Frangipani

Polyamory, bisexuality and maybe even some atheism

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.

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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*

 

Topologies July 4, 2011

I can’t believe I haven’t come across it sooner, but, now that I have, I am reading Topologies from beginning to end. I’m almost up to the most current post and since they don’t seem to post very often, I’m apprehensive about the potentially long wait till they write more, but…wow.

Briefly, the blog is about BDSM from the points of view of three “women who top/dom”. I use their phrasing since not all of them use those words as identifiers so much as descriptors for what they like to do.

The three women in question are Cal Stockton, Ivy O’Malley, and Delilah Wood (these links will take you to a list of their posts on the blog). Each one writes thoughtfully and carefully and it just makes my heart happy to read what they have to say. I love that they don’t necessarily have One Truth to impart (see their ‘Convoluted Terminologyposts, for an example.). Instead, they present their sometimes differing opinions like civilized adults (It’s a sad comment on general discussion online that such an approach stands out, but there you go.) and the discussion that arises from that is genuinely engaging and interesting.

It is also SUCH a relief to read the perspectives of dominant women (or women-who-top) from a non-pornified perspective again (it’s a word now, dammit). I loved Bitchy Jones and have missed her since she closed up shop last year. Having found more smart, feminist women who make with the ouchy-hurty AND critique general BDSM culture is awesome. And inspiring.

Also, the name makes me smirk every time. Love it.

 

Why Pride? February 7, 2011

Today I overheard a comment I’ve heard a few times before about the concept of Pride March. It is basically: “it’s so weird to have people cheer you for just walking down the street.”

This comment always rocks me back on my heels.

Seriously?

Just walking down the street?

I don’t know which kind of privilege it demonstrates more: the straight privilege of people who claim the queer label but who haven’t really understood how far their apparent heterosexuality gets them, or the privilege of queer folk who have inherited a world made safe for them by the generation(s) of queer people before them who took the brunt of the bashings, hate and discrimination – those who would have marched – if they had the opportunity in the first place – in an environment where doing so would have been tantamount to being sentenced to jail, a mental asylum, or the gallows.

I actually think it’s a combination of the two. Although there are some places in the world where it is mostly safe for GLBTIQ people to be visible and live as they choose freely under the same kind of legal protection afforded to straight citizens, these places are few and far between. Even in the US, in Canada, in Europe, in Australia – the ‘first’ world, or the ‘western’ world, or ‘the world that thinks itself enlightened’ – GLBTIQ people cannot assume such freedom or protection. If they do, it is usually in defiance or the norm, rather than in compliance with it. And it is usually, still, dangerous. Look at how few places allow same-sex or otherwise queer couples to marry or to adopt children or even to visit each other in hospital if one is incapacitated. Is this a world where we ever just ‘walk down the street’?

It’s not like we haven’t gained some ground. Around the developed world – and even in some places in the developing world – queer visibility means a degree of acceptance, or at the very least, tolerance. This doesn’t mean we won’t be discriminated against or that we won’t have violence done to us or our property, but it does mean that more straight people will be angry about it and that more of their number will actually attempt to help us, stand by us as allies, or at least be sympathetic to us. This is a massive move forward, even if it isn’t full equality.

I think a lot of us on the borderline of queerness – by which I mean people who still present as heterosexual no matter what our actual orientation may be – take the general increase in the social acceptability of queerness (or, let’s be honest here, the increased acceptability of gays and lesbians – the ‘BITQ’ bit of the spectrum seems to become invisible when it’s convenient – but that’s another rant for another day)and combine it with the heterosexual privilege we have access to whether we like it or not, and conclude that everything is just peachy.

It isn’t.

Every time there is a Pride march anywhere in the world, people are coming out and saying that they belong to or support a group of people who are routinely marginalized by the mainstream population and the government. They are saying, yes we know you think we are less than you, but fuck you and your privilege. Not only have we survived your hate, we’ve done it in style and we have every right to be proud of it and to be cheered in the streets for it.

Yes, Pride is a celebration of queer culture, but it has a serious side too. People today are still taking risks. What for some people may just be a fun little stroll down the street is still a big deal to many. There are still people who don’t or won’t or can’t participate because of their work or their friends or their family or their community. There are those that participate because they have a cause to promote, or because they want others like them to see them and know they’re not alone. There are those who participate because they want to be seen and counted, who participate because they want to honor the memory and work of those who have marched before as well as those who will never get the chance or will be harassed, discriminated against, attacked, bashed, and murdered for being who they are in the face of hate.

That is what those people in the crowd are cheering.

 

On Labels, Bi-Phobia, And The Importance Of Community – Part II January 31, 2011

This is Part II of an overlong post. Part I is here.

I recently had a conversation with a lesbian-identified bisexual who pretty much embodied the bi-phobia I’ve encountered in lesbian circles before. This woman chooses the label lesbian because, even though she has the occasional male partner, she is married to a woman and came into her own in the lesbian community. Based on her interactions with women on a dating website who called themselves ‘bisexual’, she announced to me – after declaring the existence of a bisexual community support group ridiculous – that (female) bisexuals were clearly only sex maniacs who were looking for a woman to add to threesomes with their boyfriends and that ‘bisexual’ just meant basically duplicitous and untrustworthy fakers.

I managed to stay calm during this exchange. It had been a pleasant conversation up until that point and the statements she made were said mildly – she was simply stating her position. For my part, at the end of her little speech, I pointed out that attitudes like that were precisely why we needed both bisexual activists and bisexual community support groups in the first place. She shut up. We moved on.

But the more I thought about it after the fact, the angrier I got.  Who the hell was this woman to define bisexuals like that in the first place and then tar us all with the same brush? Hell, if I used her method of data-collection (i.e., base my opinion purely on the lesbians I’ve spoken to online) I’d have to conclude that lesbians were all bi-phobic bigoted flakes who couldn’t spell. Here I was bending over backwards trying to understand the attitude I was getting and arguing that it was understandable even if it wasn’t fair, blah, blah, blah, while this horrible creature felt entitled to blithely shit all over what she knew to be my identity. Oh yes. This wasn’t a ‘just among us lesbians’ type of discussion. She knows I am bisexual and that I belong to a bisexual community. She just doesn’t think it’s ‘real’ enough to deserve any respect.

I think one of the things that irritated me most about the whole encounter was that, fundamentally, her sexuality and mine are so similar, ie, we both consider ourselves lesbians who are occasionally interested in men. I suppose I thought that should have served as common ground for the tentative friendship we’ve been thrown into (this is purely platonic. Various events in our lives have thrown us together, but I have no sexual interest in this woman.). But the difference between us is that I am married to a man and, when I came out, I found support and acceptance in the bisexual community. Not only that, but I was outright rejected by the lesbian community and only found the bisexual community because one of the bi-phobes posted a rant about how bisexuals should all fuck off to this bisexual community and leave the ‘proper’ lesbians alone. The only reason I have any contact with lesbians now is because the poly community functions as a sort of bridge.

I think I also realized, in the days that followed that conversation, why the  label ‘bisexual’ is one I want to hold on to despite how I feel about men and women.

She spoke of the lesbian community as hers in a way that I know it will never be mine, and that made me sad. But then I realized that the reason her attitude towards the bisexual community made me so angry was that it was MY community she was talking about – not just mine in the abstract but mine as in the way the lesbian community is hers. When I was struggling with my sexuality and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do about it, it was the bisexual community that took me in. It was the bisexual community that introduced me to the poly community and it was in the overlap between the bi and poly communities that I found my partners and my friends. Not all the polys are bi and not all the bis are poly, but I can move through both communities with equal confidence and without being questioned. I prefer women and I have a preference for long-term relationships over casual affairs or sex-only relationships, but not once has anybody in either community ever accused me of not being bisexual enough or poly enough. And not only are my personal interpretations of bisexuality and polyamory accepted, H, who is not bisexual nor actively polyamorous has been embraced by the community as well. That, I think, seals the deal. When a community is not only willing to take you as you are but also take in the people you love, no questions asked, you know you’ve struck gold.

Despite how my orientation develops, I cannot turn my back on the bisexual community and I cannot relinquish the label. Instead, to the extent possible, I want to support the community and work towards better bisexual visibility and representation. Every community comes complete with assholes and while the bisexual community is certainly not free of them, it took meeting one from the lesbian community to make me realize which I’d rather put up with.

 

On Labels, Bi-phobia, and the importance of community – part I

This post was getting ridiculously long so I decided to split it into two, slightly more reader-friendly posts. This is Part I. Part II is here.

When I started this blog, I called myself bisexual and basically figured I was as attracted to men as I was to women*. Over the years I have come to realize that my orientation isn’t as 50-50 as I thought. Today, I think a more accurate description of me would be that I am a lesbian who occasionally fancies men. Most of the time, however, men outright repulse me. Or rather, they’re lovely to be friends with, but the concept of having sex with them repulses me (except, of course, when it doesn’t). I don’t have an explanation for it. This is just where my sexuality seems to have settled, at least for the time being. I can’t say for sure that this is exactly where I’ll be in a couple of years, but as I get older I feel like these shifts signify a growing-into rather than the exploration of even a few years ago.

I am, however, still married to a man and I have no intention of changing that. What can I say? I picked a keeper.

Needless to say, this complicates my status. When I said earlier that I am more accurately described as a lesbian, I meant that my orientation for pretty much everything is primarily towards women. Life, love, sex – everything is just easier with women. And by easier, I don’t mean less complicated, but simply something I feel like giving my energy to. Whether I am at home or out in public with my girlfriend, I feel like I’ve just let go a long-held breath. When someone in the street obviously thinks I’m gay, I feel no need to correct them, unlike when they think I’m straight. Being assumed to be heterosexual feels like being backed into a corner and suffocated. Being assumed to be homosexual gives me this incredible sense of relief.

But then I run headlong into the minefield that is the lesbian community. To be fair, I should state up front that I have met and in some cases had relationships with polyamorous lesbians who didn’t have a problem with bisexuality, or at least with my being married to a man, so clearly they do exist. However, the overwhelming majority have been bi-phobic, and some very aggressively so.

Now, I do get that since being ‘bisexual’ was deemed cool by whoever it is who decides such things, lesbians have been repeatedly approached by women claiming to be bisexual who were in it only to get their boyfriends off, who were just fooling around or experimenting, who were only marking time till they could have a ‘real’ relationship with a man, and so on. Basically, lesbians have been jerked around and women calling themselves ‘bisexual’ have often been the cause. I understand how that can lead to a general wariness around women who purport to be bisexual – once bitten and all that.

But at the same time I have to wonder – do lesbians never jerk each other around? Has a lesbian never left a lesbian for another lesbian? Has a lesbian never entered into a just-for-now relationship that the other partner though was for keeps? Given the healthy balance of exes the lesbians I know seem to have, I’m going to assume that lesbians can and do do all of the above to each other. So why blame bisexuals?

I think the problem lies in heterosexual privilege. Out lesbians have committed to a lifetime of potential if not actual discrimination. In most countries, they can’t marry their partners, have little to no protection under the law, and have to deal with the social stigma attached to being gay. They don’t have a choice in the matter. I think the hostility towards bisexuals comes in part from the fact that we can, at any point, retreat into heterosexual privilege. I am married to a man. That affords me a certain amount of social protection, whether I like it or not. Even if I shouted my bisexuality from the rooftops, the fact that I am in a straight relationship means that my queerness can be ignored wholesale. I can ‘feel’ as lesbian as I like – socially, I have a kind of protection that no out, exclusively homosexual person does.  And even if I wasn’t married to a man, the fact of my bisexuality represents a sort of escape route if things get too dicey over in lesbian-land – an escape most lesbians do not have and could not access without denying who they are.

Part of me wants to give up the label ‘bisexual’ and embrace ‘lesbian’ for all of those reasons. That my marriage to H prevents me from doing so frustrates me no end and I wish there was a solution that did not involve divorce, because that ain’t happening.

But then I run into self-righteous, bi-phobic lesbians and I remember why my community means so much to me.

Continued here

*I am for the moment leaving aside the valid criticism of the assumption that there are only two sexes and that a bisexual person is one attracted to ‘both’ sexes. There are interesting discussions on that topic that I will write about later.