SEX (UALITY): it’s about bodies and the way we relate to them, or is it?

By Tatenda

Sometimes bodies tell beautiful stories that get to us. At other times bodies confuse us, make us question ourselves and compel us to walk away or reject them.  Ironically the same body never says the same thing to the same person, let alone different people. Considering that bodies never mean (or tell us) the same thing, why is it that we assume that sex and sexuality are always linked to the body itself?

Male and female bodies can be confused, even abstracted. Some male bodies have feminine attributes and some female bodies have masculine attributes, meaning that your sexuality really has nothing to do with the body of the person with whom you engage. More accurately sexuality has something to do with the person you choose to be with and the meanings that you have ascribed to their bodies.

Having said this I can confidently say that pan/poly/ bi-sexual people are able to ascribe romantic and sexual feelings to many different kinds of bodies; regardless of whether these human bodies are masculine or feminine or both or neither. It all boils down to preference.

Why is it then that we assume that dick always wins the bisexual game? Meaning that males who identify as bisexual are almost always gay while women who similarly identify are almost always bar-sexuals? According to this model Frank Ocean is gay, David Bowie was an attention seeker, Cynthia Nixon is an anomaly and I drink way way too much way way too often.

Have we attributed a secondary position to female sexuality? Is there no sex without the presence of a penis? And even if there is sex with in the absence of a penis have women admitted defeat? Are we so pathetic that we buy into the idea that pussy is in fact “a pussy”? Does that mean that everything I have and may ever feel for a woman is just a temporary hobby I have picked up (along with several gender studies courses) until I get some dick in my life?!

I cannot begin to recount the number of times that I have heard women (homo and hetero) confess that they would never be with a person who identified as sexually fluid or the number of times I have heard the opposite from queer and heterosexual men.  It seems as though women, however delinked from heteronormativity they think they are, accept a certain set of assumptions about sex and sexuality. Namely that masculinity always wins, particularly when it comes with a set of testicles and a phallus. This kind of thinking frustrates me because it implies an inherent sexual inferiority within women which further perpetuates the idiotic notion that women cannot command, create and recreate sex.

It is as though women need to be entirely repelled by the penis in order to be committed to another woman because once we are in sight of a throbbing member we become helpless. A good friend of mine went off on the movie “The Kids Are Alright” for this very reason. Her exact statement was that the movie only achieved mainstream success because its entire premise fell in line with mainstream patriarchy: a woman becomes emotionally distant from her wife and in order to deal with her frustration and restore her sense of attractiveness her vagina lands straight onto a large and willing penis. Well done to the writers, good job on reinforcing whatever ideas society already had about “penis power” being lesbian kryptonite.

Here is how “penis power” works: some time long ago most societies internalized the Victorian idea that an outie was much better than an innie so those who had outies were necessarily better than those who had innies and thus needed to occupy superior positions in society. Outies were tied to maleness and masculinity and associated with superior sexuality and the ability to have “real sex”. This whole idea positioned the innies as secondary sexual subjects meaning that they were incapable of giving themselves or each other sexual pleasure without an outtie in the mix.

By and large this notion of sexual inferiority was internalized by women resulting in three maddening and saddening effects: compulsory heterosexuality, the silencing of women’s desire and chronic sexual insecurity in queer identified innies (particularly about the ability to compete with the phallus). So lifetime after lifetime women default to heterosexual lifestyles without thinking twice about who or what they want and night after night, year after year some women continue to believe that a vaginal thumping sans orgasm or titillation is tantamount to an adequate sexual experience. All while dykes, queer bois, butches, femmes, stems and transmen live in perpetual fear that their bi/ poly/ pan-sexual partner will get bored and run off in search of some “good d”.

The problem with notions of “penis power” is that they leave no room for grey areas when it comes to sexuality. Who we fall for becomes solely about bodies and genitalia. In that regard what penetrates is seen as having power over what is being penetrated. Therefore women who sleep with multiple genders must always prefer penis. The thing is (and I have done the leg work) every person can do what every other person can do in bed; what makes it bad, good or great is the chemistry between the parties. It is always about more than just the genitals which is exactly what makes sexuality fluid.

As a person who has been blessed with an ability to love that is unrestricted by gender and delinked from the body, I find the constant questions annoying. Assumptions that a person must position themselves on “the sexuality spectrum” or that bi/pan/poly-sexuality doesn’t exist almost always come from the same closed minded space that has allowed for the LBGTQI community to be riddled with prejudice. These assumptions label people who own their “rogue” sexuality as promiscuous, greedy and prone to infidelity. Honestly speaking being with a man will never make me heterosexual and being with a woman will never make me a lesbian, but being with somebody will always make me a committed queer.

There is a difference between your sexual orientation and the lifestyle that you lead. Observing somebody with their chosen partner only allows you to glean some information about their lifestyle preferences and absolutely nothing accurate about their sexuality. So do not assume that you know anything that deserves an explanation – ever. For a while I let the questions and accusatory stares I received from my “muff-munching” sisters and the pejorative statements made by my “muff-munching” brothers bully me into denial thus compelling me to minimize my truth. Then I realized that the only reason people feel the need to label and criticize is because their conception of themselves and this world is fragile (which is not my problem at all).

So ladies stop asking people whether or not they are gay, straight or perpendicular and try finding out whether or not they like you. Your insecurities about a woman shouldn’t be because you feel as though some burly man is going to come and sweep her off of her feet at any moment (if that happens then she never really liked you in the first place). You should know that the people you are with want you for you and that as a woman your sex is powerful, compelling and creative. There is nothing more off-putting than a partner who obsessively tracks who you have dated in an attempt to tell you who you are and just how much (or little) you want to be with them. It’s actually pretty lame to be honest.

So while some people are strictly clitly and others are strictly dickly, there are some who are strictly personly. For us sex and sexuality is not about body parts, labels or chromosomes; it’s about the people we like and how they make us feel. So get off it will ya?

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13 comments

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well written! Some of us muff munchers believe bisexual people are polygamous simply because we don’t understand them. How are heterosexual people who believe in the ‘straight’ stereotype supposed to accept us if we can’t accept each other?People need to educate themselves,everything makes sense when you know

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I wonder what “penis power” means to masculine of centre women, transmen and gender-queer people in general. It must be painful to have your body serve as a reminder that society does not accept or see the way in which you gender identify as valid. I am cisgendered and queer but because my gender presentation is extremely heteronormative I have so much privilege that I am unaware of, which means I can be insensitive at times. @Sandiso you’re right that it all makes sense when you know but I wish I could hear most of these things from the “horse’s mouth” and not in academic spaces

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Wow. Never thought of it this way before. I guess when one is willing to be educated about a certain topic that’s when the light will shine. Thanks for this piece..very thought provoking.

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