Wednesday, August 21, 2013

X-23 vs The World (Part 2): Sex

Okay, I had written this whole thing out.  Tried to figure out the best way to say it for both sides to be fair.  I will still leave that to be read too, but this part needs to be said first.

Before I go into this long winded whatever-you-want-to-call-it spiel, I am an approaching 30 year-old virgin.  I don't really care what you want to call that.  Silly, stupid, great, something to be proud of, something to be ashamed of.  It doesn't matter.  It's my choice.  Well half of it at least.  The other half is a series of just comedic-what-have-yous that make it hard for me to watch the movie 40 Year Old Virgin as I've pretty much lived half those scenarios he went through with past ex-girlfriends.

There are some simple truths though about sex.  Very basic questions you should always ask yourself.  "Is this a person I would want to risk having kids with?"  Because that is a very real possibility from your actions in these matters besides of course STDs.  There are precautions, protections, birth control, you name it, but none of them are outright 100% effective.  The proper cautions still put it in the upper 90% but that's still not 100.  So you should always ask that question.  While yes a woman can master her own destiny under the law, that is also a choice that can be deeply emotionally exhausting.  We men face just as much responsibility for putting that choice upon them as well.

So for me that question boils down to several questions.  Is this a woman I would want to be a mother of my children if that happened?  Is this a woman I would mind being tied to for the rest of my life?  Is this a woman I would gladly wake up to change diapers for so that she can keep sleeping because she's just that amazing to me?  If I can't see myself even wanting to change diapers of a kid, that I'd rather skip those years until potty training...  Well that tells me right there she's not the right one for me.  That's just my side though.  Then there's still the question of what she wants and decides is best for her life of course.

So yes, I am quite cautious about who I would want to or not want to have sex with.  Even in saying that I would want to, I'd still want to know the woman first.  I don't jump into things because it's just a bodily function.  Just an act to be treated arbitrarily because it feels good.  For me that's never been the complete truth concerning it.  This is an action that comes with very real consequences.  Yes it's enjoyable, but it does bring life into this world too.  Show it some respect.  Children are the future and they need love and guidance from loving dedicated families.  Children brought into this world are not mistakes, but there are complications that can arise too.  Personally I'm pro-choice in the debate on abortion, but I will admit because of how I live my life, I'm pro-life when it comes to my own actions barring complications or what she chooses is right for her.  Some of us take these decisions lightly, some of us don't.  I want to be a dedicated father though to my children, so knocking up as many women as possible like some men do is not ever a life choice I can condone for myself.  I personally want the first person to be the last one, though as life entails, that's not always possible.  While I am only concerned she is true to me when she is actually together with me, knowing she feels the same is a definite plus.  You only get one first time, and while it may never be perfect, it can be perfectly you.  For many, there is a very scary thought of others holding you up to what's before, or them wishing you were someone else.  Some women and men for that matter use phrases very loosely like "best I ever had." They say this not realizing it's very off putting to their new love.  It can feel like they are holding you to a standard you can never match.  

It's also very frightening to think the person you want to care about with your whole heart might find someone before you even had a chance to try and find out if they could be the one.  Life is like that, or at least it has been for me.  Women I've cared about get swept off their feet by someone else, and I get to hear their problems.  I try to help them; let them know they are okay. I try to be there for them like I was before the guy came in, and sometimes I have to walk away after because it's never right to take advantage of their pain like that.  I may be permanently in the alleged friend zone by these actions, but I do this because I care and they need the ear.  I do not complain about it, but it does hurt.  You try listening to every problem about how someone calls them all sorts of things you never could because of how amazing they are inside and out then tell me it doesn't hurt to hear it.  I don't push matters about what they should do though unless I can recognize a real immediate danger.  A person's life is their own choices.  So yes, it scares me.  I'm tired of people I care about being swept away by charismatic stereotypical pretty boys that do nothing but hurt them repeatedly.  I've had to help them learn to pick up the pieces of what is a beautiful person.  Seeing someone that meant so much becoming an echo of what they were is a painful experience.  Hearing someone whisper in tears on the phone "please make him go away" when scared for their life is not an experience that's easy to forget(he did leave without harming her if curious).  Hearing someone in tears on the phone because their boyfriend called them fat among other names and cheated on them but all she can say is it's her fault he cheated(it never is!) is not a fun or forgettable experience.  I don't want to lose those I could care about to this either.  It hurts every time and yes it makes me weary, but I keep moving on.  I have to.  That's life.  So yes, I take my decisions very seriously.  I've seen too many lives wrecked by not, but yes I've seen other lives charmed by it as well. A child is a miracle.  It's a blessing when there's a bond of love and support.  Every child brought into this world needs to know they are loved and cherished and helped along the way to be the best person they can be.  So anyway, on with the original entry!

This is a taboo normally speaking.  We're told not to talk about it in public, or we're told we're prudes for not talking about it in public.

There's a flaw in the logic of both of these though.
It's the same flaw in the logic of discussing drinking, or other recreational substances.  Those are all centered around moderation, trust, and good friends.  Sex on the other hand is one of the most intimate acts a person can share with another.  It should not be taken lightly.  It's not an amusement park ride.  Especially for bodies and minds still developing.

We treat it as such though.  People are told to stop being prudes.  That it's the best feeling in the world and they should go out and experience it.  They say this with implied expediency and haste.  People, authors, and creators that teenagers look to for guidance and advice are tossing these comments around freely like throwing glitter into the air.  The problem with glitter being it makes a bigger mess afterwards no matter how fun it was in the short term.  It clings to us and gets tracked everywhere whether we want it to or not.  We turn around and wonder why kids are getting more sexually active at younger ages.  Why 14 year olds, 11 year olds, even 9 year olds are raping and molesting others.  Sometimes it's even younger.  It is a subject that needs to be talked about, but our words and how we express it impacts the world around us.  Once something is spoken, it floats out in the world influencing others that hear it.  They add to it, create more from it, even alter the meaning to suit themselves.  With such complicated issues as sex, violence, and discussing forms of abuse, this can be problematic.  If we do not choose our words carefully, we begin to send mixed signals about these issues.  We make things worse.  We become part of the problem.

There's a quote from George R.R. Martin from Game Of Thrones fame that many tout as the ultimate truth on the subject.  Where he states a simple truth.  If it wasn't enjoyable, man wouldn't procreate.  It does keep the world spinning.  In how he states it though, his following and fans may take the wrong cues from it.  His characters are one thing.  They are fiction.  They are stories for others to live through.  His direct words on the other hand impact youth and people that look up to his work.  It can complicate the issue to those that don't hear what's actually being said.  He' s being blunt and forthcoming with a very solid truth, but it's also hindered by the aspects of not paying attention to who will hear it.  It influences those not capable of grasping his words.  Words they'll twist into meaning they have a right to take what they want because others will learn to enjoy what it's like.  This is wrong.  There is never an excuse to violate another.  Consent is everything.  It's mandatory.  It cannot be granted under duress or threat.  It cannot be granted when someone is drugged into complying.

When talking about these things with the appropriate words, it shouldn't make people uncomfortable, but we should also respect the lives and choices of others.  Imposing views on others in this matter from both sides is causing problems.  Respect needs to be taught and it needs to be learned.  People toss around the sex talk rather abundantly everywhere on Facebook, Myspace, you name it and it's more complicated than they make it sound.  Everyone is ready at different times.  Everyone has different... luck for lack of a better word.  We tell people "don't wait for the perfect moment, make the perfect moment."  Then wonder why they forced themselves on another.  People hear what they want to hear from statements and while we shouldn't curb our speech to suit the whims of the most arrogant and sadistic, we also shouldn't add to the noise either.  We shouldn't condemn choices one way or another.  It's a complicated issue per each person's life.

Some want to wait until marriage, and that's fine.
Some don't, and that's fine.

Neither side is wrong.  It's a personal choice that a person can only make for themselves.  It's a choice that can stem from a host of factors.  For my own life, I at first was waiting on love.  Thought I had found it many times in people I had dated, but the timing never seemed to line up, or the situations just were never quite right.  Now I say this and immediately people respond with a "that's just silly."  It's true though for me.  Missed opportunities have come either from lack of communication, things they made me promise, getting thrown up on is also a mood killer, an ex-boyfriend that wouldn't leave them alone, transference from early trauma's they may have had when the subject is approached, verbally and emotionally abusive ex-boyfriends that can't let them have peace unless they completely move their life across state away from them, and the list goes on and on to even being too late at night to get a hotel room after a wedding reception.  My life pretty much hasn't given me anything to work with when it comes to making the right moment and I'm not going to force it to either.  I'd prefer things to happen naturally when its the right time.  If that means never, well then that's my fate.  At least I can thank it for the simpler joys it has given me in relationships.  The simplest joys from cuddling, the scent of a girl's perfume, the scent of her underneath it, the way her hair can tickle your nose while spooning, the warmth of her body against mine, what it feels like to lay your head in her lap as she reads but also plays with your hair.  They are simple joys that are amazing.  Yes sex is a pleasurable experience, but is not the be all end all of what makes a relationship great.  It's supposed to be the ultimate intimate act one can share with another, yet it does come at a personal cost.  There is an emotional maturity that is required to handle it and all that it entails.

I'm not one to condemn others for their choices in their life either.  What came before doesn't matter, what comes after, doesn't matter.  It's the during when they are with me that matters.  Another person's choices are their own choices.  It's the sanctity of life to their temple.  It's what makes them divinely unique as themselves.  It's what let them grow to be the person you care for.  Why should you condemn them for that? They wouldn't be who they are without the life they've lived.  Does that make things that happened to them fair? No.  Does that make things perpetrated against them right? No. It also doesn't mean we should accept less than the respect we give to others either.  If we expect monogamy, we should give monogamy.  Comfort from trust works both ways.  Love is a partnership based on trust.  Trust can only exist with honesty and being forthcoming with how things make you feel.  You should not keep secrets from the other about that.

I might be an idealist, but to me there's something special about that first time.  Yes it's awkward and uncomfortable, but also in a good way when it's with the right person that you are sharing it with.  Yes, I said sharing it with.  This is a two way street.  Consent from both parties is mandatory.  No one has a right to take that moment from another.  No one has a right to ever force an experience they do not want on another.  It's just that simple.  Be they male or female.  For most, the first time can create an emotional bond that's dangerous without the right maturity to handle it.  Is this true for everyone? No.  Everyone is different and looking for different things.  Many virgins can vary in wanting to share their first time with another virgin so they can learn and love together, or with someone experienced so they can be in awe and ready for who they love, or just with someone they trust with their heart because that is what matters to them.  Some view it as a prize only to be bestowed upon their spouse, that no other person should taste that fruit but them.  Some may even want to live a life as an example for the kids they could someday have and being able to honestly say they waited for only who the kids other parent is.  The same is true for those active.  Many of them vary in what they want whether it be a virgin for them to train, or a person as active as they.(Though again, be cautious about STDs and remember to get tested!)  All walks of life are entitled to these dreams without persecution from others.  These are not gender dependent choices either.  Both genders are entitled to how they want to treat it for themselves.  It takes strength to be able to wait.  A strength of mind and body that can be hard for others to grasp.  While it can be difficult, being the boy or girl who waited can show the person you're with and yourself that you have always been loyal to them even before you knew them.  It can make that bond greater so long as you aren't jumping into it because of growing weary from waiting.  This is why people who do choose to wait can have more personal strength than anyone can imagine.  It is not something to mock, but something to praise.

Sadly in this day and age we persecute anything that's not like ourselves.  I even have to define what persecution is because of it.  It means do not keep begging until they agree just to shut you up.  It means let another wear or live as they like without harassing them so long as it's not harming another.  It's being free from manipulation techniques that try to trick you into actions that shouldn't be done and the damage they could cause.  It's being free to express yourself, but also to do so with decency in public.  People are not animals to be out in the streets fooling around in front of children, but people are also not so immature that we can't handle these topics in the right places and times.  The nude form is art.  It's anatomy, but we should also respect the wishes of those that do not want themselves exposed as such.  We also need to stop jumping to conclusions about anything and everything that's different from ourselves or what we think or want to be true.  Everyone is entitled to their own free will and choices.  Whether we agree with them or not does not matter.  Their choices are their own and so long as they do not hinder or harm another it is never our right to control or force anything over another.  We should respect each other's views and life choices.  If you truly loved them, you would respect that they want to wait because there is nothing wrong with that.  To each their own life be true.

How this relates to X-23:

X-23 is a bit of an issue in this regard.  We have one side that outright wants to focus deeply on the fact she's a sex object to lust after.  While it is true her form is art(literally!), she is also a character that embodies a lot of complexities.  Yes she was a prostitute, but she was one that handled clients that got off on pain.  She was a dom, or a top as the terms go.  The only client of which shown being someone who was on their stomach from how the marks are displayed.  This isn't uncommon for this fetish.  Many that enjoy the pain, do not pursue the rest of the act.  There are fetishes out in the world where men will be commanded to do everything by women, even scrub toilets and that's what they get off on.  No sex involved.  In places like Sweden men even pay for this.  They pay to be subjugated by a woman into cleaning her full apartment, whipped, spanked, and demeaned.  Sex isn't even on their minds, their sexual joys were granted just from the subjugation.  They pay her for that.  Fetishes can really vary the spectrum and they do not always entail actual acts of sex.

NYX leaves us with implied gestures through details.  It lets the reader see what they want to see out of it. The details do not actually push sex or non.  Just that she's gone topless for this man before as suggested by when she reached to unhook her bra before he said not to, and she has marked up his back with her claws in a prior instance.  Claws he was not aware she even had.  Adamantium claws that do not bend like fingernails.  She is not Lady Deathstrike.  Yes she was a prostitute, but any actual acts committed as such are undefined.  This means it's the reader's perception that comes into play for where they fall on it.  Joe Quesada found quite a clever way to approach the subject and an interesting way to handle it.  Immediately in fan debates you'll see where male egos want to go on the subject because of it.  This kind of depth can also explain the length at which he approached the scripts.  Every choice being quite methodical while also juggling his other duties. (For further information on this, I refer you to the NYX portion of the Common Misconceptions About X-23 entry.)

There are other problems with this associated to X-23.  Her powers were awakened while she was still rather young.  This means any injury she sustains heals.  The hymen is what many use as a means to verify a  virgin female when that's not always the case.  For girls this varies for an entire host of reasons.  For X-23 it could be intact or it could have been broken during her many falls while training with her sensei Tanaka.  If intact when her powers activated, it'll heal every time.  This is a very complicated issue towards Laura.  How it's dealt with, if ever, is a topic that could cover a multitude of issues.  If it's side stepped from the mentioned angle of her athletic training before her powers activated, it can cover how people react to that and the undue blame when it's just from being a healthy active child.  If it uses the other angle of her constantly re-healing it can cover a host of other topics as well.

X-23 is a character that's a living breathing Public Service Announcement because of her youth and all that surrounds her.  She covers the full spectrum of various evils of our world.  Whether it's human trafficking, perceptions of sex from those with no respect for others, feminism, finding your own voice, learning what the power of choice is, all the forms of abuse be they verbal, mental, or physical, suicide, depression, love, arrogance, pedophilia, and even the psychology of how those you are around can affect you; she contains them all.  She is a character that embodies traits and topics that can be hard to discuss.  Even a topic as convoluted as knowing the difference between being judgmental or removing elements from your life that pose a danger to you.  It'd be interesting to see these topics handled and voiced though.  It'd be a way for geeks and geekettes alike to hear views to think upon.  Concepts and issues they may be dealing with in their own world and lives.  In a world that keeps telling you that only God has the right to judge, it's often easy to forget there is another subtext to that phrase.  While it's true we shouldn't judge others as they live their life while not harming others, there are decisions and choices that should be made to maintain ones own safety too.  While only God can judge in heaven as the phrase goes, that doesn't mean you should allow yourself to be manipulated by such phrases or guilt tripped by them into doing something you do not feel is right for you.  That phrase should never hinder you from protecting yourself from dangers to your own well-being.

Science fiction has always found a way to voice real world concerns behind metaphors, often even being ahead of the curve.  Marvel had started to delve into these topics under the hand of Marjorie Liu, but maybe it's time they tried again.  This time dive even deeper now that the character has grown more from her first forays into the open world and the constant bouncing around from events.  Maybe it's time they let her shine again for all that she could represent and do for the world at large. Maybe they could pick up from where they left off.  It's not unprecedented.  Issue 22, then 23, and then keep running.  See what happens and the stories that could be told for all that she represents as well as the stories that still need to be told.

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