I Thought A Condom In Pretty Woman Was A Sucker Wrapper And Why That's So Important

July 20, 2018

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Love and Sex

My mom and I used to watch girly movies together all of the time. I saw the oldie classics with Doris Day and Rock Hudson like Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back. We watched Grease so often that we could sing along with all of the songs and quote almost the entire movie. We would cuddle up on the couch and watch You've Got Mail, My Best Friend's Wedding, Runaway Bride, and, of course, Pretty Woman. I've watched those movies so many times I think I could re-count them line for line if I had to.

We watched these movies when I was quite young (which, by the way, is part of the reason why I think that I turned out to be an absolutely hopeless romantic. How could I not be?), and I never thought of them as anything but good, clean, family fun.

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Then, when I was older, I re-watched some of these movies and was shook. I'm sorry, Julia Roberts' character was paid for sex? Rizzo thought she was pregnant? Whoa, whoa whoa. Did Vivian just pull condoms out of her thigh-high boots?! I always thought those were suckers!

Seeing all of the heavy sexual undertones in the movies had me blindsided. First of all, they were so blatant and obvious, how did I miss them? Second of all, why on earth was I allowed to watch this?

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I grew up in a strict Christian home. We were not allowed to listen to non-christian music without headphones, and even then it could not have swearing or anything remotely sexual. I was the only girl in my class that was not allowed to listen to the Spice Girls. So when Spice Up Your Life comes on at a dance somewhere and my generation gets a wave of nostalgia and start singing along, I just feel like an annoying song is now on that I have to suffer through (don't hate!).

We were very sheltered from anything that wasn't part of the Christian lifestyle, even Halloween. I just want to interrupt here to say that sheltered does not mean bad. I had a great childhood! My parents filled our home with love and fun and family bonding. Every Friday was family night where we ate delicious food, played games, and watched movies together. Nothing can ever replace those memories.

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But all of that sheltering meant that I didn't really know about sex (other than what I learned from "the talk" which was that when a man and women get married and everything was very anatomical from there). I didn't think about sex. It wasn't part of my life and the few friends I had were good kids who didn't have dirty jokes or anything like that. I interpreted the world around me, including those movies, through an untainted lens. I could only interpret what I saw through what I knew and through what was part of my truth and my life.

So when I saw Vivian pull out brightly colored circular things in square wrappers, my brain only knew to interpret that as a sucker, or candy. It wasn't until high school, when condoms were talked about regularly and sex was part of the conversations that I realized just how wrong I was.

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Was the sheltering harmful? I don't think so. I was able to have great memories with my mom watching movies that my innocent mind made sense of without the idea of sex. I never felt like I was missing out. And it didn't affect my sex life as an adult. If anything, because I didn't get caught up in the curiosity of it all, I had no unrealistic expectations and nothing tainted my view of it. It was, and still is, exciting, connecting, and fun, with no baggage.

I don't know how my innocent little mind managed to miss the whole prostitute thing, I have no idea what I thought he was paying her for, but I will never forget that moment of realization of what it was that I had been watching all those years. More importantly, I will never forget what a great job my parents did keeping me safe from any unrealistic expectations of sex, or any damaging stereotypes and assumptions of a woman's role in sex.

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I have been free to enjoy sex in my adulthood without feeling the need to please others without also receiving pleasure for myself. I have been free to experience sex as something that is connecting and intimate and is fun. I've been able to experience baggage-free sex and it's all because I thought a condom was a candy sucker.