Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Since greenyQ asked...

...I have Date #2 with The Charmer on Friday night. At his house. Ahem.

I'm completely psyched, and more than a little nervous. There's the normal early-dating jitters, as well as the likely-first-sex jitters, plus, because of my life being as it is, the still-totally-awkward- around-the-penis jitters. Which are of course compounded by the how-should-I-bring-up-the-dyke-thing jitters. And let's not forget the dating-has-been-pretty-brutal-to-my-ego-so-this-better-go-well- because-I-can't-take-more-bullshit-or-rejection jitters (or is that just part of the aforementioned early-dating jitters?).

But under all that I've been catching a whiff of the men-frighten-me jitters. I'm sorry to smell them, that's for sure. I hate being frightened by a whole gender of people. It's ridiculous and reductive. Most men are safe and some women are scary (and the same holds true of trannies, etc.). But there it is. Men frighten me.

To be sure, I've got my reasons. Yes, I was sexually assaulted by a man in college, but also my father abandoned us when I was very small, and boys were my primary torturers on the playground and in the hallway. The ones who spat on me and made games out of sneaking up on me and knocking me over without anyone seeing.

Sure, there was also plenty of Mean Girls aggression, but here's the catch -- I've since gotten much better at getting "girls" to like me. Not just sexually; generally. Socially. But boys? I dropped out of "boys" altogether. It's my clearest memory of coming out. One night I was kissing a girl for the first time during a gender-blind game of spin the bottle, and the next day I was leaving my office in my department building (where I shared space with another student researcher, whom I had been flirting with for months and who would soon become my first girlfriend), thinking "Do you know what this means? This means I don't need men for anything!" and floating off to fetch my nearly-girlfriend a diet coke.

That was a little more than fourteen years ago, and I only started dating boys again this summer. In total, since dipping my toe back in the world of factory-direct men, I've had dates or date-esque encounters with 5 of them, only one of whom I saw twice. And that, my friends? Was The Man/Child.

Which is all to say that I haven't had a chance to work through my fears about men the way I have about women. They're stuck back in 1993. I don't know what men want from me, but I do expect it's something bad. (Which again, is ridiculous, because men as a whole entity don't want anything from me, b/c they're not a monolith. And also: I'm a big girl and have agency now. Whatever "they" want, if I don't like it, I don't have to do it. I know this stuff. I really do. Sort of.)

All this leaves me with weird worries. Not of physical violence - I'd like to think I'm a better judge of character than that, and if I'm not, I'm quite capable of defending myself. It comes out more sideways, like how I keep steeling myself for what I'm going to say when he refuses to wear a condom, even though I know in my head that he seriously probably won't and even if he did it would be such a totally asshole thing to do as to be doing me a favor. Alternately, I keep wondering if somehow this is all a joke he's playing on me, like the time The Popular Boy in school not only came to my birthday party, but asked me to go into the basement with him. And then told me he'd bet his friend he couldn't get my bra, a la Sixteen Candles. Like all The Charmer's attention to date is the setup for some elaborate joke of which I am the punchline.

The good news: none of this is keeping me from freshening up my pedicure and shopping for some very sexy panties. After all, we must prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. And I suspect the best in this case may be very, very good, indeed...


Jennifer said...

I know exactly what you mean by this somewhat irrational / somewhat reasonable fear of men Ladyred. I started a purely sexual relationship with a man in Nov. which was the first heterosexual sex I've had in 13 years. On the way to my house I couldn’t get the rape scenarios out of my head. It surprised me that I would feel that way, and while it turned out to be completely unfounded, there it was, the fear of men.

Incidentally, teh penis was interesting; the amount of lubrication coming from the head pleasantly surprised me. I had forgotten about that! The PIV part was mediocre, but overall, he was an EXCELLENT lover. Just like the most excellent sex I’ve had with women, he used his hands and his mouth to please me skillfully and repeatedly. I congratulated myself on being such an astute judge of sexual prowess, be they male or female.

Good luck with your date tomorrow, I can’t wait to hear about it!!!!

Anonymous said...

am intrigued by what jennifer says about "being such an astute judge of sexual prowess, be they male or female"---wondering what this entails. like what CLUES indicate this...(helpful hints desperately needed!) perchance the Charmer's able hands will indicate able hands throughout? a clear parallel. others?

Jennifer said...

Oh, and even though I had bought condoms (and was nervous about if he would protest about using them) he brought some too and considered it a given that he would be using them.

Also, a friend told me "YOU don't buy condoms, HE buys the condoms." I was like, OK!

RE: how to judge, it's really Miss Kitty who does the judging, if she gets wet around someone, I try to give her what she wants. Also, yes, the kissing and the way they use their hands during the kissing can DEFINATELY make or break the deal. I once picked a woman up in a bar and fucked her in my car. I didn’t allow her to touch Miss Kitty though, because I didn’t like the way she kissed (too forceful, not enough variation)!!

ruby said...

yup, the kissing is definitely the best way to judge skills--and, let's not forget, chemistry. it's not like being "good in bed" is this universal thing. if it were, then it wouldn't really be possible to have bad sex with some partners and great sex with others, which i'm sure has happened to all of us.

about the other stuff, as someone with approximately the opposite of ladyred's history--have only had sex with people born male (though not all have identified as male at the time of our dating); longstanding but vastly underexplored interest in women and female-assigned genderqueer folks--i am fascinated by the similarities and differences to my feelings of nervousness, confusion, etc.

my fears around dating women are all about rejection and not knowing what i'm doing rather than any of the other darker fears. but as much as i hate to admit it, the matter of the vagina is a real one. i mean, i know what to do with a cock; not only have i touched a lot of them, but they're just hangin' out there. not mysterious. and the only pussy i've gotten to know well is my own. i'm afraid i'm not gonna know what to do when faced with someone else's. i don't know how to flirt with women, either. rationally i know it really shouldn't be different from flirting with men, but the fact remains i haven't managed to be successful at it by any measure.

then there's the fear that, given my lack of experience with women, that people will think i'm masquerading as queer.

Roy said...

On condoms: They seem like a given to me, as well. I've had sex sans-condoms with one woman, whom I'd been dating for some time, after we'd both been tested, and when she had been on the pill for a good six months or so. We had sex sans-condom once, and while it'd didn't feel exactly the same, the difference wasn't worth my peace of mind. We talked about it, and I was just really uncomfortable about not using them.
And, yeah, I really feel like it's the guy's responsibility to provide condoms. I'm aware that not all men do, but, geez, they ought to. How hard is it to go grab some, seriously?

re: "they're just hangin' out there. not mysterious."

I don't know. I mean, I've been with some women who were fantastic, but I've also been with women who were... eh... not so good. Maybe I'm weird that way, but there are certain ways of touching that feel great, and others that are just "meh." On the other hand, I've never really thought of women's parts as being particularly mysterious, either. I think that it helps that I'm big on touching and exploring.
Plus, according to several of the women I've dated, I have "nice hands." I figure I could do a lot worse than that. And if Jennifer's comments are any indication, maybe having good hands is more important anyway?

ruby said...

maybe i only think cocks are not mysterious because my experience has demystified them. but they *are* right out there, physically, which is one reason it's not hard to tell (no pun intended) how well the kind of touching you're using is working. though of course as long as a partner of any gender/genitalia configuration is communicative, this isn't a problem.

yet another inch forward in getting over my fears...

re: condoms, i totally appreciate when men realize they need to provide them, but i also like to come prepared myself. i think it's a good rule that everyone who intends to have sex with men should have some condoms on hand.

Jennifer said...

I’m with you on the condom thing Ruby, I let him bring them but I always have my own stash on hand. I even tucked a couple in my purse and wow, did THAT feel subversive after all these years!!

As for picking up women, they are often more difficult to read, you’re not just imagining it. They aren’t as likely to respond to the direct pick up like men are. Especially since you’re a “virgin” I would recommend eyeing a sharp sexy dyke and basically offering yourself up as the proud bold (albeit inexperienced) bisexual that you undoubtedly are.

Don't fear the vagina: be honest about your inexperience, be communicative and have fun experimenting! I have found most women to be more expressive than men about what they like and don't like (perhaps b/c our package is so “mysterious” we try to communicate what’s working and what’s not?) so I think you'll be fine.

And Roy, yes, "nice hands" speak volumes. A man who can gently, exquisitely touch everywhere, including la pussay is a rare breed. Question for you, did you learn that “nice hands” thing (i.e. you were explicitly taught by someone) or was it something inherent in your own sexual expression?

Roy said...

I think it was a combination of the two, actually. I've always been "good with my hands" in general, but I also made it a point to learn what works and what doesn't.

The first girl I did anything sexual with wasn't particularly communicative about what she liked (at least, not while we dated). Of course, that could have been because both of us were really inexperienced, so she was still figuring it out, too. Anyway, as far as I can remember, we did okay, so I think part of it was just, uh... natural? I guess.

The girl who still makes a big deal about my hands I dated years ago. She was pretty up front about everything, so when I did something that worked well, she made it clear in no uncertain terms that "Oh, yeah, that's fantastic." That helped a lot.

And, part of it, I think, comes from my own hang-ups.
1. For a long time, I was really apprehensive about intercourse (look, my father is Roman Catholic and my mother is Southern Baptist. So, you know, I have a few guilt issues. Heh), so I was a lot more likely to engage in mutual masturbation (does anyone actually use that term besides me?) than intercourse.
2. I've dated girls who were unable to have orgasm through intercourse (or, at least, as of the time I dated them, hadn't had orgasm like that yet), and that's just rubbish. Sex isn't fun if only one of you ever gets off. If she can't climax that way, the obvious solution seemed to be to work with other things, and my hands happen to be convenient, in that I have two of them, and you can still make out with someone while you're getting them off with your hands.

So, now that I've reveiled a lot more about my sexual habits than anyone probably needed to know... thank god for the facelessness of the interwebs, I'm turning a little red just typing this out.

ruby said...

thanks, for the encouragement, jennifer! so far i have been stymied in my attempts to offer myself to the right girl, because all the ones i have been drawn to when i've been in a position to make the offer have been either monogamously partnered or not interested in me, often b/c of gender presentation (why is it that so many of the butch and genderqueer grrrls in san francisco seem to want to date other butch and genderqueer grrrls??). but i will forge ahead.

roy, i have it on good authority that tomorrow's friday list will encourage us all to share details that may induce blushing. so don't worry, you won't be alone in that!

on the "good hands" thing, seems to me that as long as your lover is a) enthusiastic about touching you and b) paying attention to what you're communicating (w/ words and otherwise) about what works for you, ze can't go too wrong. the rest is chemistry (yes, i'm fond of chalking things up to chemistry).

jeff said...

bell hooks talks at lenght about some of the kind of fear you're talking about here in her book The Will to Change (which is about men and masculinity, in part). She notes that some of what helps keep patriarchy in place is both men and women's reluctance to talk about this fear, which she thinks is pretty darn near universal (thought not a necessary fact).

So, by talking about it at all, you're striking a blow at patriarchy in general!

ladyred said...

I love it when talking about my neuroses strikes a blow at the patriarchy! And I love bell hooks and could really use some feminist reading about men & masculinity -- going to go get that ASAP. Thanks for the suggestion.

figleaf said...

"Also, a friend told me "YOU don't buy condoms, HE buys the condoms." I was like, OK!"

I think there are some great traditional, historical, and radical reasons for expecting the man to bring the condoms... but I'm not comfortable with making it a rule. Designating one side but not the other to bring condoms is just going to cause more of that gatekeeper mischief in the long run.

I'd rather see everyone saying that since protection is *everybody's* concern it needs to be fine for everybody to bring something.


ruby said...

totally, figleaf!

and i think that not expecting ONLY men to provide the condoms invites and/or goes along with other things--i.e., not expecting men to be by default in control of sexual encounters--that can also (tenuous connection here) work to get out in the open/get rid of this fear of men. what i mean by that is that the fewer assumptions we have about how Men, as a category, act, the more we can recognize that individual men may not actually share the traits of Men that are scary. fairly banal, really, but important (imo).

Roy said...

Hmm. I hadn't really thought about it that much, but my generally feeling is that it's not only up to the man to bring condoms, but any guy who refuses to provide condoms is a total asshat, and probably shouldn't be having sex, anyway. I feel like it's my responsibility to help provide protection if I'm expecting to have sex, since, you know... I'm not looking to become a parent, nor am I looking to pick up any STDs. Plus, every girl I've been sexually active with has been on the pill. I always felt like "Well, if she can find the time to get her birth control, and remember to take it every day, the least I can do is remember to pick up condoms."

But, yeah. Really, everyone should be concerned about the birth control/protection.

ruby said...

i definitely agree that boys should buy condoms: it's a both/and situation as far as who should bring them.

and i *so strongly* second the notion that those who refuse to wear condoms are asshats who don't deserve sex. that's something that has totally shocked me about some friends' dating experiences, that they actually come across men who will try to weasel out of the latex. ick ick ick! i just can't imagine. though maybe that's partly because i don't use any other form of birth control, which lessens the temptation to bareback *really* significantly, because the stakes are so very high for me.

ladyred said...

But the stakes are high for everyone, pill or no. I can't think of anyone I've ever wanted to sleep with so bad I would risk getting AIDS to do it. Seriously.

ruby said...

yes, but the risk of pregnancy has no what-ifs in it. i *know* i can get pregnant. it's a lot easier to convince yourself that your partner is disease-free (no matter how wrong the convincing would be) than it is to deny the possibility of getting pregnant. that's how i see the psychology of it, anyway.

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for writing this post--I am really quite uncomfortable around men, especially those who are older than me (although I've never been sexually abused or seriously harassed in any way). I'm currently in a two year relationship with a guy, who I love, but I see most of them as another species--and I'm especially uncomfortable around gay men. Most of my female friends tend to talk about being scared of other women, but never men. When I was in junior high, I remember really wishing I was a lesbian--but I am very rarely attracted to women, and very easily fall for men. Anyway, sorry for the loooooong explanation... but it's good to hear someone else with a similar experience. It's the first time, be honest!