Part two of the projector series!
|Is it weird to want to fuck your own shadow?|
Inspired by the photography of Dani Oliver. Desperately wish I had a black room and a photographer (or a model)! I couldn’t choose just one…
One of my former students invited me to a dance performance at her university last week; she’s a member of an auditioned dance troupe that performs choreographed songs once a semester. I sat down next to her parents when I got there, excited to see them and catch up. As I looked around the auditorium, I realized there weren’t other parents or family members there – the audience was completely comprised of other students. And as the students started dancing, I understood why.
When the lights dimmed, twelve young women came out onto the stage wearing denim cutoffs and midriff-baring white tank tops and started popping and dropping to a recent K-pop hit, and the audience went wild.* My student’s mom laughed nervously next to me and gripped the arms of her chair. And I have to admit, I was a bit uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable that these students – that these young women – were moving so sexually on stage. And then I was unnerved by my own discomfort; these students were really good dancers, obviously cared a lot about what they were doing, and put a lot of effort into it. They danced with power and attitude, and they nailed it.
There is a longstanding and ongoing debate about societal expectation and oppression vs. personal empowerment and expression when it comes to women and sexuality; I have a lot of mixed feelings about expectations put on women to perform sexual roles for men and women taking control of their own bodies and lives through embracing and voicing their own desires. I just started reading Peggy Orenstein’s Girls and Sex; she has a lot to say about the subject, and there’s a review forthcoming. For me, claiming my own desire is empowering – but it wasn’t until recently that I started being the sexual person I wanted to be and not the sexual person I thought other people wanted me to be, and most of that has to do with the ways in which women are socialized to please men and ignore their own needs and pleasure. I’ve had a lifelong struggle with loving being that woman who talks about sex all the time versus wanting to be seen as a whole human being whose entire identity – whose entire value – isn’t wrapped up in her sexuality.
Talking about sex and being sexual was a big part of becoming an adult for me. Watching my student dance, I thought about how my parents reacted (or, rather, didn’t react) to my very open candor about sexuality when I was a teenager. I distinctly remember singing along to songs like “Freak Me” and “Anytime, Anyplace” with my friends in middle school and making sexual innuendos in all of our letters to each other. Popping on the basketball court in a stepping group at thirteen. Teaching other students in my school how to use a condom as part of an HIV 101 lesson. Inviting my mom and uncle to come to Rocky Horror with me at seventeen and shouting out dozens of audience participation lines that I can only assume were horrifying for my mother to hear come out of my mouth. My folks didn’t try to suppress my overtly sexual words and world; they let me be who I was. They let me figure my shit out, and they were there to support me if and when I needed them to. And I am forever grateful for that. They also never talked to me about pleasure, desire, safety, consent, respect, or communication… and I desperately wish they had. Or that someone had.
Now that she’s an adult, I’m having conversations with this young woman about sex and relationships because she’s not having them with other adults in her life (talking about sex isn’t common in Korea, even among friends). Being a part of her life means telling her things I wish someone had said to me while also letting her be who she is and supporting her. I want her to think critically about the world she lives in while also experiencing joy and beauty and yes, pleasure. If dancing brings her pleasure and fills her with joy, then I want her to dance the fuck out of those dances.
*Videos produced by the multi-billion dollar K-pop industry have become much more sexualized in the past couple of years; this video is pretty tame, and perhaps it’s just shocking because of the move from aegyo(acting cute in order to be attractive)-based videos into videos that have more sexualized choreography and clothing. There’s definitely something in my reaction to this that’s rooted in structural / institutionalized racism and cultural perceptions of the intersection of race and sexuality. Speaking of – I’d love to comment here on the blatant cultural appropriation / token black guy in this video, but that’s covered by a LOT of other blogs.
Warning: If you can’t deal with the fact that half the population bleeds for ¼ of their lives, you probably shouldn’t read this post.
A year ago, I went to my gynecologist to attempt to get an IUD put in. While doing an exam beforehand, she looks around my giant skirt at me and asks, “How long have you been on birth control?” “Twenty years,” I reply. “You need to get off it. Now.” she says. “But –” I start to protest, and she cuts me off: “Now.” She told me that I had the uterus of a seventeen year-old – whatever that means.
I finally took her advice last December when The Texan moved back to the US and went off hormonal birth control for the first time in two decades. I was freaked out about what might happen to my body; here’s what did happen:
I thought that I already had a much higher libido than most people – I’ve had more than one boyfriend complain about the frequency with which I want to get down. Now it feels a little out of control. In addition to no longer putting extra estrogen and progesterone in my body, I also do weight lifting, which increases my testosterone level. I am ridiculously horny ALL THE TIME.
I’ve started hitting on people I normally wouldn’t hit on, have said yes to sex with someone I’ve never considered sleeping with before (and it’s been great!), have done some pretty stupid and hurtful things in the past month because of my sex drive (sorry, Emily Nagoski), and have had some horrifyingly sexually aggressive thoughts that I never had before.
I’m feeling great about having more sex with more partners (this is going to be a renaissance year for my sex life, no doubt), but I’m not okay with being in a place where I’m not fully thinking through my actions before doing them. What I’m saying is, I need to check myself before I wreck myself, as it were.
Once in a while I walk around my apartment with a dildo in; the way it presses against my G-spot (or whatever you want to call it; I know there’s a lot of controversy about this) while I’m walking is pretty awesome. For me, the idea of doing domestic tasks with a dildo inserted is both hilarious and erotic, and it builds waves of arousal before masturbating.
Taken in a hotel room (this one) in Luang Prabang, Laos — post-shower, pre-wank.