by Jen Graves
on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM
I had a very innocent Christian teammate when I was in college. In my senior year, she was a junior, and not just a virgin but completely sexually inexperienced. I could have laughed—it was funny in the sense of being absurd—but I equally wanted to cry when she asked me, "Do good-looking people have better sex?"
The premise that sex happens on the surface of humans is bizarre and 20th-century-American and patriarchal. It hurts women most of all, but it hurts everybody, really. Humans are not pictures. Yet if you were an alien visiting this planet and unable to visit actual bedrooms but instead getting your ideas from popular culture, you'd think exactly what my teammate did: that only people prized as "great-looking" have sex at all, and these "great-looking" people all were born with sexual prowess. My teammate was slight and Asian and had no idea how she was ever going to catch up with the greased-up hourglass women on TV and in movies. Everyone who grows up buried under the soft-core avalanche of mainstream American popular culture has some version of this feeling at some point, if it's not running all the time like a parallel consciousness.
On Friday night, I saw the movie Gloria, which Bethany reviewed. I'm seconding, proposing as a motion, and passing unanimously the sentiment she wrote on Slog—"The Sex in the Film Gloria Is Different—and Yes, It Really Matters."
Immediately after the movie, still sitting there, I thought: This is the only big-screen character I have ever loved or been.
Then I thought of my teammate. I hope she figured out how to own her sex. I had to figure it out, and so do millions of people, men and women—despite millions more who never figure out the real meaning of sexual obscenity.
But if Gloria were the first sexual character people ever saw in their lives, their lives, our lives, would be better. This character is fully inside herself. Go see the movie.