My So-Called Perversion
There’s an episode of My So-Called Life (this is going somewhere, I promise) in which Angela, the angst-riddled teenage protagonist, is dealing with pressure to have sex with her boyfriend. I can’t say the episode resonated much with me, even as a teenager, because her boyfriend is played by JARED FREAKING LETO and tappin’ that seems like a no-brainer.
That being said, there’s a scene with Angela musing (via agonizing internal monologue) about the sex lives of everyone around her: peers, parents, teachers, etc. [Side note: best line from the whole episode? “Sex was just this thing people had… like a rash. Or a Rottweiler.]
Anyway, cut to me, watching this Troubled Virgin trope as she imagines her math teacher in BDSM gear and I’m yelling at my screen, “Get out of my head, Angela!” And I’m connecting to this show on a level beyond the usual I’m-only-watching-this-because-Red-Shoe-Diaries-isn’t-on-yet and wow-Rayanne-has-the-best-hair. All of this because Angela Chase is as perverted as I am. [Side note: really though, Rayanne had the best hair.]
That’s not to say that everyone I meet is suddenly casted in some constantly running porn film in my head. And I don’t share my best friend’s obsession with pointing out Dan Aykroyd’s junk every time we watch Ghostbusters (although there's a dance scene near the end where I can’t focus on anything else in the shot.) There is, however, the odd couple I pass in the street who makes me think, ‘I wonder if they like to tie each other up’.
I feel like there is some value in that, from a sex-positive perspective. The novelist John Green has this mantra about imagining people complexly rather than compartmentalizing everyone into Good or Bad. Maybe part of that means imagining people as autonomous sexual creatures, since most of us are. Maybe it could help us to stop fetishizing or dehumanizing folks from different walks of life. Or maybe I’m just trying to justify a dirty mind.
[Side note: sorry for ruining that Ghostbusters scene for you.]