Column: If anonymous compliments are sexy, we should re-evaluate sexy

Don’t defend the Mizzou Secret Admirers Facebook page on the grounds that we need a platform for sexual honesty, because it isn’t one.

Oh, Mizzou, we’re so misguided about sex.

It’s an ugly, cold Friday and I’m sitting here watching the Mizzou Secret Admirers page implode. The administrator posted this morning asking whether the page should be deleted after they became aware of The Maneater's editorial published last week. None of you want the administrator to delete the page, and frankly I don’t want them to either, so don't get salty with me.

None of you think they should get rid of it because why should they relent to The Maneater, a paper who you think has a questionable past, who you think is just doing this to make a story out of something? Why should you lose your right to post about Bobby Teenager in the front row of your biology lecture just because The Maneater and their grubby, politically correct hands have an opinion about it?

To be transparent, I’m not here to defend The Maneater – while they do employ me, I have no incentive or responsibility to back them up, publicly or privately. I’m no hired gun. So I’m not going to engage in some cyclical debate about the Secret Admirers page itself – I’ve already written about sex exposure and the Internet and you should (hopefully) know by now that I’m not here to discourage positive sex talk.

I’m writing right now because I’m partly entertained, but mostly discouraged, that many of you believe the Secret Admirers page is actually raunchy or a platform for sexual freedom.

Some of you have maybe never had an opportunity to be ‘open’ about your desires, so I can see how this could be new territory. Some of you believe the page should be kept alive on the grounds that we need a place for open sexuality, where we have no concerns for “political correctness” – “Keep raunchy-ness alive!” exclaims one poster.

But let’s make this much clear: raunchiness is not writing some cheesy Harlequin-novel passage about what you’d do to someone’s ass while you’re under the protection of anonymity. Raunchiness is not the reaffirmation of the belief that being into someone is a risky thought that should only be expressed in a hushed tone, or through an anonymous online submission.

Rather than encouraging people to initiate conversations in person, Mizzou Secret Admirers is just an extension of the same cruel game – it’s playing by the same rules, which insist that having a crush (sexual or platonic) is conversation material best left under a veil of shame.

This trend happens all over the Internet, mind you. Some people think being sex-positive is posting a black-and-white art picture of an exposed breast on Tumblr, as if that action alone gives you membership in a group of people supposedly without sexual shame. Some of us hold onto a belief that watching Magic Mike is finally an outlet for women to be sexually liberated, or that reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” means you know how to be sexy.

But is watching a dude stripping down to a banana hammock really the best we can do for our sexual selves, especially given the reaffirmation of male sexual power inherent in the plot? Does owning a copy of “Fifty Shades” really mean we’re sexually comfortable?

When you post that you want to get freaky with someone on the hood of a car, do you really mean that, or do you feel braggadocio and exhibitionism is the only acceptable way to be openly sexy?

We’re all playing by these commonly assumed standards of what “sexy” is, but I’m afraid we don’t have much of a clue – it all just feels like a requirement. Beyond that, I’m afraid those standards of what’s hot and what’s not are contrived and frankly un-sexy.

Buying a raunchy novel, reading Cosmo, posting a “sophisticated” dick pic or writing about a secret admirer all seem too easy – “Follow these steps and you’ll feel hot!” – and that’s exactly why they’re problematic.

I understand posting on Mizzou Secret Admirers might be the most sensible thing for you – maybe you’re into someone, but don’t actually want to talk or hook up. That’s fine. But otherwise, do we really feel more satisfied now that we have a place to post our desires in secret? Are our sexual insecurities now fully addressed?

There is nothing freeing about feeling shamed into keeping our desires secretive, so before you defend Mizzou Secret Admirers as a platform for renewed sexual freedom, consider what the benefits of the page can actually be. If you’re set on keeping the page, figure out how we can use it in a way that feels genuine or productive.

Put away the lace bras, the bad game and the insistence that we all know what “sexy” is. Let’s not pretend we don't have shame. Honesty, confidence and being genuine are sexier than a secretive post, and all of us have room to find some sexual happiness without resorting to passive, unproductive measures.

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