On Sex: My Humanity is Not Optional
While watching Saturday morning cartoons, I reached for his hand, seeking the comfort of physical touch. He pulled away sharply and said, “Why can’t you wait for me to show you affection? Why are you always demanding it first? Damn! Give a man a chance to want you.”
I turned away, blinking back tears, my breath entering and exiting my body too fast. I stared at the ground, working to slow my breath and erase the spots that had begun appearing in my vision. We were sitting on his roommate’s couch watching some asinine cartoon in which I had no interest. I was trying to be open to his interests because everyone told me that I was too focused on myself.
“That’s why you’re single,” they told me. “You don’t know how to compromise. You always put yourself first. When you want to be with a guy, you’re going to need to put him first and let him know he’s the most important person. You gotta let him pace the relationship.”
I crossed my arms while my breathing evened out. Once I felt like I was in better control, I pretended to watch the show. The unoriginal nonsense designed to get children to buy shitty, cheap toys. The writers didn’t even bother with a plot and I was to sit there and endure that shit with some fucker who looked at hold my hand as an imposition after spending hours of my pussy enveloping his dick.
I stood up, grabbed my shit and left. There was nothing left to say.
Throughout my 20s, I recreated this scenario in many forms — one-night stands, friends with benefits, casual on-going engagements. And every time I became better at learning the various ways I felt like an invisible shit after fucking someone so that I could enact it on someone else. I created arbitrary rules, promised sexual escapades that I would only enact if they arrived at the destination precisely at a specific time. One minute early or late and the deal was off. I learned to make men crawl, begging for an opportunity to touch me, lick me, fuck me. And I took immense pleasure in watching their confusion as I stripped layer after layer of their autonomy and humanity away. They hurt me, constantly, and I became skilled at giving it all back to them while making them cum during their humiliation. I used shame, disinterest, disdain, dismissal…I wouldn’t offer them a glass of water. I refused every veneer of courtesy and stripped encounters down to the necessary mechanics of attaining my orgasm and their degradation. I embraced the monster that patriarchy made.
Because love doesn’t defeat monsters. Only other monsters can do that.
How did I learn to be that monster? I learned from other monsters, of course. I learned from men who told me I was invisible unless I dressed to please them. I learned from women who taught me to hide my intelligence, opinions, and personality in favor of modeling them for the specific interests of some guy. I learned from the conversations of men who talked about the characteristics they found unattractive — the qualities I loved about myself. I learned that my body was valued, not my mind. My usefulness to them was prized, nothing more. I learned how to see myself as a thing and then, when the pain of being nothing became overwhelming, I taught them how it felt to be everything I’d learned to be.
They didn’t like it.
In retrospect, I was lucky that I’d never incited violence in anyone. I felt like I screened them appropriately. I picked most of them up online and screened them for weeks on end. I learned how to make them hungry, how to tease and give just enough to keep them interested. I didn’t need to pull them all, and I didn’t. Many men walked away, suspicious that all was not what it seemed — that I wasn’t what I seemed. But I had enough men, enough to be monstrous and cruel to make up for the many ways I’d been dismissed in my life.
I won’t lie and pretend it didn’t make me feel powerful. Heterosexual relationships with cisgendered, heterosexual men are weighted to give men significant power. Every fucking date I went on was a balancing act to maintain my autonomy without driving them away. I failed constantly. I learned that men don’t like humanity with their women. They just want the fun, moist, penetrable bits.
Men who claim to respect me tell me shit like this all the time. They tell me that I’m sexy but just so difficult. Too strong. Too hard to control. They make disparaging comments questioning my significant other’s masculinity at being with me. At his lack of dominance over me. They find the idea of breaking me, making me conform to their idea of womanhood sexy. There is a colossal disconnect between what they think they sexually desire and their actual stimulation by my intellect. It makes me hate them a little bit, these men who cannot wrap their heads around a relationship with a woman that isn’t sexual. I struggle to respect them and wonder why I should.
Over time, I changed. Grew. Learned not to care about the opinions of others so much. Learned to weigh their comments, interest, desire and disregard them. I interact with men giving no fucks as to whether they think I’m flirting or teasing; their interest is none of my business, unless I perceive a threat. I center and focus on my needs in those interactions. My priority is myself.
I’ve had people ask if I worry about leading guys on. The answer is no. Again, their interest is none of my business and if some guy is hanging around in hopes that one day something more will happen, he’s fucked up and that’s his problem. It only becomes my problem if they become a threat, which is something I have no control over. I am a card-carrying member of the “I don’t give a fuck about your lust” club. Keep that shit to yourself.
It took years to stop being the monster. Years of learning about myself and recognizing what behaviors elicited that response from me. Years of learning how to interact with men without needing to hurt them. Years of managing my emotional well-being and shaping myself into the person I want to be and learning the qualities I needed in the person I could be with. I never thought I’d find that, had actively stopped looking. I just wanted to live without causing and enduring the psychological power struggle that is heterosexual relationships. I wanted the freedom to be me without any pressure to change into someone’s idea of a partner. Weirdly, that relationship fell into my lap. That isn’t to say we don’t have problems — racism is a huge shit-show we’re constantly working through, but he has always supported me and encouraged my endeavors — even the ones that bother him. He doesn’t try to make me less than who I am and doesn’t mind disappearing in my glow.
He embraces my humanity and my womanhood. One doesn’t compromise the other and he’s never asked me to sacrifice my humanity for his hard-on. It’s sad when that’s the criteria for a healthy relationship.