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Lacrimae

December 18th, 2013 by

Tonight will be intense. Tonight I will pull from him a fluid manifestation of his pain, but I am not going for blood. No, tonight, I will go for tears.

My voice is calm, my demeanor methodical, though my heart is pounding and my stomach is fluttering. This is unusual for me. Normally, I am unable to hold back my laughter during play, my joy uncontainable, my smiles so wide they hurt my face. Tonight, however, I am nervous; I have never intentionally made a partner cry before, but I am determined to do so now. I am wielding my “mean stick” as he calls it. Similar to a wooden night stick, it’s something like a cross between a cane and a paddle. Heavy and very, very cruel, it is one of my favorite toys.

My most favorite toy is lying on the bed, face down, naked except for his purple boxer briefs. Purple is my favorite color. He knows this, and that’s why wears them. This makes me smile. I aim right below the curve of his ass, above the line of the shorts.

Thwack.

He moans into the pillow, already in pain. “No warm up tonight?” he asks. Tonight is not about gentleness or slowly building pain. Tonight is about intensity. Tonight is about tears. “I am warming you up,” I say. “I could be hitting you so much harder.” I raise my arm above my head to demonstrate.

Thwack.

He twists and screams. “It hurts. IT HURTS.” I remain impassive, although I smile freely now, my endorphins overpowering my nervousness. I know it hurts. That’s the point.

Thwack.

My heart continues to race–no longer with agitation, but with excitement. My dominance is substantiated more as sensuality than sadism, and indeed I have never really considered myself much of a sadist. I do not think I am a very effective or skillful top. I do not think about ramping up the pain or whether something will sting or thud. I merely consider what I want, and then? I take it. And tonight, I am taking his tears.

Thwack.

“I. DON’T. LIKE. IT.”

Thwack.

“Hold still,” I tell him. He’s writhing around on the bed, and I’m having trouble aiming. I want to hit him repeatedly in the same place, to break through his body and tear the emotions from his soul and the tears from his eyes. But he won’t hold still. I move down his thighs. This hurts him more, and I know it.

Thwack.

“I want you to stop, I WANT YOU TO STOP,” he is sobbing. But it is dry sobbing. No tears yet. “That’s not the safe word,” I tell him. He moans: “I know.” I’m not stopping.

Thwack.

“It’s not about what you want,” I tell him. “I KNOW,” he cries.

Thwack.

My arm is getting tired, but I am resolute. No stopping. No stopping just yet.

Thwack.

“There are tears,” he sobs. “I’m crying for you, Boss.” I turn him over and see his face, red. For a moment, I think he’s messing with me–he is, by his own admission, “a bit of a brat.” But he’s not bratting me this time: I see a tear trickle down his cheek, a hard won spoil. The sight of it makes my heart do things I can only try to articulate, and I am awash with feelings which are raw and unfamiliar. They are, in a word, intense.

I gather him up in my arms, my brave, beautiful boy, broken by me, and hold him.

“Thank you,” he whispers.

We haven’t said our first “I love yous” to one another, but my heart is bursting with it. I do not think now is the time for those words, so I hold his face and make him look into my eyes, emoting as hard as I can. He senses my emotions and responds, quietly. “You’re very special to me, too.” His voice is ragged and my eyes prick. I wonder if I will cry, too, but I don’t. Tonight, the tears are his alone. I merely marvel at his beauty, his vulnerability, and my fortune that he is mine.

H2O2,Part 2

November 19th, 2013 by

We met for coffee and immediately clicked. It may be because we have similar conversational styles, or that we are both squarely between being introverts/extroverts, or perhaps that he is just that wonderful. I was very excited to have a new friend in my new city.

The second time we hung out, he kindly accompanied me to a munch so I would have someone I knew (albeit barely) to make me more comfortable. We talked for hours, about many things. It continued to be easy to talk to him, and I continued to be amazed at how comfortable I felt with this boy that I had essentially just met. And I felt terrible about how much I wanted him.

I tried very hard not to flirt. I felt guilty. I felt elated. I kept having to remind myself that this was not a date, that he was in a relationship with someone, that I had to behave myself. And I did, for the most part. Still, when he dropped me off at my apartment, I made him get out of his car and give me a proper hug, and I reveled in the feeling of his arms around me.

When his relationship with Tavi ended, I felt sympathy for him. Break-ups suck, no matter what. I tried to quash any sort of hope that was kindling in my heart. When we made plans to hang out again, I told myself that it was as friends and that if something happened eventually, that it would happen, but that I shouldn’t actively pursue him, that I should give him time to heal.

We flirted a lot. I couldn’t tell if he simply liked the attention or if he was interested in me. (I am also remarkably dense. I am terrible at telling when someone is interested in me.)

I went to his house. I tried to teach him to dance. We talked. We walked to the dance venue and he teased me about my height. I jokingly threatened him. I took his arm as we walked in the venue. I wore my “dancing outfit”–pants which accentuate my butt, and are easy to dance in, and a top that leaves my shoulders bare. He complimented me and I wondered if he liked me.

Dancing with him was amazing. I spent the night with him in my arms, making him blush and stutter and stammer, unable to meet my eye, and it was delicious. When I feel comfortable with someone, when I have an indication that they’ll be receptive to it, I have a flirting style that is aggressive, almost predatory in nature. I let them know I want them, and give them a hint of just how much I want them.

At the end of the date, I wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t even sure it was a date. I am normally more than comfortable making the first move, but I didn’t think it was right, so I gave him a hug and awkwardly ran away (much like Clarice here).

Our next date, he cooked for me. I love to bake, but I can’t cook very well. I love it when a man cooks. Not only is it nice to eat home-cooked food, but it makes me feel special, somehow, worth care and effort.

I have a thing about foot rubs (I LOVE THEM). Knowing this, and knowing my feet had been aching from being on them all day, he offered to give me a foot rub. I sat on his bed and felt his fingers on my arches and looked at him kneeling on the floor in front of me. And I could no longer resist.

I asked him if I could be radically honest with him and he said yes. “Look,” I told him, “I know you just got out of a relationship, and I really want to be respectful of that, but I also want to throw you down on the bed and have my way with you.” He immediately became delightfully blushy again, and averted his eyes and muttered something along the lines of “Oh thank god” and “I think I like radical honesty.”

I told myself I wouldn’t kiss him till our third date. (For those who are wondering, it was REAAAAAAAAAAAALLY HARD to do that.) I kissed him, the way I always kiss boys, forcefully, aggressively, and hard. And then we spent most of our third date kissing. His lips are soft and wonderfully responsive, and he reacts to my touch in all of the ways I hunger for, the ways that spur me on to touch him more, kiss him more, hurt him more. Simply put, he is what I have always wanted, what I have always imagined and hoped and longed for in a partner.

Our dynamic feels very, very natural to me. I can be myself, every aspect of myself, around him. I haven’t felt like this about someone in a very long time, and I am so very happy.

Personal Ponderings and Peroxide

November 18th, 2013 by

I recently moved to a new city in a new state, to embark upon a new phase in my life.

I had decided not to date for my first six months here, to let myself get settled and concentrate on my career development and making new friends.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

As some of you reading this surely will already know, I’m dating someone. I call him H2O2.

I have dated a lot. It has been over a year since Shadow and I went our separate ways, and in that time I have dated a lot. And before Shadow, there was also quite a bit of dating. In all that time, I have rarely met someone with whom I felt such ease in talking to, and such chemistry with, than Peroxide.

As similar as we are in some respects, Peroxide and I are very different, in many ways. Aside from the obvious dichotomies (female/male, dominant/submissive, atheist/Christian), he is a much more personal blogger than I am. I tend to blog more as a political tool than anything else, and, to be perfectly honest, I tend to write when I am pain. Writing is my way of opening up my chest and freeing whatever happens to be weighing heavily in my heart. I only write when I want to make a point about something. I sometimes read other people’s writing and say “So what?” I don’t want my writing to be that way.

I don’t write so much when I’m happy.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. I don’t know if I want to write just to tell people I am happy. I don’t know if I want to have a personal relationship with you, my readers. I would rather be an amorphous essence behind a screen than a real person. It helps me distance myself from the pain that I put out there, for anyone to read.

But I find that writing also helps me focus my thoughts and examine my feelings, to hold up a mirror to my inner self, as uncomfortable as it sometimes may be. But also, writing, journaling helps me chronicle things so I can go back to them one day.

My time thus far with Peroxide has been short, but it has been magical, and it’s something I want to keep, whatever may happen in the course of our relationship. My memory is not good, due to a combination of brain drugs and the stuff-that-I-need-the-brain-drugs-for-in-the-first-place.

There is nothing about this time that I don’t want to remember. I want to sear these things into my memory, to lock them forever in my heart. So my next few posts will be of a more personal nature, a journal so I can look back on this someday and remember all of the joys of the early days of our relationship.

Dating and Dominants and Dominance and Dating

August 24th, 2013 by

I’ve been single for well over a year now, and dating has been proving to be an exceedingly difficult and troublesome task. Part of this is because I’m not quite sure what I want; an unusual experience for me. My relationship with Shadow was my first real long-term D/s relationship, and while, in many ways, it was wonderful and everything I had ever dreamed about, its amicable but ultimately heart-breaking cessure left me a little skittish about D/s.

Part of me longs for a D/s relationship again, but I also want a relationship that is based on romance, not rules. I want someone who does the things I like, the things I want them to do–but not because they have to. Because they love me.

One thing remains certain: I am an unabashed sexual top. My realization of this has make vanilla dating difficult and awkward. I don’t know how to tell the boy who flirts with me at the coffee shop “Look, you’re really cute, but I’m just not interested unless I can drag you home, tie you to my bed, and make you my fucktoy.”

I feel aimless. Purposeless. I dither about. I start up an OkCupid profile, and then shut it down the next day. I go on a date and then don’t follow-through. I go to a munch and flirt and don’t make any plans to play. I feel simultaneously kink-starved and burned out. I’m not sure what I want, but I am sure that I want something. I don’t know if I want a full blown D/s relationship, but there’s something holding me back from getting into a vanilla one.

I guess the real question I’ve been asking myself is: can I still be dominant if I am not with a submissive? If I am in a vanilla relationship, am I still dominant?

The reason why I want to be in a D/s relationship, to do D/s, is not only so I can actualize my own desires, but because I want someone who can accept me, all of me, including my deviant desires, my kinkiness, my dominance. I want someone who I can really be myself around, someone who will accept and love me, all of me. I worry that if I date a vanilla person, I will end up having to hide or minimize my dominance, that it will fade into the background of my life. After all the self-exploration I’ve done, having to do that feels like having to deny who I really am. But at the same time, I have to ask myself if I am willing to live a life devoid of love in order to stay true to myself? I’m uncertain how to proceed with this question, and, unanswered, it continues to gnaw at my heart and fester in my mind.

The Cost of Devaluing Male Submission: One Token

August 9th, 2011 by

The BDSM blogosphere has been all aflutter lately about the devaluation of male submission. And it’s about fucking time. Because the kink scene treats male subs as if they are unwanted, uninvited guests, not recognizing the fact that they are real people with feelings of their own, that their dominant partners cherish them. Every time I see a Fetlife profile that reads “I’m not attracted to submissive men” (frequently, in my experience, on the profiles of female switches and occasionally other female dominants), my stomach clenches. They don’t seem to realize that such an attitude is linked to another problem in the scene: the tokenization of female dominants.

The public BDSM scene has a predilection towards the maledom femalesub dynamic. If you are female, you are presumed to be submissive unless stated otherwise, and if you are male, you are presumed to be dominant unless stated otherwise. (And if you are non-gender-normative, if you don’t fit in a nice little ticky-box, then the scene may accept you but not really know what to do with you.) As much as we would like to believe that the scene is a problem-free sexual utopia, it still suffers from many of the problems that mainstream society does. Straight male sexuality is prioritized, and thus straight male doms are the prevailing players in the scene. Straight male doms have no use for male subs, yet they still like female doms—they like us because we bring a certain energy to the scene and are fun to talk to and be around and because they hope that maybe we’ll co-top their girls with them and that they might be able to get into our pants.

So my sexuality is something that people in the scene can appreciate and sort of see the value in from afar. But the object of that sexuality is not accepted in the scene. While male subs are not seen as potential objects of desire, female doms are seen only as objects of desire. That’s how I feel sometimes as a femme dom in the public scene: they see me, but not my desires.

I feel like Geordi.

[Image: African-American man in a yellow Starfleet uniform, his eyes obscured by a “VISOR”, a piece of technology that allows him to see. Image source: Memory Alpha]

In Star Trek: the Next Generation, the character Geordi LaForge never got laid (this is where I out myself as a nerd, if the pseudonym and the lab coat and the giant boner for science weren’t already a dead giveaway). They had to have a character who was black and disabled, to show how progressive and inclusive they were. But they weren’t progressive enough to give him a sex life. Hollywood had this ridiculous idea about the primal, savage nature of black men, especially in relation to their sexuality. And so the closest poor Geordi ever gets to having a sexual relationship is with a holographic character, and even that is unconsummated–he gets blue-balled by his own fantasies, because oh no, if we show a black man in a sexual situation then the viewers will have to be reminded of the fact that he has a penis. We all know that there’s nothing scarier to mainstream 90’s American culture than a black man’s penis–the popularity of racist porn stemming from the eroticization of this fear belies it. (Not to mention the fact that Geordi falls right into the trope of “disabled characters don’t have a sexuality.”)  Geordi and I are both welcomed in our respective communities, as long as we keep our sexual desires silent—closeted—and to ourselves.

When I meet het male doms, I always try to make it abundantly clear to them from the beginning of our association that I am not a switch, I am not interested in playing, I am not interested in co-topping girls with them, I am not interested in anything beyond friendship with them.

And often, they continue to be friendly. And I like that because I am also friendly and I like to have friends, of all orientations. And I think to myself, “you know, we’re different, we get off on different things, but maybe he can appreciate me for who I am even though I’m not submissive and he knows we can’t have that type of interaction.”

“Maybe he can still respect me and the dynamic that I enjoy.” But then I hear language that refers to male submission as if it is something disgusting or shameful.

And that’s what bothers me.

A few months ago, maymay was referred to as “such a fucking weak-ass male submissive that he makes male submission look bad” by a dominant man who is well-known in the local community.

This writing has since been deleted. But the harmful words still ring in my ears. Maymay is not making male submissives look bad. The author is the one who is making male submissives look bad, because he is using the words “male submissive” as an insult. Would he have said “a fucking weak-ass gay”? I think not, at least, not in the San Francisco scene—such words have a clear underlying implication of homophobia. But somehow, using someone’s D/s status as a slur is acceptable.

While I don’t enjoy the maledom-femsub dynamic myself, I think it is a completely valid sexuality. I would never presume to tell someone otherwise. These het-male-doms who make up the mainstream of the subculture that we inhabit? I think they like me and respect me and think I’m hot, but I don’t know if they think my sexuality is valid.

And so I feel tokenized. It’s not fair to me, because where would I, a femme dom, be without my masculine sub? We are two sides of a coin. Today I am not beating my queer drum; today I am borrowing maymay’s drum: You cannot truly respect me without respecting my submissive as well. If you value me, you must value him.

There is a lot of male submissive-shaming in the public scene.  You’ll hear it all the time.  “Male subs are creepy,” “male subs spoil the atmosphere, so we don’t want to encourage them.” And while I have indeed encountered many male submissives who have acted in inappropriate ways, I have one question to ask: why do you suppose that male subs like maymay who do respect boundaries don’t feel welcome in the scene? It’s not because they are making male submission look bad, it’s because you are equating male submission with badness.

And by doing this, you are hurting me.

This is the reason I go to sleep alone every night. It’s not because there’s something wrong with me as a potential romantic/sexual partner. It’s because there’s no one for me to date. Because everyone’s been telling all the male submissives that they’re unwanted for so long that they won’t come out to play. So I’m sitting here in my kinky sandbox with my toys all by myself.

And it hurts.

If you respect me, if you respect my identity as a female dominant, then recognize that when you devalue male submission, you are devaluing the objects of my desire, and by doing so, you. are. hurting. me. too.

One of the Nineteen

August 2nd, 2011 by

I spent one morning in high school leading my best friend around on a leash. Nothing fancy–just a length of cheap satin ribbon, hand-sewn around his neck with a long tail left over. I walked him down the school hallways and into my classes, where he would hop onto the seat next to me (on all fours, space permitting) and sit quietly until it was time to move on. Other students stared, either sidelong or with unabashed disgust. We soaked it up delightedly. At lunchtime, I handed the leash off to his girlfriend, and she kept him for the rest of the day. It was everyday casual fun to us–a running joke in which he was our plaything.

Why did it take a decade after that before I considered I might be something called “dominant”?

In 2007, still more than a year before I met the person who taught me the term “D/s,” Bitchy Jones was asking:

If there are twenty submissive men for every dominant woman – where are the other 19 women?

19 out of every twenty dominant women aren’t happy or comfortable with femdom as an identity or a place to live. That’s a lot.

That’s 95%.

95% of dominant women aren’t comfortable in femdom.

I was one of Bitchy’s nineteen women. I had no image of dominance other than the PVC-encased dominatrix, which–while fun to look at–sure isn’t anything like me. Femdoms were supposed to be tall, skinny, and busty, projecting feminine desire while sneering down at their groveling submissives. From the first time I saw such an image, I could feel the ache of a craving for something in it, but it paled beside the strength of my knowledge that I could never be that woman. I’m not skinny. I’m not busty. I’m not feminine. I’m not even especially tall. I’m a fat agender person who keeps medium-sized boobs under loose, comfortable shirts, and if I’m honest I’m a total softie with the people I care about. “Kink,” in my understanding at the time, was something for pretty, sexy, confident people: nothing like me. “BDSM” was an abstract fantasy, something harsh and angry rather than something that real people around me were doing with their loved ones every day. In that twisted model of the world, not matching the classic femdom image didn’t just make me not a dominant. With no understanding of the breadth or depth of possibility, much less awareness of the conflation of terminology, I actually believed I was not kinky.

I got an instant message recently from a friend I haven’t seen for a few years. She asked how I was, and I told her (among other things) that I’d been exploring the BDSM scene. She asked me some probing questions, confessing that the idea of dominance intrigued her, so I shared some of what I’ve been learning. She had no idea that BDSM doesn’t have to be about pain, or that you can still be dominant when you’re the one receiving pleasure. She felt guilty for being turned on by the idea of calling a man degrading names … and was amazed when I told her that some men are turned on by that too. This is someone with whom I’ve spent many a late night talking about sex and relationships, but BDSM had never come up before. I didn’t know she was interested in dominance or humiliation. From the sound of it, she hadn’t either. My friend, all this time, had been one of Bitchy’s nineteen missing dominants too.

The Edukink teachers tell a story about a man who came to an introductory BDSM event, for his first time, at quite an advanced age.

“What kept you away so long?” they asked him.

“Well,” he said, “I always knew I was kinky, but I was married for a long time and I figured my wife wouldn’t be into it. Not long ago, though, my wife passed away …

… and then I read her diary.”

There was a pause, in the class where I heard this, and then a collective gasp.

Hearing that story secondhand breaks my heart. My own lived experience, though–my own, even so little, wasted time–makes me furious. I’m furious because of how long I believed I wasn’t even worthy of love or desire, much less cool enough for “kink.” I’m furious because, while I’m writing this, kids are killing themselves to escape oppression instead of celebrating love for whomever they love. I’m furious because shame and shameless fiction are being used every day to justify abuse, while sexuality without shame is censored. I’m furious because we have pulled a mask over our own collective face, a painted illusion of what is “perfect” and “normal,” and we are suffocating ourselves with it.

I’m furious because not conforming to a stereotype robbed me of my identity.

I am furious and achingly helpless, knowing that somewhere out there, right now, there is another shy fat perverted gender-atypical teenager being told over and over that they cannot be beautiful, sexual, or kinky, and I don’t know how to find them and convince them it’s not true. All I can do is write and hope they hear me.

Are you there? Listen:

There is no invisible line dividing you from the people who are allowed to have healthy, fulfilling, kinky sex lives. You don’t have to look like people in magazines. You don’t have to fit a prescribed role, gender or otherwise. You don’t have to be willing to fuck anyone, or limit yourself to fucking one person, or do either of those things but replacing “fuck” with “love.” You don’t have to be healthy or neurotypical. You don’t have to be between eighteen and thirty-five, or have any of the accepted mainstream fetishes, or make enough money to fill your closet and toybag with leather. Just the way you are right now, you already deserve to have healthy, respectful relationships, whether or not those relationships include BDSM or sex or love or none of those things. You deserve to explore what you want, to have clear and honest information available to you, and to express yourself safely. You deserve these things, not because I have invited you into my elitist kinky club, but because healthy, informed sexuality is for everyone.

And that fury I mentioned? That’s why I’m here. It’s why I’m writing down the story of my own exploration, even the parts where I’m vulnerable and afraid, and why I’m doing it somewhere publicly accessible. I may not be loud enough alone to be heard over the cacophony of messages informing us what we must be, but frankly, I do not know what else to do. Maybe, if I’m strong enough, I can at least make a counterpoint ring out a little more clearly.

Post-Transplant

July 30th, 2011 by

You know how when you’ve recently been in pain, the sudden absence of it feels better than if it had never been there? That’s how it felt to post Transplant. Letting go of my uncertainty brought a wave of relief I would never have gotten without questioning my gender in the first place. For the first time, my gender label was not just adequate-for-a-short-answer but actually right. It felt good–surprisingly good. After posting it, as promised, I updated my Diaspora and FetLife accounts with the new information, and then sat there looking at the “25GQ Dom” at the top of my profile and just grinned.

The biggest changes I’ve noticed in the weeks since then weren’t changes. They were ways things had always been which suddenly made a lot more sense. For example, people often refer to me with male pronouns or honorifics, especially online, and it’s never bothered me. On the contrary, I’ve usually been secretly pleased. What does bother me is when someone else corrects them–derailing the whole conversation just for the sake of planting a figurative “THIS ONE IS FEMALE” sticker on my face. The statement is that not only am I female, it’s that my femaleness is more important than what we’re talking about. I dislike everything about that, and it’s much clearer now why it gets so far under my skin.

On a related note, several people have politely asked me which pronouns I now prefer. The truth is that I’m not sure either, yet. If English had a widely accepted gender-neutral animate pronoun, I’d be all over that, but it doesn’t, so my options are gendered, plural, neologistic, or inanimate. Honestly, other than the last one, I don’t really care. I myself get to dodge the problem by using the first person, so pick whatever feels sensible to you and feel free to change it later. If I find I’m uncomfortable with your choice, I’ll let you know, but I won’t blame you for not being able to read my mind.

More problematic for me is the question of non-pro nouns. (Amateur nouns?) If I give up “female,” what does that mean for “girl”? “Woman”? What about “femdom”? Tentatively I’m avoiding them, to see if I feel the loss, and that last is particularly troubling. More than being an efficient descriptor of (in my case) anatomy and preferences, “femdom” as a label comes with some politics. It’s a one-word reminder that not all doms are male, and using it gives me the power to say “Look, I’m a femdom and I’m not a stereotype” to people who don’t yet realize that’s possible. That’s a power I’m reluctant to give up, even while I’m not certain it was rightfully mine in the first place. On the other hand, perhaps it’s just as valuable to do the same for “dom”–to be an example of something entirely unlike the stereotype, including but not only by not being male.

Setting aside vocabulary inquiries, I was surprised at how many of the responses to Transplant were along the lines of “This really got me thinking about myself,” or “I’ve been having similar thoughts.” It’s not just the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon; these were people I already knew, but neither of us had been aware the other was questioning their gender. When I settled on the term “agender” for myself, I felt like I was striking out alone in nearly empty territory (Google pulls up a few results from AVEN, but most of the rest are about a cross-platform scheduling tool). It turns out that I might have more neighbors here than I realized.

The conversation I was most nervous about having came a few days after publishing Transplant, when I got a chance to catch up with my mom (who lives in another time zone). I didn’t expect her to be upset, but I really had no idea what she would think. We didn’t have a lot of time to chat, but she told me she was proud of me both for being so thoughtful and for expressing it so well. Then she added (link mine),

“Not to switch focus, but you make me realize how un-introspective I am, mostly because I’m intellectually lazy and partly because I (and my generation perhaps) have never been comfortable stating — much less sharing — intimate issues. Understatement in my case. To me, you’re very brave, which must mean the same thing as very confident. A good thing.”

“Maybe,” I said. “You don’t see the part where I’m avoiding and ignoring it for ages before finally facing it down.”

“Nobody sees that part,” she pointed out. “That’s the beauty of having a skull.”

My mom is a smart lady.

Admittedly, I’ve had some uncomfortable realizations along with the relief. I’ve noticed for a long time that I can be a bit misogynistic, and that observation used to produce some cognitive dissonance. How could I not like women, if I am one and I don’t dislike myself? (Or, at the times in my life when I did dislike myself, that wasn’t why.) Now it makes–well, no, it doesn’t make sense, but it’s easier to understand, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. I don’t want to give myself an excuse for judging people prematurely. What’s going on, I think, is that there’s much about traditional femininity which I dislike (reasonable), and I’ve absorbed its tropes sufficiently to apply them as a template to women I don’t yet know well (not reasonable). I’m trying to catch myself on this consciously, now, so I can knock it the hell off.

Given how long I’ve been reading myself wrong, I was pleased to hear from maymay that Transplant “[is] also REALLY illuminating because it so perfectly matches how I read you, gender-wise. And it’s odd because that’s very rare. It’s NOT androgynous. It’s truly ‘not-a-gender.’ […] I’ve actually mentally been trying to remember to use ‘she’ and ‘female’ with you for a while, and I thought that was odd for a while, but now I get why I was stumbling over it in my head for so long.”

This raises an interesting question. The way he’s contrasting them, to seem androgynous is to have both masculine and feminine aspects, whereas to seem agender is to have neither. So where does that put me in the eyes of people who are attracted to a gender? Have I just removed from my dating pool anyone who identifies as a straight man or gay woman (that is, someone attracted to women), bisexual (attracted to men and women1), or just attracted to gender itself? If I have, that’s an awfully small sliver of potential suitors I’ve got left. This is a point of genuine insecurity which I haven’t really resolved yet. Just like I need to be sexy including my fat, not in spite of it–as Chaos has written too about her disability–I need to be attractive including my (lack of) gender, not in spite of that either.

On the other hand, why would anyone’s attraction to me have changed? All I’m adopting is a new word; inside, I’ve felt the same or similar gender-wise as long as I can remember. When I was in high school, a group of peer educators once came around to one of my classes to give a presentation about sexuality and gender identity. They needed a volunteer for a demonstration, and one of the presenters (a friend of mine) called me out, knowing I’d be an interesting participant. He drew four lines on the board, each marked M at one end and F at the other. I was to pick a point on each line; one was for my physical sex, one for my gender identity, one for my gender presentation, and one for my sexuality. I put my first point solidly on the F end of the scale, and the rest muddled about in the middle wherever they belonged. If I did the same exercise today, ten years later, it would look almost exactly the same2.

I’ve never felt or been treated like someone who fits neatly in the “female” pigeonhole. What’s new is just the realization that it might mean something. I was lucky to be born in a little magic bubble of time and space3 where I grew up surrounded by the idea that boys and girls can be whatever they want, so I didn’t think much of it when I didn’t take to ballet and ponies very much. I remember that the notion of a “tomboy” appealed to me, but I wasn’t actually any good at sports or tree-climbing either, so I reluctantly had to discard it. When I was a little older, I considered whether I might be trans, but I didn’t feel like a boy, so at the time (still stuck on the binary) I assumed that was the end of it. The majority of my friends, after puberty or so, were always male. I wasn’t exactly “one of the guys,” but I wasn’t one of the girls they got crushes on and dated, either. Hurt by that, I figured I was just a faulty girl. It never occurred to me that I was a perfectly good something else.

Getting ready for bed the night Transplant was published, I stopped to take a look in the mirror and had a startling realization. Gendered standards don’t apply to me any more. I’m no longer supposed to look like women, because I’m not one. All I have to look like is me. The shape I already am. The only shape, minor variations aside, that I can be. I set my own standards now, and that power is incredibly liberating. For what might be the first time, when I looked in the mirror that night, I didn’t compare what I saw to anything else I’d ever seen. I just looked and accepted. That’s who I am. That’s all I need to be. All the confusion, uncertainty, and anxiety may’ve been worth it just for that.

  1. Some people use “bisexual” the way I use “pansexual.” I don’t know how common this is, and given that the word “pansexual” exists, I find it confusing. So when it’s not otherwise specified, I interpret “bisexual” to mean “both,” not “any.” (Besides, the “it applies to the whole spectrum between two points” argument doesn’t include me anyway.) []
  2. With the possible exception of the first solid F for physical sex. Since then I’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, which among other things means I have higher level of androgens (male hormones) than is typical for someone with two X chromosomes. So I actually am, arguably, a little more physically male than the average cis woman. []
  3. Berkeley, California, 1985 []

Dominance

June 3rd, 2011 by

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means for me to identify as a dominant woman. I find it somewhat difficult to explain, as it’s rather subtle.

A friend once remarked that he thought it was surprising that I’m so dominant, because I’m so feminine. This struck me as completely nonsensical, as my femininity is intrinsically tied to my dominance. My power lies in my smile, my hips, turning heads as I walk down the street and knowing yes, you want me.

Certainly, I enjoy being bossy and sadistic; I’d like to tie you up and hit you with various objects and make you serve me. I love to do this, but that’s not the core of my dominance.

It is not that I am controlling you; rather, I am making you lose control of yourself.

It is when I am on top of you, and you lose yourself inside of me, and in that moment you are mine, mine, mine.