Saturday, September 10, 2011

A few anecdotes about objectification and consent

I'm going to give a few stories to help define what I mean when I say I don't objectify and don't kink on rape; I don't want to sound like I'm claiming more that I fulfil and also I want to narrow it down a bit.

I played a rape scene once, where I told my ex beforehand that I wanted her to pretend to want the sex but require the excuse of force to escape cultural mores. Medieval setting with me as highwayman; words like "no", "stop", "don't" were all to be taken at face value. I very much enjoyed that, particularly the feeling of being in charge, and would love to repeat it. But it did not make me want anything harder.

I've told this story before but, I had sex with her once, without getting affirmative consent first. After about seven years of marriage, after she'd orgasmed from the common morning cunnilingus and was laying back naked on the bed, I got on top of her, kissing her neck, and penetrated her, without waiting for affirmation. She seemed to enjoy it; though in retrospect it may have been much too little too late for her unexpressed preference, mostly a reminder of the consensual nonconsent she wasn't enjoying. (Those morning cunnilingus sessions, with no release for me, tended to leave me very frustrated. But I still miss them very much; that was when I felt closest to her, and most useful.) Given that part of our marriage arrangement was the verbal agreement that we'd be each other's whore and love slave, I don't feel like this was wrong. But I'd appreciate comments on whether others see it the same way; am I being ridiculous to ask or does that story seem uncomfortable?

My ex suffered juvenile-onset Type 1 diabetes and often got loopy from insulin reaction; she was at her most forward at those times. (Her reaction was very like drunkeness). Once, during an insulin reaction, she pointed out that I'd never had her when her sugar was low. I told her I was uncomfortable with the idea of sex when she was not her normal self; I didn't feel like it was proper consent.

I do enjoy looking at women, but definitely not as much as most guys (or most bisexual girls I know for that matter). I do not tend to look very long; I get uncomfortable. This has a little bit to do with not wanting to objectify but a lot more to do with not wanting to make the person being looked at uncomfortable, feeling like it's wrong to stare at someone if I don't know for sure that they are into me. I absolutely know that I take this one to a ridiculous level because I feel uncomfortable watching burlesque acts on stage. Especially at a venue like a small stage at Wicked Faire or Dorian's where there isn't a lot of money in it; her motive for being up there stripping isn't because she wants people to modestly look away.

At Wicked Faire, at breakfast on the last day, I was staring at the Pretty Librarian without realizing I was doing it. This was after the night when she'd had a migraine and I stayed with her in the darkened hotel room holding her hand. I was feeling pretty sexually wrought up. She wondered why I was looking at her and I apologized and explained it was because she was really pretty, then made much more effort to look away.

At my birthday party one of my friends made a joke about nibbling on a woman's neck; she indicated that the reality would be unwelcome and he pursued it verbally a bit. I said if he nibbled on hers, I would nibble on his (he's quite straight). He walked over to me and kind of craned his neck, so I did. (His wife complains that she was doing something else and missed most of it; he complains that my beard tickled.) Note: Not wanting your neck nibbled by a man when you're a straight man isn't homophobia, it's simply not being into that person or situation the same as the woman not wanting it was.


  1. Re: penetration: I personally feel that it's presumptuous for a guy to think he's gettin' in there just because other sexual stuff has taken place. I prefer to be asked (nothing huge or overwrought, just a quick check-in to make sure I'm okay with things).

    Roleplay in which one or both people secretly want sex but are conflicted about it sounds awesome btw. The sexual tension would be delicious!

    And I really, really love that you try not to gawk at pretty girls. So respectful! But it makes me sad that this habit prevents you from fully enjoying burlesque.

    I'm realizing that I have quite a bit of privilege because I have a bad staring habit around pretty boys and nobody has ever said anything about it. Either I'm more subtle than I think I am, or the boys have no idea they're pretty so they don't realize they're being ogled. Or a mix of both. But anyway, I'm really glad my sexuality isn't seen as threatening to anyone. Depending on who you ask, female sexuality is either nonexistent or hilarious...but it's not scary. And there are advantages to that.

  2. PC, that sounds eminently reasonable, especially since you presumably don't go around agreeing to be your guy's love slave and whore. As I'm telling that story I'm remembering more details that make me think that was partly my one attempt to hook into her (at the time only suspected) consensual nonconsent thing. It was a failure, and there was no encouragement to try further, so I kind of put it out of my mind.

    I think you touch on the greatest source of your staring privilege when you say female sexuality is not scary. If you stare, it is pure compliment. If guys notice, I'd expect them to be flattered not uncomfortable or offended.

  3. Please forgive me if I'm a little defensive even though I flat-out asked for it; I WANT the critique, but it's still super hard for me to hear. :/

  4. On penetration after oral sex without explicit consent- It doesn't strike me as all that problematic, especially if she didn't object at the time or afterward (and it sounds like she wasn't afraid to express things like that to you), but I have a very difficult time putting myself empathetically in the situation to begin with. In general if I'm OK with being touched sexually at all I'm fine with penetration, and I would be hurt and disappointed if my partner were reluctant to get off themself during sex. But that's an individual thing.

    On sex during sugar lows- that strikes me as a LOT more problematic actually. Much moreso than having sex with a somewhat drunk partner. I have some experience with type 1 and I'd never be able to happily have sex with one during a low, I'd be too busy trying to get sugar into them.

    On staring- it doesn't bother me unless it includes an aggressive component. Looking at me is fine, staring at me when it would be socially ordinary/polite to acknowledge me directly and personally in some fashion is disrespectful. To a certain degree extended gaze is itself a bit of a "...can I help you?" thing with humans, but it has to get way excessive before that point and both genders are uncomfortable with it in nonsexual situations as well.

  5. LabRat, no, she had absolutely no problem expressing objections. She was good at expressing (future, present, and past) "No, I don't want that", "No, I don't like that", and "No, I didn't like that". Also generally pretty good at "yes I do like that" and "yes I did like that". The problems were with "yes I do want that" and especially "this is what I want".

  6. I just heard about a way I do stare: when I am talking with a woman apparently I stare into her eyes attentively without being distracted, say by a nice ass walking by or the woman's rack, at least thirty times longer (by Rook's estimate) than a normal man would without looking away. This observation was completely unprompted by me (except, of course, by the way I attended while talking with her).