I did something bad, really painful to my back yesterday in yoga class. The muscles in my lower back seized tight like I had been digging graves or planting bulbs, you pick, for a few days. By 5 pm, I could barely sit at my desk, but walking helped, so I enlisted a friend, and we walked around Barnes & Noble bookstore for a good hour.
Giggling, I walked around the store, limping the gauntlet of back pain, circling literary fiction, then teen picks, over to poetry, and past the enormous display of 50 Shades of Mediocre Writing, More Mediocrity, and finally, The End of Mediocrity (until the author does some actual research into consensual sexuality versus stalking and rape). My friend was standing in the sex section.
The section of the bookstore that we want to peruse. But are frightened or plain embarrassed to be seen having interest, prurient interest in a topic that has been part of the NC legislature’s tussle over the last year.
Grow up folks; even the pearl-wearing and the seersucker-suited government is talking about sexual issues.
My friend looked pretty comfortable. We picked out books by their cover to be disappointed with the lack of pictures and the downright clinical tone of the books. When did sex become so dull? Well, I am living in NC, and it is a national chain of bookstores.
It wasn’t always that way. Ten years ago I took a similar jaunt to B&N to pick up some books for clients (counseling knows no shame thankfully). It was the middle of an afternoon in the middle of the week. I walked over to the shelves marked SEXUALITY, pulled a few books, tucked my skirt under me, and sat down with the books on the floor.
Within a ten minutes, a few people had walked by, walked by again, and then walked up to me.
“What you looking at?” asked a man.
“Books,” I said.
“Books about what?”
“Books about sex.”
A few people skittered away. Fast feet and heads down. A few souls stayed.
“What do you think about this book?”
They sat down on the floor blocking the aisle. We started comparing covers. Yes, the cover of a book is crucial. (I like the hot pink and yellow book titled, ‘Hot Sex: How to do it.’)
In thirty minutes, we were a circle of people, different genders, different ages, different skin colors. And we were having a thoughtful conversation about what we look for in a sex book. Pictures, some humor, explicit information and directions, more humor, and permission to explore this important part of our lives.
“It’s great Barnes & Nobel has employees like you,” a woman said.
“Yeah, I’ve never felt so comfortable talking about sex.”
“Um, I don’t work here,” I said.
“Well, you should.”
“Who are you then?”
“Just a reader like you. Interested in sex.”
We unashamedly laughed, giggled, and snorted. Under the bright lights of the bookstore, we talked about the meaning of sex in our lives, how we wanted books that reflected that interest and employees that were knowledgeable and unafraid.
So what has happened in the last ten years? How did we end up with HB2? Why are we mute as our reproductive rights are being legislated away and programs are being defunded? We do not blink an eye as art, in its different forms, is rigidly censored. Art, the conscience of the culture, meant to confuse and inform and disturb us but we settle for sofa art – some image asking nothing of us.
I think we are fucked, and not in a good way. What are you going to do about this?