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English 212
2002 First Paper
On Serendip

On Choosing Not To...

Anonymous Writer2

I am part of many sexual subgroups, because I would define a sexual subgroup as any group of people that have something sexual in common. One of these subgroups could be as basic as being a woman, and another one could be women who have recently discovered that they are sexually attracted to other women. I do talk about sex with my friends and especially hall mates, but we are all bringing to the conversation different sexual experiences that make us talk about sex differently.
While I may have been able to place us all into one subgroup, I have chosen not to do so. To record a conversation among us and then say "this is how the sexual subgroup of Bryn Mawr students who live in the basement talk about sex" would be to ignore many other aspects of our sexual experiences. Labeling all of us into that, or another subgroup, does not explain that one of my friends has never had an orgasm, or that one of my friends is in a relationship with one person and having sex with another, or that one of my friends has only ever had sex while she has been drunk. If all of us fell into an obvious subgroup, such as heterosexual white nineteen year old females, I would still not chose to write about us as one sexual subgroup. I do not think that fitting into one subgroup means that we speak about sex the same way. My closest friends are heterosexual, but I can be very open with them about my homosexual relationship. And on the other hand, just because someone has had extremely similar sexual experiences as I have and is currently in the same position that I am, does not mean that I would speak to them about sex differently from someone else. How we talk about sex depends mostly on the individual relationship among the people talking, and not so much on their relationships to sex.
If I was willing to put a few of my friends and myself into a subgroup, I would be apprehensive with analyzing how we talk about sex. I am not comfortable with writing a paper that says, "This is how people in sexual subgroup A talk about sex". I think that to say that would indicate that I was speaking for all members of sexual subgroup A, or that I had at least done a survey that included many people in various situations that fit into that subgroup. The only way that I would be able to write that is to narrow my subgroup down to a very small, very specific set of people. For example, I could write a paper titled "How people in the sexual subgroup of nineteen year old Caucasian students from Pennsylvania who attend Bryn Mawr College, have a good relationship with their parents, have previously only had sexual experiences with males, and are currently having their first sexual experience with a female talk about sex" (sexual subgroup B). However, I cannot have a conversation to determine how those people talk about sex because I do not know enough people who fit into that category.
Even if I did have enough friends who fit into a very specific subgroup to have a conversation, I still think that I would be ignoring our sexual differences. It is possible that two friends both fit into sexual subgroup B, but the only men one person has had sex with are experienced and skillful partners, and the only men the other person has had sex with are inexperienced and incompetent. In this case, their views on past sexual experiences would considerably alter their views on their current sexual experiences. So much so that one of them might think women are far superior lovers to men, and the other one might strongly disagree. In this case they would use different language to talk about sex, because I think that we use different language to talk about good experiences than we do to talk about bad ones.
Other variables that would change the way people talk about sex are a person's personality and background. Two people may both fit into sexual subgroup B, but one woman may have been raised in a conservative household and she has never been comfortable talking about sexual experiences or feelings. Then the other woman may have been raised by open parents to whom she could always talk about sexual issues. These two women would use very different language to talk about similar sexual experiences.
Language is a necessity when it comes to exploring sexuality. It may be inadequate, but I think that it is important to try to put sexual experiences into language. It does matter what type of language works for certain situations and certain people, but to divide those into subgroups would be to make a huge generalization. I do not feel comfortable simplifying people's sexuality to those groups, and I do not want to give myself the authority to speak for how other people talk about sex.
The language that people use to talk about sex is constantly changing depending on the experience they are talking about and their personal relationship with whom they are talking. These personal relationships most often reach across sexual subgroup boundaries, and so the most common conversations about sex are probably not among people of the same subgroup. Even within a very small and specific subgroup, people's personalities and backgrounds cause them to talk about sex differently. While it is possible to record a conversation about sex, and then define the sexual subgroups that each communicator fits into, I do not think this is an accurate way to analyze how different sexual subgroups use language to talk about sex.

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