Those of you who have been reading for a while will know that I kind of love PostSecret. It’s a community art project; people send in postcards featuring a secret they’ve never told anyone. I first heard about it when an ex emailed me the URL in 2004, saying that he was certain I’d love it. Since 2004, I’ve graduated university; gone through a number of jobs; come into my S&M identity; lived in three US cities and two countries overseas; broken hearts and had my heart broken. And I still occasionally read PostSecret.
At some point I started saving the postcards I really liked to my hard drive. I’ve done it sporadically and I have no idea which year each postcard is from. But! New feature around these parts: I will be sharing PostSecret postcards occasionally, with a tiny dollop of commentary. And of course all are welcome to share thoughts in comments.
(Based on the picture, and probably also because I’m a heterosexual cisgendered lady, I am assuming that this postcard was written by someone who identifies as a woman. But that might not be true, and alternative interpretations or extra layers are welcome.)
This postcard strikes me as sad and fascinating not just for what it says about men’s gender roles, but about women’s. A man who can’t get an erection risks being seen as “unmanly” … but there’s also this terrible cultural message that men aren’t attracted to women if they lose an erection in bed with them. Also, there’s a pervasive idea that “real” sex must include a man’s erection, and that sex/eroticism doesn’t really exist without that. Stir in the fact that women often feel as though the only real way we can prove our worth or contribute to a relationship is by being sexy. And somewhere among all those threads is the woman who wrote this postcard. I imagine her feeling unwanted and desperate to prove her worth — and I also imagine her partner feeling both inadequate and guilty about how she feels.
(Please note that there are many PostSecret books available for purchase, including A Lifetime of Secrets, and Extraordinary Confessions From Ordinary Lives, and Confessions on Life, Death and God, and others.)