If ever there was a reason to advocate for the rights and acknowledgment of the gays and lesbians among us it is because in doing so we can save our fellow humans from a lifetime of suffering and existential pain. Continue reading “The Best and Only Reason for Homosexual Advocacy”
I moderate a forum dedicated to helping men overcome body issues and social anxiety. I hang out there because a long time ago I discovered that my best sexual partners tended to have smaller than average sized penises. Since the site’s original mission was to help men with small penis anxiety, I felt it was my duty to come to the site and sing my praises of the smaller sausages.
Naturally, my contribution to the site involves a lot of detailed descriptions of my sexual encounters, including my partners’ body types and my own reactions. I love sex and I love talking about sex, so this is actually a perfectly symbiotic relationship. However, while I am not in the least bit shy about my body, my tastes, or my escapades, I make sure to maintain a certain degree of anonymity and distance on the site. I think it is important that the men who hear of my escapades do not mistakenly interpret my openness and sexuality for sexual availability. This is a fine line that needs to be respected for the benefit of all people involved, but particularly for the men.
Throughout my life, since about twelve years old when I started attending high school, I have been hooted at, cat called, hit on and harassed. I have always been attractive and perhaps because of my background in classical ballet and theatre, I have always been shameless about displaying my body. Since a very young age, my body has been a tool of expression, so to hide it from others would be akin to cutting out my own tongue and then attempting to have a conversation. I am also objectively attractive. I know it’s not polite to point it out, but after being informed so for twenty years solid, it almost seems impolite to deny it. Perhaps as a result of my lifelong exposure to unsolicited male attention I have developed certain self protection mechanisms. I am a highly sexual female and men simply react to that. It isn’t a question of should they or should they not, but simply a reality that in order for my life to carry on more or less peacefully, I have to be the one to manage the sexual energy between myself and others.
For many women in the vast majority of encounters with unsolicited suitors, feigning disgust, sexual disinterest or ignorance is the quickest, easiest and most natural response. When a construction worker cat calls you on the way to work, there is no being polite or sophisticated, the best response is usually the finger. However, there are times when you want to share a portion of your sexuality, but still keep the male somewhat at a distance. Such is the case with me when I go out drinking with my friends or when I share a personal account on the forums. Often, it feels like playing with fire.
On the forums I try my best to present myself as “a woman sharing her experience with interested people.” Contrast this image to “Pinkie Boadicea talking about sex with me.” From the reader’s perspective, if you are an interested male, then both are equally true. The important distinction is which one feels truer or resonates more strongly. In the latter case, the reader might develop some misplaced affections towards me, Pinkie, the Woman on the Forum, when what I really want to happen is that the reader takes my message as evidence that women in general are capable of having similar opinions and that some woman somewhere will in turn have those feelings directed towards him. If the reader were to misinterpret my oppenness as interest in himself, personally, it might prevent him from seeking out more appropriate validation and affection from real people in real life. I want to avoid this as much as possible on the forums, so I try to make sure my language is general even when the subject is personal. I also make a point not to carry on discussions about myself in private messages. I don’t want the people I interact with to think that I am confiding some secret in them when the reality is that I am sharing something which is only personal, but not particularly private.
In real life things are different. I’m not as eloquent or careful. Let me point out, though, that I do not for a second consider this a fault. As I mentioned before it is one thing to say that it is a woman’s responsibility to manage male affections and it is another to say that it is a fact of life that failing to do so can become troublesome. Moreover, I can log out of a forum but I can’t log out of real life. There has to be some place where I can let it all hang out and indeed I make a point to do so. Men who can handle an unfiltered me make for much more fulfilling and uplifting friendships than men who need to be managed. All of that said, there are some habits that I have developed that will skew my relationships with men in real life and for better or for worse they seem to be fairly deeply ingrained.
While I am never shy about my sexuality and will always answer honestly when asked a direct question, I make a point to differentiate my affection from my raw lust. I try to make sure that my male friends understand that loving them does not mean fucking them any more than using their cocks to scratch an itch deep inside my cunt does not mean that I have fallen in love with them or would for a moment hesitate to scratch the same itch with a different cock. Sometimes I do this by twisting the reason why I am interested in someone so that it sounds more vulgar than it really is. Sometimes I do this by suddenly becoming very busy when a friend or partner seems to be confounding my sex drive with my love. I wish I could say that I do these things intentionally, but they seem to be more like self protection mechanisms and I often feel guilty when I catch myself doing them. If I could be fully in my wits at all moments, I would definitely prefer to tell them outright: Please don’t misunderstand, I love you and care for you the same way that I love and care for that other guy that I hang out with, but am not sleeping with; that you are my sexual partner at the moment is a matter of convenience for both of us but is no indication of my heart being open to you or of a commitment to be yours now or at any time in the future.
I have lost friends because of an inability to communicate about sex effectively with them. I have lost money and sleep because of the inability to communicate about sex with men who were not so much my friends. Enabling male sexuality is very dangerous specifically when communication about boundaries and intentions fails. However, I am a sexual being. I love sex and I believe that the free expression of sex increases human well being on a personal as well as a social level. Moreover, I know that among women I am particularly capable of communicating my boundaries in a gentle way, and I am particularly capable of kindness towards my partners. So in a way, I feel as if I am particularly responsible to take the risk and put my sexuality out in public view where it can be experienced by others for what it is. It is my hope that by touching others in a genuine fashion that they will take that experience forward in their own lives and their own relationships and that, even if no one ever consciously recognizes that it was me who inspired them, they will live fuller and more satisfying lives because of me. That is the reason why I share.
Dear My Former Church,
We haven’t spoken in a long time. In fact, we haven’t spoken since that critical day in August, 2010, when I realized that you had been lying to me all this time. It’s been hard for me to live without you, but as the song goes, “I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong and I grew strong. And I learned how to get along!” I don’t need you anymore and I’ve come to realize that, accept it, and own it. There is a scar from our past which will always be with me, but now that the wound is closed and I have come to be able to breathe again I thought I should write to you to give us both a little closure.
I was young when we met, bright eyed, beautiful and vulnerable. You came to me with the promise of joy and protection from the cruel world. You told me that I was weak and you were strong and that you would love me and only want what was best for me. Naturally I was swept away by your promises. What innocent virgin would not be? I bound myself to you and made your presence known in every action, every thought, and every interaction I had in every single day of my life. You told me that I was broken, that I was dirty, that I was the cause of man’s downfall. You told me that my suffering was just and inescapable punishment for my inherent sin and I believed you while at the same time asking you, nay even begging you, to explain to me how your love was apparent through all that judgment.
You were jealous then, and you still are. I didn’t understand until I was married how far reaching the tentacles of your jealousy were. You told me that to marry young and virgin was the height of my virtue and that only a complete denial of my physical self could be closer to your ideal. So I did that. I married young and virgin and innocent. When on my wedding night my husband proclaimed to me that “[He] was going to have sex with [his] wife!” a strange thing happened. For all my young years I had been fighting against an ever increasing tidal wave of sexual energy. It threatened to throw me body and soul out of the light of your glory and into the frothing sea of carnal passion below. You promised me that on my wedding night instead of plunging to my spiritual death, that this tidal wave of energy would instead raise me up, send me soaring in virtuous marital bliss, but when my gown came off and I open my thighs for my new husband…
there was no wave. Indeed it was as if the entire ocean had dried up before me.
Of course neither you nor my brand new husband seemed in the slightest bit bothered and the both of you just kept plowing on without me. And so it was that I spent the better part of the next decade in a desperate losing battle to reunite my rebelling spirit with the joy and safety that you had promised me. You know how well that went. You promised me that if I could only make it as far as I did that ever abundant life and joy would be made available to me, but instead you abandoned me to the care of a man. A single, solitary, miserly, inadequate man. Even though I returned to you time and again for an explanation, your promises and your love were as dry as the tidal wave of my former passion. You told me then in my desperation and my loneliness that I should be happy because you had given me everything I could want. You told me that my lack of happiness was my own fault for rejecting your gifts to me.
And so it was one humid summer night that I went back to the cliff where I had last seen the raging sea that threatened to swallow me whole so many years ago. I remember standing on the edge of that cliff and looking down into the sea and wondering if it would indeed kill me. But then I looked for you there on that cliff and though you warned me not to jump, I saw the truth of what your promises held for me: pain, loneliness, self-loathing. Your promises to me were no more alive than an empty desert who so long has not felt rain that it has given up even the memory of moisture. My choice was apparent. I could stay with you and have a slow wasting death of which every day would be safe and secure in the knowledge that there was no more life to be had. Or else I could throw myself off that cliff into the writhing, frothing sea below. Perhaps it would kill me. Perhaps I would drown, or perhaps I would not. Perhaps the waves would cradle me and toss me, bringing thrill and kindness to my parched existence.
You know what happened that night. There is no way you didn’t hear me screaming and calling out my passion. I nearly choked on the surge of life that flooded my body. And I know what you said then, too. You said to all who would listen to you that it was the voice of suffering that rose up from the water. You called them to look at my face and see pain and madness, a fallen woman indeed. But let’s be honest with each other. I feel that after all these years we owe each other at least that much. You did to me what any spurned lover would do. You muddied my name and discredited me so as to mitigate the pain of your own rejection.
Were you a human, I would forgive you for your faults, but you are not a human you are a church. You are massive conglomeration, a katamari of all that is good and all that is mislead in humanity and you wield your power over us young and helpless. Isolated and naive you make of us easy prey. I wish I could say now, My Church, that I forgive you your trespasses, but you do not forgive those who trespass against you, do you?
I guess in the end, though, I am not without fault. I wanted to believe you. You did tell me one thing which was true and that was that in my heart, at the deepest center of my being, I would know truth from lie. And I knew you were lying to me. Your story never made very good sense, but I used all my energy to force that burning star of Truth at the back of my consciousness into the clean and tidy cage you offered me. You told me I should love my neighbor as myself and I knew this to be truth. But you also told me that I should love my husband more than myself and this never sat well with me. How could I love my neighbor, my brothers and sisters in God, as myself and then love one person of my choosing more so than all of them? I tried to convince myself that it was simply a matter of expediency that one necessarily had to spend more of their time with their husband than with the rest of humanity so it made sense to love him more.
You also told me that my body was a temple to the One True God and that I should never celebrate in it. Wait, what? Are temples not for worship? How can I worship with my body if I never use it? You told me that my body, being a female body, was necessarily unclean, but why would a holy and divine being bestow upon me a temple to its glory that was unclean and unworthy of celebration?
I knew these things did not make sense just as I knew that your promise of unconditional and unbounded love did not actually extend to me because of my womanhood. And yet you were so charismatic, so convincing and you made the outside world seem so scary that I would have chosen you then a thousand times over.
Well, I wanted to tell you that I have grown now. I jumped into that frothing sea and I drank it until the waves subsided and they carried me spent on their backs until I reached the shore. I have found my peace now with my body and my womanhood, but not with you. So I thought it was fair warning to let you know that I’m coming back to finish you off. No longer will I allow you to prey upon the young and the innocent. No longer will I stand by and try to justify your lies to my sisters who, unlike myself, are still too afraid to take the leap. You who would sow fear and distrust amongst those that I love are forever my enemy and I will fuck you out of existence.
You have been warned.
“Every child deserves a mother and a father.”
Some use this phrase to mean that gays and lesbians who adopt are depriving their children of their fundamental rights, even hurting their chances to grow up healthy and well adjusted.
But when I hear this phrase I think about the decades, perhaps even centuries, of our culture wherein a woman is abandoned by the father of her children to strive alone to raise a family in a society that never intended to allow her to make a living.
I agree that every child deserves a mother and a father. Every child deserves to be loved. I believe that to protect the children of our society, we are beholden to enforce fatherhood responsibilities on the men who would abandon them. We are beholden to enable mothers to provide for their families even without the help of a husband. We are beholden to be the mothers and the fathers to the children whose life circumstances could not provide them.
Every child deserves a mother and a father, but why should they have only one of each?
Years ago as a teenager in the Christian Church, not so long after puberty struck, I asked my community, “How do I know that God loves women as much as he loves men?” The answers I received were profoundly depressing:
- God gave a woman the honor of giving birth to his son.
- Women are the more beautiful sex.
- Women are naturally more pure than men.
The first response said to me that the value in a woman is entirely contained within her uterus. The second told me that women are not useful for anything. The third told me that if I sinned, more specifically if I were sexually active, then I was more to blame than a man because my nature made me naturally less susceptible to temptation. What terrible messages to send to a confused and lonely teenager!
Today, almost twenty years later, the messages I receive about womanhood are no less depressing. Consider this video documentary on “People with questionable genders.”
Where are the women here? They are absent. They are hidden. They exist like ghosts, only as references to give context to another problem that some men face: gender dysmorphia. According to this documentary, only men are faced with the difficulty of living in a society that rejects them and only men are given the choice to live false lives or to actualize themselves.
It is not politically correct to criticize transsexuals. However, it seems to me rather naive to say that a transwoman and born woman are the same. The former was born into a life of privilege and chose to reject it. The latter was never given the choice. It is rather similar to comparing a monk and a beggar. The former chooses his poverty in exchange for actualization of himself. The latter, on the other hand, has no flag of moral victory to wave in the face of his enemies.
Once, years ago, I was discussing with a male acquaintance of mine. He bemoaned the freedom that women had to dress as men without repercussion, but that men were considered gay or somehow deficient in their masculinity if they did so. Clearly, I said to him, this difference arises from the fact that a woman is considered an inferior being. It is natural for her to want to emulate masculinity whereas a man who rejects his gender has no justification and therefore deserves the ridicule. Our philosophical discussion ended there. Most men are uncomfortable when their privilege is pointed out to them.
I’ve posted commentary before on the Savage Love column. I know that no one is perfect, and that the image this man sells to the world has helped hundreds of people battling their sexuality against the prevailing social norms. Generally speaking I am a fan of peace and this man is waging a war. I understand. But I don’t understand this: when does it become acceptable to belittle the enemy in the name of justice? Why is it ok to hurt people because they are different than we are? Is it ok to do this because we are being hurt by them? By naming ourselves the minority, do we gain moral superiority and judgment rights over the people we name as the majority?
I practice self awareness and abstention from judgment every day of my life. I find that this is the only route to self acceptance and freedom. How can I forgive myself for my own shortcomings when I judge others for theirs? This is what I believe in. So when I heard this story on last week’s podcast, and I heard Dan’s poisonous response, I couldn’t help but feel as if it was directed to me. I identified with the caller, but also with the friend that he was hurt by. I had to write in to make my peace. But as I mention in my letter, I am not world famous, so I don’t merit the attention necessary for a response. So I make myself heard here, in my little space on the Vast Interwebs, which is fueled by the energy of Quantum Weasels.
I’m a long time listener of your podcasts/reader of your columns. And I’m a mostly straight woman (though recent sexuality research suggests I am a mostly behaviorally straight, but thoroughly bisexually oriented woman, if not a somewhat bisexually oriented gay man), for what that’s worth.
Anyway, on your most recent podcast (#373), you had a caller who was a long time (bff?) friend of a straight but very gay-supporting man who lived out in the redneck backward part of the country. One night the straight friend says to the gay friend that he is curious about a mmf with his wife, then proceeds to jack off in front of him. Understandably, the gay friend feels like their relationship was seriously damaged by the act. He calls in for advice.
Dan, your response to this man was appalling. The advice was fine: clear the air in a non-confrontational way and give the guy a face-saving way to make amends. That’s fine. But you went on and on about how the friend was a homophobe and that his actions were homophobic and that the gay caller had every right to be offended because the friend, who he thought was an ally, was really a closet homophobe. Now, I may not be the world-renowned sex advice columnist/gay male celebrity that you are, but I’m pretty sure I know what homophobia means. Etymologically, it means fear of the same, which translates to fear of same sex relationships in our context. In practice it usually means the general category of actions and beliefs aimed at oppressing, hurting or insulting gay people, often as a result of a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of homosexuality.
It sure sounded to me like the “straight” friend was trying to come out to his gay friend and doing it in a seriously ineffective and majorly awkward fashion. Arguably, he couldn’t have been more awkward about it. From what I understand, the only part about it that was homophobic was the fact that the guy was making assumptions about what it means to be gay that were clearly wrong, and that were upsetting to his long-time friend. But was he trying to hurt the friend? Insult the friend? Deprive the friend of his fundamental humanity? I think that’s a pretty far cry from homophobic.
You did him wrong there, Dan, and I feel like you did me wrong, too. I find women extremely attractive and arousing, but I’ve never had a relationship with another woman. Frankly I just don’t get how that would work. So does that make me a homophobe? Am I now a self-hating lesbian because I don’t understand other lesbians? Am I a self-hating bisexual because I don’t understand the minutest details about how gay men organize their sex lives? Is everyone who is confused about their sexuality and homosexuality at the same time suddenly homophobic?
Way out of line, Dan. Way the fuck out of line. You really let me down on that one.
–Just Another Woman Lost in the Struggle
My current Drama binge: Bones, the murder mystery drama tv show about a socially and psychologically crippled genius forensic anthropologist, and a damaged but devoted self-proclaimed God-fearing Catholic alpha-male type FBI agent. I absolutely love the bit where the two of them try to communicate. My favorite quote from the show? Bones: I don’t know what that means.
Bones looks at the world through a “rational” lens where she attempts to analyze, categorize and predict everything she sees according to her anthropological background. Boothe, on the other hand, goes by feel. He believes stuff, he knows stuff, and he trusts his faith and his intuition to guide him. They make a great pair for solving murder mysteries, but they also are a great tool for exploring the gray areas between everything we believe and everything we know. This is why I am in love with the show.
Last night was Season 3, episode 3 where they find a body in the woods murdered in a ritualistic way that suggests he was involved in pony play. Pony play is a role-playing game of a sort where one person assumes the role of groom or rider and the other person assumes the role of the pony. Sometimes it can be sexual, sometimes it can be a therapeutic release from the Goffmanian roles we are forced to assume every day in order to operate in society.
After solving the mystery, the two partners sit down at their regular cafe together for lunch. Boothe is obviously bothered by having been forced to witness the “freaks” at play. He obviously thinks of them as freaks because he tells bones that their sex is inferior to what he thinks of as normal sex, sometimes referred to as plain vanilla sex. Bones challenges him, as is the norm, by saying he has no evidence and that pony play is a very old and sometimes respected form of human interaction going back as far as the ancient Greeks. Boothe then gives Bones a diatribe on how their sex isn’t real sex because sex is “making love” and that brings two people together in a way that nothing else in the world can. Bones caves. Just like that.
On the one hand, I could not possibly expect network television to stage a battle between vanilla catholicism and freaky perverts and side with the perverts, but on the other hand the show doesn’t usually pick a winner between the two and it didn’t have to this time either. For the first time, I was disgusted at the message this show was sending to people about who they are and what it means to be “normal.” Science, for one thing, is well aware of the very human and very non-perverse reasons why people would want to play together in a fantasy world where they make up the rules and can shed their every-day masks and be something that they feel represents who they truly are. I realize that tv is not science, but tv creates reality for the people who watch it because, in principle, it’s about real people, just like them.
I recently mentioned the Tyranny of the Binary and how it forces people to conform along rigid male/female and gay/straight dichotomies in ways that do not reflect human diversity.