But the point, the point, is that whenever I hear someone talking about how it’s wrong to have sex and sexiness in YA novels, what I actually hear is this:
I’m terrified that the first fictional sex a teenage girl encounters might leave her feeling good about herself. I’m terrified that fictional sex might actually make teenage girls think sex can be fun and good, that reading about girls who say no and boys who listen when they say it might give them the confidence to say no, too – or worse still, to realise that boys who don’t listen to ‘no’ aren’t worth it. I’m terrified that YA novels might teach teenage girls the distinction between assault and consensual sex, and give them the courage to speak out about the former while actively seeking the latter. I’m terrified that teenage girls might think seriously about the circumstances under which they might say yes to sex; that they might think about contraception before they need it, and touch themselves in bed at night while fantasising about generous, interesting, beautiful lovers who treat them with consideration and respect. I’m terrified of a generation of teenage girls who aren’t shy or squeamish about asking for cunnilingus when they want it, or about loving more than one person at once, and who don’t feel shame about their arousal. I’m terrified that teenage girls might take control of their sexuality and, in so doing, take that control of them and their bodies away from me."
“It’s important to clarify that sex education that teaches about pleasure doesn’t have to teach about technique (though elective college-level sex education that does this is great). Letting teens know that women usually achieve orgasm through the rubbing of the clitoris, whether fingers, mouth, object, or penis, isn’t the same as screening an instructional video on giving good cunnilingus. It’s not the same as writing down the names of sex-toy shops on the blackboard, or handing out diagrams of cool and exciting coital positions. And teaching that lubricants reduce pain and increase safety and pleasure during many kinds of sex should be thought of not as performance advice, but on par with vital lessons about condom use.
Real sex education is not the same as porn education. Instead, it’s about teaching that pleasure is an important part of any sexual relationship. It’s about teaching that there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel sexual pleasure and seeking it out, so long as it is done safely and responsibly. It’s about teaching comfort with one’s body and a lack of shame over desires, and there is more to sex for all people than sticking penises into vaginas. Real sex education teaches how to go about making intelligent , safe choices, rather than just stating the choices available. I believe there is a big difference. And I believe that teaching teens to make smart choices about sex must involve teaching them that having sex, partnered or alone, can be a smart choice”."
- society: Everyone's beautiful.
- society: Don't eat though, you don't want to get fat.
- society: You don't eat? Anorexic freak!
- society: You're a size 4? You're supposed to be a size 0!
- society: You're an A cup? What are you, 8?
- society: You're a C cup? That's my mums size.
- society: You had sex?! Slut!
- society: You haven't had sex? Hah, you're frigid!
- society: You don't think you're pretty? Attention seeker!
- society: You think you're pretty? Conceited much?
- society: You believe in gay rights? Homo!
- society: You don't believe in gay rights? Homophobic dickhead!
- society: You're depressed? Attention seeker!
- society: You cut yourself? Still attention seeking!
- society: You can't go on? How much attention do you want?!
- -someone kills themself-
- society: Oh, they were so beautiful! Society sucks!
Genderqueerness, gender fluidity, bisexuality, and pansexuality, quite different identities that they are, are all sometimes are confronted with the assumption that the above are “just phases” on the way to another identity, generally cisgender status and heterosexuality. Perhaps because these identities appear to exist in the in-between or on the outside. However they’re interpreted, I’m sure many of us have had experiences of doubt as to the validity of our identities, not only an initial or continuing lack of understanding but the assumption that we will at some point “grow out of it” or cease being this way. Assumptions that we’re confused or are still questioning ourselves and will at some point figure it all out.
What I say to that is…why should it matter so much if I do drop one identity description for another one that fits me better later on? That doesn’t mean I “never really was” [insert identity here]. Additionally, what if these identities remain valid and important to me for life - does that make mine somehow more valid than someone who acquires them later or drops them? Isn’t that what is most important and powerful about self-description? I certainly think that people should take identity descriptions very seriously, especially in the way of activism and personal fulfillment, while I also acknowledge that not everyone is going to have the same gender and sexual identity forever. The stigma that comes both with the assumption that genderqueer-related identities, bisexuality, and pansexuality are invariably stepping stones to another identity, and also the assumption that if there is change or questioning along the lines of any identities, it is somehow more spurious, are assumptions that only cause harm.
Why are these identity groups somehow more likely to be seen as confused about themselves than cisgender or monosexual identities? Members of these groups often take some time to question and find out what they want and what they want to be sexually as well. Again, what about people who have such identities for life? Are they somehow more ‘really’ [insert identity here] than those who transition from one identity to another? I don’t think so.
What’s so bad about someone taking some time to figure themselves out anyway, if that’s the case? What about gay men and lesbians who thought they were straight or were encouraged to be straight until they realized it wasn’t for them? What’s so bad about identifying one way and then another way later on? Identifying the same way for the rest of your life? Couldn’t any identity be a step to another later on, a personal exploration? Or not. Neither a fixed nor fluid identity are inherently bad things. It’s the assumptions that certain identities are more changeable than others, and that if changeability exists that it is suspect, that I take issue with.
I personally doubt that, as my life goes on, I will identify much differently than I have since I was a teenager. I have always been attracted to men and as soon as I was old enough to conceive of it and develop a more concrete sexual identity, I have had a very strong gay male identification (while not identifying as a man). I already knew I didn’t identify as a woman when I was younger, and “man” doesn’t fit me either, so genderqueer and androgyne are the most accurate descriptors for me in the way of gender. I feel very comfortable with identifying as an androsexual / gay-male identified gq androgyne. The relief the understanding of these identities brings and knowing that other people out there exist who I share similarities with equals immeasurable comfort. All the same, I can just hear the reactions of people in the future, should I decide other words are more appropriate, or perhaps if I make a transition-related move like wanting hormones and surgery. “Aha! They were really an [insert identity here] all along.” I know that is so, so, so not true. I know I am very much what I am right now and I am prepared for that to either stay very much the same, or even to potentially change, down the road in my life.
i needed to read this.
yes. I have read a lot of stuff about liminality only resulting in pain. And yes it can be painful. But not always.
I would like to address something i’ve noticed that exists within every community, but seems especially rife within alternative communities such as the kink community, the polyamory community, the queer community, etc. There is this whole strain of self-policing which questions people’s identities or abilities to identify as part of that community because of actions which they do or do not take part in.
To explain further, I am considering actions here to be voluntary acts that are deemed “neccessary” by some in a community, which creates self-policing and exclusion. Take, for example, sexual acts. Everybody has their own preferences. Likes, dislikes. Things they will only do in a relationship, or things they need to get off. I want to stress that there is no right or wrong preferences, only individual needs.
A few months ago, I was involved with a straight couple. Things didn’t work out because we didn’t share enough sexual desires in common, and we ended up going our separate ways, which was fine, but a few months later, I read something on one of their fetlife accounts that I knew 100% was about me. It was about how my not doing an sexual activity made me not queer, and they called me out for being straight because I refused to take part in said sexual act. I was livid, obviously. Not only was my identity being called into question, and I was being accused of purporting myself to be something I had no right to be, but it was all because they felt that a sexual act defined my identity.
I could write these people off as being jerks, or not understanding the difference between a sexual orientation and desires and limits, but they’re aren’t alone. This is something I see all the time, a self-policing of communities which hurts not only that community, but also the individuals who are being called out for not toeing the line of the supposed “neccessities” of being a part of that community.
And it’s bullshit.
How silly do these sound (and yes, I’ve really heard/seen them said more than once):
- No submissive has the right to say no! If you say no to something, you’re not really submissive!
- If you don’t go down on a girl, you’re not really a lesbian. (Insert oral sex act/ sexual orientation as you will).
- Feminists don’t shave their body hair! If you shave your body hair you are clearly not a feminist.
- You can’t really be into BDSM because you don’t mix it with sexual activity, and BDSM is about sex.
- How can you consider yourself polyamorous if you only have one partner? Polyamory means you have to have multiple partners so if you only have one you are not poly.
- You don’t look queer because you are too femme/straight looking.
Here’s the deal. As I said before, there is no blanket list of things you need to take part in to consider yourself part of a community. There is no “Gay Male” law which states you have to partake in anal sex, and if you don’t you’re not gay. There is no “Straight female” law which says you must give men blowjobs, and if you don’t you have no right to identify as straight. But all the same, there remains a culture of people putting their individual desires into a group context, and stating that if everyone doesn’t play along and do the same things, they aren’t really part of that group.
So, to recap:
- Actions are different than Identity.
- Everyone has their own preferences and has the right to partake in, or not, as they choose.
- No action has a basis in identity construction.
- People should stop being shitty to other people and claiming that their own needs and desires trump other peoples or that they speak for a larger group need.
- As long as you aren’t hurting other people and you and your partner(s) are getting their needs fulfilled, you should let your freak flags fly.
How can you consider yourself polyamorous if you only have one partner? Polyamory means you have to have multiple partners so if you only have one you are not poly.
also on a sidenote this queer sex positive standard of having all of the sex all of the time is really infuriating to me
You may be someone who considers themselves polyamorous who’s partner is monogamous though. In which case surely you’d be in a monogamous relationship but still identify as polyamorous?