Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sex.

But first, as they say on NPR, the news.

Liss wrote a concise post over at Shakesville yesterday, consisting of the following: "Discussion Question: In what ways has the idea of sexual assault and/or street harassment affected your daily movements?" The post itself is not the important part, of course, it's the comments answering the question. As of this writing, there are 353 comments.

She used an Echidne of the Snakes post (with 79 comments) on the same topic as a jumping off point. More than three years ago, Bitch PhD had a similar post which has since garnered 341 comments, with the most recent being from just a month ago. Kate Harding asks, in a post from last week, what kind of survival tactics folks use to combat fat hate, and there are currently 102 comments.

If I have any readers (and I don't think I do), I would ask you to now think back to what you have read about second wave feminism, or if you are old enough, to what you remember about it. When I learned about feminism, consciousness raising and CR groups were always central to what second wave feminists did -- they learned that they, as women, had experiences in common, and that the personal is political.

Somewhere along the way, though, women kinda stopped doing this in a formal way, or in a way that made them realize what was going on. The latest mention of it that I can think of comes from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, which was made in 1991 and portrays the late '80s.

Enter the internet. Here we have several examples of blogs that are functioning as CR sessions. A question is posed, or an instance discussed, and *poof!* After a few strories that are basically saying the same thing, it becomes glaringly obvious that many, many women experience the same oppressive things. Only, the consciousness raising works better than ever before. The group is not limited to the like-minded people you know, who will also fit in your living room. They don't have to show up at a specific time. They can be more candid behind aliases and their computer screens. And we see that feminism is still necessary, and that the personal is still political.




Anyway, to get back to topic, this is a post about sex.

So, Bicycle and I had one of those conversations we have every five or six months (that always seem to be initiated by me, hmm) about what we are doing that is seriously not working and what to do about it. In any case, we were laying around a couple days ago and had one of these conversations. This one was largely based on sex.

Like a lot of relationships, our sex drives don't exactly match up. Like many relationships, his is higher than mine. At the moment, I could take or leave sex for the most part. Lot's of things contributing to this. I'm really stressed out with school; not really working and therefore not really having much money and having to worry about paying rent, having trouble finding another job, etc.; winter is coming on so there's not much day light and I'm always cold; we've been seeing each other for over two years and now we live together; sex can be uncomfortable for me and orgasms take some work and these things don't apply to him; my life is really boring these days and I spend most of my time in the house; I'm not getting much exersize these days and maybe am not eating enough.

Now, it must be said, that being a good feminist man, Bicycle does not pressure me to have sex when I don't want to, tends to not sexually navel gaze or get wrapped up in his own good time, and all that good stuff. On the other hand, as a woman with certain social conditioning, I feel a little guilty about turning down sex. Or not guilty exactly, it's more like a defensive, hyper-aware feeling. I can't really think of a word for it. Because, aside from the general deference to men training that all women get, I have had a partner who badgered me into having sex that I didn't want to be having (and then had the nerve to complain that I wasn't into it!). So even the suggestion of sex when I don't want it automatically feels like badgering a little, and I can't really help felling that, even though I, and Bicycle, can tell myself that it really is otherwise. And then even with him, who would be utterly sympathetic, I don't always speak up when something is uncomfortable or really not doing anything for me.

In any case, the conclusion we came to, was that we've been rather lazy in our sex lately. Not lazy as in lacking energy. Mentally lazy. There are things we can do that more or less work, and we've been in a kind of rut of rotely doing those things. You know, here's some foreplay, ok, now you do this to me, and then I do that to you, bingbang, we're done, quick cuddle and get on with our day.

We need to instead think about what we are doing, and not take the path of least resistance. Again, this is not a physical thing, necessarily, and this is not the advice column line to 'spice it up' by doing something mildly kinky but still socially acceptable or whatever. It's a mental thing. We need to think about what we are doing and why. An important aspect of this, for me, is to allow that cuddling and touching and making out is not necessarily things that lead to sex. I may be interested in snuggles, but not in sex, and me getting into his personal space is not a signal for sex.

Bicycle also said that lately our sex has been transactional, that he does this for me and then I do that for him, and we call it equal if we have about the same number of orgasms, and that this isn't exactly working. While I agree with this, I also say that we can't let, say, counting orgasms, fall by the wayside. If we were to do so, it would likely lead to me never having any, as, like I said above, it takes some work. So that is clearly not a solution.

In any case, the idea is, stop being so mentally lazy about the sex. Shake things up by thinking differently.

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