Some notes as I get ready to really dig into my book proposal next weekend while on vacation. (Yes, I think better when I'm not in the midst of the day-to-day rush of things.)
I get a little tripped up sometimes in writing/thinking about this book proposal, because sometimes I think it’s so fucking simply why would anyone want to buy it as a book? Everyone should be able to do what they want sexually as long as it’s consensual. It seems so straightforward. And yet...it’s not. I know it’s not, much as I wish it were, because we are not even given, or don’t grant ourselves, the mental freedom to explore. It’s the unspoken, though sometimes spoken, ways we’re shamed into wanting this or that, into having to choose-gay or straight? Top or bottom? This or that? There is no room for those moments of desire that sneak up on you, catch you unawares, that maybe don’t have a name, or at least one you know what to call it.
I don’t buy the story going around that there’s one sexually acceptable script. Take one teensy tiny peek, you don’t even have to go to girls with colds or whatever, you can find communities full of real people who are into everything from fat women to men wanting to be slaves and worship women’s feet to everything else under the sun. But I think we can all look a little deeper inward and examine the ways our own fantasies veer from the accepted scripts.
Here's one example of a guy I'd rather forget but since I can't totally . . . “You’re a top!” he said to me, this look of absolute wonder in his eyes. It was like I’d suddenly turned into an alien, and yet . . . he liked it. He seemed to think this was some crazy feat, especially because I don't "look like" that's how I am. In fact, what were his words? "Meek and docile." Yup, that's me (NOT), but anyway, I guess that's the impression he got. The only thing I can say about me being meek and docile is that I don't like to upset people. I do try to smooth things over and defer to people for the most part, even when I'm upset, but I'm still upset. But I really think how I am in my daily life isn't going to be much of a barometer of how I am in bed, and to me, that's kindof the point. Why wouldn't I want to let go of all the nonsense swirling through my addled brain and just enjoy whatever I want in the moment?
But he seemed so shocked, I think in part because I was acting like that, and was so into it, and because he was really into it, immediately. It was this really weird revelation, I think for both of us, and if you ask any woman who sleeps with guys, and has even hinted at female dominance in bed with them, they will likely tell you that it’s been like a light switch going off. Now, it’s not my job or place to be standing up for the sexually submissive men of the world, but every time I see another book or article or whatever all about WOMEN and sex, I just can’t help think there’s more to the picture. It's not that people are all top or all bottom but that there's a give and take, sometimes we might want to be more one or the other but I don't think there's much room for men to claim their submissiveness in our culture, at least, publicly. And while being public isn't all that matters, if there is zero cultural space to reveal one's proclivities, and no examples of your sexual m.o. for you to identify with, I think that does create a problem in terms of self-esteem and acceptance. It means, maybe, that submissive guys don't know how to ask for what they want, fear that women will think they're less masculine, are confused because they don't want to be submissive or deferential in their daily lives. I mean, come on - if more men (and women) were comfortable with male submission and female dominance, wouldn't men visit pro dommes less and explore that within their marriages/relationships? Not everyone, and there's nothing wrong with pro dommes, I'm just saying that it's a sign that we are not
free and if I get this damn book deal, I will be scouring the country for these submissive guys so I can interview them and explore this further, because what I don't want my book to be is "sexual freedom...for women." I'm not claiming women don't bear the brunt of our country's prudery but men get screwed by it, so to speak, as well, just in different ways.
Or look at the way we harp on women who have fantasies that are not in line with what we, collectively, seem to have deemed okay. We’re all jumping in line to castigate Sara Dekeuster for daring to portray her rape fantasies, but what I want to know, and didn’t get to explore in my column on the topic, is what about guys who are acting out rape fantasies with women? What happens there?
I am trying to think broadly, but not too broadly so I never get this done, but I keep coming back to the need for sexual FREEDOM in all senses of the word. Not just legally, but socially, mentally. Otherwise the freaky girls, and a few guys, who are “out there” with all this will continue to be portrayed as the slutty, dirty, whores while everyone else, who is either doing pretty much the same thing or thinking about it, is safely tucked away in their little houses. I’m so happy to see this round of "wild mom" books because these women do not want to be associated with the modern-day June Cleavers. The Brett Paesels and Stefanie Wilder-Taylors and Jenny McCarthys are going there,
and of course there’s Susie Bright and Lisa Palac and other moms who are too. We don’t treat dads like they should never be sexual again, but we do treat moms that way.
It’s really the categorizing and shaming of anyone who speaks honestly about their sexuality that I have a problem with. That’s why the whole boobiesexual thing appealed to me. Yes, it’s fun and slightly silly to say “boobiesexual,” but on a deeper level, it points to this really flawed way we have of evaluating and informing our own sexuality. I think from an early age we learn to tune out a lot of our sexual desires because they “don’t fit” into the image of who we want to be. Hello, closeted, married gay people who know they’re gay but don’t want to “be” gay in the world. Or whatever your thing, whether it’s crossdressing or being dominated/humiliated or public sex or whatever. Or even if it’s something totally “normal” and I really hate to use that word but you know what I mean. It’s that very lack of a language around sex that I have to call anything “normal” that is the problem. People will totally start conversations and talk about “those people”–you know, the kinky ones or exhibitionists or poly people–without once stopping to think that the person they’re talking to could be one of “those people.”
As much as someone like Dr. Laura is an easy target, there are probably a whole host of people out there who still think that sex is something men want and women grudgingly provide, and hey, sometimes they might even like it, but still, it’s a “duty,” and I don’t think it has to be like that.
It’s really easy to sit in judgment of other people without ever revealing a thing about your own sexuality. I’m not saying every blogger or journalist has to, but when covering these issues, I think it does help to lay your own biases on the table.
Michelle Malkin links to a Washington Times essay
that is really just a rehashed version of Wendy Shalit’s A Return to Modesty:We can embrace the old habit known as "custody of the eyes." This involves simply not looking at anything that offends our sense of modesty. Custody of the eyes extends to men as well as women and can do enormous good when we are in uncomfortable situations at work or walking down the street.
The biggest weapon against impurity is our will power. We cannot expect ourselves to be chaste on a date if we are not chaste in all other areas of our lives. When we go on a date, rather then using the time to kiss and to touch, why not work on building a relationship? Work on a hobby, go on a nature walk, or get involved in group activities with other like-minded couples. Sit down and have long discussions with one another. There's more to compatibility then sex.
We should view dating as a way to get to know a potential spouse and save sex for when we are wed.
But from reading things like this, I never get the sense of sexual desire emanating from these people. Sex is not just “everywhere,” “in the culture” and “out there” in the big bad scary world. “Sex” is not just Jenna Jameson or porn stars or some sexual act du jour. “Sex,” meaning our sexuality, is inside us, is what we make of it, whatever that is. I could get a little more behind this, and why I admire writers like Lauren Winner and Anna Broadway,
if these writers acknowledged that our actual sexual impulses stem from our own twisted little minds. It is not about looking outside ourselves for “tips” or advice or one secret special skill. It’s not about trying something cause you heard everyone else is doing it. It’s not about wearing skimpy clothes because that’s what’s “in.” It’s about letting go of all the cultural bullshit, from the pressures to have sex all the time to the pressures never to have sex, and figuring out what you want to do with your own body. What turns YOU on, which may be more than one thing. I think we fall into this idea that we’ll meet this one soulmate who will do everything right, that everything they do will send us into the throes of orgasm, we’ll never want to look at anyone else, blah blah blah. That’s such a false notion of desire and I think everyone knows that. This doesn’t mean monogamy is impossible, but mental monogamy and devotion? I don’t know why we have this idea that looking, thinking, fantasizing, is wrong, but clearly we do.
Furthermore, Girls Gone Wild
is not the only thing out there. I was on the radio this week with Dottie Lux, Nasty Canasta and Veronika Sweet of Red Hots Burlesque,
and they are just three examples of the wide world of burlesque that is bumping and grinding out a different, but also exhibitionistic, take on sexuality. Yet some would lump them all together.
On Jessica Cutler, Ana Marie Cox, and the salaciousness of blogs, Michelle Malkin wrote:But blogs can also serve as exhibitionist outlets that highlight the worst of America's tell-all and show-all tendencies . . . I'm sick of the skankettes and their pimps in my business and I'm not alone.
Whose “business” are these people in? I find it a bit curious that people are so up in arms about Jessica all the time. Did anyone say you have to watch her? Or the Kid Rock video? Or the Paris Hilton one? It is not mandatory that you partake in what people are exhibiting, and if sex weren’t so popular, Jessica wouldn’t have gotten a book deal or a TV deal. Furthermore, if, say, Robert Steinbuch and the other guys hadn’t wanted to sleep with her, there would have been no story. What I think we’re missing in all this is that GGW is a big business because lots of guys want to see that! Sure, there are some men who are whooping it up against this “raunch culture” too, but there are plenty more who are perfectly sane, smart, normal people who also like a bit of sexual entertainment. There are plenty of women who do too. People are conflate porn with real life and that’s the problem - it’s a fantasy, a vacation from reality, something to enjoy and stimulate but is not real life.
I’m both confused by the suggestion that this is all mandatory and continually appalled at the shockingly judgmental notions that are being flung about across the sexual spectrum. Sexual judgments that really have no place in 2006 America.
I totally want to interview Sara DeKeuster and find out more about what’s happened with her story (she’s the UWM Post
photo editor who caused an uproar there with her photo essay about her rape fantasies) but for now, I will leave you with some of her words on sexual freedom:Me being a woman, I have the right to express myself, sexually, physically, emotionally and artistically. I think it’s hard for people to look at something and be forced to think about themselves, their past, their secrets, their very own sexuality. It’s a touchy subject for most people...
I am not sorry for my art! It would be like saying I’m sorry for being a woman and that I like sex (or to be fucked rather).
Are we a sexually suppressed society?
Oh, are we ever, especially female sexuality. Why is it so hard to understand that it is in fact OK to talk about or express our sexuality as women? I think this whole ordeal just proves that female sexuality is still being repressed — it makes me want to scream. ... Women have freedom of expression, and I choose to express my sexual wants and needs. Is that OK? No wait, I don’t care, I am who I am.
Labels: Robert Steinbuch, Steinbuch v. Cutler