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Glee: Remember how I said I wasn’t going to write about 3.05 before it airs? Yeah, well, I also once told my mother I would never have sex before marriage.

4 Nov

So, I’ve spent a little bit of time here, and a lot of time over on Tumblr saying I’m not going to talk about 3.05 until it airs. I’m not going to speculate about the structure of the ep, the deflections I think are present in the trailer, the various concerns about the introduction of Sebastian, or even the significance of the episode even existing.

And then today was a sea of spoilers as various journos tweeted as they watched screeners and everyone flipped out. Me included.

And that’s when I realized that to write about 3.05 well, or to talk about the other topics I talk about here, I actually need to get some of my 3.05 anxiety off my chest. But that anxiety isn’t about the episode, that anxiety is about me.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I was originally deeply resistant to Glee in part because I find high school shows hard. I wasn’t a beautiful loser in high school, I was just a loser, and while I’m over the spectacular disaster of my 20s, there’s a lot of shit that happened — or didn’t happen — when I was sixteen that I’m not, and I just want to get some of this out there.

Because it’s mostly personal, not analytical, and may be more than you want to know about me (although it is resoundingly non-graphic), I’m forcing you to click to get the rest of the entry. But it’s not just about my life, it’s about how this episode of Glee is a case of anxiety being the mode through which all us fans are inserting ourselves into the 3.05 narrative, and why anxiety is probably, actually, the most logical emotion for that activity, no matter how unpleasant it may seem.

I didn’t lose my virginity until college. I couldn’t tell you when exactly, but I remember sitting on the couch in my dorm freaking out at my friend Rob about how I felt like there was supposed to be some green glow of illumination that would mysteriously tell me when the time was right. “There’s no green glow,” I shouted as we watched the first Gulf War on TV. “Everything I’ve ever been told is a lie.”

And that never really stopped. Intercourse was initially painful and awkward for me, the long-term boyfriend (who was not Rob, but a friend of ours) was patient and decent about the whole thing. The loss of my virginity was a process, not an event.

And let’s remember, I’m also queer, and so the idea that some acts counts more than others and involve gender requirements is complicated, upsetting and aggravating — it’s been why the “who’s the top?” conversation in Klaine fandom has galled me even as I’ve had to step back from my horror as spoilers about condoms have at least made it seem like penetration is the order of the day here. But note that no asks these details about Santana and Brittany’s sex life; you get that what they do is fucking too, right?

When I broke up in a way that was really shit with the boy I lost my virginity to (I met an older man; it was exciting), he sent me a letter about how he would never have sex with another virgin. It was so awful being with me, all that pain and fear and inadequacy, he said. He said he was glad I left him.

It was just us flinging hurt at each other, but it was awful, and I’ll never forget it.

All that, of course, was over twenty years ago. Since then, I’ve had a lot of sex with men and women, a few of whom by some measure or another could be said to have lost their virginity to me. And I’ve been lucky with sex – not getting hurt, not getting sick, generally getting off, and not really even creating that much drama even when I made incredibly stupid decisions (like I suspect Blaine is, I was very much a boy who couldn’t/wouldn’t say no for a long time).

But losing my virginity sucked. Not because it was awful, but because it wasn’t a neat, well-structured story like on TV. It didn’t have a beginning, middle and end. There wasn’t a clear moment of change or initial awe. There was no blinding green flash of illumination, and there wasn’t certitude. There wasn’t even a specific occasion to remember, although I think U2’s “Acrobat” was playing in the background, which tells you everything you have ever needed to know about my melancholy soul.

And I am freaked the hell out about episode 3.05, not because I’m worried about the content of the episode, or my favorite TV couple, or the reaction that gay teens having sex on TV is going to get from the mainstream media. I’m freaking out because anxiety about sex in general and the loss of virginity in particular is what we do in America. Our fannish anxiety about this moment in Glee is how we enact the moment in our own lives — whether we’re virgins now or haven’t been in decades.

Our collective stress is shockingly on point in its participatory nature. Fandom is, of course, a participatory culture. We have to find a way in. It’s compulsion and it is air. It’s how we can be in the room with the characters, when really they are just in the room with us — on our TV’s and in our thoughts.

The anxiety that so many of us are asserting is unpleasant or unavoidable regarding 3.05, is really neither. It’s just anticipation, and a ton of different versions of people with their own stories and wants and memories and hopes forcing a narrative that’s closed to us to let us in. Because we’re fans, and that’s what we do.

Of course it’s hard. Our wacky TV show and its participatory fan culture just got really personal in an incredibly public way. It may be what we’ve said we’ve wanted narratively for a while, but we didn’t expect it. Not really. And while Klaine and Finchel may be ready, a lot of us aren’t. Not like this. Not now. Not as we are. And not, for some of us, as we were.

And as wrapped up as I’ve been in this fandom moment and its collective anxiety, I do have to say from all the way over here where all these stories about my own virginity are vague and fuzzy and sort of boring? It really is going to be okay.

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12 Responses to “Glee: Remember how I said I wasn’t going to write about 3.05 before it airs? Yeah, well, I also once told my mother I would never have sex before marriage.”

  1. heartofoshun November 4, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    “The loss of my virginity was a process, not an event.”

    Seriously. I think that is true for most of us. But in fiction, at least in this country, everyone seems to want to wrap it up and tie a big red bow on it and it just doesn’t work that way in real life. Hence the anxiety about anticipating something like the referenced episode.

  2. Spookykat November 4, 2011 at 12:48 am #

    I’m 33, and I still haven’t lost my virginity yet. Not in the technical sense, at any rate. Not because I think it’s something sacred to give away, just because it’s not something anyone’s ever…wanted to take. And that is actually something I’m sort of ashamed of, because it’s a rite of passage I’m supposed to have experienced by now at my age.

    But here’s what I don’t understand…why does it have to be this huge rite of passage? Why is it such a big freaking deal? Sex is a part of being an adult. It’s not the thing that makes you an adult, but it’s just one aspect of it.

    I’m feeling anxiety about this ep, too, mostly because I know there’ll be wank. I know there will be stuff about it that won’t be perfect, but people will bitch and moan about something because that’s what we as a fandom are wont to do. But then, my big concern is from the story-telling standpoint: where does the Klaine story go from here? Sex for what we hope is an endgame couple is usually the end of the story…not…somewhere in the middle.

    For one, I’m anxious to see how it plays out, but it seems that in many respects, Klaine is getting the same treatment as Finchel which, in and of itself, is HUGE. We have the same-sex couple being on the same plane as the hetero Alpha couple, and even though it’s not the first time gay sex has been portrayed (BtVS’s “Once More With Feeling” comes to mind), it’s the first time they’re portrayed as equally important as everybody else, and just as perfectly flawed.

    So whatever happens Tuesday night, it’s a “first time” for us as a culture, and even though it’s something fraught with potential misgivings and unease, it’s still awesome that this moment’s almost here.

  3. Sorcyress November 4, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    I am so grateful to know that I’m not the only person who views losing my virginity as a process and not just a single defining event.

  4. Cal November 4, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    Funny thing: I’ve been getting tense and stressed about this episode precisely because everyone would keep talking about the sex stuff, and I am so sick of having that stuff thrown at me with the assumption that everyone finds it important all the time! I’m just annoyed that nobody seems to care about the muscial after it was such a big plot point eariler – I want to find out how Kurt really feels about playing Krupke! I want to see whether Tina’s playing Anybodys! It’s all so damn’ frustrating.

    Maybe it’s partly because of cultural differences, I don’t know. But I suspect that this is one of the moments in which being asexual means one is not just a bit out of step with much of pop culture, but actively, explicitly alienated by it and excluded from it. It’s hard to care in a more than abstract fashion about characters losing their virginity when virginity is a non-concept personally and has irrelevant cultural conotations that you have to spend a lot of tinme fighting other people to stop them imposing them on you too…

  5. klainexiety November 4, 2011 at 3:26 am #

    “It may be what we’ve said we’ve wanted narratively for a while, but we didn’t expect it. Not really. And while Klaine and Finchel may be ready, a lot of us aren’t.”

    Exactly. I wasn’t expecting this or feeling like there had been enough build up, I also thought the network might put Kurt and Blaine’s relationship a little more on the backburner this season and thought they would be graduating together. Like Spookykat commented, I wonder where things are left to go from here because this doesn’t feel like an overdue “pay off” everyone has waiting for when we haven’t even seen them kiss since Original Song. Before that kiss we got so many interviews from Darren talking about things needing to be “earned, organic, etc.” if Kurt and Blaine ever got together. This time it’s been so quiet, aside from leaked spoilers.

    The introduction of Sebastian, return of Karofsky, romantic interaction with Rachel in the play, (and the junior/senior elephant in the room) just increase my anxiety. I feel like it’s going to be so much worse if Blaine ever gives in to Sebastian when he and Kurt have already been so intimate. Their relationship already feels so lovely and committed to me, I didn’t need or want anyone else to come in to stir the pot or prove anything. But RIB love triangles and drama. I naively hoped Klaine wouldn’t be totally drawn into all this so unexpectedly. I can’t even really remember what’s happened to other couples on the show to compare, because Klaine is the heart of it all for me and what I pay attention to. I don’t want them to lose whatever it is that makes them special and more interesting in the Glee world (like some coherency and respect, even if they aren’t perfect).

    Anyway, just babbling in confusion and tangled up in feelings. Sometimes I don’t know if it’s a good thing to have a fandom to share all this with, or if I just want to be alone with my impressions, favorable and otherwise and not get so worked up by it all.

    I hope it will be okay.

  6. deconstructingglee November 4, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    It’s funny, because this is one of those things where I cannot identify with what’s going on at all. I had finished uni by the time I lost my virginity — although, again, depends how you define it, but for now, I’m going with what I thought it was at the time, because that’s probably what it means.

    A lot of my friends were sexually active in junior high and high school. I wasn’t and didn’t experience a lot of anxiety over it either. I just wasn’t (I was a “Christian”), and they were and my boyfriends didn’t seem to mind (that said, my definition of “virginity” was very, very specific, so they were accommodated).

    But my first time is not something you’d see on Glee, or even Degrassi. It’s something you might see in Shortbus. It was a huge bucket of fail for both of us. Ill adivised, but with no real consequences, which was nice. I will also challenge anyone on having had a queerer loss of heterosexual virginity.

    So, while I’m interested in how this happens in Glee, it’s one place — possibly the first place — where I detatch entirely, with no matching high school experience to relate.

    And I was laughing with a friend last night about the whole thing. How I’ve learned several new ways of saying “lost their virginity” while simultaneously having no idea what virginity is anymore, or why it should matter.

  7. dontturnitoff November 4, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Perhaps they should have titled it “Our First Time,” since we are inevitably going to take it so personally.

    I was in the uncanny but not unusual position of having no virginity to lose by the time I knew what it meant: I had one of those traumatic childhoods, so I sat through “Our Bodies” girl-training in 5th grade knowing that there would be none of that “will it hurt” and “what does it mean” drama for me. Also for me, there was/is never any physical motivation to fuck — only strong emotional desire to please or woo or accommodate the person I love or want to claim as my own. I learned to be really great at technique to compensate for the lack of interest.

    Which is I think what Rachel is about to demonstrate.

    And what I hope is absolutely NOT what either Kurt or Blaine are doing.

    As alien as it is for me, I want them to have sex because they are hot for each other. I want them to have sex because they’re teenagers and full of hormones and they would have sex with just about anyone who was willing, but are very fortunate that the person who’s willing happens to be beautiful and in love with them. But I want the love to be beside the point: I want the point to be two kids who want to have a great, physical moment together doing that, and not two people showing their love or expressing their feelings, because ugh. Write a fucking poem already.

    • nicolidominn November 4, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

      Also for me, there was/is never any physical motivation to fuck — only strong emotional desire to please or woo or accommodate the person I love or want to claim as my own. I learned to be really great at technique to compensate for the lack of interest.

      Holy crap, does that ever hit home. It’s not like I’ve never met anyone else who felt that way, but it’s still so rare that it jumps out at me.

      I think that’s why my reaction to the possibility of Kurt and Blaine getting it on is lukewarm at best. Yeah, they’re a cute couple, yeah, they’re a cute gay teen couple on TV…but people having sex, no matter who they are, just doesn’t push my buttons. I’m much more interested in watching people fall in love. But acting that out by having sex, when that’s just the writers taking the easy way out, that’s disappointing. Sex in entertainment is only interesting when it’s NOT all about love.

  8. sqwook November 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    This post and these comments have made me re-visit a few things about my past that I’m not up to talking about publicly, but suffice to say: hm, isn’t that… interesting. And no wonder we’re all taking this all so personally, in all the infinite ways we are.

  9. nicolidominn November 4, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    I always got the impression that Brittany and Santana had already fucked, possibly multiple times. Or maybe I just dismissed whatever dialogue negated my impression. The way their bodies adjust to each other sometimes, it looks like the familiarity of a couple of people who’ve become attuned to each other through sexual act. Maybe I’m not the only one who thinks so, either.

    However, I get your point about people not making a huge deal out of “when will Brittany and Santana fuck” – it’s also highly likely that it’s that old bias against women loving women (without penises, where is the sex?).

  10. brilliant_snark November 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    I was almost through college by the time I lost my virginity, at least by the standards I knew at the time. I was taught that losing virginity = penetration, and was something to happen after marriage (also from a very conservative religious upbringing). I was also accommodated in other ways, because according to what I’d been told and what I understood, I COULD, because only penetrative sex was forbidden till marriage. Of course, I sort of broke the waiting rule at the end, but it was a tragedy of fail and awkward that I then convinced myself didn’t count.

    Now that I’m out as queer, and have new and better understandings of the world, and of “virginity”…it puts a whole different spin on lots of things. But yes, for me, no high school big first time moment. Even when it came, it WASN’T this big flashbulb of wonder and adulthood, and yes, it was a (frankly bizarre) process. And when it comes to Klaine, I’ve got all sorts of weird headcanon. So I have huge anxiety, but I think it’s less based on myself (for ONCE) and more out of concern to see this story treated well for the sake of our boys and gays on television and this fandom and what it all means.

    Now that we’ve pretty much been assured there is penetration involved, I am feeling a bit of a loss, that from our point of view, we’ve seen one really good FIRST kiss and now we’re here. It feels fast, even if it isn’t, because we haven’t been show the in-between. And I feel it’s just enforcing the myth that sex = penetration across the board.

    Oddly, I’m worried about Finchel too.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Well, this is profoundly embarrassing (required reading) « Deconstructing Glee - November 22, 2011

    […] Glee: Remember how I said I wasn’t going to write about 3.05 before it airs? Yeah, well, I also on… (3.05 The First Time) And let’s remember, I’m also queer, and so the idea that some acts counts more than others and involve gender requirements is complicated, upsetting and aggravating — it’s been why the “who’s the top?” conversation in Klaine fandom has galled me even as I’ve had to step back from my horror as spoilers about condoms have at least made it seem like penetration is the order of the day here. But note that no asks these details about Santana and Brittany’s sex life; you get that what they do is fucking too, right? […]

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