A few months ago I published a piece about a torrid, semi-relationship I had with a cuckold fetishist on this other website. Before the article went public, my editor sent me an email warning me not to read the comments on the piece unless, of course, I could take insults lightly. I was no stranger to shitty, nonsensical comments littered with the word “whore”. After all, I’ve been writing for VICE for three years.
The cuckold piece was as explicit as editorial would let me be. A writer I once interviewed told me that to be successful by the age of 25, you have to live your life as though you do not have parents. I have parents, and they learned very quickly to not read most of my published work.
I didn’t read the comments on my cuckold piece, but a friend of mine did. He gave me the Coles Notes: “The comments aren’t so much about your writing, but just people calling you crazy, a whore, or damaged,” he said. “They are telling you to get therapy. Also, LOL at five pounds worth of comments from people who gobbled your story up just so they could poop out their insecurities all over the page.” I laughed, because what other reaction is there? One man even went so far as to tweet at me and tell me how messed up I was.
In a piece by Ann Hirsch titled, “Women, Sexuality and The Internet”, she argues that the internet has opened up a new place for women to self-represent. However, instead of taking power in this space and subverting the archaic standards of beauty and sexuality presented to us by mass media, most of us often mimic the same conventions. The places women can be represented are limited, says Hirsch, and, more importantly, for “a woman to be taken seriously, she cannot be seen as wanting sex or asking for sexual attention.”
So, where can we exist without people assuming we are suffering extreme objectification? Are we bringing this on ourselves? Is it truly willing objectification or are we affected, manipulated so deep in our psyches we don’t even notice that our Instagram “selfies” are manicured to duplicate something that Hustlermight publish? Is it considered objectification if we want to be in Hustler? Moreover, can one truly objectify herself if the decision is conscious? And for who are we doing this? Our 1,000 followers? Creeps who search hashtags like #bathroom or #twat? Ourselves? Our confidence? Is that healthy confidence? What is healthy confidence? I could go on forever here.
Furthermore, Hirsch asks why sexuality still exists separate from intellect? “One who exerts his or herself in an overly sexual manner is rarely taken seriously.” I hate this notion because it discredits my mind the minute I am objectified, the minute I objectify myself (which according to most people would be something like by drawing attention to my physicality, through a well written piece about the psychology of blowjobs or even something as simple as wearing lipstick and knee socks on stage) and just reduces me to a “slut” who “needs therapy” simply for having a sex life that I feel completely secure talking about in print, or a woman who’s choice of dress is victim to the “male gaze."
Meredith Chivers is doing incredible research on female desire and sexuality. She works at Queens University. In an academic landscape where almost all scientific research about sexuality has been conducted by men, about men, (thus considering only male arousal), Chivers is pioneering new discoveries that have changed our socially constructed gender roles. Basically, Chivers discovered that the “specificity” of sexual arousal—whether sexual response in the body is specific to the things people claim turns them on—was much different for women. Chivers went to the lab and conducted an experiment on both men and women. She discovered that, contrary to common belief, women were not only physically aroused by their sexual preference, but by watching non-human, heterosexual and homosexual acts, where as men tended to only respond to images that aligned with their sexual orientation. So, Chivers continued to dig into the mind and body connect of sexual arousal asking, “Where are these models of sexual response coming from? Why are we using them to try to understand a woman’s sexuality when it’s obvious they don’t work?” Chivers’s work is a huge stride forward.
Beyond that, in other instances, scientific vernacular and research has been so blinded by socially constructed gender stereotypes that it affects what we know as scientific fact. Consider the language surrounding impregnation: the sperm swims aggressively to the egg, which sits passively waiting to be wakened. Think about how we commonly talk about straight sex: A man fucks a woman, while she gets fucked. The penis penetrates the vagina. Why doesn’t the vagina engulf the penis? It’s the same reasons a real lady keeps her legs crossed when wearing a skirt.
Chivers is helping us relearn the female body and the mind and what turns us on. Her research is making enormous progress in the way enlightened people regard sexual orientation and desire. She’s fucking with the old science. And my God, we need Chivers to fuck with the old science.
I write publicly about my sex life because my sex life matters to me. It is what makes up such a large part of who I am as a writer, a musician, and a human being. It does not, in any sense, reduce me as an intellect. I am not an idiot for wanting to detail the way someone’s dick felt inside me. This is my feminist statement. If I want to tuck the shirt into the back of my jeans to display my ass a little more obviously, that is self-objectification, I guess, but it is myobjectification. I like my ass. It took me years to overcome the illogical notion that my ass was “fat” or “unattractive” and now that I have, I embrace that—and it does not make me a “stupid whore.” It makes me a sexual human being who has an ego, just like anyone else on the planet. So why would embracing that dissolve my intellectual credibility? How many times have beautiful women had the authenticity for their work discredited simply for their looks? I can’t even count. If you are an attractive woman who is intelligent, you must have had some help you with your work. If you are an attractive man who is intelligent, you are the whole package. Sexist double standards run deep in the bloodline of the world more often than I would like them to.
I encourage women to talk about desire. I encourage everyone to, in fact, because when it comes down to it our society is nothing but confused about the one thing we can all do: fuck. The only way to get over this deep confusion is to write about it, to talk about it, to not be afraid of it. You want to throw my sexuality in my face as an insult? I am going to shine it right back at you like a shield.
Let’s crawl back in time to a decade when philosophers connected women to the body and men to the mind. We were “The Second Sex”. In some ways, we still are. The reality is that these two things are interconnected. Mind and body make one working human being. “Our brain and our genitalia operate together to help form our sense of self.” I fuck therefore I am. Make this into a sticker, put it on my bumper, then I will fuck you in my van and I will feel completely alive.