Doing the t-shirt activity was very interesting because before going in I was unsure of what to expect. First I thought the t-shirts would smell awful, but in reality they were not that bad. While I was in the lab smelling them I felt that same consciences from the other girls in the room that the shirts didn’t smell that bad. Also I thought the survey was interesting in the way that it asked questions about where we were in our menstrual cycle as well as what if any form of birth control we used. I didn’t see these questions as being important at the time of the survey, however after the activity was over and the data was presented I found it very interesting. I was able to see that where in your cycle you were played somewhat of a role in how you rated the smell of the t-shirts. I didn’t think it would I thought the type of birth control you are on would be more important because the different hormones being released could cause your body to have a different response. After doing this activity I differently find it something that is very interesting that I would like to look more into and gain more knowledge about.
While doing this activity I was very confused, and I believe many other students were as well. In the first part looking at the pictures of furniture and then at the faces of people and grading their attractiveness caused me to have some mixed emotions. I was thrown off by the furniture because I could not figure out what it had to do with how attractive the people were if anything at all. Then I felt bad judging the appearances of people I didn’t know because the pictures of them were not very flattering. None of them were smiling or even looked remotely thrilled. This is probably what led to my low scoring of each of them. When we did the second part of the activity I was even more bothered, since we had to view so many disgusting images. After seeing the images I tried to give people similar score as I did the time before, but I am sure I scored them all lower because I was still stuck envisioning the images of disgust. This is my personal observation on this activity.
The shift from childhood sexuality to adult sexuality happened for me when I was 15 years old. I was dating a guy who was a year older than me. He was my first “real” boyfriend. I thought I loved him…. Well I guess I did love him, but it was unrequited love. His so-called best friend was a girl. I trusted him to be around her because she was actually quite butch. I thought I had absolutely nothing to worry about, because I thought she was a lesbian.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. He cheated on me with her. However, this wasn’t the type of cheating I was used to at that point in my life. For me, cheating meant talking on the phone with another girl, sitting at lunch with another girl, or (this is the big one) kissing another girl. He actually had sex with this girl…. I was absolutely devastated.
After that experience of truly being cheated on, I began to think that maybe if I had been having sex with him, he wouldn’t have done it with her. I started paying attention to the things I would hear on television and read in magazines in regards to being cheated on. These things actually had meaning to me now that I had been through it. I saw shows where women would try to “get back at” their cheating partner by having sex with his friends, destroying his property, and by fighting the other woman. I read in magazines about “how to keep your man satisfied.” I looked to these cultural cues for guidance. I thought they could help cure my pain.
However, I didn’t realize that these television shows and magazines were not intended to appeal to 15 year olds. I thought that in order to ensure that I would never get hurt again I had to do two things: start having sex, and stop having feelings. So that’s exactly what I did. I shifted from the childhood idea of intimacy within a relationship to what I thought was and adult understanding of the concept.
Almost my entire life I had never really thought of my sexuality. My high-strung, Christian parents had definitely NEVER discusses sex or sexuality with me. My private high school gave a small sex-ed talk, but most definitely was on the “abstinence bandwagon”. They did not publicly admit it, but any student could tell that the real theme of our talks was “do not have sex until marriage”. This all seemed great and fine when I dated throughout middle school and the first half of high school. My boyfriends were fun (some were serious) but none were extremely sexually based. We kissed – fondled maybe- but usually nothing more. This, I believe, was mainly due to their extremely strict Christian up-bringing. Their parents literally told us that “if we were alone for more than 5 minutes, only bad things would come” [no pun intended – ha]. But seriously, I was told that we WOULD have sex if we were left alone for more than 5 or 10 minutes. Thus, I was very sexually repressed (even during longterm relationships). When I started dating my boyfriend in the 11th grade… everything changed. I immediately saw sex and sexuality as a viable option. I had never before even considered having sex (to any large degree, at least). Yet, even upon our first kiss, something changed. We talked openly about sex. His parents (both doctors) were vey open about sex. They made sex jokes, talked about birth control and made SURE he was being safe. My boyfriend and I talked about it and decided we were both ready. We waited almost 6 months into our relationship, but we were most definitely ready. I convinced my (usually illogical) mother that I needed to be on the pill. I explained that we were going to do it anyway and would it not be safer if I was on the pill? She saw my logic and allowed it to be prescribed. We both dove into sex and had a great time – seeing as it was both of our first times. We had NO clue what we were doing. Yet, since we were both clueless, it was great. We had no way of knowing whether we were having “good sex” or “bad sex”. Anyways, his parents always preached that “as long as both partners are happy and OK with it, almost anything is alright in the bedroom. What happens there is between you and your partner – no one else. Not culture. Not religion. Not family. Just the two people”.
I really believe that my parents, their religion, my boyfriends religion (or lack there of) and my school all repressed my sexuality at a young age. I was SO sheltered until the 10th or 11th grade. I never dreamt of a cuss word or having sex. Yet, the second I changed boyfriends, I was introduced into a whole new world *cue Alladin music here*. What you are being told about sex completely molds your mindset. It is almost impossible to mold your own views of sex as a young person. I am glad that I finally got the chance to experience my own sexuality, explore and discover new things. With this change I learned about sex, porn, birth control… the whole nine yards. It also still amazes me that there are people in the world who are so out-of-tune with their sexuality (or with sex in general). It is a thing that everyone experiences on some level. It is human nature. Why can we not talk about it openly? Why do people have to feel or be so repressed?
My junior year of high school I went on a band trip. I know what your thinking, I mean cooped up in a hot bus on a 10+ hour drive to the goal of sleeping in a hotel with a bunch of band nerds. The only prize being a trip to the beach as compensation for the hours of horrible jazz competition music having to be played by less than competent musicians. By far not your typical 16 year old girls dream vacation. However, the chance to get out of math class for a week and play tag along with the rest of my dance team was something I couldn’t say no to. So there I was. At Orlando, Florida’s Wet N Wild Waterpark. Days of boring band competition behind me and ready to hit some slides and float my ass in a lazy river for a few good hours. I was giddy.
As a group we were rangled into the park, given locker keys and meet times, then released onto the general public. I quickly slipped off my tank top and shorts and ran out to start the fun. But as much of an eager beaver I was I soon realized my teenage counterparts weren’t on the same page as me. As I stood unashamed in my tiny red and blue bikini, my classmates, most of whom still had teenage frames untainted by the college drinking years, glanced nervously at one another. Pulled and tugged at swim trunks and tankini tops. Some even sporting one pieces and t-shirts.Standing in a group of my peers, I was alone and different. Two things you learn quickly in high school it’s not so easy to be.
So where was my awkwarness? Where was my hand reaching to the edge of my bikini bottoms to check for non existent cellutite or to my stomack to feel that extra layer of fat in a place it shouldn’t be? Where had my timidness gone? My lanky uncordination? It was there before, I know it was….
Then it hit me.
Like that moment you realise you’ve left something at home only when you need it most. Like your umbella in heavy rain or your pencil when you hear a line of poetry you never want to forget. I knew where my adolescent self -reprise had gone, but yet knew of no way to get it back in this time of dier need to fit in.
See, about a year prior I got my first real boyfriend. A family friend. Same age as me and quite attractive. Both good students. Both star athletes. Both complete VIRGINS. So of course we had a problem on our hands.
We sneaked kisses in the movies and holding hands in the back of the car. But soon our hormones caught up with us. The drive to fulfill the urge to touch each other won over the awkwardness of each others glances. Each touch was heavily weighed and always on the edge of something new. Sneaking kisses turned into below the pants explorations when parents were away. Shaking hands unbuttoning shirts and undoing bras replaced the thrill of interlocking fingers on the bus. Little by little the finger tips that lightly shook the boundaries of pubesence became the confident tools used to make the other person shiver. And for each bolder move came a more intense response till I learned how to move easily across another body and have another body do the same for me.
THERE was my high school self loathing! Shoved into a teenage boy’s bedsheets between dirty socks and sports magazines was my childhooh angst. Timid touches and shaking hands had led to eloquent movements and a confident stance. It seemed every bold move into the taboo field of my sexual desires had cracked the surface of my awkward adolesents. I felt confident and strong. And what made that so was knowing, at that point, being exactly how I was, I, little me, could make another person want me. Make their pupils dielate and their breath come quicker. And in that was the metamorphasis into what I would describe only as an overly flirtatious young adulthood.
To this day I hear my friends ask me how I can be so sure of myself. How is it that I have the confidence to go up to a guy I’ve never met and ask him to dance or wear an outfit no one else would dare? I still look by to this one occasion. Think about when it hit me. The moment I knew I had it; whatever it was.
The Baptist church and my parents formed my childhood conception of sexuality. I was taught from a very early age that sex was meant for marriage and that any kind of sexuality outside of marriage was extremely taboo. My Sunday school teachers taught us about sex by comparing girls to a cup. By having sex, you would become a used and dirty cup, and no man would ever want a used dirty cup when he can have a new clean one. My view of sexuality was transformed when I was exposed to other views about sexuality. A friend of mine who was having sex in high school explained to me that not having sex before marriage was an ancient concept much like many of the concepts in the Bible. My view of sexuality was also change when I did a foreign exchange in Germany my senior year of high school. My friends and I were asking our German friends about different German words, and when we asked them what the German word for slut was they told us that there is no such word in German. I came to the realization that sex outside of marriage is normal.
Realizing that my sexuality was prevalent in my daily life started with some of my friends talking about Playboy in 5th grade. We were all sitting at lunch and some friends were talking about their dad’s Playboy magazine they found and the pictures that were inside of it. I had never thought of a woman in the ways that they were describing her, naked. To me at that point, a girlfriend was making my friends who were girls happy when their friends told me that a girl in my class liked me. It was not until I went on the computer and searched “Playboy” that I really was thrown into the world I know now. I looked at the pictures online and I tried to understand why it was so appeasing but my friends and I could not figure it out. My parents got involved when our search history on the family computer read “Playboy Magazine”, and they felt like they needed to give me a talk. I was so confused that I put the whole subject to the back of my mind until I ended up started to have feelings for girls. The moment that my parents had that talk with me was that big moment that I knew there was something more to girls other than what I knew from my mother and my sister. It did not help that I got into rap music at this time and learned new words that were said and researched them. That was the beginning to my new adulthood sexual chapter of my life.
The Sweaty T-Shirt activity was strange at first. I wondered why I had to basically sweat before I went to bed and wear an uncomfortable t-shirt. The jumping jacks did not have a huge strain on my nightly regiment, but did make me uncomfortable right before bed. Measuring my hands was strange. I thought they were testing the stereotype about having big hands and feet to male genital size somehow. When I came to realize that males have a special odor that we excrete that is sometimes pleasant to females, I understood the project a little better. The correlation between male symmetry and attractiveness was what the measurements were for. When the women smelled the shirts, their biology tells them that the males with the more symmetry are more attractive. This of course is dependent on their place in the menstrual cycles. If they were ovulating, their bodies would tell them to try and find a mate to reproduce with. What is interesting is that if a correlation between pleasurable male smells and their respective symmetry is found, then there is a proven biology to symmetry and male smell. All that could mean that the scents of males are formed after the body is formed which could still be in the womb or during puberty. The opportunities to look into the biology of sex are endless.
In the Disgust Study, we took a look at pictures of different objects then looked and rated the attractiveness of people on slides. For me, I did not find any of the people truly attractive. I feel like it was the fact my prescription for Adderall was just kicking in and that makes me a bit grumpy. Another reason is I am naturally a slow wake upper, meaning I am slow to wake up fully and process information in front of me. The pictures of furniture made my mood a little bit easier because I could think about going back to bed. When the images of the diseases came up, I was initially shocked and disgusted. My immediate thoughts were of my father, who is a doctor, and if he has to look and treat these deformation’s in his profession. The pictures immediately changed my mood and made the people look 10 times worse. Each person had no chance of being attractive in my mind. I had already seen them and not found that they are nice to look at and after the second slideshow, I had become very disgusted. The results of other people were most likely similar because it seems normal to look at a person differently after seeing gross things that were on a different person’s body.
My childhood memories and thoughts when it comes to my sexual transition from childhood through puberty are quite vague, but I do remember a few things that did bring a change. One happened to be during early middle school, when I overheard some guys talking about themselves masturbating and ejaculating. I was not use to hearing anything sexual related talked about in pubic for one thing (or in private and personal conversation for that matter), but this also made me think about my own sexual awareness of my body and opened the idea of masturbation. Physiologically, I had not really hit the same stage as some of my school peers around me. It was not until I hit that puberty stage and also accidently found the adult movie channel that my sexual awareness kind of shifted. Basically, that was when I thought about what sex “was” (was being defined only by what that adult movie framed at the time) more so than the naïve thoughts I had before (I just didn’t really think critically about sex). As far as I remember, it was the cultural influence of peers (overhearing, I never talked about it) and discovering certain media influences (T.V and internet porn) that help spurred a transition, I guess.