love, Miss Camila