Am I Normal? Normal. What a loaded word that is. On the surface it’s fairly innocuous, it just means “the usual or expected state” of something, but when it comes to us humans who just happen to be some of the most complicated and complex things in the universe, examining what “normal” is begins to reveal unexpected layers of meaning and, inevitably, confusion.
It’s “Normal” to want to belong
As humans one of our primary survival instincts is to stay with the pack. We feel safe and protected and connected within it, and we need to feel like we belong. The thing is, though, that while we have the big ol’ pack that is the human race, us complex and complicated human creatures are all very different and therefore gravitate towards our own specific packs where the other members fit into our own personal versions of the “usual or expected state”. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. It’s wonderful that as varied and different as we all are we can find a place we feel that we belong, but it does cause some problems.
What is a “Normal” Sex Life anyway?
You see the thing is, even though there are a hell of a lot of us in this world, when it comes to our society, one variation of “how to be a human” has become louder and more widespread than any other and has set the bar of “normal” to its own very specific perimeters, shunning and shaming anyone who falls short and doesn’t fit into the box. The thing is though, it’s such a small box that no-one actually fits into it, but instead of trying to make it bigger or ignoring it altogether, we spend our entire lives questioning ourselves wondering what we’re doing wrong, and trying to shave off or remould bits of ourselves to squeeze inside, completely missing the fact that no-one else is fitting into it either, even the ones who seem to hold the key.
The “normal” box and its keyholders are cruel. They have to be. It’s how they control the pack. Set humans an unattainable goal but tell them that everyone else has already reached it. If they don’t then they’re just not as good as the others and might not be part of the pack any more.
These goals - things like how we should look or dress, what our life paths should look like, how much we should weigh, how much we should earn, where we live, who we love, who we worship, and possibly the most regulated: how we have sex, how often we have sex and who we have sex with - are presented to us as something we all need to do or have in just the right way, because it will make us happy, accepted, part of the gang, a proper human… But it’s a lie. A beautiful glossy lie sold to you with the hidden fine-print that you’ll never attain it and you’ll never feel good enough, while also inferring you might feel a tad bit better if you judge or ridicule someone else who isn’t fitting into it either, but in a slightly different way to you. This can manifest in all sorts of ways from the childhood bullying of not having the right brand of jeans, all the way up to xenophobia and homophobia and other bigotries spawned from the differences of others. Sex and the associated shame if you’re not doing it in the precise way they say you should be is smack bang right in the middle of the ways humans control other humans, and it’s no different to the rest of the lies they tell us about what everyone else is doing and how you’re doing it wrong.
Make your own “Normal”
While things are definitely changing from the old-fashioned Puritanical views of the past, our modern, mainstream take on sex and sexuality is still set to a fairly rigid standard of monogamy and love, and doesn’t often include or support those who fall outside of that small box.
Sure, we’re definitely more accepting and understanding of gay and lesbian people, but there’s still a long road ahead for trans people to get the same. Yes, hook-up culture is pretty low on the OMG factor these days, but there’s still a lot of judgement thrown about when women talk about how many people they’ve slept with. Okay, every mum in the school yard loved Fifty Shades, but actually telling them you’re owned and collared, or that you enjoy golden showers would probably have you the centre of gossip at the P&T meetings.
The thing to remember is this: Everyone is as normal and as abnormal as you. Everyone.
Susie from marketing sometimes wears nipple clamps to work, Clive down at the post office has a penchant for dressing up like Disney princesses, Lucy from the hairdressers has a slave locked in a cage at home, and all of you went to the pub last week and ordered the fish and chips. Everyone is as normal and as abnormal as you depending on what part of your life you’re examining at the time, and as long as you and the people around you are happy and content then I don’t think anyone has the right to tell you to stop.
Don’t try to be “Normal” - just be yourself
Basically what I’m saying is that normal doesn’t exist. It’s a setting on your washing machine and that’s it. There is no “proper” way to be or have sex. There is only what works for you and the people you are having sex with, and really, that’s all that matters. The ONLY normal, the ONLY consistency that comes with sex should be consent. Once you have that, if you want to go sticking all sorts of whatever things into whatever bits (flared bases please, folks) with whoever people then go for it, make your own kind of normal and fuck what anyone has to say about it. In the immortal words of Morticia Addams “What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly” and I think there’s something in that for all of us, don’t you?