Wednesday, January 16, 2008

the terrible price of desire

Well, this is either going to be right on or waaaaay off. Here goes.

The boyfriend and I were talking about sex, cause it's one of my favorite topics and I hope he's telling me the truth when he says that it's his. I got to thinking (and I am sometimes quite philosophical about sex, because I'm always looking for more ways to work it into discussions), thinking about desire and the way that women experience and bear desire.

For the record, I have struggled my whole life with a society that, to my mind, tried to deny me my desire or erase it somehow. And not just because I fancy girls. (Also for the record, I fancy boys, the occasional dildo [improvised and machine made], ropes, beating instruments, knives and my hands.) I was told that any woman too interested in sex invited rape, and was unnatural and sick. In other words, could expect to be punished for her transgressive behavior by a society united in their knowledge that the desire and the woman should be stomped out.

You know, for the good of all or something like it.

It always seemed to me that a kind of endless, wakeful desire was far more natural to women than the bizarre frigid, infertile slut thing that I was always seeing on the TV I watched at friend's houses and hearing about in conversation. I mean, who owned desire and why, I thought (at thirteen, actually). Why was female desire so important that it must be channeled and contained. (I am aware that there are books on this, but I hadn't heard of anything like it in my Southern Baptist, boycotting TV childhood.) What was I supposed to be?

Mostly, I tried to figure out whose fault it was.

*squick warning. You have been warned. And how often do I do that?*

The question of who owns what started early for me. I think I was nine or ten. My father, who is an engineer, at the time working for a major defense contractor, moved us to Okinawa to work at Kadena. Like most good Baptists, they immediately sought out a church, cause if you don't go to church at least once a week, you're going to go straight to hell. God takes attendance. In any case, the pastor (who is unmemorable to me in any way) had a teenaged son, who, for the hell of it, we'll call George. George took a special shine to my brother and I. We spent a lot of time hanging out, which my parents found gratifying, because his father was the pastor.

My parents are something of social climbers.

In any case, George played with us, babysat us, was around almost constantly. I don't remember how he looked very well, just that he was a wrestling fan and was forever getting me into some kind of complicated hold that involved a lot of groping. This was, of course, before the tits, so he was groping a flat chest. There's always been an ass there, even when there wasn't hips, so that was padded. This becomes relevant in a moment.

As a mother, I can tell you any teenage boy who is constantly wrestling and offering to babysit my kids would make me a little nervous. The boy in question was sixteen at the time, I think. I would not have permitted that.

George liked to get me in a particularly complicated position in which I was bent double with my face pressed to the carpet (or matting) and rub himself on me. Not so much my little brother, thank god. He happened to do this one time when his parents were over at our house, visiting with my family. I left the room afterwards and wandered into the front room, where the adults were. As an adult, I wonder if he stained my skirt. I don't remember there being anything on the pinafore. I interrupted, something I was not supposed to do, since children were to be seen and not heard, and told everyone about George's new game, 'cause it seemed a little odd to me.

My dad beat ten kinds of holy hell into me for being a lying slut.

In any case, reflecting at thirteen and later as an adult on that experience, the question of who owned my desire became important. I'm not the kind of person that can deal well with frigidity or abstinence. I go a bit the other way, actually. I love and need to feel, at first in an unhealthy way. Took me awhile to stop being there for whomever grabbed first or hardest. There were other incidences like this while I was growing up, and I was told both explicitly and implicitly that I did not own my body and that it was exchangeable for status and, even at birth, promised elsewhere (to a deity who would cede it to a husband, whose enjoyment of it would be more important than my own, anyway.) I was the custodian of two small breasts, a bodacious booty (if I do say so myself), a body prone to muscle making and casual strength (which has served me well) and an overwhelming curiosity. (Also not a terribly bad mind, as it turned out. If anyone has a Who's Who for US high schools from 92-93, I am in that baby for my freshman year, tail end of the Cs. There are only three of us with the same last name, and I'm the only one with an NEDT award. I also have a civics and DFYIT award, which I just rediscovered. Boy were they barking up the wrong tree [since junior high.] I used to 'take the edge off' a lot. Daily. I'm too old for it, now. Gets expensive.)

Is it any wonder I set out to enjoy it any way I could, though it took me a considerable amount of time to be able to own my own enjoyment instead of looking for someone to own it for me, albeit someone I hoped would be interested in my enjoyment, too. (A proviso-- when you are accustomed to thinking of yourself as a kind of vagina with leasing rights, you learn to have a sexual reaction to things that are not extraordinarily foreplay oriented.) I suppose this makes me a bit of a sick fuck. Hold your sympathy. If I don't feel sorry for me, I am not interested in your sympathy, either. Especially if it keeps you from listening to me.

The question of who owns desire is important precisely because when a woman goes about putting her metaphoric brakes down, there is a lot of resistance, mostly in the form of making it costly for her. In my observation, this is irrespective of whether her circumstances are like mine or whether her life has been peachy; it is no easy task to start refusing to participate in a culture that tells her (and has conditioned her to believe) that her desire must be evoked from outside her by a man who has a key. (You know, the penis fixes all. I like a good fuck, but fixes everything? Only if the penis has maaagic powers. I've had fucks that made me forget things that stressed me, but never a fuck that made everything perfect. And I like to think of myself as a fuck connoisseur.) Moreover, when she tries to insure that she owns her own sexual desire and expression, the same system that assures women that they don't own the evocation of their sexual desire goes into overload assuring her that she has no right to say no or that no is not effective in terms of deterrent. I have seen an amazing amount of mainstream movies that have female characters whose 'no' is only meant to be powered through, since it wasn't really no so much as 'show me you're serious about it' (because all women want out of a man is strength. Bah, I want the ability to listen, some mileage and personal competence. Also a pony, if Santa is listening.)

This uses a very natural experience, desire, against the woman who is only trying to figure out why it's hers, yet she is not supposed to be able to summon it on her own. (Which is, coincidentally, why so many women don't know how to say what they want or expect men to know. They literally don't know or understand that they can have it for themselves and chose with whom to share desire. As a side note to my side note, it takes a 'drying out' period to sort this shit out, in which I had to abstain and figure out what was mine. The answer was everything from hair down and all the associated mental properties and functions.) What happens is the woman is threatened with a withdrawal of outlets for her desire, as well as a complete lack of social modeling and support for her efforts to control herself, which is both short-sighted and the equivalent of shooting oneself in the foot (unless you don't care if the other person is having fun, in which case you should be fucking a pocket pussy, not a partner.)

More desire = more fun and possibly more frequent sex.

Using desire this way is terrible, attaching a price that can vary from a woman's life to her ability to be considered worthy of bodily integrity (something that is a moot point in a society that hands the keys of desire elsewhere. It's an empty threat, in some ways. What is the threat, extra violence on top of what is already being offered? Like your broken bones in the left or right leg?) My objection is not to women as sexual creatures, a fact that I am both proud to affirm and fond of. My objection is that the sexuality which feels so good, that is so comforting and interesting and fun and soothing and exciting cannot be any of those things when it is doled out by someone else. I play with BDSM and love it, but play time is a granting, not a taking. Even when it's styled to be a taking (that would be why the word 'play' is so apt.) It beggars the mind to think of how casting desire outside the body tears out the very core of women, turning them against themselves. To place desire outside the body is to mutilate oneself and parcel it out. Women are mutilated by a system that takes our sexual selves away from us and this cannot be allowed to stand.

It's my goddamn desire and I'm keeping it; expression, thought and all. Sharing, yes. Not sharing also okay. The damage can be deciphered and undone. With patience and an unflinching willingness to keep looking.

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