Monday, 7 November 2011

Some Questions about the "ins and outs" of Glee's 'First Time'

You'd have to be living in another solar system if you follow Glee and yet know nothing about this week's upcoming episode, 'The First Time.' Seriously, even the headmaster of Pigfarts (I hear he's a big Blaine fan) got the memo that it's going to be about two teen couples - one straight, one gay - considering having sex. 

That's as far as I'll go into Glee spoiler territory. I do know a little more, but this post does not need to involve those details and is basically spoiler-free. This is about a much wider issue than Glee plots and characters. I want to talk about whether there are double standards regarding straight and gay sex. I want to talk about defining virginity in straight or same-sex couples, and I want to talk about whether Glee will address, acknowledge, define or clarify any of these differences.

This will mostly be posed a series of questions. I don't have a solid opinion on this - I don't have something I consider to be The Answer that I am hoping Glee conforms to. I don't know what I believe. I am simply curious as to how Glee will tackle the subject at hand, or if they will at all - so this just me, asking the questions that have been running through my mind. None of them are loaded, and if anything comes across offensively, it is due to my unaware ignorance, not active disregard. Please feel free to correct me politely.

Losing one's virginity - everyone knows what that means for a straight couple. Whether or not you hold to that definition yourself, the stereotyped dictionary definition of 'having sex' is a man and woman having PIV intercourse, and losing virginity is doing this act for the first time. 

Is that definition fair? I personally think that is a fine definition as far as straight couples go, but how do you apply this to same-gender sexual relations in the name of equality?

Should there be the same standards for everyone, the generalized 'fourth base'/'furthest point' of "normal" sexual acts, using only the body and no sexual aids, between a couple (please imagine normal said sarcastically and with fingerquotes) - male/male penetrative anal sex, male/female penetrative vaginal sex, female/female oral sex? 

Is it about first time touching below the belt, first time bringing each other to orgasm, or sticking something in someone else? If it's both parties orgasming during the same sexual session, as I have seen it defined in some places, then I am a hardcore virgin and I've been sexually active for ten years.

My personal situation is fairly simple - I am a cis-gendered bisexual woman, I identified as bisexual before puberty and before I had even kissed either a boy or girl, and I lost my virginity to a guy in standard m/f sex. My first kiss was with a boy, but prior to this, my first sexual encounter was with a girl, but I do not count it as "having sex" as the situation was very one-sided. So I can define my own virginity pretty easily.

Other bisexual women don't have such a simple definition. I asked my friend C about her experiences. I know she has had a long-term gay relationship. I don't know her specific experiences with men.

Me: a) You consider yourself bisexual, right? b) have you ever had sex with a guy? c) do you consider yourself a virgin?

C: a) Yes, b) Yes, c) No, but, prior to the guy, still no.

So, regardless of being bisexual and open to straight sex, she considers her gay sex experiences to have accounted for her loss of virginity, even though, by the generalised standard, she had not crossed the line of doing "all" that is possible to someone for whom straight penetrative sex is an option she may experience.

And gay men? What do they count as "having sex" rather than sexual acts, what is counted as having crossed that virginity line? 

I'm not a man, so I feel like I can't make any calls about this. But all I hear in fandom is women making judgement calls on this matter. There is a lot of beautiful flowery Klaine fanfiction about their loss of virginity and the general consensus seems to be that the boys get to decide, define and choose what "having sex" means. Handjobs - first sexual contact, mutual orgasm. Blowjobs. Penetration. It all counts as loss of virginity from someone's perspective in a different fantasy Klaine world somewhere. However, at least 90% of this - and 90% is generous, it's more like 98% - is written by cis-gendered women and girls, a decent chunk of whom are not sexually experienced in any way. Women writing for other women about gay male sex - something they have very little genuine perspective on. I'm not going to hate on it, because I've read plenty of fanfiction over the years, but I'm just not that prepared to formulate real-world opinions on this topic based off the judgement calls of female fanfic writers, sorry. 

And it gets more complicated. If someone stands up and says "okay, final answer. losing virginity is body penetration, vaginal for straight couples, anal for male couples" does that mean, to them, lesbians are virgins forever? Is this "choosing how to define it" something that gay boys and girls actually do, or do they have their own generalised set of standards and this "choosing what counts" concept is basically a fantasy?

Should straight couples be given the right to define their own virginity the way that it's implied that gay couples do? Say that some teen male couple defines oral sex as "having sex" and that by having done that, they are no longer virgins. What about a straight guy who has also received a blowjob? Virgin? Not virgin? Why should the same physical act for one guy count as loss of virginity, yet not for another guy? What about straight couples having penetrative anal sex? Yeah, that's an act that doesn't usually happen prior in a relationship to "normal" sex (again, fingerquotes, normal) but it DOES happen, and what does that "count" as? What about when it comes down to tallying the amount of people you've "had sex" with? Another friend, L, says "I kind of consider myself as having had sex with a couple of people with no actual vagina-penis interaction." - whereas I may object if I heard through the grapevine that some guy was saying he and I "had sex" when I did not consider that the truth of the matter.

Is the main question to be asking:

How come straight couples get to have a clear definition of "loss of virginity", but same-sex couples have to pick and choose a definition, 


How come same sex-couples get to pick a definition of "loss of virginity", but straight couples have to use a pre-defined one?

I think my real question is - who's got the short end of the stick? Because I genuinely do not know. It could really go both ways.

I'm really trying not making any judgement calls myself here, about what I believe or what 'should' be the case, either in Glee or in the real world, but what I do feel is that having one set of rules for straight couples and another set of rules for same sex isn't all that fair. I just don't know which group is being, ahem, shafted.

(A couple of asides about Glee specifically: 1) are we meant to believe that Kurt is just A-OK with jumping straight into sex? The last we saw of him in regards to sex, he was throwing Blaine out of his room for bringing up the subject and basically saying he had no sex drive, did not fantasize, did not masturbate, etc. Are we meant to buy that he has worked through all this off-screen and that they've been doing "stuff" other than kissing over the last year? If that's the case, I hope that is clearly addressed because what happened in the episode 'Sexy' was clearly a deep-seated issue for him;

and 2) if they do define or imply "having sex" to mean penetrative sex and they make Blaine top, then I am side-eyeing the writers' abilities to know their own characters. Despite the fact that in a relationship with someone like Karofsky, or Finn, or Puck, or Brian Kinney, Kurt would automatically be stereotyped as a bottom (which also isn't particularly fair or necessarily true, but it's a fact that he'd be stereotyped as such), that's clearly not the dynamic between him and Blaine right now, and while, yes, things may change and grow as their sexual relationship develops, and yes, these things can be indefinable, Blaine right now is realistically the picture of a complete bottom and the people in fandom who are clinging to the idea that he's this suave, in-control, smooth top are the ones also clinging to the white-knight image of him presented in 'Never Been Kissed' - which we know was a complete act. In fact, it has been discussed at length that the reason Blaine took so long to fall for Kurt was due to him seeing Kurt as being another version of the role he saw himself playing in a relationship, the young, more fey, twinkier, and more submissive party. Look at him going after Jeremiah. And once he did fall for Kurt - once Kurt had regained his confidence and dominant personality - we have seen nothing but Blaine submitting to Kurt over and over. And yes, I know - not that emotional submission has to = sexual submission, and not that sexual submission has to do with who sticks what where. But come on. Let's be real. Blaine is submissive, especially up against Kurt, and the easiest way for a TV show to simplify and define that to an audience is to show him as a bottom. If they make it otherwise, I'm going to side-eye them very hard, both for enforcing the stereotype of guys who look and talk and act like Kurt despite their efforts to usually avoid this -  football, working with cars, not wanting to play a drag role, "I'm not a box, there are more than four sides to me."  - and for ignoring what they've developed of Blaine's character as well. I think the message it will send to the general public - the ones who don't analyse the hell out of everything - will not be one that does the characters justice, because it it is left unclarified, I think that people will assume Kurt to be "the girl." (biggest sarcastic fingerquotes possible). Anyway. This is not actually the point of this post, at all, but I just had to say that. Even though I'm a cis-gendered woman having an opinion on gay male sexual dynamics, which we've established is not really within my rights. Please disassociate this part with the main point here, but I am leaving this in because I was going to say this somewhere regardless, and having it here at least says 'yes, I'm aware of my discrepancy' as opposed to posting opposite viewpoints in two separate places.)

Does the world have a responsibility to define virginity in general, in order to calculate milestones and have everyone on the same page simply as far as what words and terms mean? Another friend, P, said 'If the dictionary, world-wide accepted definition of losing virginity was "when a person considers themselves to have lost sexual innocence" do you know how many teen pregnancies that would help avoid in my hometown, due to the stigma of "being a virgin"?'

And does Glee have a responsibilty to define Kurt and Blaine's loss of virginity, when it is unquestionable as to what it means in regards to Finn and Rachel's? Is it more politically correct to define it, or for them not to define it? 

1 comment:

  1. This post was a lot longer and a lot more personal. It was cathartic to write, but I don't think it's necessary to explain all of that in order to get my point across. Just have to say that I love this post because it makes me realize that I'm not the only one who thinks about this or is bothered by the fact that there are double standards.

    I don't think you'll find an answer to your question because I don't think everyone or even a majority of people will come to a consensus about it. For most people, sex is a very personal experience, and I think having a definition that can apply to everyone is absurd. It just isn't going to happen. I like the sound of "when a person considers themselves to have lost sexual innocence" as a definition, but then you know you'll have some idiot who has had m/f “normal” sex with 20 different people and will still consider themselves a virgin. There needs to be boundaries.

    But I think sex is too emotional for there to be hard and fast rules for it. If a woman (a virgin) gets raped – will she consider herself no longer a virgin? It absolutely depends on the person. Some women would say it “doesn’t count” even though it was a m/f encounter. Why doesn’t it count? Because it was a crime, because there was no consent, because (on the woman’s part) there was no emotion other than fear and disgust.

    Virginity and sex are both personal matters and I believe the defining of them should be left to the individual. Saying that you and your same-sex partner are still virgins, because your act was not "sex" as is defined by a straight person is the exact same thing as telling that same gay couple that they can't get married because the love between them is just not as real as it is between a straight couple. Setting those types of boundaries are just never going to work. Is the definition of a loss of sexual innocence flawed? Yes, absolutely. But I think it’s a general enough term that it can apply to various situations without taking away those personal opinions people will have about their own lives and their own experiences. In the end, your own opinion about whether or not you consider yourself a virgin is what counts.