(This is basically the previous entry part two. It won’t make sense, most likely, if you read it before that one. I am hoping, when it is finished, to return from this dear-diary-esque interruption to our regularly scheduled programming.)
A quick update to say that I found Violet Blue’s use of this (not totally work-safe) image today hilariously well-timed, given my last entry. Maybe there is a bridge being built between asexual porn and the mainstream version, and I just don’t realize it.
I also wanted to add to the last post this rather spot-on quote from Glad to Be A which managed not only to articulate some things I’ve been thinking, but also to push those thoughts further:
I don’t understand looking at someone and thinking sex. It makes sense to me that you would have powerful feelings of attraction and a desire to be intimate with, and to please physically, someone who you found not only outwardly attractive but attractive in their personality. I get love and lust being combined. But what I find difficult to understand is random lust for a stranger, or even for someone you don’t like, based purely on them having a nice rack or a great butt. I find it difficult how someone could get all excited over some hot body, then another one a few minutes later, then another one. Attraction to a few specific people, based on various qualities, seems like the only thing that makes sense to me.
Perhaps because I find myself fundamentally motivated by emotional connection — (Freud’s insistence that this cannot be the case aside) — I would add to this that I have a total incapacity to forget that bodies belong to people, to unique individuals who have personalities, thoughts, feelings, — the whole shibangabang. This reality has gotten me into trouble more than once since I came out as a lesbian, when people have insisted I tell them who I think is “hot” or scoffed when a swimsuit calendar sparked a feminist rant on my part instead of an aroused grunt of approval. Personally, I have a physical response to erotic images of women; I do seem to experience some physical desire toward bodies, (although as of now, I remain completely oblivious to what is so fascinating about genitalia. Georgia O’Keefe understood it on some level. I do not), but I grow uncomfortable having a physical response toward bodies that belong to people I don’t know. I can’t shut off the part of my brain that wonders who the woman is and what she’s like, partly because that is necessary information for me to stay attracted, and partly because I find it difficult to suspend the knowledge that although she’s currently the object of my gaze (and even my desire) she’s the subject of her own experience. Given the extent to which women’s objectification (and increasingly, men’s objectification) drives socially damaging constructs, I’m actually surprised that so few people mention having an issue with their tendency to gawk at women.
I mentioned to Elephant when we were discussing asexuality that I’ve been called a “bad” lesbian because my feminism so often trumps my sexual desire. (I really don’t intend to suggest that people who have those desires without the inhibition are lesser feminists; I hope it’s not coming across that way. My experience is honestly the only one I’m qualified to describe.) His characteristically awesome response was, “Sexuality is about what feels good and right, not what some others’ or some magazine’s definition prescribes. Don’t listen to anybody who calls you a prude or “bad lesbian” – that’s all bulls*&t. It just means they are trying to impose their particular libidinal urges on you.” I see the truth in this and stand by it, but I’m also aware that my own “libidinal urges” are somewhat stifled, both by the fact that I’ve semi-unintentionally divorced my body from the rest of my self, and the (seemingly oppositional) fact that I *cannot* divorce other people’s bodies from the rest of their identity. I honestly don’t feel that I’m judgmental of other people’s casual sex, virtual and otherwise. But I don’t know how to suspend the knowledge that there’s a person attached to that sexuality, how to quell or dismiss my curiousity about who that person is, and how to suspend the rest of my personality long enough for my sexuality to take the wheel and allow me to engage in that kind of thing myself. Maybe that’s not a possibility for me, maybe I don’t even want that to be a possibility for me, but without it, my ability to explore my sexuality is significantly limited. Even when I luck into an emotional connection, it’s rarely with someone I could potentially partner with. Add to that the reality that I’d be likely to value the emotional connection to the point that I would (over)protect it against the potential backlash of sexual exploration, and it seems increasingly likely that my questions of sexual identity will remain unanswered for some time. And well, I simply never claimed to be a patient person, regardless of my rational understanding that I was dealing with something that shouldn’t be rushed.
I would like to return to my own body. I would like to grow, — slowly, safely, — in my awareness of other people’s bodies, which for me seems to require knowledge of the rest of their identity. I would like it if the way my sexuality functions (most particularly, its insistence on not objectifying people) would not essentially keep me from having one in the first place. Does this begin to qualify as an answer to one of those middle school questions, to knowing what I want?