[TW for body and gender dysphoria.]
So I started writing a post about sexuality. And it got long. And overwrought. And boring. In the past, I’d have made myself finish it, because I dunno? FINISH WHAT YOU STAAAAART. It suddenly seemed stupid to make myself “finish” that post, because I don’t wanna talk about sex in a completely abstract, lifeless way. That really kills my boner, so to speak. In any case, I already know it’s going to be really hard for me to post this once I’m done. Which is odd, because I like talking about sex! I don’t mean “sexy talk” (though I like that too) – I like listening to people talk about what they like to do, what they say, what they like to hear, what they fantasize about, what they want to try. I like encouraging them to think outside the box and to work up to trying new things; basically, to pursue safe, fulfilling, and FUN sex. I feel very lucky that I dodged being indoctrinated with Sex Shame, because holy crap, most people end up with all kinds of fucked-up and unhealthy thinking. They can’t talk about it in a way that respects others and themselves, or sometimes at all. They never question our culture’s rampant kink and fetish shaming. Women internalize a whole mess of expectations about sex, right down to how they are “suppose” to vocalize during sex. Violence and sex are often end up together, because our culture is more okay with violence than sex and we do not talk about what consent is.
But the thing that makes me incredibly sad is this: People really believe they do not deserve to have good sex.
(Seriously, I can count on one hand how many people I’ve known who had confidence in themselves as a good and competent sex-haver.)
I realized at some point that a lot of people never talk about sex with anyone but maybe the people they have sex with. Talking about it with a friend can take off the pressure, help you get some perspective, maybe give advice. I haven’t had sex most of the people I’ve talked about sex with. I always hope to, at the very least, listen without judgement. Sometimes that was all the friend I was talking to needed – to get it outside of themselves, to tell somebody.
Those who aren’t cis and/or het often develop a whole other level of Sex Shame. In my experience, it seems more common among people who realize, accept, and/or tell others after around 25 years old. I grew up as a straight girl (with parents who taught gay people are people), so I missed having this kind of Sex Shame hoisted on me as well. I’ve never felt weird since transitioning about being attracted to cis guys, because that attraction had been culturally-sanctioned all of my life until then. I didn’t accept my feelings of attraction to women until I realized I was trans. Lesbian sex didn’t hold any particular appeal for me, but thinking or fantasizing about penis+vagina sex where I had the penis? Amazing. Early in socially and medically transitioning, I found being sexual with someone with a vagina made me feel extremely dysphoric. At the time, I decided that I’d need strict boundaries like remaining somewhat covered and not being touched in certain ways and places to feel comfortable.
Most of the sex I had in my pre-trans life was real vanilla. Basic vanilla sex is great if that’s what you’re comfortable and good with. I wasn’t. I managed to have a couple of partners who I felt comfortable enough with let in the mental house where I keep my fantasies. I’m extremely grateful for that, because otherwise probably would have come to believe I’d never find people willing to go past the foyer. I never had the chance to be physical with one of them, though I knew him from school before he moved out-of-state. We talked through chat mostly, occasionally over the phone. This kind of thing gets scoffed at as “not really sex,” but it was often far more intimate than a fair amount of the physical sex I’ve had.
Speaking of which, thank goodness for the internet. I mean that. I’ve seen things that I would have rather never known about, but much more importantly, I discovered I wasn’t some kind of sick pervert. The Sex Shame I did internalize is the kind our culture has for fetishes and kinks, for any kind of sexual activity that’s considered “abnormal.” We get a picture of what having sex is growing up that’s essentially a cis woman and a cis dude, dick in vagina, usually in a missionary position. During “wild sex,” she straddles him.
[Charts removed because they didn’t make much sense to me while reading through this again.]
Other sexual behaviors are treated as being perverse and/or uncommon, to varying degrees. The reality of what most people do is drastically different. Here are a few things I believe are likely much more common than is generally assumed: cis straight people having anal sex, voyeurism, exhibitionism, group sex, material fetishes (e.g. leather, latex), water sports, BDSM, and fetishes related to various traits or parts of the human body (very common among these are hair, nails, and feet).
There’s a huge gap between what people fantasize about and what they do. Fetishes that are uncommon aren’t necessarily “bad,” but they’re often perceived as such because they’re difficult for others to related to. My opinion is fantasizing about things that would be completely unethical to actually do is fine for most people. And obviously, we can negotiate consensual ways to fulfill desires that seem based in the idea of violation. If you take away only one thing from this post, please make it this: A person’s fetish is as much a part of their sexuality as who they’re attracted to. I get very uncomfortable, upset, or just pissed off when I see people making fun of or straight up being abusive about furries, or adult babies, somebody’s foot fetish, or whatever. Most people I’ve seen doing this would never talk about homosexuality in the same way. I’m not saying queer folks need to bring out the welcome wagon for everybody with a fetish, or that people with a fetish have exactly the same challenges and face the same discrimination. However, I believe we need to move away from sexuality being defined almost entirely about who we generally do or want to do sexual things with. We need to think about sexuality as being comprised of facets that influence one another, like what we fantasize about, what we like to do and how we do them, what we like to feel (both physically and emotionally), who we prefer to do certain things with, and how we see ourselves.
This is getting away from me and getting all stuffy and shit again. I’m ending this post here, but will have a second part up either later today or tomorrow.