The A.V. Club has obtained an exclusive excerpt of the McSweeney's mini-book Judy Blume In Conversation With Lena Dunham, which is being offered to 2,000 readers only as part of the subscription package to The Believer magazine. In this brief passage, the influential YA author and the Girls creator/indie auteur discuss things like the lost art of heavy petting, when it's appropriate to discuss blowjob stories with fans, and, of course, twerking.
Lena Dunham: I get a lot of unasked-for sexual confessions. Have you got a lot of those in your day because of what you do and your books?
Judy Blume: They’re probably different from yours, but yes, especially when everybody wrote by hand. Email is just not the same. Do you get this stuff by email?
LD: I get some papers—again, the letters from the men in prison come on paper—but I do occasionally… I don’t really have a place where people can reach me via email, because it got a little overwhelming. People tweet things at me like “Oh, DM [direct message] me for a great story that you’ll definitely need to use on the show,” which, I don’t usually DM them.
JB: No, you don’t want to do that. If they tell you their story and then you write anything they think is close, they’ll accuse you of stealing their idea. I never read unsolicited stories sent by people who say, “I have an idea and I want you to write this book.”
LD: But did children and adolescents say to you, “I’m having this experience, I’m starting to dip my toe in the sexual waters?” Do people respond to Forever like, “Here’s how it went with my first boyfriend?”
JB: Yes, sometimes. But not so much sexually explicit stuff. It’s more about their regrets at having done it. Especially girls who did it to keep a boyfriend. Their disappointments. One young man wrote to say he was thinking of killing himself when his girlfriend broke up with him, but Forever helped him see that life goes on.
LD: Well, that’s good. It’s better that way, it really is. Basically, my new litmus test for people is like, in the first ten minutes of us talking, do they make me hear about a blow job they gave? And if they didn’t, then I can feel… It’s not that I don’t want to hear about that stuff, I just don’t want to hear about it immediately. I want to hear about it on more-comfortable terms.
JB: We weren’t doing blow jobs when I was growing up. I mean, talk about changing sexual mores. It just didn’t go that way—not for me or my friends, at least not that I know of. We made out. We didn’t jump into intercourse. We were too afraid of getting pregnant.
LD: My mom said the term “heavy petting” existed a lot when she was in high school.
JB: Heavy petting: That was fun; that was good.
LD: [Laughs] That’s the best.
JB: I frankly wish kids would go back to it. It’s very satisfying and it’s not as scary, and girls, so many girls, you know this—they are having intercourse, they’re giving blow jobs, because their boyfriends are telling them, If you don’t, I’ll find someone who will. I want to ask, What are you getting out of this? Maybe a feeling of power.
LD: And maybe a feeling of acceptance. It’s funny, because now we’re talking about this big dialogue in our country about the idea of “slut shaming,” which is a big conversation, and of course you don’t want anybody to feel shame for their sexuality but you also want to make it clear that a loud and proud approach to your sexuality at a young age isn’t necessary to be a fully integrated person.
JB: So slut shaming is when it’s done online? They tell you online that you’re a slut?
LD: That can be it, or it can also be… people are calling the dialogue around Miley Cyrus slut shaming, that everybody’s attacking her.
JB: Yeah, that’s ridiculous. Because she twerked, right? What is twerking? What we used to call humping?
LD: We called it grinding.