letter from the editor
I was sexually abused at the age of two by my babysitter’s brother. As a child I blamed myself for my molestation and grew up feeling vulnerable and alone, certain that something was horribly wrong with me. Entering my teens I avoided any type of sexual experimentation in a desperate attempt to protect myself. My friends had their first kisses, their first boyfriends, their first sexual adventures, but that part of my life remained frozen.
Toward the end of college, after a string of drunken, unconsummated flings that left me desperate to feel “normal” and in control of my sexuality, I finally began to research the long-term effects of childhood abuse. I found a book filled with accounts from other women who had been sexually abused and discovered stories both strikingly similar to and vastly different from my own. Armed with the knowledge that others were struggling with and overcoming their traumas, I was able to tackle mine. At the age of twenty-six, a decade after I first began to feel like there was something wrong with me sexually, I started to enjoy a healthy sex life.
I think the biggest issue with female sexuality today is silence. My sexual abuse history held me captive for so long because I stayed lock jawed about it — to others, but mostly to myself. I’ve come to realize that this silence not only surrounds sexual abuse histories but also women’s sexual experiences at large.
Silence and shame are powerful bedfellows. We women have been so shamed by the world about our bodies, our sexuality, our desires. And our silence allows our shame to smother us. Humans are deeply verbal creatures -- so much so that the way in which our brains process the world is highly informed by the very act of assigning words to a situation and the words we employ when doing so. To voice something aloud, to name it and understand it, is to declare power over it. By writing down our stories and giving our experiences meaning through words we can help ourselves to work through our histories and ultimately to own them. In fighting our shame through breaking our silence we can empower ourselves, but also we can empower one another.
So now I want something from you — I want to know your stories and your honest appraisals, the aspects of sex that scare the shit out of you and the details of the best damn orgasm you’ve ever had. I don’t care whether you consider yourself a “writer” — I want you to share your most confusing, intimate, degrading, hilarious, and incredible sexual experiences.
I have come to realize that there is no “normal” when it comes to people’s sex lives — that is to say there is no singular way to approach sex or sexuality. And it is likely that every person has been challenged by these aspects of his or her humanity at times. But I also think that a lot of the beauty of sex comes from our diversity of experiences, and from the places we explore in ourselves and in others as a result. By creating a diverse community that embraces the range of female sexuality we can learn from our collective knowledge and help work towards a world that can encompass all of our experiences free of fear or shame. I hope you will consider contributing your stories to this effort