For someone intelligent, well-read and well-travelled, I can be incredibly naive. I think part of me must have known that Katy was drifting into the underworld, but as with all uncomfortable truths, this I chose to ignore.
I’m fairly non-judgemental when it comes to other people’s love-lives, but the thought of Katy, aged twenty-one, hopping from one much older boyfriend to another made me feel queasy. I couldn’t help but think it must be a symptom of some underlying malaise. But psychobabble is cheap, and in my brief conversations with her she seemed reluctant to talk about her own psyche.
Sitting on my sofa I called Connie. “Do you remember sex-ed classes at school?” I asked her. Connie had gone to school in Nebraska for a while.
“Yeah, they were pretty routine,” she said, “why d’you ask?”
“I keep thinking about mine,” I said, “I went to a secular school, my friend who went to the convent down the road said they only talked about rhythm method,”
Connie laughed. “And they wonder why convent school girls get knocked up,” she said.
“I kind of feel like they were indoctrination,” I said. “Indoctrination into some sort of a-religious society, where you have to be available for sex, but you’re not allowed to get pregnant.”
Connie thought about this. As an artist she loved conspiracy theories. To be truthful my thoughts were pretty muddled at that point. But the sex-ed classes kept seeping back into my consciousness.
“You know what it is,” said Connie, “it’s the fact that they talk about sex without saying anything about morality. Or emotions. It makes it all sound very mechanical.”
“Yes,” I said, running my hand across the calico of the sofa. “Sex without Morality. That’s almost nihilism.”
From what I recall, my teacher had once made a hazy comment – some men prefer to settle down with a girl who hasn’t had lots of previous partners, so it’s worth thinking about how many people you have sex with. This was the only clue as to how to conduct yourself, and even this was off record, just an aside after handing out a worksheet on how to use a condom.
I skimmed through a glossy magazine as we chatted about nothing. Lovely faces staring back at me, telling me how to look.
I kept thinking about the pop star Rihanna and her black eye. I wondered what sort of relationship she had with her make up artist, the woman who had to cover up the bruises. Why are the sexiest women always magnets for really aggressive men. Silly question. What I really mean is why do they end up in relationships with them? A couple of days after the domestic violence story had broken, I had seen her on a big screen above me at the gym, gyrating around in almost nothing. I may just be an old prude, but I’m sure female celebrities have got more slutty in the past few years. When Madonna’s book SEX came out in the early nineties, it was scandalous. But today even the most clean cut female celebrities have posed semi-nude for GQ magazine. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a woman looking attractive, but some modern actresses and singers are giving the LA-porno girls a run for their money when it comes to public displays of flesh.
I could see why the ladies at the commune had chosen to ban this type of imagery from the house. Combined with the non-judgemental sex-ed, and the pressure from boys to have sex, it’s easy to see how a teenage girl could grow up thinking she’s a sexual object. And it’s no wonder that we get this wave of post-feminist sex workers like Annalika who say things like – Well if I’m a sex object anyway, I might as well cash in on it. I might as well be the one profiting from it. I had a job in an office for a while, I got paid $5 an hour, and men stared at my breasts, as a nude model, I get paid $150 an hour, men stare at my breasts, and I don’t have to do general admin while I am being sexually objectified.
I was never quite sure with Annalika how far she went as a sex worker. I think she was akin to those Geisha girls in Imperial Japan, who, for a generous allowance, would become the mistress of a wealthy man. I knew she was having sex with someone in Fraser’s circle. But I didn’t know who.
That evening, Gina, Yasmin, Kathleen and I went to a club. There was a new DJ playing who Gina wanted to check out. I think she may have had a bit of a crush on him. Kathleen just complained that the place was a dive. It was a bit sticky, but it was full of city types and girls who work in fashion.
I saw Katy and Fraser together, they were all over each other. I got the impression they were very much in love, or lust at least, but when I spoke to her later she told me that Fraser blew hot and cold. He wanted her when he wanted her, but could ignore her for days on end if he was busy.
Image: Fertility Charms by Connie