Like Ripples in a Pond

Our actions influence more than we think. Like ripples in a pond what we do and say around people we may not care for can have a devastating effect on people we love. I’ve always been both oblivious and indifferent to most people’s opinions which means it’s hard for me to understand that while I may not care, others do. This came home in a big way a few weeks ago

I’ve been exchanging letters with an old college friend of mine. He’s the epitome of nerd academically, socially, and culturally. He’s one of the most loyal people I’ve ever known and counting him as a friend is a privelege. Our friendship was always platonic. I asked him once, just to be sure, “You aren’t interested in me, right?” because I’m all too used to having my male friends either become sexual partners or drift away because I’m not sexually interested in them. Over the course of our letters, I asked him how much, exactly, he wanted to know about certain parts of my life. I know he’s very conservative and also he has me compartmentalized into a friend box; he’s not the kind of person who can easily cope with the madonna/whore duality and so he chose not to indulge his curiosity. As part of his rationale he told me a story from school, when he was hanging out with some of the guys. One of those guys was kind of cute and I had a one-time fling with him. No farther than a little french lesson, but I was proud of myself, as usual, because I rock at it and he was blown away. Of course, it didn’t even occur to me that he might tell other people and have a negative opinion about me because of it. I’m used to sex positive people who enjoy getting together and pleasuring each other without attaching labels. Anyway, I came up in conversation and was immediately labeled a slut. Not that I’d deny it, of course, but that’s pretty ungrateful talk for the other half of the slut-party. Stuff like that might surprise me but I’m nearly immune to things like that. To me, it’s water off a duck’s back. This young man’s opinion wasn’t important to me so I don’t really care how he feels about our encounter. However, my good friend, loyal, kind, rich in acuity and affection, was horrified. Apparently he vehemently denied the label on my behalf and was a little torn up over it. I read that and was furious on his behalf. Fuck the attitudes that tell my friends that their affection and trust is misplaced. Screw the guys who are perfectly willing to kiss and tell, and not in a good way. The least you could do is be fucking decent about it. Throw it in my face all you want but leave my friends out of it.

Early last year I began a relationship. We work together and kept it quiet for a while but not long after it became public, several friends from the management team privately warned him that I’m loose and of low morals and the I have a reputation. I had fooled around with one other coworker once and it was mostly common knowledge that I was an exotic dancer at a club on occasion. That was apparently cause enough to warn this nice, upstanding boy to stay away from this skank. Fuck that. You think that you’re protecting your friend from what? A woman who isn’t ashamed of herself? Someone who finds sexuality rewarding to herself and her friends? A girl that chooses sexual partners that other people don’t like? Say it to my face if you’re going to express that opinion and leave my friends out of it.

When I moved in with my partner and his two housemates, one of them objected on the grounds that I “might bring the wrong kind of people around” as if my sexuality breeds junkies and crime lords. We had even met several times and those of you who have met me know I don’t fit the stereotypes that involve drugs and sleazy managers and whatnot. It didn’t take long for him to realize that wasn’t going to happen and now we’re friends. Same thing with my friends at work: the longevity and seriousness of my relationship has given me legitimacy and silenced whatever talk was going around.

I’ve have always been very sexual and proud of my sexual prowess. I remember my first kiss, the first time I went down on a guy, my first (and only) simultaneous climax, my first experiment with bondage, my first client, and my greatest lover. I love it all. I talk about it, I think about it, I share it. I once slept with an incredibly sweet young man simply because he’d never had sex before and I wanted him to know how great it could be and to learn how great he could be also. I am that girl. I am unashamedly a slut and I don’t care who knows.

I didn’t care. I do now. Negative opinions of me reflect on the others in my life. I’ve always been so sure of myself that it didn’t occur to me that others’ might not be. My friends could be vulnerable to anger, sadness, or shame because of my behavior and I won’t even know unless they tell me. I can do something that to me is fun and exciting with no shame and bring shame to people who have no involvement. I hate that. I fucking hate that. The social climate that tells these beautiful people that there is something wrong with them for putting their trust and love in me. The conviction that a woman who has slept with more than some arbitrary number of men, or who isn’t ashamed to admit it, is untrustworthy is despicable and angering.

I have since attempted to limit who knows what. Not really for legal reasons and not for myself but for my friends and family who would be subject to public shame for my actions. Like ripples in a pond I spread across the circle of friends, loving them and doing my best not to make them dirty, as society often sees me.