Well, hello, lovely people of the internet. So, I’ve been threatening on my Twitter for a while now about doing a post regarding the fact that Titanic shaped a good deal of my thinking about sex when I was a pre-teen. I watched it for the first time when I was eleven. I was in the hospital recovering from spine surgery and I pleaded to rent it from the hospital library. I guess my parents felt bad for me and caved into letting me watch a PG-13 movie. Maybe they thought the morphine would blur out the violent and/or sexy parts. I’m not really sure, I just know that between the time I was released from the hospital and the time I had my first sex-ed class a year later, I had purchased the epic VHS box set and watched the damn thing 37 million times. And looking back, many things, some subtle some strange, regarding my sexuality had been influenced by that collision with destiny. Oh my. So, my friends, here it is. While you may be looking for some humorous pop culture top ten list, alas this is not it. This is a "top four" true confession of my sexual development in a blog post full of oversharing. You lucky people.
1. Kate Winslet is Gorgeous, and Powerful
When most people gave me a hard time about watching Titanic so much it was because they thought I was obsessed with LEO. But if we are going to be honest about who really made my heart beat a little faster and my mind roll right into the gutter the culprit was Rose. The character was so vivacious and so physically striking that it was hard not to have a crush on her. Jack was all right, but Rose really held my interest. I can already hear people rolling their eyes thinking, “Yeah, she was sexy, she showed her boobs, duh.” But for me it was more than that. I don’t know anything about Kate Winslet’s personal life (I’ve never been much of a celebrity stalker) but as I’ve grown I really respect her for being so bold and confident about her body in her work. “Quills” and “The Reader” are two extremely powerful films where sexuality and the intellect are irrevocably bound. Those roles would not have been so powerful without Winslet exposing her body and confronting sexuality in a forward manner. It’s something I really want to emulate in my own creative work, bringing sexuality to the same level as the other themes in the story – no shame, no apologies. For as many movies as I saw as a kid that flashed naughty bits here and there just to add some superficial energy to a scene or just have a reason to see boobs, I can at least say the sensuality Winslet put forth was more than a cheap thrill. It stayed with me in a way I am thankful for, in both my personal and creative life.
2. Sweat Does Not Make Babies
In sex-ed class we learned you put condoms over penises so you wouldn’t make babies. Unfortunately, they never used the term “ejaculate” and I literally did not know that men ejaculated semen until I watched my first porn clip a couple years later. (Talk about not seeing something coming, badum-chink.) But thanks to the Titanic car sex scene (the only sex scene I had examined in any detail) I had it figured out: semen was in penis sweat. You see, the most striking thing about the car scene was how much moisture was involved. They were drenched in sweat and the windows were dripping! So my young brain simply surmised that when you have sex, the penis sweats and that makes babies, so you covered the penis up to keep the sweat from getting on you. This is why articulate sex-ed is important. This is why parents talking to kids about sex is important. Or else they’ll be convinced that sweat makes babies.
There’s a line in the film where Old Lady Rose says, “It was the most erotic moment of my life… up until then at least.” Thing is, I had no idea what the word “erotic” was and I heard “Sterotic” instead. I didn’t know what sterotic meant either, but I supposed it meant sexy. It made me feel sexy. So whenever I got turned on, and when I started masturbating, I referred to it as “sterotic” in my head. As an erotica writer I will still accidentally type “sterotic” instead of “erotic.” It stuck in my head and the imprint is still there. I'm rather impressed by this as you can tell.
My earliest sexual fantasy was having someone paint me while I posed nude. Obviously this is rooted in the infamous portrait scene. I often find this ironic. As a person with a physical disability, this was about the same time (around ten or eleven) that I actively began trying to cover up aspects of my disability. I never wore shorts or dresses and I started putting socks over my braces. I became conscious of my scars and the way I walk and tried to hide these blemishes whenever possible. So this freedom of being naked in front of someone and having that nudity transformed into art was probably exacerbated by the fact I was constantly trying to hide myself from others. I often wonder what influenced this fantasy more: my seeing the movie at such an age or the circumstances surrounding the relationship I had with my body at the time. I’m sure it’s a bit of both.
It’s funny, now, to watch the movie. Some of the things I took so seriously are somewhat cheesey. And some of the themes still strike me as bold and fine as they did when I saw the film for the first time. As far as pop culture is concerned, I can think of worse movies to sharpen my sexual outlook. For better or worse, I shall always remember Titanic as a stepping stone on my sexual journey. And I’ll always have my “Heart of the Ocean” replica. Be jealous.