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Truly Confused

July 17, 2008

(Gladstone) – I think there is an issue that I’m hypersensative to.  It is quite possible that I might need therapy for this.  In fact, I may be quite broken.  I’m not even sure I want to be totally vulnerable with my dear readers over this issue.  I’m not sure I trust where this conversation could go; in fact, I may lose control over this process.

However, the mere fact that I’ve begun this post, is probably a pretty good assurance that I’ll dive into the subject matter.  However, I have to warn you, it is a touchy subject for some, if not all.

When I was growing up, sex and nudity were forbidden topics.  We never learned correct anatomical names, nor were basic bodily functions explained.  Sex was dirty, nudity was dirty, boundaries were unheard of.  When I was about 12 or 13, my dad took us into the garage for “the talk.”  It was a full 22 words long.  “You guys have probably learned everything you need to know in the locker-room, so there’s nothing I can really tell you.”

And with that, he was back in the house and watching TV again.  My brother and I stood there looking at the floor.  He, probably too young to really know what that conversation was about; and me, thinking, “Dad, have you not realized how shy and introverted I am?”  I spent the next several years self-educating via dictionaries, encyclopedias, and Playboy magazines.

So, with this healthy foundation, is it any wonder I have had issues with sex and nudity.  On top of that, I was the shy kid that no one noticed.  If one of those popular, cute, friendly girls smiled at me (or even gave me the time of day), I was certain that she liked me.

Now it’s not because I’ve continued to be sheltered, or have lived a prudish life.  Quite the contrary, I overcompensated for that sheltered childhood and did a little more self-educating.  But amazingly, I have an even more damaged view on the whole sex and nudity issue.  So, I’d like to delve into this subject, based on an event that happened to me yesterday.  Can I trust you?

As I was walking back to my motel, I received a phone call from the school board chair.  He wanted to fill me in on the meeting I missed.  To fill the time, and thanks to the marvels of wireless phones, I thought I’d walk down and see the old swimming hole: High Rocks.

When I arrived, there were two or three groups of mid-teen kids.  They were swimming, drinking, playing – you know, the High Rocks thing.  It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was right there; but it doesn’t seem that I was ever that young.

Just then, I look up, and across the river there was a group of 10 boys and two girls.  The boys had on shorts, but the girls were naked.  Twenty-five or so years ago, I would have been right there.  But I could swear that girls didn’t get naked that easily – no matter how much beer we provided.

Several thoughts went instantly through my head, and none of them involved arousal.  Now, I’m an old fart dad and I have a little girl who will be a teen in less than 10 years.  And in my experience, boys and girls only get naked for three reasons: to bathe, to change clothes, or to have sex.

My world was rocked.  I stumbled up the hill trying to process these thoughts.  I reached a point a long time ago where I no longer find women under the age of oh, about 30, attractive.  So to me, these were little girls – plus, they were too far away to see anything.

Anyway, I don’t have anything more than questions at this point.  I have no deep thoughts.  I have no point to make.  I don’t even know where to go with this.

  • Why would little 15 year old girls get naked with a bunch of clothed guys?

I used to be intrigued by any girl who would smile at me.  When a woman takes her clothes off in my presence, it generally signals some availability.

  • Is this the way women look at it?

Now of course, I’ve been naked hot-tubbing in groups, and all those women weren’t offering to have sex with me, but from a man’s point of view, it is certainly in our heads.

  • Do women not know what we’re thinking?  Or do they; is that the allure?

As I finished my phone call, and on the walk back home, I became even more resolved to be a good dad, a good father, and a solid influence in my kids lives.  I know that my promiscuous past, certainly caused some additional heartache in my life and the lives of some of my former girlfriends.  I would like to do everything I can to help my kids avoid as much heartbreak as possible.

My availability (emotional, physical, geographical, and psychological) will help provide a solid foundation under my kids.  I’m hoping they can bypass some of the pain I experienced in my 20s.

  • In the meantime, can someone please help me understand this event?
  1. July 18, 2008 4:20 am

    Wow, nudity at High Rocks? Like, the Full Monty? Things have sure changed since *I* hung out there. I have no answer to the permissiveness those girls were expressing. If it wasn’t just self-exploitation to get attention, *any* attention, which is a big possibility.
    As for your comments about sexuality and the learning experience, I think a lot of people spend the first twenty, thirty years of their lives trying to puzzle it out (regardless of how thoroughly they had it explained to them), then the rest of their lives trying to discard half of the misconceptions they might have gotten about it along the way.
    For many years, I thought masturbation was dirty. Not just wrong, not just something *nice girls didn’t do*, but DIRTY. Self-molestation. When I finally got brave enough to track down the root cause of that in my own head, when I realized where that misconception came from, I was able to discard that false idea.
    Sexuality is indeed a thorny subject, one that we as parents are reluctant to discuss with our children for so many reasons – the idea that you might be implying your consent to a premature sexual experience for your child, or feeling that the subject is inappropriate between an adult and a child, or simply because, as in your case, your upbringing placed a layer of discomfort over the subject that is hard to discard.
    But we are our children’s teachers. We teach them to eat, we teach them to walk, we teach them to talk, we teach them to read, we teach them to be good people. Teaching them about sex, and all the ways that it can be good if it’s done for the right reasons and with the right person, is just another (in my opinion, vitally important) lesson that we need to teach them.


  2. July 18, 2008 4:45 am

    @melanie, my wife opined that they were looking for attention too. Sad, misguided attention, but either way, they got it. From my 75 yard vantage, it looked like one girl had some “experience” – and given the statistics, I’m sadly thinking it might have started in the form of abuse? Who really knows, and speculation can quickly turn into judgment, if I’m not careful – or at least appear that way. I’m certainly not trying to judge anyone for their behavior – I have enough rotten behaviors to satisfy a gaggle of Bible-thumpers.

    My guess though, is that the second girl, was probably more interested in earning the respect of the first – just based on my observations of the teen pecking order.

    My cousin’s cousin (we are almost related) came by yesterday. She has a 16 year old, strong-willed daughter. Because she is almost a relative, she is a woman with a teen daughter, and because I’ve never had a sister to ask these sorts of questions of; I asked her to read the above post. This led to a long discussion.

    Unfortunately, she didn’t have any answers for me either. However, she did share a lot of valuable experience about raising strong-willed daughters. She said her daughter was definitely like mine at that age.

    My heart is more at rest after the incident the other night. I can’t really explain how disturbing it was for me. I mean, I’ve seen naked girls before, but somehow the perspective of being a dad of a too-soon-to-be teen daughter just changed everything.

    Melanie, I can see why you might have been afraid to post. Apparently this raised an issue about female sexuality that I would have never thought was related. I think women’s sexuality issues are fraught with a matrix of confusion, abuse, oppression, and expression – with very few truly healthy outlets of communication avenues.

    I believe, for men or women, there is a certain amount of self-discovery that is healthy, when that begins to cross into the obsessive-compulsive, or even addictive, phase, it is important to realize where one is going. (And that’s all I’m going to say about that!)

    Thanks Melanie for posting – for me, just talking through this is helpful!


  3. July 19, 2008 11:21 pm


    A few days ago, after I originally read this post i had all sorts of things to comment on.
    After 2 days of fever and such, all i can remember is this: let her know that she can talk to you about whatever she may choose to do…and keep the lines of communication open, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you.


  4. July 20, 2008 12:18 am

    @missburrows, sorry you’ve been ill – I had that fever thing a few weeks ago – it sucks.

    Since you’ve actually met my daughter, but more importantly, because you are a daughter, I take this advice with great weight. Thank you. I hope I can learn this lesson well.

    (the uncomfortable part already scares me)


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