Hypocrisy Bridge Rebuilt

Nonfiction / Emily Townsend

:: Hypocrisy Bridge Rebuilt ::


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The red text in the first half of this essay sparked the whole thing. My boyfriend inad­ver­tent­ly offend­ed me with porn­stars’ pic­tures, which set off my exis­ten­tial cri­sis about being unable to accept a hyper­sex­u­al­ized society/being frus­trat­ed at my asex­u­al­i­ty. What real­ly freaked me out was that once we start­ed doing sex­u­al stuff, I lost the sex­u­al­i­ty I had always labeled myself as. Writ­ing helps me con­front the issues I’m con­fused about. Going through three layers—the text, my pre­vi­ous pub­li­ca­tions about asex­u­al­i­ty, the present real­iza­tion of a past self—of one sub­ject fur­ther dis­or­ders the process of sort­ing through this heavy per­son­al issue. I bor­rowed the form of John D’Agata’s The Lifes­pan of a Fact for the columns, and used the pre­vi­ous pub­li­ca­tions as a means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the text and the self I was before I met my boyfriend. I was a scared, lone­ly col­lege stu­dent, yearn­ing for a rela­tion­ship, yet I nev­er want­ed to be touched. So when I got a boyfriend, I knew I’d have to deal with phys­i­cal inti­ma­cy even­tu­al­ly. Going back to how I react­ed to touch when I was nine­teen ver­sus now, 23 and accept­ing touch, was a weird bridge of liminality—how did I ever become com­fort­able with what I once could nev­er han­dle? Change is inevitable; how­ev­er, change is rarely received in the same man­ner every time. I despise change, but this trans­for­ma­tion was sur­pris­ing­ly accepted.


Emi­ly Townsend is a grad­u­ate stu­dent in Eng­lish at Stephen F. Austin State Uni­ver­si­ty. Her works have appeared in cream city review, Super­sti­tion Review, Thought­ful Dog, Noble / Gas Qtr­lySan­ta Clara Review, East­ern Iowa Review, Paci­fi­ca Lit­er­ary Review, and oth­ers. A nom­i­nee for a Push­cart Prize and 2019 AWP Intro Jour­nals Award, she is cur­rent­ly work­ing on a sec­ond col­lec­tion of essays in Nacog­doches, Texas.