Having sex with my left wing, educated, caring, kind boyfriend, whose sexual desires happen to be ‘normal’ — for a guy (read: based on objectified, reductionist, and fetishist views of women).
When he asks the question ‘what kind of stuff do you want to get up to tonight baby?’, I know the answers he is looking for. I reply instinctively ‘I can’t wait for you to lick me out, maybe I can suck you off’. I get a reply of ‘I can’t wait to fuck you doggy style from behind. Maybe while you make out with another girl’. All of this is perfectly consensual, usually fun, and exciting sex.
However, am I being truthful when I say what I want to get up to tonight? Only partially. The part that is being truthful comes from something I think is inherently problematic — that the idea of a man — my boyfriend — seeing me or having sex with me in a certain way (which usually feels quite objectifying) is the turn on in and of itself. This isn’t as simple as ‘seeing my partner feeling good is hot’. It’s more like ‘knowing that my tits are perky and big and my ass hot from doggy style position and I am totally fitting into this particular vision of sex and a normative fetishized image of women is hot’. Perhaps, given a more recent focus on the male body — as opposed to the typical concentration on ‘mind’ — as a source of sex appeal, this works to some degree in the reverse. However, I can’t help but feel that mostly, the focus is on my boobs or a vision of a three way.
The part of me that is not being truthful feels embarrassed to say what I actually desire. I’m not sure why. I guess partly because it does not seem like the desire of the Other, and as what I often want is more intimate and personal, that it can feel like rejection. Despite knowing that the Other’s desire here is perfectly ‘normal’ — for your average straight guy. While the sex always feels great — whether it is from behind, or missionary — I can’t seem to find the space to say that I don’t want doggy style a lot of the time because it doesn’t feel like the sex with me. And staring at a wall while someone ‘pumps’ you from behind can feel … detached. Beyond that, knowing I fit into a particular mould comes with a dark side — especially for someone constantly over-planning the future. The knowledge that I will not always fit into a fetishized image of women — young, slim, perky tits, a cute ass. Moreover, if I feel inadequate sometimes in relation to other girls who I view to fulfill such an image better than myself, how will that anxiety develop when I get further and further away from it.
There are four reasons which make it very, very difficult to simply say something. The first is the (likely very well grounded) fear of hurting someone who has done nothing wrong. To try and show that this is not an individual problem (in my mind at least), but a problem with the way (to me) so much of male desire is constructed in our society (evidenced by its repeat occurrence with different men), is very difficult. No matter how it is framed, it will come off as a slight. Further, I have never doubted that if I wanted something specific in sex, or wanted something to stop, that request would immediately be acquiesced.
The second issue is that simply, the sex is very good. That saying something makes it retroactively seem like my experience has been bad, which honestly, is false. Also, to say something makes it seem like something I am always thinking about or upset over. Again, false.
Thirdly, it is potentially dangerous, because if I actually got the exact sex I wanted, it would inevitably come with the full knowledge that this is not fulfilling his desire. Which is hugely worrying because it is like that (1) it would make me question whether he is even enjoying it — a massive turn off, and (2) the fear that someone else would fulfil that desire would be quite real.
Finally, while I can see the problems, it is certainly true that knowing I can play into a specific fantasy, or make my body appear ‘sexy’ in accordance with specific ideals and norms, and that turns him on, is a very real turn on for me. To say something would suggest that the entirety of our sex needs to change, and I certainly don’t want that. Which I guess means there is a fifth issue. What do I want? Maybe awareness? Perhaps minor changes? It is hard when some days the fantasy is a huge turn on, even if it feels like your own desires are not your own, but a product of a male, masculinist phantasm. Perhaps I want to learn what turns me on, outside of fitting into this particular world.
‘Revised edit: partner, upon reading, ‘but saying you have internalized some male desire … isn’t it all a little Gender Studies 101′.
* Words by C.Hill