Archive for the Sexuality Category

Thoughts on identifying as genderqueer

Posted in Feminism, Gender, Orientation, Sexuality on October 17, 2008 by alterisego

I’ve been toying with this one for a while. I’ve never really felt totally on board with the “genderqueer” label—my Facebook says I’m “gender-nonconforming.” I identify with physical femininity and the submissiveness with which it is stereotypically associated, with having breasts and hips, and often in fantasy-land with the notion of being penetrated. But socially, I cringe at the limitations of this identity. I want the advantages of a penis: to be able to pee standing up, to jerk off like a guy. I want to be able to move with that oh-so-masculine physical assurance, to sit down with my legs spread and selfishly take up a whole couch or car backseat. Every once in a while I’m seized with this burning desire to grab some fantasy woman and fuck her with the aforementioned fantasy penis. And sometimes I think I try to rationalize the two by being a dyke, by socially combining brashness and shyness, by looking at women but not entirely being comfortable in their company, by dressing in androgyny on a daily basis but never bothering to entirely hide the curves of my body.

I wish I could press a button and go back and forth, endlessly flipping: straight woman to gay woman to straight man. I wish that in an instant I could blink my eyes and have a penis I could aim at a urinal, then blink them again and have tits that fill out a low-cut shirt. (Notice that my own innate reproductive anatomy is absent from this discussion. I don’t like vulva, vagina, clit, etc., I don’t like how I’m scared of them and revile them. If they’re present in the hypothetical blinking, it’s only as an unfortunate side effect of the feminine mindset, which is only ever desirable for entirely different reasons.)

Since I’ve been at college, I’ve met people who feel a little like this, or so they tell me. They talk about having different facets of their identities that manifest as masculine or feminine—I know one person who has a masculine and a feminine spelling of eir name, and who asks that we use pronouns like “eir” to refer to, well, eir (apparently the genitive and accusative have the same form in this declension?). It’s led me to think that there might be some rationale, some sanity, to this identity mumbo-jumbo. These people I’ve met identify as genderqueer—maybe I could too.

After all, isn’t “genderqueer” the accepted label for anyone who feels that their gender is fluid, who doesn’t fit into binary, who doesn’t feel like their biology but doesn’t want to transition? But at the same time, I think this is down to some personal fucked-upedness on my part—I don’t feel sane enough about it, reasonable enough, to claim it as an identity. And on a broader level, I can’t decide whether I even want a gender identity, really. I don’t know what I feel like I need to explain or justify. I look and act the way I do; anyone can see that and take from it what they will. All, I think, that anyone needs to know is that I’m open to advances from both men and women (though as you might be able to guess from the tripartite identity discussed above, “bisexual” doesn’t quite cut it). But then I also am inclined to think that all this tripartitude isn’t legit if I can’t classify and explain it. It’s as if in order to be alternately pleased when someone calls me “sir,” fear the women’s restroom, and wear a dress and shave my legs for prom, I need a good reason. And then, on the other hand, I wonder why I need to justify myself to anyone.

College is for this cogitating. I don’t feel like it’s something I can tell my mother, or the psychologist/counselor guy I’m now seeing, or the director of the LGBT Center, or the master of my college (whom I would otherwise confide in). It’s too weird, too experimental—and also too vested in my gender-essentialist D/s desires (assonance/consonance, yes?). In a weird way, it seems like I only want to revolt against gender in order to confirm every stereotype about it, and that’s not PC at all.

I know this will take years, and that even then it’s not going to be easy to describe my entire psychological self-portrait with a single label. But in the interim I need something to put on my Facebook profile.

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Gender Identity

Posted in Gender, Kink, Sexuality on August 31, 2008 by alterisego

I’ve really started to hate being a woman. Socially and psychologically, it doesn’t bother me as much: my personality has never been especially “feminine,” my presentation stopped being so long ago (except on special occasions), and we’re beyond the age when it’s a struggle to have friends of both sexes. In a desexualized social context, I can act like a man, as long as my peers accept that I’m doing so—and the peers who I’ve gotten to know in this part of my life got used to it; I assume that my peers in the next part of my life will do the same. But I run up against this brick wall in physical matters; I’m growing to hate more and more having a female body. I feel as if I’m limited in what I can do by things like the way my hormones fuck with me. I’m sure men have their own problems with hormones (for seriousness’s sake, I’m using “men” and “women” instead of “guys” and “girls”), but it’s just hell for me. I feel manipulated, like I don’t own my body and my emotions. Once a month I spend two days so depressed that it’s almost difficult for me to function normally, I get so cramped that I can’t move, and I bleed for a week. Some of that’s starting to be helped by the Pill, but of course that brings with it its own problems, fucking with my hormones even more. I’m beginning to identify how I feel about my cunt as revulsion. It grosses me out, and that’s why I don’t want to masturbate. I don’t want to touch it—though I don’t feel that way when I see pictures of other women’s pussies. I fantasize about having a dick so that I could jack off.

I’m also feeling less happy with my tits; I admittedly have something of a boob fetish, which is why I’m quite happy to show them off when I wear women’s clothes—I fantasize about people playing with mine just as much as I fantasize about playing with other people’s. But I’m less and less inclined to resign myself to wearing women’s clothes normally—prom is one thing, but if I’m going for a job interview, a skirt and blouse isn’t who I am. And when I wear men’s clothes (like every day), having tits is just ridiculous. You know how disgusting man boobs look? Ten times worse for me when I wear a sweater that’s supposed to fit snugly, or even certain t-shirts. I hate going into every department store in the city and still not owning a pair of pants that fit well, too, because of my hips. And well, yeah, it’s nice to think about someone playing with my boobs, but somehow that falls by the wayside when none of your clothes fit. Aside from a few exceptions, like when I have a crush on a guy, I want to for all intents and purposes “be” a guy in public—it’s stressful to simultaneously be a girl in private, and under the clothes.

In fantasy-land, too, I’m not sure what’s what anymore. I’ve discussed before the extent to which my D/s fantasies are highly gender-specific (dominant male/submissive female), a fact which has given me no small concern about feminism and political correctness, but for the present we’ll just take it as a given that this is what turns me on. When I first “came out,” I identified myself as submissive. I don’t recall exactly what led me to that conclusion, but I recall being very sure. And now I’m reconsidering a bit. I think the logic in my head goes something like, “I want to imagine women dominated and humiliated, and I am a woman, therefore I would like same to be done to me.” Not terrible logic, perhaps, but also perhaps not entirely accurate. There’s more switchiness to this than I’d thought, and I think it depends on what gender identity I’m feeling at that particular moment. My sexual tendency (and so non-PC it’s not funny, but) is to see the entire world in terms of M/f. When I feel like a woman, naked body and all, I want to be fucked, I want to be dominated, etc. By a man. When I am acting in a way I associate with the masculine, it usually means lusting after a woman—and then, sometimes (but not always), I want to do the same to her. This actually makes a lot of logical sense in terms of being a sexual psyche, and I bet it’s relatively common—but it’s incredibly mind-blowing to me, and kind of confusing. I feel as if I don’t know who I am.

This person I knew back in middle school is trans (though when I knew her, she didn’t know it), and I got to know him again last year, when he was still going by female pronouns and his female name, but thinking about changing. He’s just started college, and in doing so he’s started going by his male name and using male pronouns. It’s not like I’ve never heard of a trans person before—I mean, there’s Max on The L Word, after all—but being friends with him and then seeing him get a more masculine haircut, changing his name on his Facebook, etc., has really hit me over the head with how little attachment there has to be between who one is and what one’s body says one is. Textbook gender dysphoria, of course. I don’t think I’m trans—I’ve been so sure for so long that I’m not, but then I thought that about the submissiveness too. I don’t think I would want to transition now, but if I could somehow make it so that I had a Y chromosome from the beginning of my life, I think I would probably do that. Sometimes I do feel like a woman, sexually and emotionally, but yet it’s remarkable that despite all that estrogen pumping through my body (how interesting that my daily dose of estrogen seems to have only made the gender dysphoria worse), my prevailing longing is to just be “one of the guys.”

I’ve never been very confused about my sexual identity, really, not the way some queer kids are. But fuck, I am now.

My naked body

Posted in Gender, Sexuality on August 13, 2008 by alterisego

I’ve been alone in my house for the past week, an experience that’s new to me—and believe me, I’ve taken advantage of it. But all week, I’ve been working up the courage to do one simple thing that I imagine other people do on a fairly regular basis: I wanted to take advantage of the safety of my assured privacy to see what my vulva looks like. I tried this once before, in an awkward squatting position in front of my full-length mirror, and it didn’t bring me any closer to finding my clitoris (the object of the mission) than I was before. I was turned off by my “lady parts”—they seemed so foreign, so unlike the rest of me. I guess most of all, I associate cunts with porn, or at least that which is adult-themed. And I may be legal, but I sure don’t think of myself as adult.

So after seven or eight days, I reassured myself that there was nothing wrong—and a lot good—with getting a sense of what I look like between my legs, and so when I undressed for the night, instead of scrambling immediately into the t-shirt and shorts I wear to bed, I sat down on the edge of my bed, leaned back on my elbows, and spread my legs. It was a different woman staring back at me—and that was the point, really: I hadn’t struck the pose intentionally, but the open legs, the pornographically inviting oval surrounded by hair, and the roundness, the adultness, of my hips and breasts, took me by surprise. My braided leather choker, one of the few pieces of jewelry I always wear, had fallen close against my neck, reminiscent of a collar, which only served to heighten the illusion of sexualization and “other.” I hadn’t meant for that to happen. So I folded up my legs and went to the computer to write about it, without taking a good look at my cunt at all.

I was concerned that such a detailed description of my naked body might unreasonably titillate the reader, and that’s certainly not my intention or my wish (though I point out that this is a sexblog, and in such a forum the narration of nakedness seems to be reasonably acceptable). I just want to underscore the contrast I feel, when I sit down to look at my body. Most of the time it’s just there: when I’m in the shower, or getting dressed, it’s with a mechanical, almost clinical detachment that I handle my various body parts. My usual aim in my clothing choices is to hide my body, with a definite subconscious notion, I think, of desexualizing myself in the constant attempt to blend in with the guys I try to associate with. When I occasionally wear a bathing suit or a dressy shirt or dress that shows a little cleavage, I will keep glancing down. “Is that me?” I wonder. “I have breasts?”

So what am I doing, flopped on my bed in a pose that reminds me of the half-dozen naked women I click through in a day, allowing myself a little gasp before I banish the window in embarrassment?

On pedophilia

Posted in Current Events, Kink, Porn/Erotica, Sexuality on August 11, 2008 by alterisego

Trinity wrote about a Supreme Court case that would render illegal the distribution of simulated child porn (i.e. very well photoshopped) that’s passed off as real child porn. While I have a sort of kneejerk reaction to making things illegal, I don’t have a huge problem with this. Real child porn is illegal for obvious reasons, and if someone buys or sells a photoshopped image that they believe to be real, it’s supporting the same sorts of ideas that are problematic with regard to child porn. If you believe the image to be real, you’re condoning statutory rape and exploitation and muddled notions of consent or complete lack thereof in just as dangerous a way as if the image is in fact real. So I see the logic there.

There are two things that make me concerned, though. One is the slippery slope of legislation like this. As Trinity said, “while it doesn’t seem horrific on its face, I do worry that it may be the beginning of a slide where ‘something that looks real’ becomes ‘and fake things too’ and ‘fake’ slides from ‘shoppery’ to ‘drawings’ to ‘stories about consensual adult ageplay.'” For sure. And obviously there’s a huge difference between adults pretending to be kids and, well, kids themselves. The history of government restrictions involving sexuality (see UK and that “simulated harm” thing) indicates that such a slippery slope is possible.

But the other (possibly far more controversial) thing is, a pedophile isn’t a child molester. A pedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to prepubescent children, but that doesn’t mean that a pedophile necessarily acts on those urges. I don’t have pedophilic tendencies myself, so I can’t say what that’s like, but I imagine it’s very much like having another fetish, one that society condones a bit more. I’d imagine that, essentially, there’s not a whole lot you can do about what turns you on, whether that’s a morally objectionable thing or not. I’d imagine that many people with that fetish are very aware that actually having sex with a child is a morally reprehensible act, and they would never consider doing such a thing. I’d imagine that some people repress that part of their sexuality, and focus on other things instead, while I’d imagine that others achieve their release in safe ways, like ageplay with other adults or like the photoshoppery and drawings Trinity mentioned. And see (here’s where I get myself into deep politically incorrect shit), I don’t think there’s a whole lot wrong with that. Jacking off to a drawing of a child is a much better alternative to going out and raping a child. And if you know it’s a fantasy, and you know it’s never going to be a reality, what exactly is the harm in that?

I know that I certainly share the experience of having sexual thoughts that would be morally reprehensible if acted upon literally. I suspect people reading this might feel the same. I’ve talked about my rape fantasies before. I get tied in knots about their relationship to my feminism and my support of the values of the BDSM community, but I still know that I kink on notions of abusive sexual behavior. Whatever the moral outcome of that, and for whatever reason, it’s part of who I am. I can repress it, I can focus on other things, but that doesn’t change how I feel, and that doesn’t change how central these notions are to my innate conception of sexuality. I have no desire to harm women. I have no desire to rape or be raped. News stories about rape or assault or abuse are just as horrifying to me as they might be to someone who doesn’t share my perversions. I’m a mentally balanced person who understands what needs to stay fantasy, and what the difference is between fantasy and reality. But if I got off to porn, or even to my own fantasies, I think I might choose to get off to something that simulates nonconsensuality. With the knowledge that no one was being harmed, I could use that fantasy for my sexual release, because my entire sexuality hinges on it.

And so I think that must be what it would be like to be pedophilic. I think people who are attracted to prepubescent children might feel as repulsed and yet fascinated by their fetish as I sometimes do by mine, that they might repress it and yet accept it as an integral part of who they are, that they might seek an outlet in fantasy and simulation and sex play in order that their desires not bleed into “real life” and moral reprehensibility. I don’t understand what it is to have pedophilic tendencies, but there is no question that I understand what it is like to feel that way. And so I can’t condemn anyone for it, or have any desire to outlaw their instruments of release—unless, of course, they cross that very solid and unmissable line between fantasy and reality.

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.

Stuff about fantasy

Posted in Feminism, Kink, Sexuality on June 12, 2008 by alterisego

I’m talking about fantasy because that’s all I know, other than the Internet. And I wanted to articulate a bit, if I can, what that’s like. This post does include some content that might be considered graphic, so consider yourself warned before you click beyond the break.

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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.