What do you do with unexpected pockets of free time? I’m not talking hours and hours, but say a solid sixty-minute chunk. I like to think of myself as a person who uses such free time wisely. No taking it for granted over here. I’ma be all “let’s go for a run!” or “how about a yoga class!” Sometimes I am that person.
But not this week.
This week, I’ve been BIZ-EE. So dang busy. My free time evaporated as I sat the computer. First, I had to Google the “facts” about the sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby. (See what that frolic produced here.) That, naturally, let me to articles about R. Kelly, Woody Allen, and then, at last, to Lena Dunham.
Nothing like a some research on a not-light topic like sexual inappropriateness (see also assault, abuse, perpetration) to keep one’s store of lively conversation topics fresh and ready to roll out. I’ll never forget the look on my father-in-law’s face when I told him some tidbits I learned from a Vanity Fair article about Woody Allen and Mia Farrow.
Did Jeff’s dad really need to hear about Dylan Farrow’s pain– he was trying to eat a plate of eggs in peace? Did Jeff want to fall asleep listening to the list of grievances coming out against Bill Cosby?
I don’t know what to say about the controversy surrounding Lena Dunham’s relationship with her younger sister Grace. If you missed this (because you were spending your free time starting a hydroponic garden or reviewing the highlights of the Ming Dynasty), the gist is that in her recent memoir, Duham writes about how she, at age 7, looked in her then-one-year-old sister’s vagina (and found pebbles there). In another passage, she writes about how much she wanted her sister to cuddle with her and kiss her on the lips and the lengths to which she went to to try to induce Grace to be affectionate with her.
All this “leisure” reading has been totally depressing. I read Dunham’s book and loved it. But after reading all the criticism of her for being too white, too privileged and now, too sexually aggressive with her sister, I feel kind of dirty. When I read about her relationship with Grace, I thought that it was brave of her to write about the weird sexual stuff that happens between siblings. I didn’t think of it as sexual abuse, but now I’m wondering why I didn’t? Sometimes my kids get a little handsy and curious, and I nip that in the bud with non-shaming speeches about private parts and bodily boundaries. When does it cross the line? More importantly, how will I know?
I was wallowing in the all-my-idols-are-sexual-deviants because CLIFF HUXTABLE, until someone made a comment that turned this all around for me. “At least this is getting people talking about their experiences.”
Hells yeah! That’s right. All this discourse is bringing more awareness to the murky lines between sexual exploration and sexual exploitation. I don’t have any more answers than I did before I started my perusal through sex scandals, but I have more willingness to talk to my kids. I have the chance to look back at my own experiences and decide what they meant to me and how I will parent as a result of them.
Because as bad as it feels to watch people I admire tumble from grace or have their images tarnished, denial is much, much worse. Luckily with the holidays approaching and open enrollment season for my company’s benefits upon me, I’ll be too busy cropping pictures for the holiday album and picking an insurance plan to delve too much deeper into these dark recesses of our culture. But that doesn’t mean there not there; they are whether I look or not.