Sexual Orientation Can Change

#sex #BDSM #queerphobia/biphobia

Hey, did you know that sexual orientation can change? Mine did!

I was bisexual for years, throughout adolescence and college and half of grad school. Like many bisexual people, my attractions to different genders weren’t identical or equal: I tended to be more attracted to women, but everyone I’d fallen in love with or had a serious relationship with had been a man, so I wondered if I could ever love a woman at all.

Well, I could and I did. Perhaps because of that experience, perhaps not (probably not, in retrospect), my patterns of attraction started shifting.

I’d always experienced a certain…apathy about men when it comes to sexual attraction, but I figured that was just attributable to demisexuality. The only way I could ever want to fuck a man would be if I sort of made myself do it the first time, and then afterwards I’d usually really want to. Sometimes I even thought about men when I masturbated. But it was always tenuous and fragile thing. When I saw male partners after a long time apart, it would always take me at least a few hours to want them again. They’d expect me to throw myself into their arms at the first greeting, but honestly, in that moment I usually didn’t want to touch them or look at them at all. Eventually I would “get into it” again.

But starting about a year ago, even that started slipping away from me. The idea of having sex with men started to fill me with dread, then revulsion. At first I thought I could have mostly-asexual relationships with them, but then I realized that I couldn’t even really experience crushy-type feelings with them anymore. (My last crush on a guy was probably over a year ago, unless you count Jon Snow.)

How much of this is political and how much of it is “biological”? Truly, I have no idea. Maybe I would feel differently about this if every single relationship I’ve ever had with a man, no matter how casual or how serious, didn’t fall apart in the same tangled mess of unexamined assumptions about gender roles. Somehow, no matter progressive they are, it’s only a matter of time before it’s my job to take care of their feelings, and they’re feeling sad because I’m not interested enough in sex or moving in together or whatever, and they’re trying to take charge of my mental health for me without my consent, and “I just don’t understand why you’d even want to be with me,” and on and on and on. Worse, they keep insisting that they’re not trying to get me to change my desires or behavior, but then they consistently act in ways that seem designed to get me to change my desires or behavior. Seriously, anyone would lose interest after all this.

And maybe it doesn’t matter. Even if these negative experiences somehow caused me to lose all ability to even imagine fucking a man without feeling nauseous, I mean, the nausea is still real.

People really don’t like to hear about all this. Straight people get terrified of being “turned” gay; gays and lesbians are terrified of being “turned” straight; bisexual people hate me for “confirming” the stereotype that bisexuality is “just a phase,” since I guess I ultimately did “pick a side,” didn’t I?

I feel that. But it’s not my job to make sure that the things that happen to me are politically expedient for The Movement. It would be awful if someone decides to use my experience as “proof” that bisexual people are all going to “pick a side” at some point or that maybe we really can turn queer people straight, but even though it would be awful, it wouldn’t be my fault. I can’t singlehandedly stop queerphobia, not even if I make sure that my feelings and experiences always align with what’s most politically advantageous.

It would be convenient if I could somehow convince myself (and others) that I was Really A Lesbian All Along. And I do wonder if I would’ve been, were it not for the social conditioning that caused me to believe that I desperately Need A Man. But again, it doesn’t really matter. For ten years I genuinely felt that I wanted to be with men, romantically and sometimes sexually. Now I don’t.

There are exceptions, though. I sometimes enjoy sex with men in the context of a threesome with another woman. I sometimes enjoy cuddling with men. Sometimes, men who exhibit a certain combination of Dom-ness, sweetness, and great progressive consent-focused politics can really turn me on. But the idea of looking for Doms specifically is horrifying, because very few of them have those other two qualities. I’m not looking for some controlling, hyper-masculine asshole who’s actually deeply insecure on the inside. I’m looking for someone who knows how to make me feel good and has the confidence to make it happen. I’m looking for someone who knows how to fuck without me having to patiently explain every little detail. I’m looking for someone who actually knows what he wants and gets it rather than prefacing every single sexual encounter with “But what do YOU like?” (Please do not assume my preferences are universal. I’m a kinky sub, and even then not all kinky subs like what I like.)

But those men are very rare, and even then I’m not sure I’d necessarily want to have a relationship with one.

I don’t really have much of a label nowadays; I tend to use “gay,” “queer,” or “homoflexible” depending on the context. I know I’m not comfortable claiming the word “lesbian,” since most of the interactions I’ve had with lesbians about this suggest that they want nothing to do with me unless I either 1) agree to never ever fuck or date a man again, or 2) can qualify for their bullshit and often transphobic-in-context “Gold Star” rule. Well, I can’t, so you can keep your label, I shan’t sully it with my ambiguous sexuality.

(#NotAllLesbians, surely, but you can’t deny that as a community, they haven’t been very supportive or welcoming to women who can’t always define their sexuality.)

Where does all this leave me? Confused and lonely, mostly. I feel powerless to find solidarity among others who have had similar experiences, even though “used to date/fuck men and no longer interested in dating/fucking men” seems to describe many queer women. But there’s no label for it, so I don’t know how to find them.

Although some of them still identify as bi, in practice, I don’t find that I have much to say in bi spaces. Almost every bi woman I know is either in a serious relationship with a man, or is looking for a serious relationship with a man. Therefore, most bi women I encounter are often talking about dating and fucking men. Of course, that’s 100% their right: they’re still just as queer, no matter what some bullshit xoJane article says, and they don’t owe anyone any proof of that. But it does mean I don’t feel that I have much in common with them, and right now I really need spaces where men are decentered. I just really need to not hear about fucking men for a while. (Both in the adjective sense, and in the verb sense.)

I love blogs like Autostraddle for this reason, but in terms of finding community and people to talk to, that’s a lot harder. I don’t think most of my friends (let alone my partners) really understand what’s going on with me, and I don’t know how to explain it any better than I’ve already done.

To be fair, I don’t really understand what’s going on with me, either.

I will delete any comments that tell me that I’m wrong about my identity, or otherwise try to invalidate my personal experience.

Yes, that includes telling me I’m “actually bisexual.”

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Feminism, BDSM, and Me

#sex #BDSM #NSFW

The debate over feminism, BDSM, and whether or not the two are “compatible” has a cyclical nature: every once in a while, it explodes, and people discuss it passionately, and come to some sort of resolution; but a few months or years later, all is forgotten and the debate explodes again.

Here is how I feel about it.

Yes, the feminists who oppose BDSM, or who call themselves “kink-critical,” have one very good point: our desires do not develop in isolation from sociocultural influences. What is sexy to you is not some intrinsic property of The True You that is formed from some idiosyncratic combination of genetics and the uterine environment. It is formed through interactions with the world, from childhood onward (yes, children can very much have a sexuality, and many kinky people say their kinks developed prior to adolescence).

It is facile to claim that your sexuality has nothing to do with your environment, nothing at all.

But then the kink-critical feminists lose me, because they seem to think that the solution to this is to…not do the thing? Think about how Bad it is every time you do it? Somehow force your desires to change? (Is that even possible?)

And why don’t they seem to have a problem with dominant women or submissive men, or with people doing BDSM in queer/transgender contexts? Or with people who get off with water sports or certain foods or crossdressing? Or do they assume that male Doms and female subs is the only way it’s ever done?

Refusing to fuck the way I want to fuck isn’t going to bring down the patriarchy. It’s going to make me and my partners miserable while distracting me from doing the work that might actually help demolish stereotypes about women as passive and weak.

I also think that some of these critics haven’t spent that much time talking to people who enjoy kink and BDSM, because I don’t think they understand the headspace that we’re in.

Here are some reasons I like being submissive during sex:

I like not having to worry about ok what are we doing next what do you want to do what have you been fantasizing about lately do you like doing it this way do you like doing it that way what do you want to do now?

I like indulging in that feeling of completely trusting someone, of knowing that I’m okay with anything they could do to/with me. (By the way, this is only fun because we’ve set limits beforehand and agreed on safe words, which is what most ethical kinksters do.)

I like feeling that my partner finds me so desirable that they “can’t help” but to hold me down and force me to submit to them. (This, too, is only hot because it’s an illusion.)

I like giving someone I’m very fond of everything they want.

I like the physical sensation of having my movement restricted, of being held down forcefully, or being spanked (hard), of having my hair pulled, of being bitten, of being scratched, of my muscles straining, of having my limbs held in awkward positions to make me capitulate. Those things hurt, but they also feel good. I also like how they make me feel mentally.

I like not having to think or worry about when I’m going to have an orgasm or how to accomplish it. (As much as I love the fact that feminist men are generally concerned with their female partners’ pleasure, I really wish this would stop manifesting itself as so are you going to come I really want to make you come I’m just worried that you’re not having a good time what could I do that would be more likely to make you come. For the most part, I don’t care about coming. I don’t have partnered sex for the purpose of having an orgasm.)

I like having this one part of my life where I don’t have to make any decisions or take any initiative.

Yes, I’m quite sure that part of the reason I like all these things is because they have been presented to me from infancy as “sexy.”

But for what it’s worth, I also enjoy domming, and I like plenty of other things that women aren’t “supposed” to: lifting weights and building muscle, messing around with computers, playing video games, having sex with women.

So clearly my interests and desires aren’t just about gender roles, and I don’t think sex is either.

The personal is political in the sense that “personal issues” can reflect political ones, and in the sense that sometimes, personal choices influence other people and that can build a political movement.

But the personal is not political in the sense that I have the obligation to view every single act as political, or to reshape my personal life to be more in line with my political beliefs.

I’m especially uncomfortable with telling people how to fuck. Yes, how you fuck reflects society, and if you want to be a more politically and socially conscious person, it’s probably a good idea to at least spend some time thinking about where your desires might come from, especially as they concern race, gender presentation, body types, things like that.

But no, there’s nothing empowering about forcing yourself to ignore sexual desires that can be expressed safely and consensually.