24
Sep
08

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Happy Celebrate Bisexuality Day, everyone! (Even though it’s over now because I can never finish anything until after midnight.) I wasn’t able to track down any events in my area, but I hope you did in yours.

I have a lot of issues, politically, with the idea of MFF threesomes. Especially in the case of M/F couples cruising for another woman to share their bed, and that I’ve written about here before – but in other situations, too. The whole thing strikes me as a display of female sexuality for male gratification, it just plays into the “every man’s fantasy is two be with two chicks” cliche while ignoring female pleasure and desire, and gives me the creeps.
So I was surprised, in retrospect, to realize I didn’t feel preyed upon or squicked out when Girlfriend, Esquire and I were propositioned for one last weekend. I was too busy feeling flattered and intrigued and turned on, figuring out whether everyone involved was interested and the timing could be worked out, to turn a political eye to the situation.

This was probably a good reminder for me that not all situations exist specifically the same way I generalize them to analyze them. In this particular case, Girlfriend, Esq. and I met a very attractive, charming, and flirtatious boy at a party. Despite classic California good looks, he was hardly your average straight guy – he was wearing more glitter than I was (and that’s saying something), and I’ve seen him in some pretty queer situations. And my Kinsey 6 girlfriend was the first one to express attraction. Kissing ensued in short order, and to quote her, “So here I was, me and my girlfriend both making out with a guy – sorry, whose hetero porn did I stumble into?” And yet, as she went on to note, that’s not how it felt at all. Instead it was sweet and hot and exciting. When he suggested that we try to find some time before the weekend ended to pounce each other, I was pleased, not offended. And while it never quite came together, I’d have liked it to.

And of course there were mitigating factors there that were very specific to me and my needs. Girlfriend, Esq. and I were both attracted to him before he made a move on either of us (and actually, it would probably be more accurate to say that we made a move on him). He’s awfully queer, which is pretty much a requirement for me these days, and takes away from the ooky acting-out-a-straight-boy’s-fantasy feeling. His interest felt specific to us as individuals, rather than as a girl-girl couple. And even so it’s easier for me to understand people who are attracted to Girlfriend, Esq. and I as a unit than people who ooh and ah at the very idea of two feminine lesbians, since even I can ackowledge that the two of us have very appealing chemistry that others notice a mile away. And we were in the kind of lovely queer-positive, sex-positive space where no one was going to assume anything about us based on what they saw, and I felt particularly open to anything that might happen and be pleasurable.  All of these things are very specific to me and my preferences, but I’m trying to not see this as a perfectly acceptable exception to a generally creepy trend. I’m trying instead to let it remind me that nearly all sexual situations can feel good and not icky depending on the specifics and the people involved. It was probably about time for that reminder, and good for me to be in and enjoy a situation that I usually dismiss as an unexamined catering to male pleasure. Because of course the truth is that it doesn’t have to be for male gratification – it can be for everyone’s gratification, and probably usually is.

I’m still creeped out by couples looking for any girl to share their bed, and straight boys who fantasize about two girls together in a way that makes who those girls are and what they want irrelevant. But I remember now that these aren’t the only ways that particular type of group sex happens. Sometimes three people are just all attracted to each other and want to act on it. That can be a lovely thing. It’s really not something I should go around judging and applying my politics to, especially when it’s unclear from outside the situation that anything I would actually find off-putting is happening.

Every day is a learning experience, huh?

In unrelated news, the first secret in this week’s PostSecret was “I’m bipolar and straight. But when my meds are off, I become bisexual.” I’m fascinated by that construction. I imagine that if this were my secret, it would be phrased “I’m bipolar and bisexual, but my meds make me straight.” And I’d be pissed about it, too.

Also, for the New Yorkers among us, on Thursday, October 23rd at 7 there’s a program on bisexual film at the LGBT center. I’m sure I’ll be writing about it here afterward. It doesn’t appear to be on the Center’s calendar yet, but I’ll try to remember to post a link when it is.

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10 Responses to “What I Did On My Summer Vacation”


  1. 1 jellybabies
    25 September 2008 at 8:30 pm

    “I’m still creeped out by couples looking for any girl to share their bed, and straight boys who fantasize about two girls together in a way that makes who those girls are and what they want irrelevant.”

    But isn’t it equally creepy with single men cruising for *any* woman and not caring about who she is/what she wants? 🙂 (Or single women cruising too, I guess.)

  2. 2 Aviva
    26 September 2008 at 12:46 am

    But isn’t it equally creepy with single men cruising for *any* woman and not caring about who she is/what she wants?

    Fair enough. It’s just a particularly common dynamic, in my experience – “My girlfriend has admitted, after unrelenting questioning, that she could imagine having a threesome! Must find another girl now! I will post a profile on the internet!” Or some other, no less off-putting, manifestion of same.

  3. 3 jellybabies
    26 September 2008 at 6:41 am

    Yeah, that is really creepy. I wonder how common it is, then, that the follow-up to that is that the girl liked the threesome a little bit too much for the boyfriend to handle. Heh. As with everything, it depends on where you are looking. From reading about people into the “swinging scene” I actually got the impression that it was the opposite: the norm seemed to be a straight man and a bisexual woman, with the woman having first taken the initiative to enter the scene (and also being in control when meeting others later, precisely for reason to avoid conjuring up images of the stereotype you’re describing).

  4. 4 Aviva
    26 September 2008 at 7:24 pm

    I suspect that happens a lot – it’s one of those classic scenarios, where the partner who pushed for something then gets totally jealous when hir partner enjoys it.

    I admit that I don’t have much experience in the swingers’ scene. The bit of experience I did have, though, was chock full of eager men and reluctant girlfriends/wives (specifically, men eager to watch my girlfriend and I, and their female companions clearly wanting very badly to be elsewhere. It was probably the creepiest of my public sex experiences.) I couldn’t say whether the women are just as reluctant when it comes to actually swinging. I doubt it, but remember that there’s already a filter in place here – swingers’ events are for people who, well, showed up because they want to swing.

    My understanding is also that that scene is predominantly straight men and bisexual women because bisexual men and sexuality between men are severely frowned upon (we also saw some of this, when a pair of guys, clearly encouraged by our display of queerness, were hooking up near us and quickly asked to leave), whereas bisexual women and sexuality between women are celebrated – I’m inclined to read it as another case of men’s homophobia when it comes to other men, and objectification of women’s sexuality.

    Actually, maybe I should have written here about my evening with the swingers…

  5. 5 jellybabies
    26 September 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Aviva,

    That is really interesting, if somewhat sad, to read. It reminds me how hard it can be to find others with whom you can really connect with in an open way. People have so many strange ideas about sex. Personally, I would not want to be in a setting where the women are expected to be bisexual, but I as a male must be restricted to only women. So many arbitrary rules.

    About the different attitudes towards male and female bisexuality, it doesn’t seem to be just among swingers. And it also extends to homosexuality. I get the impression people think of female homosexuality as milder, and it is more sexualized in society. It is kind of curious. I wonder how much is cultural, and how much is biology. This is just speculation, but perhaps people have evolved stronger reactions towards male bisexuality, for the simple reason that STDs spread more easily among men than among women. Have people studied this? Do you know?

  6. 6 Aviva
    27 September 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Most of the STDs we deal with today are pretty new – HIV within the past 40 years, but I don’t think even well-established ones like syphilis are more than a couple of thousand years old in their current forms – diseases evolve much faster than humans, and so I think their potential to impact human evolution is limited – it happens, of course (see sickle cell anemia), but I think by the time humans start to evolve to deal with most diseases, the diseases have already changed or disappeared. I suspect that human behavior and culture affect the evolutions of disease a lot more – everything from STDs developing to take advantage of human sexual habits, to head and clothing lice.

    I tend more to think that reactions to male vs. female homosexuality are cultural, and all about what benefits the men in power. I’m generally not convinced by theories that bigotry is evolutionary; they’d have to be really, really compelling. Science has such a long history of “proving” things the dominant culture believed anyway. To answer your question, though, no; I don’t know if anyone has studied the evolution of responses to male vs. female homosexuality.

    I do agree with you that people think of female sexuality as milder and less harmful/dangerous. I think that ties both into the way it can be used to men’s advantage, and the way that women in general are perceived as less harmful/dangerous than men. What could women do, after all, that’s a serious threat to men?

  7. 7 jellybabies
    27 September 2008 at 7:27 pm

    “diseases evolve much faster than humans, and so I think their potential to impact human evolution is limited”

    All this means is that humans are forced to evolve more generalized defenses (witness our immune system). If there is a persistent trend (in this case that STDs are more easily transmitted between men than between women) it does not have to be the *same* diseases that are following this trend throughout the longer period of time that it takes for humans to evolve a defense against the trend. Whether this is true in the case at hand, I don’t know (maybe in the recent past other kinds of STDs which spread more easily among women were the most common ones). I do not think it is unimaginable that the ability to cope with STDs has a significant impact on the sexual behaviour of a species. One has to wonder about bonobos, for example, and whether they have unusually effective ways of dealing with potential STDs. I don’t think very much is known about this.

    “I tend more to think that reactions to male vs. female homosexuality are cultural, and all about what benefits the men in power.”

    I’d appreciate if you’d be willing to expound on this. I don’t understand why a male/male couple would be less beneficial to the men in power than a female/female couple. Two homosexual women in comparison to two heterosexual women means two fewer women available as potential partners for the men in power. As far as the men in power are concerned, two homosexual men mean less competition. Beyond that it is in practice not very different from a close friendship. I mean, I can understand how, for the men in power, two women in a couple could be viewed as beneficial if the women are bisexual, and thought of as there for the enjoyment of men. But how can this line of thought explain why so many people have such a strong reaction (of disgust, I guess!) towards male homosexuality?

    “I’m generally not convinced by theories that bigotry is evolutionary; they’d have to be really, really compelling.”

    In matters as complex as these, I’m especially wary of really, really compelling theories. 😉

    “Science has such a long history of “proving” things the dominant culture believed anyway.”

    It is important to separate the question of whether it is valid science from the politics that surrounded/surrounds it.

    “What could women do, after all, that’s a serious threat to men?”

    And what could homosexual men do (that heterosexual men can’t do) that would be a threat to the men in power?

  8. 8 genderquare
    8 October 2008 at 5:36 pm

    “It is important to separate the question of whether it is valid science from the politics that surrounded/surrounds it.”

    i think part of what aviva is saying is that that distinction is impossible to make. “science” is interpreted by people who are shaped by culture. there is no body of knowledge that is not filtered by human perceptions.

    our ideas about human evolution are marked by cultural ideas. in your comment men are framed in terms of competition and women in terms of availability. the issue i have with looking to “science” to explain every single human action is that it leaves no room for agency. even leaving straight men central to your framework, it is indeed possible for women to be competition and men to be available…and there are many, many more possibilities and possible reactions. i feel it makes our lives sad and futile to boil humanity down to robots programed by our chromosomes. we do not look to other animals or our own genetic past to inform our decisions to wear eyeglasses or ride bicycles, so why should it be relevant when it comes to our sexuality?

    how we ended up the way we are is a less important question than “how are we going to behave now?”

  9. 9 jellybabies
    11 October 2008 at 7:32 pm

    “i think part of what aviva is saying is that that distinction is impossible to make. “science” is interpreted by people who are shaped by culture. there is no body of knowledge that is not filtered by human perceptions.”

    A distinction is possible to make for persons who question the assumptions of the culture they are part of. A good scientist will do this. In fact, that is why, historically, this whole issue goes the other way a lot of the time: scientific evidence invalidating commonly held assumptions.

    “our ideas about human evolution are marked by cultural ideas. in your comment men are framed in terms of competition and women in terms of availability.”

    The reason was not cultural. What was under discussion was the perception of “men in power,” and how that would possibly explain why homophobia is stronger towards men than towards women. So, naturally, if you wanted to relate this to evolution, you would have to put yourself in the shoes of the men in power, and see what the situation is like from their point of view.

    “even leaving straight men central to your framework,”

    Which again is because we were discussing homophobia, which presumably is more common among straight than gay men.

    “it is indeed possible for women to be competition and men to be available…and there are many, many more possibilities and possible reactions.”

    Of course. There is competition among women for high quality men too.

    “how we ended up the way we are is a less important question than “how are we going to behave now?””

    I find both questions interesting. And, also, how we are going to behave now is not completely independent on how much certain aspects of us depend on biology versus culture. It is more difficult to change biology, for one thing.

  10. 10 genderquare
    13 October 2008 at 9:53 am

    i think the fact that we disagree on biology being more difficult to change is pretty much the basis of everything we are saying to each other. we could go on and on countering each others statements based on that difference, but i’m not sure how productive that would be. my intention in posting was to present an alternative way of thinking about some of these ideas. i’m not really interested in arguing with you or persuading you, so i think i am going to respectfully disengage now.


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