A girl's view of sex

Voice Card  -  Volume 12  -  John Card Number 6  -  Wed, Feb 7, 1990 07:50 PM

This is a response to Vol 11 John 18 ("Getting Somewhere!")...

During my recent illness I happened upon two novels by D. H. Lawrence. Since I have already quoted Tolkien and Twain in this sex debate, how can I resist a quotation from a novelist who devoted his life's work to a better understanding of why sex is so damn important.

The following brief snippet occurs in the opening chapter of "Lady Chatterley's Lover". It describes the attitudes of a typical teenage girl on the subject of sex. It struck a chord with me because when I was that age I had many serious discussions with various girls in which I tried desperately to understand how they felt about this whole business. The things I heard (and overheard) match up with the characters in D. H. Lawrence's novel, and may also shed some light on the Dick and Jane dilemma, a conflict which occurs most often at that age. And perhaps this will inspire the women in the group to give a first hand account instead of letting a male author speak for them! Anyway, here it is:

"Both Hilda and Constance had had their tentative love-affairs by the time they were eighteen. The young men with whom they talked so passionately and sang so lustily and camped under the trees in such freedom wanted, of course, the love connection. The girls were doubtful, but then the thing was so much talked about, it was supposed to be so important. And the men were so humble and craving. Why couldn't a girl be queenly, and give the gift of herself?

"So they had given the gift of themselves, each to the youth with whom she had the most subtle and intimate arguments. The arguments, the discussions were the great thing: the love-making and connection were only a sort of primitive reversion and a bit of an anti-climax. One was less in love with the boy afterwards, and a little inclined to hate him, as if he had trespassed on one's privacy and inner freedom. For, of course, being a girl, one's whole dignity and meaning in life consisted in the achievement of an absolute, a perfect, a pure and noble freedom. What else did a girl's life mean? To shake off the old and sordid connections and subjections.

"And however one might sentimentalize it, this sex business was one of the most ancient, sordid connections and subjections. Poets who glorified it were mostly men. Women had always known there was something better, something higher. And now they knew it more definitely than ever. The beautiful pure freedom of a woman was infinitely more wonderful than any sexual love. The only unfortunate thing was that men lagged so far behind women in this matter. They insisted on the sex thing like dogs.

"And a woman had to yield. A man was like a child with his appetites. A woman had to yield him what he wanted, or like a child he would probably turn nasty and flounce away and spoil what was a very pleasant connection. But a woman could yield to a man without yielding her inner, free self. That the poets and talkers about sex did not seem to have taken sufficiently into account. A woman could take a man without really giving herself away. Certainly she could take him without giving herself into his power. Rather she could use this sex thing to have power over him..."

Over the course of the novel, Constance grows up and comes to take a very different view of sex, but I'll leave that for you intrepid readers to discover for yourselves!