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.

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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.

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.

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.

Am I part of the patriarchy?

Posted in Other on July 21, 2008 by alterisego

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my private fantasies, which I rarely discuss even with people I know are cool with BDSM, and how they fit into notions of privilege and patriarchy and buzzwords like that which I’ve started, inexplicably, to throw around a lot more these days.

So here’s the problem: the most potent of my fantasies, as I’ve discussed, exist in an explicitly gendered context. I don’t know what you’d call it—a fetish? a kink?—but undeniably there’s some part of me that gets off explicitly on the notion of men dominating women. Of sexually reinforcing the patriarchy and traditional gender roles, in a dehumanizing context.

Of course, all this is couched in notions of consent and, most importantly, fantasy. I think that, for the most part, I do feel okay with the fact that I think about things like this, and that I don’t see it as inherently amoral or objectionable to fantasize. However, I’m hesitant to think that I’d ever let these fantasies see the light of day, and if I ever did, it would definitely be in private and I’d have to really fucking trust the person with whom I were to act them out. There’s something too dangerous about playing with patriarchy, to my mind.

I worry about my desires, though, because they’re still quite potent, no matter how I bury them. I’m worried that I subvert the kink community’s aims to not be seen as tools of the patriarchy, and to emphasize that BDSM activities are safe and healthy and do not, of course, strictly take place in an M/f context. As a proud feminist, I want to reconcile my feminism with my kinkiness. But I can’t help wondering if I am, in fact, a tool of the patriarchy. It wouldn’t surprise me if, on a subconscious level, I developed my desires in response to real-life M/f dynamics that I’ve worked so hard to overthrow. Maybe it’s a way of letting go and not trying so hard to work outside of that paradigm. Or something like that. Maybe there’s just something sexy about being subjugated that is easy to contextualize in power dynamics that already exist in real life. But whatever it is, am I playing neatly into a radical feminist assumption that I’m only into BDSM because the patriarchy wants me to be?

Subversive Submissive noted in an excellent post that certain groups which promote “gender essentialism” (good phrase) are not representative of or even always condoned by the kink community. I think that’s a great thing to emphasize, though I wonder still whether what I think is, well, PC. I know it’s difficult for kink to be politically correct at all, but I feel like I’m straying into forbidden zones.