I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to my favourite QC (and definition of good sex) ever. (Faye’s, ‘a concentrated mass of anger and tension released in a messy union of flesh and saliva’, not Dora’s!) Not that I’m expecting anyone to be surprised, of course, it’s not exactly too much of a secret to anybody who’s talked to me about sex for five minutes/read this blog that, y’know, I like rough sex. I like struggling and scratching and spanking and being pinned down and pounded and pushed and generally knocked about. If I don’t end up feeling bruised, then CDB. Partly that’s a physical thing: while I’m clitorally hypersensitive (it doesn’t take much) I also do multiple-vaginal at the drop of a hat (almost) so the harder and faster you’re going the more I’m going to come. And like most people, my pain thresholds alter when I’m geting off; whilst pain for pain’s sake does nothing for me, being hit and bitten just the wrong side of too hard really works. Which is, y’know, fine- by and large my partners, esp anyone I’m prepared to get into a relationship with, have similar tastes. But unsurprisingly (because this is me, and I’m posting this) the whole thing goes far deeper, hur hur, than just the physical.
First, take the personal. Just like that QC, sex can be an incedibly constructive place to defuse and express anger and tension without emotional damage. My last relationship was highly functional in a numer of ways, and one of them was that essentially sex was how we dealt with tensions – we’d recognise issues or conflicts, discuss them, deal with them, come to some sort of compromise or solution- and then rip the hell out of one another in bed, letting all the angst and tension out in a way we both enjoyed and felt enriched by without damaging the underlying emotional congruence or connection. (When we couldn’t, we sometimes ran into trouble, but that’s another story.) Point is that I’m not sure how I’d deal with a partner who wasn’t comfortable with expressing perfectly natural feelings of frustration, anger, concern, hurt etc in that way. Quite apart from the sheer physical (and psychological – see previous post) pleasure of it all, where would those aggressive impulses go? how could they be otherwise expressed and dealt with in a way that not only didn’t threaten but actively promoted and facilitated the closeness on which the relationship was founded? I’m not sure. If these emotions weren’t to leak out in the actual relating, in the form of verbal aggression or sulks or silence, any other non-destructive means of expression seem to be masochistic – I’m very well aware that working out my tensions is one of the major reasons why I exercise so much. (And i like its impact on my body, of course, which in itself is culturally problematic, but still.) The fact remains that among other things, essentially I am turning aggressive and destructive impulses in on myself rather than outward, where they could impact on my daily relationships. And I think doing so is a particularly feminine thing.
Which brings me to my second point. There seem to be very few socially sanctioned cultural spaces for the expression of entirely natural female aggression, or even assertion. From what I’ve seen, women in both social and business relationships are by and large assumed and expected to take a conciliatory, facilitating role, to not only avoid but defuse conflict, to allow men space to dictate agendas and boundaries, to work for compromise and co-operation not individual assertion. This is by no means wholly a bad thing. But it does leave women very little space to express the frustrations and impositions of everyday life without being judged, condemned or punished for it. Why, i don’t know. Yeah, women are mothers and supposed to be nurturing, caring, all the rest of it – buit then one of the things I’m very grateful to my own mother for is for demonstrating that emotional expression is acceptable, even if the recipients don’t know what to do with it, and that being shouted at in frustration by a woman (something that a number of very nice, caring people of my acquiaintance are horrified and disturbed by) does not mean that I am unloved. Women are also, by and large, portrayed in popular (visual) culture as passive recipients of the gaze, bodies to be read or admired, and this somewhat precludes any direct or active agency. And relatedly, the taboo on open feminine aggression also leaves women with little comeback when faced with the objectification and belittling to which we are subject on a daily basis. I get looked at, sexually evaluated, comented on, every time I walk down the street. More so, depending on the clothes I’m wearing and whether or not my hair is down.
Talking to a trans friend recently, he said that one of the most liberating things about moving to a masculine gender presentation was his freedom from the constant gaze, judgement, evaluation to which he whad been aware of being subjected when presenting as female, and the same feelings of frustration were (separately) expressed by a very attractive cisgendered friend, whose diffident mention of imagined violent retailiation was wholeheartedly echoed and seconded by me. The forms of our fantasy comebacks differed, but the overwhelming desire to resist or even to express our resentment weas strikingly similar. Some bloke had told me ‘nice RACK!’ on the street the previous day; how is that a courteous or fair thing to say to another human being? Would I consider it polite to stare fixedly at his package and say ‘mm, nice WOOD’? I don’t think so. But what did I do? Went on my way, fuming, because I didn’t have a comeback and couldn’t deal with the aggro of causing a fuss. It’s not fair, it’s not nice, but by and large as a gender we’re not allowed either space to resist that objectification or other arenas in which to express the frustration it brings.
I’m well aware that being physically within at least spitting distance of being considered culturally acceptable or attractive is in some ways a distinct advantage here. I’m not above using and manipulating people’s physical responses to me, either in terms of attraction or in terms of ‘ohh, you’re so cute!’ (Again, this is something I’m generally comfortable with my friends or lovers saying, unless i’m angry, but I seriously resent coming from strangers. Yeah, I’m small, with biggish eyes and a little bony face. But I also (almost) have a doctorate, a promising reviewing career, considerable psychological stamina and the ability to run for three hours without stopping. Don’t reduce me to my fucking appearance, let alone to my childhood, you prick.) But I do wish that I wasn’t assumed to accept that kind of objectification as a matter of course.
Paradoxically enough, of course, to return us to rough sex, if I have chosen the objectifier and consciously submitted myself, I love it. I love the fact that my lovers (hopefully, like anyone’s) find me objectively as well as subjectively beautiful, and I love feeling that I have the space to turn myself into an object to be used for their pleasure. But that is *because* it is conscious and willed and chosen, and very much a manifestation of the kind of safe space I talked about before – space to stop struggling and resisting the whole time, space to indulge the bits of me that want to be objectified because I can trust my companions not to discount my mind because they find my body pleasing. Space to be a valuable, loveable *person* instead of just a moving vehichle for my ‘nice rack’.