I know I'm old because lately I find myself saying, "what is wrong with the kids today?!" a lot.
I use the word "old" in the most loving, thank God I'm old, sort of way. I use the word "kids" to refer to people in their 20s and early 30s. Not kids at all. In fact, the kids are just fine, it's the adults that make me cringe; but, "what is wrong with the adults today," doesn't make me sound old -- just observant.
I occasionally write for another online magazine, which shall remain nameless, only because I want to get hired there again. It is meant to be very hip, open-minded and feminist. The demographic appears to be women in their 20s and 30s who are well educated, professional and very concerned with how liberating it is to talk incessantly about their vaginas. It's the magazine Sex And The City built, only on the Internet, so when they talk about their vaginas, they make sure we get the inside view (figuratively, but I have no doubt if the advertisers of bohemian platform shoes with seven inch heels in neon colors made from recycled materials would tolerate it, we would see inside their vaginas literally, as well).
Before I get into why reading this magazine makes me feel like a 1950s housewife, let me say they also print some really solid cutting-edge stuff. Well written, insightful and without fear of recrimination -- and I'm not just talking about what I have published there. To add to that, the comments are unusually supportive and thoughtful, for the Internet; and when someone harshly bashes another, in what is now called "troll" fashion, the troll is not left unscathed. However, the majority of the writing is like Cosmo after way too many Cosmos mixed with a Sarah Lawrence education, if Sarah Lawrence was in South Park and South Park moved to L.A. by way of Brooklyn. And everybody was a character on "Girls." I've never seen "Girls." I don't have HBO. But "Girls" recently mocked this publication on the show, so I hear, and with the kids today, mocking is the surest form of flattery.
Among my own peers, I am actually seen as fairly radical. I write books, narrative memoirs with socio/political themes. I push envelopes and buttons. My last book had "sex" in the title. Though to be fair, there was very little sex in the book. I don't believe I used the word vagina once. My sex book made me look like June Cleaver compared to what is printed in this mag daily. And I was interviewed on the Playboy Channel!
I'm not saying what these young women are discussing is wrong, and I am not exactly offended, I am, basically, uncomfortable with it. Recently, there was a popular piece written by a popular writer, all about the fact that she and her colleagues spent the morning looking for a dead mouse in their workspace, and it turned out it wasn't a deceased rodent, but rather, her "bloody vagina had stank up the office." I mean, maybe this is what feminism is: The right to talk openly about our bodily odors. Perhaps this is no more than the equivalent of a disposable douche ad without the required inferences.
I just don't know.
Another memorable piece was about whether it in fact feels good to have a penis inside a vagina. Actually, it was a debate. It got heated, with some telling this poor woman that she has sex wrong, and others vehement about the patriarchy of phallic insertion. It kind of made me long for the days when sex was a dirty little secret. It's not that this discussion is inherently bad. It's probably inherently good. More likely than not, it's healthy to discuss these issues, and move past shame in order to have more fulfilling lives. But I feel like stories such as this should have a warning label. Not for parents and children, for the middle-aged and older that happen upon them while innocently drinking their morning coffee. "Warning Old People: This story contains graphic descriptions of people in their 20s trying different sexual positions in order to figure out whether intercourse is not only satisfying, but politically correct. Also, may contain bloody vaginas."
They recently held a writing contest and people sent in stories about their lives. Don't get me wrong, these were brave and honest young women who made themselves vulnerable, most likely believing they were helping other people by bringing these issues out in the open -- and they very possibly were. But it's the culture in which these people wrote -- no individual story describes it -- it was rape and miscarriage, suicide and mental illness, deeply unhealthy relationships and more bloody vaginas -- over and over. Day after day. Like I said, it was no one individual story that was problematic necessarily. It was the culture of this intense sharing, to such an extreme and dramatic extent, and that these women didn't seem liberated, they seemed splayed out. Vulnerable, because vulnerability is currently cool, and more important than cool, feminist. These very private stories were shared with the world for no particular reason other than a cool feminist magazine held a contest. Is that what feminism is now -- the right to provide too much information?
Some would have, and perhaps still do, say the same about me and what I write. I have been accused of TMI. But really, if TMI is feminism, and I am compared to these women, I may lose my membership card.
Again, I am not condemning them. I don't know if this is all for the best. I just know it makes me feel awkward and old, and frankly, IMTOKWT (I am totally OK with that). Remember a few years ago when all the young people were into texting acronyms, not describing in detail the smells emanating from "down there?"
And BTW, doesn't Summer's Eve provide a feminine hygiene product for when a woman just doesn't feel her freshest?