She’s sitting back on her knees, looking between my bent, open legs as I lay on my back. I am naked, sprawled, arms outstretched on the bed. She’s telling me how beautiful I am. Specifically, how gorgeous my vulva is and how lovely and soft my natural hair is as she runs a finger slowly, softly caressing, and how delighted she is at how wet I am and I feel like I’ve been starving my entire life, hungry for this unnamed thing, this feeling that wasn’t knowable to me before now.
I was raised in a conservative, religious household where we weren’t supposed to have sexual body parts until the night we got married, at which point you were supposed to somehow know how to be good at it and make your husband happy and oh, I guess, like it also? Women were seen as valuable insofar as they were virtuous and unsullied for their wedding nights and subsequently able to populate the earth. I was told it was better to die in the struggle of keeping your virginity than to be raped and survive. According to that standard, I was ruined before kindergarten.
There was only one right way to be a female and I wasn’t it. There was no place for a little girl who felt like a boy most of the time. My mom would sew me a new dress that was just what she thought a little girl aged six would want to wear, but I’d opt instead to wear jeans and a T-shirt, the latter getting stripped off the second my brother took his off.
I loved the warm sun on my back while I worked in the family garden pulling weeds. I alarmed my parents who doubled-down on their efforts to help me understand what it meant to be a female — you need to be modest and wary at all times and resist arousing any men in the vicinity because “they wouldn’t be able to help themselves.” I think it’s accurate to say I was the single most confusing thing my parents ever experienced.
I am the seventh of eight kids and all my siblings seemed to have their shit together and were happy in my family. I stuck out like a sore thumb with all my rebelling and weird trying-to-think-for-myself. At church I ended up in the hallway after exasperating the teacher of the children’s class. I kept asking for deeper explanations because the theology of the religion confused me and I was sincerely trying to figure it out. Turns out no one likes an inquisitive kid who won’t take, “We’ll know that someday. Just have faith,” as an answer. The next week I refused to go to church and in an utterly traumatizing event, my dad forced a dress on me while telling me that there was something seriously wrong with me because everyone else was happy to go to church. After breaking my spirit, I dutifully walked towards the car to join my family, and I realized when I got there that my dad was right. They were all happily waiting to go to church and they actually liked it. As a teen, I’d hear my mom talking with her mom, my grandma, sniffling into the phone about how I’d snuck out of the house again last night, wondering what she’d done to deserve this from one of her kids. I was the odd man out. I was bad. And I never felt right in my body or in my family or in my community.
The molestation activities that happened to me as a kid resulted in a lot of UTIs. My dad, who was a General Practitioner, fed me a steady diet of antibiotics, and did just over a handful of medical procedures on my tiny body over the span of half a decade or so, with the intention of helping me not have any more bladder infections. While on his table at the office, on my back with my knees bent, legs wide and completely exposed, he inserted larger and larger dilation tools in my urethra until he reached about the size of a nickel. He would get agitated as urine would spill out of me and on to the table and sometimes down on to his shoes. It was messy and stinky and he would yell at the nurse to clean it up and tell me how gross it was. The result of this was that I felt disgusting and vile, specifically in my entire crotch area, a belief which I have carried in a small place in my heart from that point on.
When I started having penetrative sex at age fifteen, I’d already had years of confusing non-consensual sexual activity. My body had never felt like my own and the idea that I should inhabit it and feel any good sexual feelings in it was a foreign idea. Not only that, but what I was doing was considered sinning and would in a matter of weeks land me in a meeting with my parents and the bishop, the minister of my church, who would tell me that God was very disappointed in me and discipline me by taking away my good standing in the church until I completed the repentance process.
I got pregnant at seventeen (a big shout-out to religious sex ed. The abstinence only method totally works! eye roll) and married a few weeks later. With my first husband, once you said yes to sex, well, that was what you were doing. You couldn’t go back and say no. True consent didn’t exist, especially when you take into account that the bishop told me it was my job to make sure he didn’t cheat. And holy shit, did he cheat. I had never felt more unattractive or undesirable than I did in that marriage. I only understood two ways of approaching sex — yes, I guess I want to do that and no, I don’t but ok I guess I will. So Much Fake Orgasming.
With my second husband, we tried real hard to be good partners to each other and we still love each other, but we weren’t sexually compatible. He didn’t have the words to explain to me why he wasn’t sexually attracted to me and I didn’t yet know that I was queer. So, while sometimes sweet and tender, I never felt desired and I’d wager he didn’t either.
I was a Pro-Domme for a couple of years and learned about consent and power dynamics from the inside out. I now know how to have strong boundaries with activities and play in kink. I know how to make sure all parties are actually consenting to what they think they are consenting to. It has been a transformational experience to get to claim my body and own it and everything that happens in a scene. Kink provides me with an adult playground wherein I can not only work out a lot of my trauma from childhood, but also insert fun into impact play. I have a lot of fun. I feel wanted and attractive for what I provide in those relationships. But, I wouldn’t say I’ve ever felt personally, physically attractive. Craved.
As a queer, genderfluid person, I’ve found with recent personal partners that they want me to show up as something — butch, femme — and my genderfluidity can be confusing. My partner might not know how to approach me. Are my breasts in play? Am I feeling like a man or a woman or some other gender? Does my clit exist at the moment? Has my phantom penis shown up?
Good questions. I’m the first to admit it can be a minefield and hard to navigate. And I think I’ve been content to let it go, not think about it too hard, and not let myself want too much or care too deeply that the feelings of disgust and vileness about my body persist. I turn the attention away from me and on to them. I make my partners feel beautiful and desirable because I experience them that way and don’t ask for that in return.
I can feel pleasure. I have lots of good sex. I’m good at achieving an orgasm now. Isn’t that enough?
Which brings me to now, here, in this moment, with her. That finger of hers is getting more and more friendly, circling and brushing up against every pleasure sensor available, while she tells me how devastatingly gorgeous my pussy is and how honored she is to be viewing it and touching it and how her mouth is watering and soon, (yes, please, god) tasting it.
I believe her. Can it be that simple? I’ve had people tell me I’m attractive before, but not specifically like this. They mean my face, mostly, which has some classic angles going on in the traditional sense. I’ve been told so many confusing compliments around my looks that I prefer to not even receive them. Like that guy at the bar when I was playing pool who told me my face was muy bonita and if I just lost 20 pounds I’d be a knockout, but then he also wouldn’t stop staring at and trying to grab my ass. Or my mom when she told me at age twelve to smile because I looked too stern without one, but that with one I was shiny like the sun. Or the person who told me I looked like a young Vivien Leigh when I wore makeup and said I should do that more often, but then made fun of our waitress for wearing too much makeup. Or the chick who said when I wore makeup I looked like a man in drag so I should stick to my dyke strength and butch it up. When I pointed out that I loved how men in drag looked, she snorted and said, you know what I mean. No. I don’t. In fact, I didn’t know what any of them meant.
Having sex with most people feels like they don’t really see me. They’re seeing who they wish I was for them. Maybe we all do that to some extent to each other. But, for a genderfluid person, I wonder if I get a heavier dose of that than some others. The variety of folks I’ve been with meet me when I’m at one intersection of gender or another and are attracted to that, hope I’m that, and try to only see me as that and cultivate “that” in me from then on.
But, back to now. With her mouth on me, the verbal compliments are less, um, wordy, let’s say. But, in no way has her appreciation for me diminished. There is no doubt in my mind or my body that this woman is not only enjoying herself, but is trying to communicate to me that she finds my body irresistible and sexy and delicious, a word she’s used several times in the last hour. I feel like the dish at the buffet that is so yummy, people keep coming back for another helping. And another.
It’s probably the timing all around. I’m learning to have preferences and speak my opinions and needs. I’m learning that it’s ok to claim my gender and tell my partners if what they are saying to me in that moment doesn’t fit. I’m learning to not be afraid of upsetting a partner by saying how I’d like things to go down. (Let me see you go to town…) And I’m learning to see my body like this wonderful human sees me — beautiful, attractive, and desirable, and not just for what I can do for someone else. As she said once, she didn’t see me as a kink/sex delivery service, no matter how good I was.
And her. She’s part of the timing. I’ve met her now, in this moment, and she’s shown up for this part of my journey. I’m ready to take in the sincere compliments and internalize them. I’m ready to luxuriate in her attention. I’m ready to put on some John Legend and stand under the waterfall of feelings this all churns up. I’m ready to be the feast.
I have been thoroughly fucked and sucked and loved-up. I’m riding the tingly waves of the milky way, soaking in stardust. I can’t move my limbs and my eyelids refuse to open as she whispers in my ear how completely tasty I am, nibbling my ears, slowly extracting her fingers from inside me, which is its own excruciating pleasure. Sounds come out of my mouth, surprising me that I’m still a human who breathes.
I’m fully satiated in this moment and I give thanks. I feel fantastic in my body. I feel exactly right. But, I can see how I’ll be hungry later for more. More self-acceptance and being a full-on fan of my body and what it looks like and what I feel like and what it can do. More time with a person who sees me this way. Can you ever get enough feasting after a famine? (No. The answer is no.)