Monday, July 26, 2010

A Meandering Rant About Sexuality

Today, I'd like to talk about sexuality a little.

I am a bisexual man. For those lacking a high-school education, that means that I am sexually and romantically attracted to both men and women. My current (and hopefully, last) partner is female. Unlike most bisexual people, I don't have a gender preference. Most bisexuals have a preference for one gender or the other so it's pretty common to see bisexual people describe themselves as a quarter hetero or seventy percent gay or whatever, that's very common. I'm slightly unusual in that I'm a pretty straight-up (forgive the pun) 50-50 who doesn't noticeably skew toward either gender. If I list the people I am sexually or romantically attracted to, it contains a roughly even number of men and women including a few (such as Clea Duvall) who are themselves gay.

Being bisexual is not the same as being gay. It's not the same as being straight either. I think a lot of people who are gay or straight forget that. It's not the same as being a gay man who occasionally likes pussy (forgive the vulgarity) or a straight man who sometimes like cock. I'm a part of both worlds but, like the half-native kid in the fable, not truly a part of either because our society places so much emphasis on who you sleep with that neither side entirely "gets" the bisexual person. And that causes all kinds of misunderstandings and preconceptions.

We are not just greedy. Yes, as Woodly Allen said, being bisexual automatically increases your chances of getting a date on Saturday night (although really, not even that since gay men are rarer than straight women). Yes, I have a lot more options for porn than most people but human desires are not controllable. I can choose whether I act on those desires but the actual desires themselves aren't somethign I can control. More to the point, nor can anyone else. In our society, it's still something of a stigma to be gay (although, granted, things have improved a lot in recent years). Up until a few years ago, it was still illegal in Texas to be gay. Since this didn't make any notable difference in the number of gay people from Texas, we have to assume that our desires are in-born and, to some extent which we don't entirely understand yet, inate. Looking at that world, why on earth would anyone choose to be gay or bisexual? They wouldn't. Unless that desire was something inate about them. And just like gay people, my attraction to both genders is inate.

However, that doesn't mean that I must have a mate of both genders to be satisfied, that really would be greedy. Straight men and gay women, I'm sure you see dozens of girls every day that you find sexually attractive; straight women and gay men, you must see dozens of shaggable guys every day, right? Well, it's the same for us. Yes, men and women feel different, having sex with each is a completely different experiance but newsflash, that's true of individuals as well. Thinking back on the women I've slept with, each of them felt completely different and utterly unique and the same is true of the men I've slept with. If you can manage to avoid sleeping with the unique and attractive girl at the office, why should it be any different for us? Being attracted to the guy in the bookstore doesn't mean I am any more inclined to cheat on my partner than anyone else (although Johnny Depp, if you're reading this, you're on my list so gimme a call). And while we're on the subject of different tactile sensations, there are these things called sex toys which people can buy and simulate a whole range of sexual experiances. It's not like the days where the only way to simulate gay sex was to buy your girlfriend a fake moustache, there's a cornucopia of dildos, vibrators and costumes in a rainbow of colours. Seriously. Some of them even ejaculate. And for the phonomenally paranoid: No, a liking for taking it up the ass, fabulous though it is, does not mean you're gay anymore than a liking for blowjobs does. If you like shagging people with tits, no matter how you like shagging or being shagged by them, you're either a straight man, bisexual or a gay woman and a quick look down in the shower should enable you to figure out which. Unless you're into tranny porn. In which case, hey, whatever floats your boat, no judgements here.

No, I'm not confused about my sexuality and I'm not going to quietly place myself in a checkbox as I get older. I used to be confused about my sexuality. When I was a small child, I was sexually molested by a male relative. No, that didn't cause me to be bisexual but it did make me very screwed up about my sexuality for years. Because I associated guy-guy sex with being molested, I buried that attraction for many years. It was only when I got to university in my mid-twenties that I felt able to start dealing with that. It took some years to sort the attraction that I felt toward guys from the rage and humiliation I felt as a result of the molestation but you didn't read this to plumb the depths of my psyche so all you need to know is that I eventually dealt with it. Now, doubtless there's someone reading this and asking themselves why I couldn't have stayed repressed about guylove all my life, why I had to sort out my attraction to guys. Because fuck you, that's why. Something anyone acquinted with me should know by now is that I think sexuality is incredibly overcomplicated by our culture and that I have a pretty combatative nature (I worship the original rebel, for goodness's sakes). I won't be repressed, not by faux-morality, not by self-appointed moral guardians and not by the infirmities of my psyche either. More to the point, love is a rare thing, transcendent and pure. Love is what makes us more than just a super-evolved ape. Every spiritual visionary worth his or her salt has said the same thing from the dawn of time. Ghandhi said it, Martin luther King said it, even Jesus said it. The same message every time: As John Lennon put it "Love is the answer and you know that for sure". Nothing dignifies humanity like love, nothing else makes the shit of this world, the war, death, hatred and pineapple on pizza, worthwhile like love does. And it is so rare, so vanishingly unusual, to find that one person. That person who can celebrate your triumphs and comfort your tragedies. I don't believe in "you complete me" because I don't believe that being alone necessarily makes you incomplete but it is so rare in this universe to find that one person who feels like home that if there was any chance of finding that person in your own gender (and I'm not talking about completely straight or gay people, they're incapable of being romantically interested in their own or the opposite gender, that's just understood), wouldn't your response to those saying you shouldn't even look be "fuck you" as well?

Personally, I think sexuality is mainly about what feels good anyway. That's not a value judgement, it's a suggestion that the human sex drive is inately hedonistic and that's not a bad thing. For some people, girls feel right and that's good. For others, guys hit their sweet spot and that's good too. Look, if you're a straight guy, you're not going to enjoy having sex with another guy. It's won't feel good to you, no matter how good he is at sucking cock because you're straight. Likewise, a straight woman is not going to enjoy having sex with another woman, no matter how firmly she straps her boobs down or how skilfully she pilots a strap-on. It's about what feels good and that's fine. The only rules worth any notice about sex are so obvious that rational people usually just take them as read (but, for the terminally dense: No kids, no animals, make sure everyone's consenting and if you're even slightly unsure of anyone's sexual history, use rubbers. Oh, and the host picks the music). Beyond those aforementioned guidelines that should be so obvious anyone of age automatically assumes them, it's not like there are rules. Somewhere in the myriad complexity of human chemistry, there's some kind of switch that says if you're gay, straight or somewhere in-between. Most people end up being straight because humanity needs them to be straight to ensure the continuation of the species (the evolutionary process is dumb and doesn't understand things like IVF), somewhere between eight and twelve percent of people turn out to be gay and an unknown percentage turn out to be bisexual and it's all ok. But most of our views of sexuality date from the Victorians and a time before we learned to control our fertility. We feel we have to justify our sexual choices constantly. An example is the debate about whether being gay is a choice. Now, all the research (which is not entirely conclusive yet but very nearly so) says it's not a choice but why should that fucking matter anyway? Yes, I know the idiots use it to beat you over the head with a stick of "choosing to be immoral" but the idea depends on the preconception that there is something less desireable about being gay than there is about being straight, it's a justification for something that doesn't need a justification.

Why some people are gay is a question of only academic interest. It's an interesting question for biologists, psychologists and geneticists but beyond the halls of academia, it doesn't matter, it's irrelevent. If you start from the viewpoint that being gay or being straight is as morally neutral as having green or blue or brown eyes, then who cares why some people are gay? Even if being gay is a choice (and, again, it's not), why should we discriminate against it? I'm not discriminated against because I choose to have a beard (with the exception of a very radical feminist I once knew who said I was "aggressively asserting" my masculinity and thereby reinforcing the patriarchy), my partner isn't discriminated against because she chooses to dye her hair so why the hell should we discriminate against someone because of why they like to have sex with even if it was a choice (yet again, it's not)? It's stupid, an irrelevent distinction that should only be of interest to the individual and the person they're sleeping with. Now, some idiot Crusader (and boy, are you on the wrong blog) could make some noise here about being gay damning you to stinky hellfire but that's a threat only convincing to people in the rowboat with you. My chosen holy book says that some will love the same sex and some will love the opposite sex and it's all good. You have to assume that being gay is immoral in order to make the case that being gay is immoral. That's called circular reasoning, buddy, and it's not welcome here (although Conservapedia will love you). No-one is offering to legislate the moral precepts of my faith, nor should they and I would fight them if they did. A few obsessed morons might say here that some people might choose to fuck kids and if I think all choices are acceptable, how can I discriminate against them? Well, firstly, look up the phrase "informed consent" and learn why children (and animals for that matter) are incapable of giving it and secondly, fuck off to another blog and be thankful we aren't having this discussion in person.

See, another area where we overcomplicate sex is when we talk about explaining it to teenagers. Conservatives love to play this card, "if you allow gay people, you'll have to explain sodomy to kiddiewinks". Talk about begging the question. Since you already explain to them that mummy and daddy love each other very much, where's the problem in telling them that some boys love other boys and some girls love other girls? And as for the ones who don't even want their kids to know gay people exist; well, firstly, they're going to find out eventually, no matter what you do. My mother owned lesbian cats, gay people are openly in media these days and if they've got an internet connection, five seconds is going to teach them way more than they were ever curious about. Secondly, fuck you, you shouldn't even be allowed to raise kids. No, I'm not being hyperbolic. You can raise your kids to have any kind of values you'd like but when you want to selectively edit reality because of it? Yeah, I think Child Services is justified in taking your kids away at that point because you're no different than the bigot who said they didn't want their kids to know black people existed (and if you're going to use the word "choice", see above and fuck you too). You get to have your own opinions and your own values but you don't get to have your own facts and the fact is, gay people exist, they are only different from you in irrelevent details and you don't get to make a shitstorm about that.

And while we're on the subject of the sacred little bastards (yeah, I don't like kids, does it show?), if your kids are even interested in sex at that age, they have bigger problems than the existance of gay people. Fact is, the reaction of small children to seeing naked people is much the same as their reaction to seeing a parrot for the first time: "Mummy, what's that?". Dirty jokes sail completely over their heads until they hit puberty so unless you set out to make it something shameful, your kid is not going to be damaged by knowing that Brian and Tom love one another. By the time they do hit puberty, Google and Playboy have already taught them the basics anyway. Parents tend to think that kids are way more innocent than they actually were anyway. They like to think their darling little bundle of joy convieniently discovers sex when they get to the age of consent and they don't even like to consider that their kid masturbates underage. They can't fool themselves completely with boys since the basket full of soiled Kleenex is a dead giveaway but, hey parents, little Fiona is probably rubbing one off right now, you better rush off and stop her! See, this is such a stupid waste of time and it's largely because we've internalised the idea that sex is something to be ashamed of. We try to train kids to think that giving themselves pleasure is a terrible thing. Hell, when I was at the age when I was discovering masturbation, my parents moved me into a room without a door. Seriously, normal room, open doorway with no door there. I'm not trying to turn this into a rant about the various ways my parents did their level best to mentally cripple me (and, in fairness, they were pretty screwed up themselves and didn't have a clue what they were doing) but the fact is, masturbation is normal, it's part of the pleasurecruise of self-discovery we all go on during our teens and it should be. Masturbation is sex without the dangers. You can't get pregnant, catch an STD or even get stood up by your hand at the prom. It's sexual pleasure with literally no drawbacks. Way I figure it, parents should be singing the praises of masturbation to their kids. OK, you're within the bounds of reason to ask Tommy to shut the door but at least he's not fucking in there. In fact, if you want to delay your teenagers first full coital bonk, you might want to extoll the virtues of mutual masturbation while you're at it. You'd be surprised what teenage boys will settle for. Your kid would literally sell his soul for a quick feel of boob through clothing and you think he's going to turn down a quick handjob? No, he's going to agree very enthuasiastically, enjoy it enormously and be exceedingly grateful. If he's got any brains, he'll also keep his mouth shut about it (teenage girls, the single best threat is "If you tell anyone, you'll never get another one"). Full blown sex can lead to pregnancy, STDs and complicated family gatherings, mutual masturbation just leads to Kleenex, snuggling and a desire to raid the fridge. There's a shitload of things people can do to get their rocks off without actual penetrative sex and I would suggest mentioning all of them. When you should start singing the virtues of handjobs and dryhumping is a question I'll leave to your discretion, you know your kids better than I do. Just make sure it's not too late and be sure to point out, repeatedly if necessary, that just because you can doesn't mean you have to. If you don't like them, don't want to go that far or even if you're just not in the mood, saying "no" is not only acceptable but required (and if you're an adult, "no" is your only acceptable response). Sex play, even the kind that stops short of penetration, is a game for two or more players and it's a lousy game unless everyone is enthuasiastic about playing. And if you find a copy of Hustler in your kid's room (either gender), just quietly put it under their pillow and forget about it.

A lot of conservatives like to imagine some golden age (almost always, the Fifties or earlier) where sexuality was something that seemingly didn't exist. If you're into that kind of thing, it might be a reassuring fantasy but it's a fantasy nonetheless. Fact is, our attitudes toward sexuality are actually pretty recent. And I don't mean "recent" as in the Sixties either. the sexual revolution of the Sixties was actually very dependent on class. If you were middle-class, not much changed for you. You still fucked at drive-ins but you were still quiet about it. In the counter-culture, we've actually gone backwards since then. According to the recollections of some of those who were around at the time, the liberalisation that the birth control pill allowed was such that for many women, it would be as simple as seeing someone they liked the look of and asking "Do you want to fuck?" (small note, I am applauding the women who were that up-front with their sexuality). Our attitudes toward teenage sexuality are no more than a century old and, in many cases, much younger. Shakespeare made Juliet all of thirteen years old (another note, that play is about the short-sightedness of young love, stop holding it up as a romance when it's a tragedy). The accounts of coppers from Victorian London are full of reports of having to move along children as young as elevn or twelve from copulating in gutters and yes, child molestation is as old as humanity as well. We are unique not because we are the first generation to have such things happen but because we are the first generation to be aware of it, we are the first generation to both know the extent of the problem and be in a position to do something about it and prevent it. Porn is as old as humanity too. In fact, our porn is relatively tame compared to that of ancient peoples which included incest (Egyptians), pederasty (Greeks), bondage (Romans) and bi or homosexuality (absolutely everyone). Again, it was really only in Victorian times that we even bothered trying to control porn. The sexually adventurous woman of the Sixties mentioned above wasn't really doing anything which men haven't done since the beginning of time (and the only reason women haven't done it just as long is because of the danger of pregnancy which the pill liberated them from). Hopefully, the generation of girls now being raised will understand that men love sexually direct women, it removes all the guesswork. The old system of putting out subtle signals if you were interested in screwing? Yeah, some men (including me) are absolutely hopeless at reading them. So we don't dare make a move, Either we are entirely oblivious to those subtle signals you put out or we don't trust ourselves not to be misinterpreting them. She just put her hand on my knee, is that a green light? No, maybe she's just being friendly. No, don't chance it. And we talk ourselves out of intimacy that way for years. So the advent of women who were clear and unambiguous that they liked sex and they would like to enjoy it with you, women like that were a miracle to me and men like me and not just for those reasons. The idea that someone would actually want to have sex with us, would find us sexually attractive and be prepared to say so, unambiguously, with no room for misinterpretation... The women who did so live forever in our memories, not just as masturbation material (although sometimes as that too) but because, when we have been rejected far more often than we have been accepted, punched far more often than we have been kissed, when the reaction of virtually everyone to you has been one of mockery or disgust, to be able to summon up a memory of someone in your head who clearly, vocally wanted you is something that lives forever in your mind.

We're going to back away from that subject now because I've realised that I'm revealing rather more about myself than I feel comfortable revealing or subjecting my readers to.

I'm not just looking to save sanity here but adjusting our attitude to sexuality to be less royally fucked up might literally save lives too. See, 99.9% of us have sexual desires (a miniscule number of people, for hormonal reasons, have no sexual desires at all) and every single last one of those people will find some way of releasing those desires. No exceptions, this is a biological impeartive engraved deep in our lizard brains. Some way, sometime, everyone will find a way to release those desires, even if they're celibate. Hell, especially if they're celibate. Even priests and nuns will masturbate and even if they've got Batman's willpower and don't, tough shit, your brain will give you sexy dreams and pretend to fuck while you're asleep anyway. Surpressing your sexuality your whole life is simply not an option and guess what happens when people try? Yeah, they get fucked up. Seriously fucked up. In my meatworld life, I'm partway through studying for a degree in Criminology. It's slow going and I have to do it by distance learning because of my mental problems but it's fascinating stuff in a horrifying way. Here's a little snippet: Did you know serial killers are subdivided by motivation? And did you know what the single largest subcategory of serial killers is? Yeah, it's sexual sadists. Now, we don't entirely understand the psychology of serial killers yet but there are certain things that sexual sadists have in common. They all exhibited the "unholy trinity" of bedwetting beyond the age where that's common, animal abuse and arson. Traumatic head injuries during chilhood or adolescence aren't present in every case but they crop up more often than coincidence would allow and there's one more thing which every last one of them has: Their sexuality was warped beyond recognition. Some were sexualised very early in life, some were raped by family members continually (Fred & Rose West, a highly unusual case of true folie a deux serial killers, both came from families where incest was common) and, in many cases, their sex drive was surpressed as it developed. I could go into why surpressing the sex drive would lead to sexual sadism (and I may do so in a future essay) but for simplicity, it's like trying to force a wedge into a rock; either the wedge gets warped or the rock breaks. If you don't let a sexuality develop on it's own and in it's own time, it will either warp the person's sexuality or it will break their mind altogether. Human sexuality is an incredibly powerful force and it is near-enough relentless. Sometimes it drives us to distraction, sometimes it drives us to crime (look up the psychology of arsonists sometime) but it cannot be denied.

And it doesn't need to be denied, not really. We've been doing this since before we were really humans, it's just sex, not launching a space shuttle.Sex isn't a matter of debate, it's not something you need an instruction manual for (although you might need an instruction manual for good sex). We needn't be ashamed of doing what makes us feel good (yes, annoying conservative, subject to the guidelines above obviously) and I think that's something an awful lot of people need to learn: Just because it feels good doesn't make it wrong.

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