Dear Fragile Men: I Don’t Give A Shit If You Hate My Sex Writing

Pixabay/johnhain
Oops! Your male privilege is showing.

I wrote a piece a few weeks ago — “The Dirty Politics of Period Sex” — that elicited some reactions. Some wanted to say that they struggled with period-related shame too (I feel you so hard!), others questioned their unconditional love (sorry Mama), and still others questioned my level of perceived exhibitionism (yeah, I question it too . . . ).

The story focused on how an ex-boyfriend helped dispel much of my bodily shame surrounding period sex; anything erotic about it was designed to illustrate just how un-erotic period sex is supposed to be. It was about the systematic, persistent, and patently ridiculous aversion to and commodification of menstruation.

I suppose my intentions were two-fold. On the one hand, I wanted to pay homage to my once-boyfriend’s sex-positivity, but the sex itself was only supposed to serve as a vehicle for discussion. It was a way in for me to talk about society at large — as a civilization, we are tremendously worried about uteral lining.

I knew it was a messy thing to write about in a public forum (I’m not delusional), but its messiness was exactly why I wanted to write it. I wanted to drag the supposedly VERY DIRTY LAUNDRY from the closet and show everybody that it wasn’t so dirty after all. It’s just that everyone’s been telling you about the filthy fetid laundry in the stinky dark closet for so long, that you didn’t dare take a look at it for yourself.

Anyway, this is all to serve as some context for what happened next.

As you may or may not know, I am a rather manic human, so in the wake of my break-up, I re-downloaded Tinder and began the sully-swipe-shuffle. There I discovered a man — bearded — who claimed to enjoy ideas, art, and justice. He had light eyes and very dark hair. I was intrigued and sent this message . . .

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. . . to which he responded (ahhhh, the heady stench of palpable irony that I couldn’t smell just yet):

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Charming, no? He front-loaded a supposed desire to date a woman who wasn’t so keen on bullshit-y gendered dating protocol. AWESOME. We began a flurry of texting, including GIFs of him dancing in his living room, which I probably don’t have to tell you is pretty important to my pending loinal pleasure.

I was genuinely excited for the date. We met late after my band rehearsal (yes, I’m in a glam-rock-grunge cover band, The Shattucks!) at a mutually chosen, mega-divey, pseudo-biker bar in Oakland’s Jack London Square.

He was nothing short of a giant — something preposterous, like 6’6” — a walking, breathing, leather-clad bookshelf. We hugged hello and he said, “Let’s fuck with the jukebox.” Which, pathetically, I thought was really cool at the time.

He fed dollars into the machine and I self-consciously put on Bowie and Lou Reed because I can never think of anything else under pressure. I also found some Ween — “Gonna Be A Long Night” — a badass party anthem that turned out to be prophetic.

Its messiness was exactly why I wanted to write it.

We chatted. He was unfortunately into philosophy, an entire camp of inquiry that I find alternatively exhausting and irritating. But he was smart nonetheless. After a few beers and whiskies, I kissed him, we made out a little, and we went for a walk holding hands (an archaic nicety I adore) before driving to In N’ Out burger. He drove me home, we made out a bit more, and thus ended my circa-2000 date; it was basically the boilerplate of Saturday nights when I was 17.

Then . . . radio silence on both our parts. It had been fun, but I suppose neither of us cared too much either way. OR SO I THOUGHT.

A week later, I was minding my own business while taking care of bathroom business when my phone lit up:

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OK, yeah. I get it. It’s a bit accusatory, but I can understand his desire to talk about it. I’m even willing to overlook how oddly aggressive it was to type out that entire paragraph. In fact, here’s a few more-than-acceptable ways he could have broached his discomfort with me:

“Hey, I had a lot of fun the other night, but this piece you wrote makes me feel like you’re not over your ex, can you reassure me?”

Or:

“Hey, I just read your piece and I have to say that if we end up dating, I’m not comfortable with you writing about me.”

Or:

“Hey, I just read your piece and the writing is so bad that I am no longer attracted to you.”

ALL FINE.

But no. This was not the direction this conversation was to take.

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Um, yeah. That was literally the FIRST LINE of the article. Moving on.

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My “glowing verbiage” gave you pause? So, just to clarify, it’d be OK to write about my period sex if it was crappy boring sex and I hated my ex-boyfriend’s guts?

I tried to reason with him:

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Wow.

So, firstly, I should be ashamed that I am talking about personal things in a public forum? You’ve heard of an entire FIELD of literature called creative non-fiction, right? Hate to break it to you, but telling true stories of wonderful, horrible things that have happened to us as a means to traverse boundaries and connect with other humans is called bonding, sharing, friendship, and sometimes even — clench your anus here — intimacy.

You do know that I’ve had sex with other people, enjoyed it, and remember it right?

Secondly, what is this “bar” you are referring to? You do know that I’ve had sex with other people, enjoyed it, and remember it right? If my MEMORY is the bar you’re referring to, I can’t do much about that. Unless you’re privy to some MIB technology I’m not, or you’d like to bludgeon my head and change my diapers for the next 60 years? In that latter scenario, I’m sure I’d be a very compliant and not-so-peskily-hung-up-on-my-past lover. Because I wouldn’t even know my own name.

Thirdly . . . actually I’ll just let you read it . . .

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Again. The measuring is going to happen, friend. Maybe comparisons are odious, but boy are they ubiquitous. Do you honestly believe that the women you’ve slept with didn’t think to themselves (in an utterly un-malicious way), “Hmmm, so-and-so never did THAT before, not sure if I like it.” Or, “Damn! I love that Jirk just touched me THERE like THAT and I never-ever want it to stop.”

Honestly, it makes me sad that you’re this insecure. We could have dropped trou and had the best time ever, but because you allowed yourself to be intimidated by a MEMORY of some loving period sex, you decided to try and shame for me for it. And then — again, because you felt intimidated by a MEMORY of some loving period sex — you told me that I don’t give a shit about people? That tips into delusion.

We went on one date. So no, I don’t really give a shit about anything you have to say or think about me. You are, in essence, a stranger. And to assume that because we shared three hours and our mouths touched that it’s appropriate for you to weigh in on my life and how I choose to conduct it, is so arrogant and chock full of the very male privilege you purported to detest, my eyes are rolling so hard, I’m giving that Exorcist bitch a run for her money.

“I love a girl who flagrantly violates gender norms.” (As long as it’s in a way that directly benefits me and never breaches my comfort zone.)

“I love a girl who’s a sexual creature.” (But has never enjoyed sex TOO MUCH with another person.)

“I love a girl who’ll kiss me first and curse and call me out.” (Until that once-attractive aggression is directed at me as a means of flexing her autonomy instead of as a euphemistic come-on.)

Honestly? I prefer my misogynists self-labeled. Operating under the auspices of feminism — truly believing you love liberated women and possess progressive politics — only to sharply swerve into shaming me is a hypocrisy I can’t bear.

Honestly? I prefer my misogynists self-labeled.

The frustration of encountering men who present themselves as gender-enlightened — not because they want to get laid or manipulate us, but because they truly think they’re better-evolved than their fellow male-folk — are arguably worse than the gentlemen who want me barefoot in the kitchen.

At least those men aren’t delusional slight-of-hand charlatans — they’re just chilling flesh-sacks of bigotry and ignorance moonlighting as humans. We both know where the other stands and eye one another across the chasm of the space-time continuum like archenemy alien species.

Anyway. Don’t mind me, I’ll just be kicking kittens and humiliating people I care about in a public forum over here. Because I don’t give a shit.

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