Kat George is a prolific Internet writer and master of the personal-yet-broadly-affecting e-essay. She writes about lots of things – movies, fashion, Katy Perry – but she is most well known for her writing about sexuality and womanhood for websites like Thought Catalog and Vice.
Pink Bits is George’s foray into published long-form writing; a Thought Catalog ebook of essays, stories and insight all about the eponymous bodily region. And it’s good. As a man, my interactions with said bits have all been secondhand, but George emphasizes their importance for everyone in, you know, the very fact that we exist.
The book is valuable (and funny) for men and women alike, and has lessons to offer about more than just vaginae (yes, that’s the plural of vagina.)
Kat and I spoke about the book.
In Pink Bits you say, “If I ever have a daughter I’m going to advise her to wait as long as she can to lose her virginity.” Say you wake up tomorrow as the mother of a teen girl who you have to explain sex to. Like, right when you wake up. She’s 16, but still totally ignorant for some reason. What’s your personal “birds and the bees“?
This scenario feels really Suddenly 30 to me, and I like it. I’m so, so terrified of ever having to raise a girl, I think possibly because my mum made hers a really hard act to follow. I suppose, though, if I had to tell my daughter anything, it’s that sex, for the most part, is as necessary and lovely as eating and sleeping, and that eventually (and hopefully!) she’s going to get to enjoy a lot of it, so not to scoff down the whole Big Mac in one bite. Sex is as much of a non-issue as it is an issue, and it’s not that she shouldn’t do it, but that it’s that much better and that much more rewarding when she does it on her own terms, with her own best interests as her primary concern. I’m not really sure that many 16-year-old girls know how to put themselves first in the sense of doing things devoid of any external pressures, and I’d want her to have full agency over her desires and her actions before she started making these very real decisions about losing her virginity.
What do you hope to add to the conversation of female sexuality with your book?
The thing that drives everything I write is a desire to make people, especially women, feel better about their sexuality. To feel comfortable in it, to possess it, and to feel a sense of camaraderie in the process. I think too often in the media, sex, for women, is a tool of competition or seduction, and we’re forced to look at sex and other women like, “Oh I’m not that sexy” or “How can I pleasure a man to his liking?” I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in a sense of inclusion, of looking at the gross and the awkward and the scary parts, and how all that is really very beautiful in its way. We all go through very similar things sexually and sex is, as I mentioned, as lovely and necessary as the most mundane of daily tasks. We can sit around for hours talking about the dreams we had or the meals we ate; we rarely talk about sex in the same banal, emotionally unattached way, and we should be able to.
Is it hard to release personal stories like this to the public?
Not at all, because they’re not really personal stories to me. They’re experiences that everyone has had and all I’m really doing is opening up a dialogue by expressing them from my perspective.
Have you found that writing about your personal and sexual life online has changed how people treat you in real life?
Yes and no. People always ask me what my parents think, and to be honest, no one has supported me as unconditionally and as vehemently as they have. The people that know me know me. They know who I am, what I want to express, and they believe in the way I’m going about expressing it. There are some people, especially men I don’t know, who will often email me or Tweet at me saying wholly inappropriate, sexually loaded things; I’m just not interested in these people. Sometimes in social situations as well, people think it’s OK to have explicit or lewd conversations with me about my personal life; again, I’m not interested in these people. In the vein of a movement like Slutwalk, I’d say that just because I’m open to discussing sex, it doesn’t mean I’m open to being propositioned by a stranger for it. I don’t think anyone would ever approach a man who speaks about sex the same way – and yes, there are definitely people who see me as fair game, or “up for it” or whatever the hell other ridiculous notion they’ve got in their head that makes them comfortable with objectifying me. But that kind of behaviour is not okay; I deserve politeness and respect as much as the next person.
Early in the book, you claim to remember your birth, something not many can claim. Tell us about this, from the memory itself to the fact you remember it.
You know, it’s the strangest thing. It’s like I concocted this memory out of nothing, because I feel like there’s no scientific way I could possibly even remember being birthed. But still; I can see a doctor and nurses and a bunch of people standing around and I’m screaming and screaming and being held in the air like the Lion King baby. I definitely have a very overactive imagination.
Your book discusses your first boyfriend being a pillow, but you never mention breaking up with the pillow. Does that mean every sexual encounter you’ve had since then has been cheating on the pillow?
Ha! Yes, well I suppose it does. I’m truly sorry, Wheeler.
You make frequent references to moments being like fiction, be it a “young adult novel”, “teen sex romp” or an “Apatow produced summer blockbuster”. Do you think the modern sexual coming of age is just pretty universal, so that’s why you feel like you had so many moments that were “like the movies”?
Oh yeah! That and I love movies and television; I’ve lived my entire life–at times as the star, at other times as a supporting character–as though it’s a movie. Sometimes I pretend its a music video. Life to me, from the heartbreaking to the heartwarming, is very cinematic. Why shouldn’t it be? The world is a stage, after all.
You discuss body image issues and quote your mother as saying, “You decide how you feel–those boys can’t decide for you.” Why isn’t this an answer to the entire body image debate? Is a person’s mind not their own?
Well, not everyone has a perfect mother to tell them they get to decide how they feel. And for me, even with that guidance, it was very hard to turn my preoccupation with outside imagery and influence into myself. The world at large puts a lot of pressure on young women, whether it’s school yard bullies, models in magazines, dieting products or the whole plethora of things that are designed to just make you feel bad about yourself. In a rational world, these things would be what they are–drivel. But we don’t live in a rational world; we live in an emotional, perverse, backwards world. It’s a daily battle to drown out the noise, and even now, against my better judgement, I sometimes still look at a woman in a magazine and think, “If only…” even though on a daily basis I feel happy in my own skin, and even though I know the magazine is holding up a completely fabricated, unrealistic notion of what beauty means. It’s easy to say “decide how you feel,” but sometimes the world around you makes it difficult to make a clever decision.
What other projects are you working on?
I’m actually about to start writing another book, which is as yet untitled, and will be for print release. I’ve also written and will be starring in, directing and co-producing (phew!) a web series called The Big Gulp, which we just funded a pilot for on Kickstarter, and there’s some really amazing people working with me on that so I’m really excited. I’m still writing for Thought Catalog, Vice, Noisey and Bullett, and in my spare time I guess I’m trying to perfect some dance moves I’ve been toying with for a while.