I posted a picture of our maple syrup bounty after our intense two-week sugaring season, and I got so many encouraging and supportive “high-five!!” type comments. Some people even asked if they could buy some! And while I honestly have several internal organs I’d be quicker to sell than a pint of this syrup, the kindness and enthusiasm wasn’t lost on me. We just had a small bucket operation this year which means that I was hauling like 40 pounds of sap in buckets from one part of our 64 acre property to another REALLY far away (it always seemed) part of our property.
And when you think of that, you may feel an emapthic twinge in your forearms like—“whew! That takes some muscle!” But what you might not realize is that it takes a lot of patience, too. You can’t walk very quickly, you see, or the heavy buckets slam against the sides of your legs as you carry them. Also, it splashes out if you become a little to sloppy or quick with your pace.
So, it’s like a meditation of sorts (intermittently spliced with some expletives when I’d spill or trip) to carry each bucket far across the land to the holding tank. Collin happened to be away for work during the height of the sap run, so I filled our 65 gallon holding tank so he could evaporate it when he returned. I just couldn’t bear to see the sap buckets overflow knowing that it could all be transformed into one of the most sensational food experiences with a bit of hard work. So, I did my fair share of ****ing meditation.
Then someone on Instagram said: “so cool! but real talk: what does it taste like?” And in my mind I was like: if the best sex you ever had was a flavor: that. But instead I wrote “magic and marshmallows” because sometimes I’m shy about writing about the “s” word.
You see, I was raised to be a good Christian girl which was actually a very confusing message. It was somewhere along the lines of “don’t do anything too exciting until you’re married and then be totally excited about having sex for your husband’s sake because then it will be your conjugal duty.” So. Hot.
That last phrase written with excessive punctuation was sarcastic, in case you missed that and have conjugal duty fantasies (which, more power to you if that’s your mutually consensual thing). But for an actual Christian girl it’s a very confusing and ultimately depressing message.
‘You’re sinning when it’s exciting and fun for you’ is what it comes down to. Which is a bummer and also sets young, Christian married couples up for a lot of disappointment. The husbands are all like “finally!! Let’s DO THIS THING we’ve been waiting to DO!” And the wives are like, “suddenly now that it’s added to my list of chores, it feels kind of like a drudgery.” You know? When “have sex with your husband—it’s been three days and his balls are about to burst” is a line item right between ‘clean the toilets’ and ‘fold the laundry’ it just loses its pizazz.
Anyway, you may be like, “whoa, Lindsay, you’re writing a lot about sex! I thought this was about maple syrup!” and then I’d be like, “well, have you seen where I live? Off two dirt roads in the middle of rural Vermont? Sugaring and sex about sums up my spring.” I’m joking but also a little bit for real. Also, though, the reality of my experience with my sexuality (or lack thereof) gave me some pause for thought recently.
SO, I never actually had sex education in school. I went to a Christian, private school for junior high, so I do remember the day that someone talked about abstinence. But there was no actual education about sex—nothing about anything physiological, social, behavioral, or anything beyond just the religious and emotional appeal to wait (I just remember the speaker had a paper heart she kept folding and ripping to make a point. I don’t remember much—mainly that I was like “so did I get lost in the hallway and land in a paper snowflake how-to?” Ultimately, the paper ripping culminated in a vague guilt trip about anything fun.
So, given my recent reflection on how I never took real Sex Education, I got this book called the “Guide to Getting it On” not that long ago because I was curious what I was supposed to have learned in highschool. And you know what? It was so empowering! And also a lot of fun, and also so interesting. It was absolutely refreshing to take the morality out of sex and read the scientific facts and social dialogue from a completely humanistic perspective. It turns out sex is a lot hotter without religion and patriarchy in the mix. What an epiphany! I mean the ethics are there about mutual consent—and quite informative about what does and doesn’t constitute as such in terms of age, sobriety, etc—but there was no judgment about anything else.
You know the expression “Netflix and chill?” Well, for Christians in the 90’s it was more like “Blockbuster and make out with your clothes entirely on until you feel guilty and stop.” All those raging hormones during adolescence and early adulthood—when everybody wants to do everything—and it was all just wasted potential because I believed that it would be immoral and sinful for me to do anything outside of marriage. GRIEF. Somebody play me some taps.
I know all the people who told me to wait until I was married were just trying to help me avoid the heartache or guilt or whatever consequences that they experienced. That’s how it works one generation to the next—people subconsciously just take a sharp turn towards “whatever is the opposite of THAT!”
But especially when religion gets mixed into the conversation about sex, it can quickly become more about control and not about empowering girls to take charge of their own bodies and minds.
There needs to be more discourse about this, in my opinion. So, I’m doing my part. I’m here to say that my own experience having religion mixed with something as personal as sex wasn’t helpful or healthy. It was confusing and shaming on a personal level, and it thwarted my curiosity and made me shut down a healthy part of my being to try to be “a good Christian.” I remember thinking that if I had sex before I was married, my life would be utterly ruined because I’d feel so ashamed. Not to mention that I’d have the fast pass to hell.
It was also destructive on a social level. I know a lot of couples who got married REALLY young (I’ve got two hands up!) and the whole abstinence thing played a big part in that. It would have been healthier for a lot of couples to just…oh, I don’t know…become adults first, get some life experience, some sex experience, and then decide whether or not they truly belong together for the long haul. Wanting to explore your sexuality in a healthy way shouldn’t only be an option if you make a lifelong covenant before God and all the people you know.
Finally—and this was perhaps my biggest revelation in sorting this all out—the Christian abstinence message that I got framed sex in a patriarchal way. “It’s for the men. The men need sex.” Again, this is the quickest way to diminish a female’s interest in sex (again, with the caveat that maybe that’s your thing—no judgment). Sexuality is part of being human—girls and women should be encouraged to explore their sexuality in their own right and apart from the idea that it’s for anyone but them. Your body is your own, friends.
Empowering people with facts, knowledge, and skills is true education. After giving me an actual sex education, I think it would have been great if the adults in my life said to me “Be Safe (use condoms, birth control) Be Wise (respect yourself, respect others) and Have fun.