Archive for the Real Life Category

From the Headers That Amuse Me department

Posted in Gender, Kink, Real Life on January 26, 2009 by alterisego

From a mildly uninformed Salon article: “Author Daniel Bergner talks about extreme erotic behavior and why we have more in common with sadists and fetishists than we might like to believe.”

I don’t suppose it’s occurred to Author Daniel Bergner that some of “us” might be “sadists” and “fetishists”? Nah, probably not.

Also, reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex has thrown me into the biggest confusion over my gender identity that I’ve experienced in a very long while… but I think I want to think it out before I write about it. It would be nice if I felt comfortable enough with the shrink to talk about these things with him.


In which California really hits home

Posted in Current Events, Gender, Orientation, Real Life, Sexuality on December 18, 2008 by alterisego

Although I’ve of course been outraged about the passage of California’s Proposition 8 since November 4, Saturday was the first day that I realized the decision could affect me personally. I’m from California originally, and I was home visiting and talking to a friend about how the woman I was sitting next to on a plane for almost five hours thought, even as we landed, that I was male. She had asked me what I do, I said I was in college, she asked me my major, I said I’m undecided but I’m leaning towards sociology, and she said (rather strangely, actually), “That’s great! You can come home every day and tell your wife about all the interesting people you’ve met!”

Of course, this woman had failed to grasp the basic concept of sociology, but many people don’t know what it is; what I told my friend was that it puzzled me that she had sat next to me for five hours and she’d still come out with the oh-so-gendered “your wife.” My friend joked, “Well, you know, maybe she did mean ‘your wife.'” I shook my head. “Not in this state,” I said. “Not in this fucking state.”

And that was the point when I realized that Prop. 8 isn’t just about all the gay moms and dads out there, or even young couples who are still ten years older than me. It became clear to me that when I decided to take this fight seriously, I’m fighting for my own self-preservation just as much as that of a random jumble of letters (L, G, B, T, etc.) that somehow come together to signify a disenfranchised community.

I’m fighting for the right for a woman to say that to me on the plane, see what I am, and still mean “your wife.”

A thought

Posted in Gender, Kink, Real Life on November 11, 2008 by alterisego

At school, I saw a flyer advertising auditions for The Vagina Monologues. “I should audition,” I thought, channelling all that feminist goodness that caused me to read the damn play in the first place.

Then I remembered that I revile my vagina so much that I’m scared to touch it. “Maybe someone else would be better at this,” I thought.

Continue reading

lol 19th-century romantic poetry

Posted in Kink, Other, Real Life on October 20, 2008 by alterisego

I enjoy finding references to the covertly salacious in the canon of great Western literature:

And Julia sate with Juan, half embraced
And half retiring from the glowing arm,
Which trembled like the bosom where ‘t was placed;
Yet still she must have thought there was no harm,
Or else ‘t were easy to withdraw her waist;
But then the situation had its charm,
And then—God knows what next—I can’t go on;
I ‘m almost sorry that I e’er begun.

O Plato! Plato! you have paved the way,
With your confounded fantasies, to more
Immoral conduct by the fancied sway
Your system feigns o’er the controulless core
Of human hearts, than all the long array
Of poets and romancers:—You ‘re a bore,
A charlatan, a coxcomb—and have been,
At best, no better than a go-between.

And Julia’s voice was lost, except in sighs,
Until too late for useful conversation;
The tears were gushing from her gentle eyes,
I wish indeed they had not had occasion,
But who, alas! can love, and then be wise?
Not that remorse did not oppose temptation;
A little still she strove, and much repented
And whispering ‘I will ne’er consent’—consented.

Porn and Me

Posted in Feminism, Kink, Porn/Erotica, Real Life, Sexuality on June 28, 2008 by alterisego

I was so blown away by a post of Trinity’s on her experiences with porn that I felt motivated to think about my relationship with the medium. So here are some disorganized musings.

I attribute the whole thing to the fact that I was a rather traditional nerdy girl, who came of age with guys.

Maybe a year or two years ago (it seems so long ago in my head, but I guess it wasn’t), I was learning about and becoming accustomed to ideas of sex, sexual identity, and sexual expression for the first time, and growing into an idea of myself as a sexual being. I started giving names to feelings, responses that I had, and I moved from a stage of “fascination” with certain concepts or people to a stage of sexual attraction and arousal. That feeling I once described to my little sister as “needing to pee” became, I realized (particularly after watching a rather bizarre French documentary on Swedish television), swelling of my clitoris. I learned more, I read more, I talked more, and my hormone balances changed. The stories I told myself to fall asleep at night stopped having a plot, I noticed. Instead I would fixate, almost unconsciously, on the same scene, whether it was the scene where the protagonist (a cooler version of myself) had detention with the incredibly sexy young teacher, or the one where the protagonists committed a disciplinary infraction on an 18th-century Royal Navy ship and the cat was (literally) let out of the bag. (I was fond of that one. But beside the point.)

So here we are, I’m 16 or so, pretty emotionally immature, and not quite sure how to piece together my very extensive reading knowledge of sex education with my own feelings, which I can’t control and don’t understand. In the meantime, I make some new friends—and my new friends, as it happens, are a little more at ease with themselves and a little more at ease with me. Unlike the guys I always tried to make friends with in my classes, these guys were willing to talk about “guy stuff” to each other in front of me. It was the first time I’d ever heard anyone talk openly about their own sexual responses. I was kind of taken aback, but in the interests of being accepted, I adjusted. Naturally, because these were your average adolescent males, I started to hear about porn (in fact, it might have been around the second time I hung out with them outside of school). I’d never heard anyone talk about it before; I had only the vaguest clinical idea of what it was. I’d certainly never seen any. But I heard my friends mention the genre of entertainment in passing, and so formed the opinion they presented: that porn isn’t harmful, that it is normal to watch it, and that this is often done as an aid to masturbation, which is also perfectly natural (well, I knew that part from my teen health websites). I started to “heheh” at sexual references, and I started to become accustomed to their world.

I didn’t really integrate myself completely in it, though—and still haven’t—because, I suppose, I’m undeniably wired like a woman. Sex drive isn’t omnipresent for me, and it especially wasn’t two years ago, as a very late bloomer. Also, all this information was new to me, who had never even considered self-pleasure before I heard it discussed, and I didn’t entirely understand that this porn idea could apply to women as well. At the time I didn’t have very many female friends, and those I had did not tend to be sexually well-adjusted. I was very confused: to a certain extent, I didn’t think of sexualization as something women did, and that was partly because I saw it as “wrong”—I remember having ethical quandaries about the way my male friends would sometimes objectify women (until I, terribly, found myself doing it too, and figured I couldn’t really maintain the moral high ground). But at the same time, because what I knew other people had was a life with a sex drive, I began to think I was not quite normal. I described myself as asexual for a few months, until I grew into myself a little better and realized that wasn’t accurate at all.

So shit, I’ve gotten way off-track. What about the porn? I took 700 words to explain where I am now, and perhaps none too clearly. I think I’m biologically and hormonally as sexually developed as I’m going to be for a young adult woman (if not experienced or comfortable), and here I am. I still don’t watch porn, and I still don’t masturbate. I had problems with the masturbation, and I gave up trying so hard. I still feel bad that I can’t do something everyone else can do (even the female friends I’ve since, happily, acquired), but I also figure it’s probably not worth investing that much stress into it. And porn. What do I think about that?

You must understand I don’t think it’s wrong, or amoral—I’m a big supporter of the porn industry, of the idea of graphic portrayal of sexual material, and all that stuff. I would have no problem with a significant other who watched porn, or indeed one who was interested in watching porn with me. Sometimes someone will send me a clip or a picture and I’ll watch it or look at it—sometimes I’ve seen some very attractive things that way. Because of the way I’ve grown into myself, I think it’s amusing when I can agree with one of those straight guys about a good porn clip, or a hot actress (still a fairly rare occurrence, though). It’s like sharing a taste in, y’know, non-sexual movies. And I do a fair amount of research-type work into porn, reading the old shit and watching the more modern shit. I watched Deep Throat once because I wanted to know what started porno film, and of course I’ve read the standards from Fanny Hill to Story of O.

But I don’t go seeking it out to pleasure myself. And I can’t help but think that’s a little weird. I’m not sure if I’m repressed, or if I do secretly think it’s a bit wrong, or unhealthy. I think that to a certain extent, I’m still wedded to that misconception I had back when I started learning about it that porn is a guy thing, and I’m not a guy, therefore it’s not really my problem. I guess I don’t know where to start, or what to look for. I’m hard to please, certainly, and not only do I not like to see cocks (which kind of rules out a lot there), I don’t find anything interesting in mainstream heterosexual notions of female beauty. I guess I’m too lazy or too nervous to go searching for something other than the first Internet pop-up that confronts me. I guess I can tackle porn on a scientific or social or historical level, and when I think about it there’s a lot of sort of unusual stuff I’ve seen in my intellectual curiosity about unusual fetishes, or indeed about my own relatively vanilla ones. But then move outside of the scientific and say “This is hot”? That’s not something I’m too good at doing.

Someone sent me a porno once that I do actually like (and that made me feel like I’d finally succeeded in dealing with my sexuality), and as it’s all I’ve got other than the tenth re-reading of Story of O, there are times in the dark of night when I’ll navigate the complicated folder structure I set up to hide it and sit down and watch it all the way through. I squirm with something—is it discomfort at seeing a naked woman (something that’s never happened in real life), or is it just a little bit of carnal pleasure at what the man in the video says and does to her? I guess I wouldn’t keep watching it if I didn’t like it, and yet I’ve never—in a year, I think it’s been—typed in the URL that appears at the bottom of the video. I’ve never gone looking for more like it, tried to find out what I’m into, or if watching this stuff could help me masturbate the way I first learned it did other people.

Just like, for this 18-year-old virgin, sex is something other people have, porn is something other people derive pleasure from. It’s great for them, and I’m happy they can enjoy themselves. The first thing I learned about porn was that it is fun to watch and a healthy sexual indulgence. Combine that with what I know now about consent and 2257 and all that good stuff, and I have absolutely no qualms about saying that I am completely pro-porn and proud of it.

In a strictly abstract sense.

Something weird happened Thursday.

Posted in Gender, Real Life on April 26, 2008 by alterisego

The way I leave school every day, I pass the playing fields. I usually cut across the field to get to the path that goes up to the road, because it’s quicker. During this time of year, the football team has off-season practice, and there were a few burly guys in football t-shirts throwing around a football. I guess that on Thursday they didn’t want me cutting across “their” grass, because they started yelling at me. “Hey, you with the bag! Turn around! You with the man-purse! Why don’t you catch the ball?” I take my books to school in a green Lands End messenger bag, but I would hardly call it a “man-purse”. And last I checked, I wasn’t a man. So I kept walking; I didn’t turn around—same as I always do when someone mistakes my sex, I ignore it.

But I regretted my cowardice intensely as I walked up the hill. I had mental images of myself turning around to give them the finger, being aggressive back at them and picking a fight until I could defiantly say, “What? You’re gonna hit a girl?” Though I realized that wouldn’t teach them the lesson, that what they said was prejudiced on so many levels, from judging me to be male from my appearance to judging me to be an effeminate male with a man-purse who couldn’t catch a ball from that appearance. I passed up a teachable moment out of my fear that those guys would really hurt me, and out of my self-consciousness, and I’m still ashamed.

This sort of thing doesn’t happen to me often at school. While there’s a lot of latent homophobia, gender stereotyping, sexism, all that stuff, I’ve never gotten that kind of response. People tend to keep their prejudices to themselves, and when they see me in the women’s restroom and think I’m not a woman, they are the ones who double-check the sign on the door—usually they don’t accuse me of being in the wrong place. I’m thinking back, and I don’t really think I’ve gotten teased or bullied for my clothing and bag choices since middle school. I guess that’s what was so weird about this occurrence; it seemed like the football players were being more immature than usual. I’ve been taught that it’s my duty to speak out against things like that, to bring those kids quickly up to how a 17-year-old, and not a 12-year-old, is supposed to behave. But I, who can barely manage to say anything when kids use “gay” as an insult, find it so much easier to just keep walking.

I tend to go through my life thinking that things are really not that bad. More of my friends are allies than antagonists, and my school isn’t as bad in this regard as a lot of others. But sometimes sexism or homophobia or … gender identity-ism(?) will just come up and slap me in the face and I can’t quite believe it’s happened.

And then I remember how this is daily life for a lot of people, and apologize for complaining.

Quote of the day

Posted in Kink, Orientation, Real Life, Sexuality on April 13, 2008 by alterisego

“And what’s wrong with being a lesbian and still liking a bit of meat on Saturdays?”

I’ve decided that that right there is my sexual orientation.

In other news, I contacted the BDSM discussion group guys at U1 and they told me that their group is very much active and welcomes new members, and also pointed me in the direction of a support group for young BDSMers in U1’s city. It’s going to be very difficult not to make a decision on this basis…