Friday, 14 March 2008

Such a good post that I thought I should link it.

Who am I, what, and why? by resilientlight:

Why? I blame radical feminism and the sexual warnings in teenage books! No, really, bear with me. My fantasies are textbook "strict upbringing" ones, I know: by rights I should have been raised a Catholic. As it turned out, my parents are total atheists, so there was no guilt-ridden religious crap and they gave me a good initial grounding in sex education. (Although actually I don't remember any instructions about the social/emotional side of it, merely the physical. But would I have listened anyway?) After I was about 12, they figured I was learning by myself and didn't need them to spell everything out. (Real learning from books, that is, not playground wisdom aka complete bollocks.) They're left-wing types and believe in sexual freedom to an extent: abortion is fine, so is sex before/without marriage. But promiscuity is always shallow, porn is always exploitative, polyamory can never work in practice, and BDSM is probably dodgy but let's not ban it, let's just hope it goes away when everything is nice and equal and perfect.

My mother is an interesting case, actually: she was brought up Christian, rebelled against that and became mindlessly promiscuous for a while (hence "promiscuity is always shallow" - in her experience, yes!), then rebelled against THAT and became a 70s anti-porn-etc feminist. She's now hovering in the middle somewhere, her radical politics still there but toned down by time. Is hers the story of a generation? She would be against the expression of my fantasies because of her feminist ideas, and when I shared them I had to REALLY reconcile those things in my mind. It caused a huge philosophical struggle in my 15-year-old self, but I got over it by 18.

I blame (or thank) books for my kinky development. Through my pre-teens I learned almost all my "life skills" from books - I had nothing for my classmates but contempt, and if you'd known them you would see why. So I had no friends but a vibrant, scintillating inner life, much more fulfilling than the shallow dealings of the classroom. I was an avid reader from the age of about 4, and between 10 and 14 (the time sexuality starts to blossom) I read a lot of teenage fiction, and got a lot of sexual messages from there. And guess what the main associations with sex are, in teenage fiction? That's right, conflict and fear. The authors of teenage books, either out of conservatism or covering their own arses, seem to write this stuff on purpose to scare teenagers away from sex. There is hardly a single book on happy loving teenagers having good sex, and a million on vulnerable young girls getting out of their depth and being abused/molested/raped by manipulative older guys. So this was the picture of sex I got - destructive, invasive, about male power and female humiliation, your own body's betrayal of your higher self. Yes, I knew there was such a thing as sweet gentle loving sex, and that was the cultural ideal, the feminist ideal and my ideal too. But I knew it in name only, while "the other kind" was assailing me in such urgent detail from the pages of seemingly every book. And being a young teenager, my budding desires were determined to blossom in whatever context was provided for them. My fantasies seized on sex in the way it was presented to me, and I learned to enjoy it best like that. It's actually quite funny in a way that the books, though well-intentioned, triggered exactly the wrong response from me: portraying sex as destructive didn't turn me off sex, it turned me onto destructive sex. (Bit of an own goal, there.) But it wasn't all bad. I was top of the class in English, developed the vocabulary to explore my inner life, and quickly learned what drove me to the heights of pleasure and what didn't. Even today, I'm extremely verbal in bed, respond best to well-chosen words... and can't stand txt spk, even in texts!

The other thing that influenced me was my Mum's 1970s radfem books, which explored patriarchal sexuality a LOT for a concept they claimed to detest. I paraphrase: "Our culture portrays male sexuality as a mighty phallus ploughing masterfully through everything in its path. This particular text is about the strong male plunging headfirst into the at-first-unwilling woman, seducing her by force... and this writer believes in the powerful male principle cutting a swathe through yielding females... and this poem implicitly states that the man who takes a virgin in a sense owns her..." As the reader, you were supposed to inwardly boo at this, so my reaction was embarrassing. "Mmm," I'd be thinking, "that sounds good to me." Then I'd try to change it into "tut tut, how awful, we really must change that stereotype, mustn't we?". Then give up and get the lube out.

It's interesting to me that resilientlight accepts here the idea that our culture does strongly shape our desires, simply because my experience was so different. Personally, I can't relate to "desires budding in whatever context was provided." Part of the reason my own desires didn't bud much at all until my very late teens was that I got similar messages and found them distasteful. I only liked messages that suggested someone like me could be dominant, and those are out there but relatively few and far between. (Science fiction, I heart you madly.) It was only when I got old enough to stop caring as much what the culture seemed overwhelmingly to expect (and what even my own parents were reminding me was best) that I could actually allow myself to feel desire in a more serious way. Or to look at M/f themed stuff without feeling dread that someone would push me into it or feeling shame because I was different and it didn't appeal to me.

1 comment:

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