Losing My Religion

Literally.

This isn’t a topic I like to talk about, because I think that many people have a very firm mindset about where they stand with it so I don’t see much point in conversation. Especially since I’m not firm in my stance myself.

I was raised in a Roman Catholic household. I know all the prayers, though due to lack of practice over the years I’ve forgotten parts of them. When I was in between middle school and high school, I felt in my heart that there was no more connection to God in me. I took on atheism as my ideology, and revoked anything that had anything to do with religion.

That was the approximate time in my life where I was starting to learn what the world was. When I started paying attention to the news, when I was exposed to criticisms of religion and other religions. I was first and foremost revolted by the way the Catholic church views homosexuality, which was what made me want to rebuke Catholicism to begin with. How they view abortion, how they view gender roles, all these strange Bible passages and conflicting interpretations. I didn’t like it. After that I believed in a higher power, but I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it cared at all what happened to me or anyone.

That’s how I landed at atheism. I just kept reading about horrible things in this world, and I was so sure that if there was a God out there (s)he wouldn’t let any of it happen to begin with. So I lost my religion. I lost all faith. I believed in community and love and goodwill and togetherness and all that, but just not under any deity. Because I was a good person, and you don’t need to be religious to be a good person.

Despite all that, recently I’ve been feeling uncomfortable. Even though I call myself an atheist, I definitely believe in something. Though I don’t admit it, sometimes in private I pray. I whisper all the lines I remember, hoping whoever is out there is listening.

I think this life is too big to be happenstance. I don’t know if I’ll ever call myself a Catholic again, but I don’t think I can call myself an atheist. For now I don’t want to focus on a label, I want to focus on what I believe. I want to sort my feelings out and find that connection I thought I once had with something higher than myself.

“No matter how far you have walked from God, he is still waiting ahead.”
-Creature, Penny Dreadful

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Let’s Talk About Sex (aww right)

If anyone’s seen the movie Pitch Perfect, I thought of the title of this post the way Bumper sang it during the riff-off… Okay then.

One problem has been bothering me for a very long time:

“If you have sex, your penis will fall off and land in another dimension populated entirely by dogs, who will eat it.”

“Don’t have sex, you will get pregnant and die.”

Well those weren’t very good examples from Family Guy or Mean Girls, but you get the idea. Schools (and ((religious)) society in general) are purposely trying to scare kids (adolescents), or feed them lies, to prevent them from having [premarital] sex.

Let me say this: It won’t work. With sex being so over-glorified in every form of media, and being open with your sex life is almost encouraged in this day and age, there’s no way to stop kids that want to.

Here’s what happened at my friend’s school:

During their Family Life Education unit, their teacher asked for a volunteer. A girl was called up, and the teacher put a ring on the traditional wedding finger. The teacher said, “Many of you want to get married right? If you have premarital sex, here’s what will happen.” And she took the ring off, heavily implying that premarital sex will prevent future marriage, also implying that you will become “tainted” and “impure”. The lady didn’t talk about contraception either. Apparently she just discussed how babies happen, and alternatives to sex. Contraceptives were mentioned, but not in detail.

Sigh. Luckily for me, my school isn’t that bad. We discussed the different kinds of contraceptives and they emphasized that if we’re going to have sex, to use protection. Of course they also emphasized that abstinence is the only fool proof method to prevent pregnancy and STI contraction, but you know, that’s just a fact.

Other school’s, like my friend’s, aren’t as fortunate. Schools and society are using scare tactics to try and prevent premarital sex, largely for religious reasons. (Though there are un-religious reasons, such as unwanted pregnancies.)

I’ll say this: Sex is great. It feels awesome. And contrary to popular belief, premarital sex won’t damn you to a life of misery and woe.

Reasons To Have Premarital Sex:

  • It feels great
  • You and your partner trust each other
  • You are emotionally prepared
  • You just want to (It’s natural, and there shall be no slut-shaming in a one-night stand my darlings)

Reasons NOT To Have Premarital Sex:

  • You’re getting peer-pressured
  • You think everyone else is doing it
  • You think you’ll lose your significant other if you don’t

Now let me tell you some things about sex that the schools probably don’t mention *(things might get graphic):

FALSE – The Morning-After pill makes you feel like shit.
Yes, I had to take one. Accidents happen. I was beyond scared because I learned in school that it forced heavy bleeding for at least a week and it made all your worse symptoms hit you times 10. Well, none of that happened. I felt completely normal. I even called Planned Parenthood to make sure everything was okay, and they said that most women who take the pill experience little to no side-effects. I had spotting for 2 days, but besides that, I felt perfectly normal.

TRUE – Use a condom during sex. ALL types of sex.
Something that’s not really spoken about is anal sex. Up the butt. For some reason many teenagers think this is the way to stay abstinent/virginal? Dumbasses. Many believe that you don’t need a condom during anal sex, but you do. If you don’t really know your partner, there could still be STI contraction. But also, semen wasn’t designed to go up the butt, you know? The mixing of butt stuff and semen could lead to infection. Also, anything up the butt (not just a penis, I don’t know what you guys are into) could lead to tearing of the tissues in the anus, so lots of lube is always required for butt stuff. NOTE: Do NOT use anything other than lubricant as lubricant. Things like Vaseline or lotions make condoms less effective and were not designed for sexual purposes. STIs can also be contracted from oral sex. If you don’t really trust trust your partner, use some form of protection. If it’s a girl, consider using your fingers instead. If it’s a guy, use a condom instead. Flavored condoms were made specifically for that purpose. Be safe my friends.

TRUE – The first time hurts.
Maybe not for guys, but for ladies. To be honest, the first time kind of feels like having sand paper rubbed all up in your lady bit. After a while, the natural function of your lady bit will make you wet and ease things up, but yes, the first few times will come with a pinch. (It gets better.)

FALSE – One-night Stands are shameful and put you on slut status.
WHAT DID I SAY EARLIER? THERE WILL BE NO SLUT SHAMING. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sleeping with someone one time and not having anything to do with them later. Sure it doesn’t sound pretty, but there’s nothing wrong with it, okay? Sex is a natural thing. Sometimes you just need it. And if you don’t want to wait a couple months or a couple years to find Mr/Ms Right, then find some decent looking stranger that wants to bang you and have a completely protected night of fun. I see nothing shameful in it, as long as it takes place between two (or more, I don’t know how you get down) consenting parties.

TRUE – Abstinence is the only fool-proof method.
No one wants to contract an STI or have an unwanted pregnancy. There is no 100% method that will prevent either. Yes, condoms are only 98% effective. When you think that it means that they’re 2% ineffective, you could feel panic. But know that many, many, many people use condoms all the time and have been using them for years, and it hasn’t been a problem for most. If you’re really scared of pregnancy, consider combining condoms with a spermicide, or the birth-control pill. (NOTE: Avoid condoms with built-in spermicide because they’re less effective.) If absolutely worse comes to worse, there is the morning-after pill, but it’s very expensive (in the ballpark of $50-60) and should ONLY be used as an absolute last resort. It is by no means okay to use as a regular form of contraception because it f*cks up your hormones for like a month. There are also female condoms, etc etc. There are also tube-tying and tube-cutting, and vasectomies, but the primary target of this post is teenagers so I don’t think anyone will be needing those soon. Remember: Wrap it before you tap it.

FALSE – Crazy sex positions are demeaning and glorified by the porn industries.
There are a lot of moves such as facials, doggy-style, anal, etc that many claim to be for purely male pleasure and are meant to be unemotional — and degrading to the receiving partner. Newsflash: Some women take great pleasure from anal sex. And doggy-style (it just feels different). And all those other moves. Like I said earlier, as long as you’re COMFORTABLE and you CONSENT to the actions, then it’s okay. If anything makes you feel uncomfortable, tell your partner right away. I read once in an article (by this great sex therapist) that if you have to actively think “Is this degrading? Should I be offended by this move/act?” then it probably isn’t. Don’t think so hard about these kinds of things that it takes away from the fun of the moment. As long as you’re comfortable, don’t be afraid to give something a try worrying about being politically correct. Because everyone wants to be politically correct in bed, obviously.

FALSE – Premarital sex is wrong and sinful.
I come from a very Catholic family. I get this a lot. But you know what? Jesus isn’t always right. Sex feels awesome. There’s no shame in wanting to feel physical pleasure with someone you like. It will not damn you or prevent any sort of future happiness or get you pregnant and ruin your life (if you take all the necessary precautions). It’s a natural act that I believe everyone should experience.

TRUE – Sex is good for you.
All the studies prove it. Sex releases chemicals in the brain that de-stress and ease the body. Men with heart problems show signs of perfectly normal health the moments directly after sex. If you do it vigorously enough (for lack of a better adjective, oh baby), it’s a great form of exercise. Sex is fun, it’s pretty great, I don’t know what else to say.

It’s kind of late and I can’t really think of anything else, but I hope I can help someone somewhere. I hope I can answer any questions about sex that weren’t here (which is a lot).

When I have a child I should just show them this post to prevent an awkward sex talk. Or show them this… I should be an FLE teacher. I may not know exactly what a blastocyst is (the only ‘medical’ term I remember from FLE because it sounds like a Pokemon), and I may laugh at the word “testicles”, but I’d speak openly and honestly to my students.

The bottom line: As long as you’re comfortable, and as long as you’re not being pressured, don’t worry about your family’s or society’s beliefs. Do what you feel is right when you feel it’s right. As long as you believe you’re ready and you genuinely want to, then go for it.

I said a bang, bang, bangity bang I said a bang bang bangity bang.

The Difference Between Vanilla and Honey

**TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual Abuse**

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but I kept getting side-tracked. Now that I have a paper due tomorrow, I figured now’s as good a time as any.

Vanilla is sweet. It’s gentle but obvious, and it’s pleasing without being overbearing on the tongue. It’s plain but can be used to make all sorts of great things (chocolate and red velvet both have healthy doses of vanilla). It can be used in many different ways and compliments whatever it goes with: it accentuates other flavors without overpowering them.

Honey is very strong. It’s thick and hard to swallow. It’s got this strange sweet-yet-somehow-also-sour taste. It’s sticky and gets caught in your throat, and it’s a bitch to get out of your teeth sometimes. It takes a long time to wipe away, and it often gets stuck on whatever you try to clean it with.

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Ryder, opening his heart to the unfavorable environment.

In the Glee episode from a week or two ago, things got intense. In the heat of the moment, Ryder revealed something that he never spoke of up to that point: He was molested by his babysitter when he was 11. He claimed that she had come into his shower one night and started playing with him. You could see on his face that he was embarrassed and devastated. The teacher offered to report her, then Ryder said that she had already been arrested for doing it to someone else. All the girls were horrified, but the men?

“I’d have killed for that!”
“Why is that a crime?”
“That’s hot!”

Ryder was obviously upset, but the insensitive comments from his friends made him close whatever box he decided to open, and probably hide it somewhere deep inside having his fears come true. The box opened, and monsters came out.

Consensual intimacy is fabulous. If it’s wanted, and it’s with someone you care about, then it’s great. You’re in control of the moment, and you’re free to do what you will. You’re in control of your body: you can speed things up, slow them down, mix things up, or if need be, stop it. Sweet, sweet, vanilla.

Non-consensual intimacy is not fabulous. It’s rough and painful — yes, painful. It’s like having a monster crawl all over your body. It’s like having little critters crawl all over you, and it fills you with shivers and chills. Once it’s over, it’s not. The memories don’t fade — they never fade — and sometimes it’s hard to be intimate with someone else. It’s like your body is haunted and you don’t want anyone near it. Slow, painful, lingering honey.

After hearing his friend’s comments, Ryder understood the position he was in. He put on a smile, stood up, high-fived his friends, and left. That was the end of that. Never mentioned again, not even a PSA at the end with an emergency hotline number.

I saw lots of commentary after the episode. Some were saying that it was horrible and that the reaction would’ve been completely different if it was one of the girls. Others said that it was a “good” ending because it was realistic — that’s what happens to actual victims: they keep it inside, and even if they speak up it doesn’t mean there’s anything anyone can do.

This upset me.

Story time:

I’ve been molested. Repeatedly. By a family member. It was mostly when I was young (8-12 years old). I didn’t understand what was happening back then, but I knew it was wrong. But I was also too scared to speak up. There was always this fear of getting in trouble, or no one caring, or them caring too much and I ruin the family. The fear never leaves.

When I was 13, I was asked on a date for the first time. After the boy — very nice, a good friend — asked the question, I hated him. I hated him so much. I wanted him nowhere near me, because I didn’t trust him. I didn’t want him thinking about me or looking at me, or touching me. This pattern continued for the next handful of gentleman callers.

When I get intimate, there are always times when his face turns into his face. When his hands turn into his hands. There are moments when I can’t do it.

Though it was “realistic,” it wasn’t the ending I wanted. It’s fiction, for Christ’s sake. They’re supposed to make a happy ending: that’s what we watch for. The ending only reinforced this feeling of helplessness that I’ve been carrying in my heart for so many years, and that I will continue to carry for the rest of my life.

For the U.S.:

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-784-2433 or 1-800-273-8255

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233

Like Ryder, I swore to myself that I would never speak of this. I lasted 6 years without saying a word. I’ve called all of these hotline before. It doesn’t sound like much, but sometimes all you need to do is talk. It’s a lot easier to talk about this with someone you don’t know.

You are not alone.

The Not-So-Great Gatsby

**SPOILER ALERT**

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Leonardo DiCaprio was actually perfect (as usual).

Of all the books I read my junior year of high school, The Great Gatsby was probably my favorite. It wasn’t particularly because of the plot, or the characters per se, but rather the ending.

“The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself.”

For the bulk of the novel, I thought Gatsby was like another Ahab. A monomaniac obsessed and driven to achieve one thing in life. But near the end I found out I was wrong.

Many believe Jay Gatsby is just another man crazy for a woman. It’s true that all his insane and extravagant actions were to attract Daisy, but a stalker isn’t all there is to him. He’s strong, and a fighter. He ran away from his poor childhood and fought to be a gentleman. He wanted something better for himself and he took action right from the start, long before he met Daisy Fay. It’s true that he became fixated on her, but she wasn’t his entire life. It’s not like he made his decision to become a sexy beast right after he met her; that was already in play. She wasn’t the one thing that pushed him to awesomeness, she was just a contributing factor.

Gatsby is a symbol for hope and optimism. He was a dreamer and a worker, which is why he was able to become successful (despite his questionable methods). At the end of the novel, before my baby was violently brought to his untimely end, he was drifting in his pool on a mattress. The love of his life had just abandoned him, but there he was, cool as a cucumber, floating in an archetype for life and rebirth.

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“I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn’t believe it would come, and perhaps he no longer cared.”

The “it” being referred to is a phone call from Daisy, though he knew she had already left. The beauty of the ending is that he didn’t die a creepy stalker: he died a regular guy that had gotten his heartbroken, and was in the process of moving on. He didn’t pull a New Moon Bella Swan and lock himself up, he was out there floating in the pool not giving a damn. He wasn’t wallowing in depression, he was chilling. He was killed in that pool, free from Daisy’s spell, swimming in proof of his own hard work and success.

The reason I was so angry about the movie ending is because they took the beauty of this moment away. Instead of calmly heading towards the pool, he orders the butler to take the phone downstairs, and keep all lines open in case Daisy calls. Instead of drifting very dream-like in his symbolic rebirth, he dived in, and mid-dive the phone rang. He quickly swam to the edge, and half-way out was shot through the chest. The last thing he saw before he died was the green light, and the last thing he said was Daisy’s name.

See how these two endings provide completely different impressions? One portrays him as a man that can move on: someone strong enough to live and let die. The other portrays him as a more active but just as crazy and obsessive Bella Swan. My frustration stems from the generation of people that will watch this instead of read the book, and will never be able to understand that Gatsby is so much more than they think.

The rest of the movie was fantastic though. I was worried they would focus too much on the romance, but it was actually extremely well done and spaced out, and it kept the focus as a clash between the classes.

Well I won’t say anymore about it, but I give the movie 4.5 / 5.

“It was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end.”

I wonder what Nick would think if he could read this. Hmm.

Feels Like I’m Living A Teenage Dream.

My two year anniversary was yesterday! My boyfriend and I started dating in sophomore year and now we’re seniors. Yesterday was lovely, and it made me want to write.

A common argument is this: Teenagers can’t experience “real” love, just overwhelming and misinterpreted heated passion.

I happen to disagree.

First let’s discuss what “love” means. (My definition anyways.)

Love is a feeling you get when you think the world of someone. Their happiness is your happiness and you only want the best for them. You put your full trust and loyalty on them. You want to share things with them and be a part of their world like they’re a part of yours. It’s when you think someone’s amazing and you can’t imagine your life without them.

Here's the "professional" definition.

Here’s the “professional” definition for reference. Which also helps my argument.

The most important point I have to make for this argument: Love is an emotion. Just like happiness, sadness, fear, anger, etc. etc. Yes it can come and go, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real and it doesn’t mean it never happened.

Are there some people just overcome with passion and hormones? Absolutely. Does that only happen to teenagers? Nope. Just look at the divorce rate for America (cough 50% cough). Most of those people likely felt love at some point (obviously), and it just melted away. But that doesn’t mean the relationship was insincere.

My aunt and uncle met when they were 12. Started dating at 14. They married when they were 26. And they’ve been living happily ever after ever since.

My parents met when they were 5. Started dating at 25. Married at 30.

Like people, relationships come in different shapes, sizes, colors, you name it.

So right now, I dare to say that I love this boy. I think the world of him and he feels the same for me. He’s the one I can sit with in complete silence and not feel awkward, and the one I stay up with late at night on the phone talking about nothing at all. Sounds like love to me. Feels like love to me. College is coming, and I don’t know what that means for us. It could mean catastrophe, it could not. But I know that in this moment we love each other, and that’s enough for me.