Frangipani

Polyamory, bisexuality and maybe even some atheism

Privilege, or Why Douchebags on Dating Sites don’t Bother Me January 15, 2014

I’m lucky.

I am really very lucky.

I’ve been hearing a lot about online dating in the last few months. Everything from how American race relations translate into who gets contacted most, and by whom, to how many men don’t seem to care if a woman is an asshole, so long as she’s pretty, to a man finding out for himself the muck women have to wade through out there has been discussed recently and there’s lots more to come.

There’s a lot of truth to what those articles say. I’ve had a profile on a fairly popular and poly-friendly site for over six years now. It’s had at least some role in making my relationships happen, and I’ve also made some very cool people through it, so I like it quite a bit.

But I also get hate mail. In my case, most of it isn’t sexual so much as just plain hostile. Men (always, exclusively men – often American and on average about 10-20 years older than me) have told me that:

  • I am sexist against men
  • I’m doing feminism wrong
  • I’m too aggressive
  • I’m uppity
  • I’m the perfect example of the worst kind of woman in the world
  • I am too pretty to need such a long profile
  • I am confusing because pretty and aggressive don’t go together
  • I am confusing because aggressive profiles and polite responses don’t go together
  • I am never going to get laid

Generally, I find these messages really funny. Sometimes I bait the guy into an exchange that unravels him, other times I just block and delete him. I’ve only reported a person once, and that was an actual threat (albeit a toothless one).

So why am I lucky?

Because I get to be the kind of person whose profile elicits such responses. And I get to be the kind of person who finds such reactions funny.

I got a message a little while ago from a man in another country that brought this point home to me. In an exchange which began with him expressing complete bafflement at my existence because, in his experience, women were cagey and dishonest about what they wanted, I ended up laying out why exactly he found me so ‘unusual’.

A) I’m not.

B) What is unusual, perhaps, is that I feel free enough and secure enough to actually express myself clearly, at least as far as what I want from a profile on a dating website is concerned. And where does this security and freedom that some men can’t seem to stand come from? Honestly? It has a lot to do with the men in my life, starting with my father and all the way on up to my current partners and friends.

I wrote a few years ago about suddenly becoming aware of the protective cloak the men in my life afford me – this is similar, but here we’re talking about emotional safety as well.

Now, I’m certainly not saying that all the good things in my life are exclusively the result of my relationships with men. People who fit under the category of ‘men’ have also harassed, undermined, insulted, threatened, stalked, attacked, and sexually assaulted me, and  Schrodinger’s rapist looms just as large in my life as in that of most other women. Similarly, some of the best, most supportive, liberating, dependable and downright brilliant people in my life have been, and are, women.

But what I am saying is that the kind of people, particularly male-type people, I have in my life inoculate me from the effects of a lot of (also mostly male) asshattery. I’m sure some of my cussedness is innate, but I’m also fairly certain that it could have been warped or knocked out of me altogether under different circumstances. The fact that I can face the world head on despite all the shit that’s out there is not because I’m special but because, on balance, I have the privilege of not having most of that shit in my actual life.

In one of my responses to Mr Baffled, after he whined about how he’s a nice guy and why won’t women just trust him, I wrote:

No, all men are not the same, but do you really think women have an infinite number of chances to find someone who they can trust? By the second or third betrayal, it’s quite possible that the woman’s reputation and spirit and self esteem has been so thoroughly shredded that she’s not going to be able to keep trying. By then, yes, it is much easier and safer to just pretend to be a robot and go through the motions and never, ever open up. This is horrible and I wish it didn’t happen, but it does. Being annoyed at women for being victims of it is pointless.

And no, being ‘shy’ is not women’s nature. It is something that they are taught to be to survive. Which should also give you a clue as to the role they are expected to play. Again, only very lucky women get to actually be able to show that they are not ‘shy’ and not be punished for it by their immediate cohort. Rest assured there are still plenty of people out there who would love to punish me for being this open, but fortunately the people closest to me can protect me to a degree. That’s the reality.

and later, after a ‘but you did it':

Knowing I was safe came first. Then I tested it. Found I was still safe. Tested it some more. Women don’t spring fully formed out of the blue. They’re taught how to behave, just as men are and they’re taught what’s required of them, just like men are. Sadly, most women are taught that if they ever let men see them as human beings who are less than perfect, not only will nobody love them, they will be treated like dirt. To make matters worse, men and women are also taught that if a woman strays from societal expectations, they have the right to treat her like dirt. SOME people decide that this is wrong and stupid and if they happen to be the ones a woman comes across, then maybe she can start to express herself, but all the while, the knowledge that there are people out there ready to harm her if they get the chance is still there.

That’s what I mean when I say I’m not unusual – I’m pretty certain that I’m part of  a decent cohort. What is unusual is that I have men in my life who think societal expectations of men and women are largely a load of horseshit and who have the mettle to do things their own way while also not being threatened by my doing the same. To my mind, that is as it should be, but even that assumption is a privilege, for which I am grateful.

 

Things I’ve Learned March 20, 2012

I’m sure I mentioned this in an earlier post, but men have become more appealing of late. I think that comes from having sorted out a lot of my shit in that department and having come to understand and accept my kinks and inclinations.

For instance, I wondered if, in being drawn to being dominant towards men, I was simply reacting to the submissive-by-default status of women in what little BDSM I had previously been exposed to as well as, well, the world in general. I wondered if wanting to hurt them was perhaps more a political thing than a personal thing and maybe, deep down, I really didn’t want to do it at all. I know that my reaction to being struck, dominated, etc. is almost immediately aggressive and potentially violent in just about any context, and that should have been a clue, but such is the power of suggestion and conformity. It’s just so much easier (at least in theory) for a woman to be submissive that when you’re not, you’re left second-guessing yourself. At least I was.

Then I met a woman with whom I had amazing chemistry and whose libido was about as strong as mine. We spent at least the first three months fucking like our lives depended on it at every single opportunity. The funny thing about all that sex is that it didn’t really help us get to know each other all that well as people, but it certainly helped both of us get to know ourselves an awful lot better.

I can’t write about what she learned, but for my part, I found out that I really do like running the show. I really do like impact play. I really DON’T like being on the receiving end of impact play, but trying it and finding out was actually pretty fun anyway, and I only really concluded that it wasn’t for me afterwards. I don’t mind hurting women or dominating them, though I much prefer things to even out in the end. I get off on hurting people in ways they like. I get off on playing with people’s bodies and figuring out what works for them and what freaks them out (in a good way). I don’t mind tying people up, but I much prefer simply not allowing them to move. I love the feel, smell and weight of a whip in my hand. I love just using my hands. I love using my mouth, and especially my teeth.

And, at the same time, I learnt that a lot of the stuff that freaked me out or that I didn’t like the idea of wasn’t all that scary after all. I may not like it, but that’s ok. I have the right to not like things. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It did not shatter my idea of who I was. It did not make me a bad person. It was just…stuff.

For a while, I thought it was weird that sex with a woman should help me sort out stuff about sex with men. Eventually, it dawned on me that, duh, it’s not that different. I feel safer with women in general, but I felt particularly safe with her, at least sexually, and that allowed me to let go and experiment with stuff that, in the past, I’d been far too wound up to even think of trying. I’d thought for the longest time that it just took me longer to trust men than women sexually, but really, it was me I didn’t trust. I was afraid that despite what I really wanted, I would simply freeze and then revert to the handy-dandy little  he-Tarzan, me-Jane script when dealing with a man.

*lightbulb*

I don’t have to do that. Or, if I really feel like it, I can do exactly that. The key is figuring out what I want at the time and articulating it and then letting the response be about the other person and not me.

And the end result is that while that relationship may have gone south, it’s left me in a much better place. I’ve actually started to notice men and to find lots of them sexy without knowing the first thing about them. I know most people will think that’s perfectly normal, but it has rarely, if ever, happened to me.

Now to figure out what to do about it.

 

Discussions of “Sex at Dawn” December 5, 2011

Filed under: Definitions,Monogamy,Politics of sexuality,Polyamory — Araliya @ 3:14 pm

First things first. I have not yet read this book. It’s on my list and I will get to it eventually, but I have way too much on my plate at the moment.

However, I’ve been hearing about it for the better part of this year and it has piqued my curiosity. Today, I came across a post by Emily Nagoski on the subject, which is why it’s in my head. Her post was interesting, as always (go read it), and I’m writing this post mostly because I liked her negative take on it (seriously, go read it) and because I wanted to record my comment here.

I said

[snip]I’m polyamorous and quite a few people I know have been telling me this book is fantastic because it ‘proves’ that we were ‘meant’ to be polyamorous. I haven’t had the time to read it myself yet, but statements like that set off my BS sensors.

I agree with the statement above (actually I agree with all of them) that this is the good old appeal-to-authority fallacy in action. If it’s ‘natural’ then we can’t help it, which means we are not the “bad” people that flouting convention makes us. Way to get yourselves off the hook.

Personally, I’d rather take active responsibility for my life and choices.

The breathless buzz about this book, specially in poly circles, irks me. It suggests that people are desperately hungry for justification and validation and that their own ability to reason isn’t good enough. Now, everyone has a different level of confidence in themselves and a lack of confidence is not really the worst thing ever. I can have all the confidence in the world and still make a stupid decision – it’s not about that. What pisses me off is that people aren’t prepared to own their decisions.

I think that polyamory is right for me. I made the choice to be polyamorous after a lot of thought and a lot of discussion with H. We decided that it sounded reasonable and was worth trying. Then we read some more and talked to more people and got to know the community and kept checking in with each other to make sure it was still ok. Now, years later, I can say that it worked. I’m happy, H is happy, my other partners are happy. There have been ups and downs, of course, and not all my relationships have lasted, but that’s life.

But I also know that for all that effort and reasoning and care, I may yet fall flat on my face. Knowing what I do and knowing myself, I can only say that I don’t think that will happen, but I have no guarantee. And that’s ok. I’m doing the best I can to the best of my knowledge. I don’t need someone to pat me on the head and tell me that I’m doing what I’m ‘programmed’ to do (unless that happens to be reasoning, thinking and acting responsibly. And even then, you pat my head at your own risk.). That is patronizing and deeply offensive. But more importantly, this kind of biological determinism is also potentially harmful because it effectively absolves us of responsibility for our actions. It suggests that we can’t help doing these things and that we have no control over our own lives and inclinations. From where I sit, that’s a whole lot of hooey.

(To be updated once I’ve read the book. Probably next year.)

 

“I’m so jealous!” November 17, 2011

Filed under: Communication,Polyamory — Araliya @ 10:08 am
Tags: ,

Mini-rant time.

I really hate it when person A describes a holiday or food or a fun activity to person B who didn’t participate and the latter responds with “I’m so jealous!” or “I hate you!” or “You suck!”

Mostly, the person making these statements doesn’t actually harbor any ill-will towards person A, and is only trying to indicate that the activity in question is something they like and wish they could do too. I don’t have a problem with that bit. I do have a problem with the phrasing though, because it’s such a negative way to express yourself. To me, it sounds like you’re saying you’re the center of the universe and how dare somebody else get to do something you don’t? Why not just a ‘good for you’ or ‘that’s so great’ or ‘have fun’ or ‘you deserve it’? I know in most cases the person who says ‘I’m so jealous’ probably feels all those things. Why not say them instead of something negative-sounding?

I suppose the j-word particularly irks me, specially in the poly context where we’ve actively worked to process and understand jealousy. You could argue that trivializing it in this way helps de-fang it – it’s just a word – and, intellectually, I’d probably agree. Generally, its use every now and then isn’t a big deal. But lately it seems that it’s being used ALL the freaking time, to the point that person A in the example above will now say ‘I’m doing such-and-such. Aren’t you jealous?’ or ‘Ooh x! B is going to be SO jealous!’ and I really don’t like it.

As if the value of whatever one is doing exists only so long as someone else is not getting to do it or someone else indicates their approval of it by saying it’s worth being jealous of. Something about that stinks.
 

New(ish) blogs I’m reading October 12, 2011

I’ve added quite a few blogs to my blogroll and most of them fall into the kink category. Specifically, and with one exception, they are blogs by either dominant women or submissive men. Some of these, like Maybe Maimed But Never Harmed and Male Submission Art (NSFW), are blogs I’ve been following for longer than I can remember.  The others are newer finds. After Bitchy closed up shop last year and I was seriously short on the time I’d need to find another blog like that, I pretty much stopped reading anything from a dominant woman’s point of view.

That kinda sucked, now that I think about it.

Recently though, I found Clarisse Thorn via her posts on Feministe and remembered again why I liked listening to smart women talking about their sexuality, their politics and their experiences. Her excellent post dismantling the idea of inherent female submission was what really hooked me on her writing. Not only was she clear and thorough, she also linked to a whole bunch of blogs by dominant women when debunking the idea that all women are naturally submissive. That particular blog post was something of a turning point for me personally, but I’ll talk about that later.

For now I want to talk about the blogs I found through her (thank you!) and totally fell in love with.

Like Domme Chronicles, by Ferns, for instance. I wanted by now to have a few favorite posts to point to, but honestly I think it’s just better to go to the beginning and just read the blog from beginning to end. I’m not quite caught up yet (I have to work, sadly), but it’s such a pleasure to read that I find myself not minding having to put it away because that means there’s more to come back to. And while the writing alone is worth going back for, I find that hers, of all the other, similar blogs I’ve read in the past, is the one that resonates most with me.

I’ve already talked about Topologies, one of the blogs Clarisse Thorn linked to directly in her post and the starting point for my return to the world of dominant women who blog. It’s gone a bit silent over there at the moment, unfortunately, but I really enjoyed their writing and hope they’ll be back soon.

Tales of a Domme, by Dishevelled Domina  is another smart, well written blog that I like reading. Her series interviewing submissive men has been interesting and she keeps doing things like that -asking questions about aspects of BDSM that interest her (and me!) and inviting people to have thoughtful discussions about how kink ties into other things, and so on. Her tumblr (NSFW) is pretty damn awesome too.

Then there’s Stabbity at Not Just Bitchy. The blog’s only been around since June this year, but I think it moved onto my favorites list pretty much immediately. Stabbity – and let’s pause for a second to admire that handle – talks sense. Not that the others don’t, mind you, but she does it in rant form and that just warms my heart. That she (and we) have shit to rant about isn’t so great, but at least it results in good reading and discussion.

Then there’s maymay’s blog Maybe Days. It consists of shorter posts, quotes, and photos and is, like most of maymay’s work, political. That’s a broad term, but it’s hard to find a succinct way of describing someone who’s done so much and put himself out there so often for the kink community and particularly for our side, i.e. submissive men and, by association, dominant women. I know that whenever there’s an update, it’ll be something worth reading and reacting to (and usually sharing).

So in all, this is a group of smart, thoughtful, passionate people who, very fortunately for the interwebs and the kinky people on it, happen to blog. I’m delighted to have found my way to them.

 

Things I Don’t Get October 10, 2011

When discussing polyamory, be it on a forum, mailing list or the comments following an article in the MSM on the subject, someone inevitably brings up the ‘well I suppose it’s ok for men but women would have a hard time with it.’ The reasons given for said ‘hard time’ are generally along the lines of:

a) women don’t like sex as much as men and so having two or more men to ‘satisfy’ is difficult for the poor little darlings

or

b)men are horndogs but women like fidelity and get ragingly jealous (extra points for the ‘hell hath no fury’ line) so the idea of their men having other partners would drive women out of their minds

I’ve never understood that particular (set of) argument(s). I mean, let’s talk basic genital biology for a second. Men need a helluva lot more time to recover from orgasm than women do. Now, there’s lots of individual variation, but technically speaking, I can totally see how a woman could have sex with two men consecutively, but I have a harder time seeing how a man would manage to get it up without a break (or ‘medical’ intervention). Even allowing for an extremely short refractory period, superb health and preternatural horniness, and all of them coinciding, we’d still be talking about a very small number of men.

And let’s be clear here. In these conversations,  sex is usually assumed as men wanting to stick their penises into women. Personally, I think sex encompasses far more than that, but I have yet to come across someone concern trolling about, for instance, all those poor women who struggle to satisfy their male partners’ need for cunnilingus all day, every day. Something tells me that the oft-lamented female distaste for sex – if it exists at all – may have more to do with men being rubbish at it than women not liking it. I mean, I love chocolate cake, but if you screw up the recipe,  I won’t want to eat it, you know?

As for b), I’d like to point to the societal imperative placed on both men and women to mark their territory when it comes to sexual partners. For women, the competition is meant to be more passive – we have to be more attractive/alluring than the competition in the hope that our men will continue to choose us over them. For men, the competition is meant to be – and can become – much more active and aggressive. Take this ad, for example:

Yes, it’s very silly, but that silliness speaks to how normal we find it for men to be violent towards other men when competing for a woman’s affections. (Note also that nobody asked the woman in question who she would prefer. Her job is to stand there, look pretty and be the prize.)

This doesn’t mean that jealousy doesn’t happen between women by any means. It just means that people constructing women as exclusively jealous are basically just talking out of their asses. People get jealous. Some people get extremely jealous, and some only mildly, if at all, and all of them are normal. Besides which, jealousy isn’t some sort of permanent, inescapable state. If you’re a mature adult, odds are you can figure your shit out and deal with it successfully, or at the very least try to.

So not only is b) yet another example of the gender essentialism that plagues our societies but it also infantilises women by implying that they can’t act like adults and deal with their jealousy, should they encounter it in the first place.

But of course, these people don’t mean any harm. They’re just looking out for us poor females because gosh we’re so silly to think we can keep up with the manly men and their manliness.

*eyeroll*

 

Annoyed. September 28, 2011

I’m going to have to think carefully about this.

So I met this person. Or rather, this person met me and decided they were interested. I didn’t object – they’re cute and sweet and only here for a short time, so why not?

This person is not polyamorous, but knows all about me and my setup and says they’re willing to give it a shot. We’ve talked a lot, met a few times, things are good.

Except that even at this early stage, I’m having flashbacks to my relationship with A and the thoughtless things he did when it came to dating other people. I have no expectations with this new person and am frankly happy that they’re meeting other people and having a good time at it. If nothing else, it takes the pressure off me since I don’t feel like their only source of entertainment.

And yet…I don’t know. I don’t suspect any ill-will, but in describing new and exciting people, I can’t help but hear an indictment of myself. If other people are too interesting to be interested in them, then what does that say about someone who IS interested? Like A, I don’t think they’ve thought their statement through and unlike with A, we’re not even in a relationship of any kind so I don’t get why I feel vaguely ill when they say that.

But I do.

With A, I eventually spoke up and informed him that saying crap like that was insulting to me. With this person, I don’t feel like I have any business saying something like that. We kid around, flirt, talk about random crap and that’s it. So they think somebody else is exciting. So what? So do I.

I guess I feel like they’re hedging their bets and I don’t like not knowing where I stand. I also suspect that the comments are not as innocent as A’s – this person has given me reason to believe they’re a whole lot more savvy than A ever was about this stuff. But then again, maybe it’s just me projecting my own insecurities on someone who’s only sharing how they feel because I’ve been happy to listen so far.

Upon further thought, I’ve decided that next time something like this comes up, I will point out the implied criticism in the statement, but with the assumption that it was unintentional. Hopefully a simple ‘ouch’ will suffice.

And if that doesn’t work, it’s off to the reject pile for this one.

 

 
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