Monday, 28 May 2007

Intimacy

Several people all around the blogoverse have been posting some personal and deep stuff, so I think I'm gonna come out and link to a recent post at my spot about my personal feelings about vanilla sex, despite that this is actually relatively tough for me to admit (other mods, I'd appreciate you keeping an eagle eye out for trollage here, as I expect it.)

Here's the relevant snippets from the recent post of mine in question, linking to and referencing a video of Marilyn Manson having sex:

Just what the title says it is.

NWS for fucking (though not explicitly depicted), extremely annoying orgasmic moaning, knives, and lots of blood.

Not that I mind tenderness, I just... want to see hunger, especially from someone famous for being dark. These two look like innocent lovebirds until they start playing in blood (and even a little after that.)

....That's the thing about vanilla sex to me. It [edit: often] doesn't look like fun.

I don't know why this is. I have definitely had enough to know that, as much less fun than sex in some kind of BDSM context as it is, it's fun.

And I can tell they like it. Their faces clearly show that.

But vanilla sex often seems sad and silly looking to me. Like little puppies pawing at one another desperate for attention but not really getting it.

I guess that's the thing for me. Vanilla sex isn't intimate to me. It's like... it tries to be intimate and fails and makes me sad. So looking at it often makes me sad.

Hardcore pornography I have a much easier time with because it actually looks like sex. I still kinda wonder in the back of my head how that kind of sex can be as interesting as they act like it is for as long, and interesting with someone you don't really like (for the added intimacy) but they don't look quite so much like astronauts trying to fuck through space suits.

This it's just... in theory I can tell they are being very intimate but my brain doesn't read it that way and I'm going "Sweet Goddess, at least grab her or push her or scratch her or SOMETHING, that looks so SAD."
I've no idea why this is for me, but it's always been the case to a greater or lesser degree. As a young adolescent who wasn't sexually active, the idea of vanilla, cuddly, hair-stroking sex utterly terrified me, to be honest.

Because every time I tried to picture it in my head, I'd imagine people touching each other and not feeling a thing.

As soon as I injected pain, or roughness, or domination into it, it became fine. I could understand the people connecting, opening up to one another, because whatever was happening to the "bottom" (and mind you this wasn't extremely polar in my head, they could be flipping one another over or taking turns inflicting pain or even doing it to one another at the same time) involved being opened, being revealed, some deep part of the self being brought (perhaps even dragged, roughly) into the light in some way.

That I could work with. That I could see as intimate. "Egalitarian" vanilla... it just seemed like statues, trying to get reactions out of stone. It made me sad.

Fast forward to my first relationship, and we had a lot of vanilla sex and looked at a lot of vanilla porn. I discovered that it was nowhere near dead, and my mind opened a hell of a lot. (But I still tend to fantasize that there are BDSM elements to my vanilla sex... that the person eating me out is my slave performing body worship, for example, is a common one. Sometimes I can't quite get off until I do this.)

But I still have twinges of that feeling, and I definitely have it full force watching that video until they get to the blood. It's like they're just moving to move... even though I can tell by their expressions that I'm seeing very passionate sex, there.

But... the sheer similarity of what each is doing to the other just makes my brain go fzzt. Makeouts with no domination element leave me not just cold but wondering why anyone bothers. (And yes, this is true even in real situations. I get BORED as fuck with the french kiss for hours thing unless I'm ravishing my partner with my tongue. Again: clear power shit. (I get tons of people who don't know me and think this means I want them cramming their tongue down my throat -- even if they're bottoming to me. No, no, no! Eesh!))

Yeah okay, he's penetrating her, but... that's just anatomy. They really look like they're trying to mirror one another almost exactly.

*FZZT*

WTF, brain? Why you do zis?

Is that what anti-SM feminists mean when they say that you're spoiled for egalitarianism by patriarchy? Did The Pat erode my "normal" ability to feel and read the passion in sex with no top and no bottom?

Or is this just how I am?

I know that I sought out references to polarity and roles and pain and power dynamics from a very young age. (And as I mentioned in comments to another post, I still remember my reaction to discovering the tops and bottoms in the gay male community. I was cheering. People who made sense! And understood that which role who takes is preference, not gender or some other trait! Damn, were them folx smart! *grin*)

I find it hard to believe that I'm this way because I was socially saturated in it. I know kids learn how to be and how to behave from what's around them... but plenty of "vanilla is sexy" was around me, I can tell you that. Why wasn't I a normal patriarchybot who wanted the standard hetero vague dominance/submission thang?

Where'd I get this idea I was a top and all?

I don't know. But I'm honestly sometimes bothered by this. I wonder if it is some sort of numbness I shouldn't have. Even in the mental health profession, many people get that SM isn't a pathology, but still there's a big "well, if this is the ONLY way someone can have sex, that's not good juju, and we have to fix, er, help you" thing

and

yeah, I can sexually function having vanilla sex. Heck, it's a perfectly nice thing to do when you're bored or tired or don't have much energy. And if you're already really intimate/love your partner, that mitigates some of the Space Suit Factor.

but I feel disconnected, dissociated, especially trying to imagine that as my whole sexual life. How could I... honestly this is where my brain fizzles and asks "how could anyone"

but that's wrong

weirdly enough, I'm the deviant.

Eh.

I dunno what I'm even asking. I guess the standard questions about whether this means our society is numb and I caught it. Though I don't really think so.

24 comments:

Jen in Ohio said...

Another great piece (I really liked yesterday's post, too), with a lot that resonates for me.

When I was a young adolescent, I was sexually active, and in my case, it wasn't so much that vanilla seemed sad, it was just...not often very interesting. I might as well watch television, most times, or play another round of whichever video game I was into.

Until I met the first woman who wanted to tie me up, wanted me to tie her up, wanted to dabble in danger and pain with me, push boundaries, explode categories, upend everything we thought we knew about sex and power and pleasure and ohyeah. Then and only then did I come to understand that sex, sexual pleasure, and sexual intimacy could be made of pure awesome.

Trinity said...

Which post from yesterday?

"When I was a young adolescent, I was sexually active, and in my case, it wasn't so much that vanilla seemed sad, it was just...not often very interesting. I might as well watch television, most times, or play another round of whichever video game I was into."

Heh! Yeah. I remember one time I was in a hot tub with my lover, and we were making out and he was really into it. I was very much ready for sex, but even if I did so much as grind my groin into his he was all "wait, let me savor this."

I was really glad he was experiencing so much pleasure... but I was STARING AT THE CLOCK, YA'LL.

Trinity said...

"Then and only then did I come to understand that sex, sexual pleasure, and sexual intimacy could be made of pure awesome."

oh yes.

I knew what my fantasies were, but I worried that acting them out wouldn't do much for me. because I wasn't interested in "sex." (I hadn't really realized I could penetrate my partners.) I wanted to hurt them instead, part their skin, get inside their skin and their head and go looking for their souls.

louisa said...

omg, I totally identify with this post, except for the fact that I'm sexually submissive and all that. :P But seriously, I've tried fantasizing with vanilla scenarios and it just doesn't...work. I need some level of power play in there.

Trinity said...

"But seriously, I've tried fantasizing with vanilla scenarios and it just doesn't...work."

*nodding vigorously* mm-hmm.

Jen in Ohio said...

"Which post from yesterday?"

A Few Thoughts On Sex And Feminism.

I love the concept of unraveling these limiting binary ways of thinking, all of this either/or business, and prying open frames where we can think and talk about multiplicities and create new options of identities for ourselves. I especially love that this process allows all kinds of traditionally marginalized folks, such as myself (as queer and kinky etc.), to articulate our identities in ways that feel closer to true. Plus, rather than being essentialist and static, they are fluid and more easily changeable as people grow and change over time.

Jen in Ohio said...

And "STARING AT THE CLOCK", heh, yeah, been there.

belledame222 said...

hmmm.

I'm still figuring it out wrt my own wiring.

definitely there are often elements of kink to my fantasies. But I think I'm a lot more into "vanilla" than you--at least, when it comes to ze girl-on-girl action.

Het vanilla sex has pretty much always left me dead cold. In order for it to interest me at all I usually have to imagine some element of genderfuck, usually with some embarassment.

hmm.

well put it this way; i'm a big fan of delicacy and long anticipation.

I mean, it's true that "long walks on the beach, Peaches and Herb playing softly in the background" is not, for me, the thing of "instant rush of blood to the gonads," no. In that sense, yeah, I think that's probably fake for a lot of people; sure, everyone -likes- walking along the beach, but I have a suspicion that when people say that this is the -first- thing they fantasize about, or their deepest darkest wettest fantasy...wellllll....I wouldn't question it, it's rude, I'm not in their head.

but...definitely I don't think it's uncommon for people to voice what they think they're -supposed- to like, as opposed to what they -really are- into.

actually for me i found that true even w/in kink, you know...

belledame222 said...

get inside their skin and their head and go looking for their souls.

that, I connect to.

hm. sometimes i think my sexuality goes along multiple tracks. i keep meaning to talk about this. Like: my earliest (like as long as I can remember) fantasies were along what I now realize are kinky, although i had no idea there was any context for such things till much later (or even that what I thought about was significantly different from the norm, I guess). and yeah, they often involved men or boys. albeit in a very "genderfuck" way.

but then when I hit puberty, for the first time, physically I started having very specific responses and reactions to women and girls, and it was very visceral, i clamped down on most explicit fantasies, but my body would react in proximity to female bodies and smells and so forth. It terrified me, of course; -that- had a context, and it clearly wasn't a desirable one.

yeah, i need to tease that one out, more.

belledame222 said...

...and then by the time I actually started with partners, I (along with others) had done such a number on my head that I was constantly second-guessing myself and in denial about what this or that really "meant" all the time. and then there was depression.

and then there was working out of all that, slowly, with therapy; but part of that involved (and still does) antidepressants, and at this point I'm led to conclude that they do have some effect on my libido (i.e. a dampening). so...it's a journey.

belledame222 said...

...heh. and i realize: I do find erotic rushes happen sometimes in the unlikeliest of circumstances, with the unlikeliest of people, and yea, that very much has to do with intimacy. am thinking of a few unexpected reactions in say group therapy, for instance. (and am biting back the long-held habit of "well that doesn't MEAN anything." because it was very important to decide what was and wasn't "real," you know).

or, and this is where toppiness comes in: developing sudden, temporary crushes on actors while directing them. Which clearly had to do with their looks, but also very much with the dynamic; once the play was over, the feelings faded.

so yeah, theatre's always had a sort of diffuse erotic charge to it, for me. at least, when it's good, it does...

Trinity said...

"But I think I'm a lot more into "vanilla" than you"

Most people are.

SnowdropExplodes said...

I so identify with this!

Especially, the social thing of trying to like it because it's what you're "supposed" to want and enjoy.

I mean, I'm a bloke (with a high sex-drive), so I get a lot of pleasure (and get turned on) just looking at naked women in vanilla poses, but really, unless there's something there with pain or bondage or power, it's just, "nice scenery, where's the action?"

And, I didn't grow up with a Patriarchy upbringing, what there was of the Patriarchy in the influences around me, I rejected (basically, "vanilla sex when the guy wants it" seemed to be the Patriarchal message, and it was never one I was happy with). When I was brought up the rule was always, "you NEVER hurt a lady" - so why did I get so turned on by the thought of doing just that?

I think my vanilla sex fantasies lasted less than 6 months after I first learned about sex, and I only made those fantasies because schools only teach vanilla sex in sex ed. Once I made the connection between sex and pain, I never looked back.

Trinity said...

"Once I made the connection between sex and pain, I never looked back."

Yep. Which is what makes the whole "no no!" strain of feminism so oogy to me.

I can't vanillify me.

When I try I end up with a very low libido. And I mean very low.

That's... not... me.

Trinity said...

I'm sure there are some women who are interested in both who can listen to a Jeffreys or a MacKinnon and go "hmm, I'll be just fine without this, so never mind it in the name of liberation"

and, y'know, function (though I don't think their doing this is helpful. it's pointless.)

but I'm not those people.

SnowdropExplodes said...

I can't vanillify me.

When I try I end up with a very low libido. And I mean very low.

That's... not... me.


Again - that describes my own experience exactly.

Any social theory that can't cope with the diversity of human life is going to fail.

Alon Levy said...

Yeah, I identify with this, too. I can enjoy vanilla sex... but I tend to enjoy it a lot more when either me or my partner is tied up (I haven't tried anything more hardcore yet). And I enjoy it even more when it involves struggling, when the top needs an arm and a half to keep the bottom in place and another half to keep the bottom's face in position for a makeout session.

Alex said...

I can have vanilla sex (seems to be default, right now, thanks to a bunch of factors involving locations of bedrooms - namely parental homes... sigh...), but there needs to be at least a -story- being told (usually by the BF to me) which contains elements of BDSM, power play, or at -minimum- group sex in which one person is a naive initiate.

I wonder sometimes if it's because, for me, intense intimacy is not relegated to the sexual sphere. I'm intensely intimate with most of my close friends - the people that know everything about me, or everything they're willing to ask, and I'd be willing to tell them more... that I don't "get" why vanilla sex is so... deep, for some people. I already open up my brain; why's the body any different?

Whereas BDSM, especially my preference (humiliation, especially, and power plays), involves
1) a really intense rush of emotion that I don't normally feel, and
2) the ability to take on the 'role'...

I think acting/presentation is a big thing for me. Not necessarily costumes, but the body language, the manner of speaking... Transformation or at least transmutation. Which, come to think of it, is usually what the humiliation in my stories is in ends to: prodding at those painful, secret shames in order to break them down and let the real self through.

Or the buttsex. Sometimes it's just about the rough buttsex. :)

verte said...

I also loved this post, and I think I'm about as un-vanilla as you. My sexual fantasies have always been perverse, fetishistic, masochistic. I think the masochist part of me runs very deep - I've always taken pleasure in doing risky, hedonistic things, right from the age of 4 or 5, and especially when people got to do slightly dangerous things to me. I spose it seems perfectly obvious to me that sexually I'd take pleasure in the same things. I've never been the kind of feminist who doesn't leave the house after dark just in case.

I don't know if I can express just how much of an effect non-vanilla sex has on my confidence. Perhaps it's the riskiness, or perhaps it's learning to be unafraid of my own vulnerability that's made the change, but it has.

Trinity said...

"I don't know if I can express just how much of an effect non-vanilla sex has on my confidence. Perhaps it's the riskiness, or perhaps it's learning to be unafraid of my own vulnerability that's made the change, but it has."

*nod*

SnowdropExplodes said...

I wonder sometimes if it's because, for me, intense intimacy is not relegated to the sexual sphere. I'm intensely intimate with most of my close friends - the people that know everything about me, or everything they're willing to ask, and I'd be willing to tell them more... that I don't "get" why vanilla sex is so... deep, for some people. I already open up my brain; why's the body any different?

I know what you mean.

Interestingly, there seems to be an analysis of exactly this phenomenon (without the reference to BDSM making it more specially intimate) in Shulamith Firestone's "Dialectic of Sex", where she talks about how pressures in early life from the (patriarchal) nuclear family cause a schism between sexual and non-sexual intimacy and behaviour, and how the cult of the child/woman perpetuates that schism in a way that is harmful to development emotionally, and that is designed to keep women down "in their proper place".

Personally, I don't buy into her reworking of psychoanalysis much, but she does outline the problem quite succinctly, I feel.

belledame222 said...

I can have vanilla sex (seems to be default, right now, thanks to a bunch of factors involving locations of bedrooms - namely parental homes... sigh...), but there needs to be at least a -story- being told (usually by the BF to me) which contains elements of BDSM, power play, or at -minimum- group sex in which one person is a naive initiate.

I wonder sometimes if it's because, for me, intense intimacy is not relegated to the sexual sphere. I'm intensely intimate with most of my close friends - the people that know everything about me, or everything they're willing to ask, and I'd be willing to tell them more... that I don't "get" why vanilla sex is so... deep, for some people. I already open up my brain; why's the body any different?

Whereas BDSM, especially my preference (humiliation, especially, and power plays), involves
1) a really intense rush of emotion that I don't normally feel, and
2) the ability to take on the 'role'...


This, I connect to.

Although, I do think that the body...well, hm, I guess part of it is that I don't really keep them in such separate spheres, or try not to, the mindbody.

Alex said...

Belle: I do often find that where the mind goes, the body follows... but not always, and sometimes the body's there but the mind's not. But they're all still me.

Snowdrop: I'll have to read it sometime, sounds interesting. (Add it to the three-mile list...)

site said...

So, I don't actually believe this will work.