When I look back on the past two years of my life, I’m taken aback at the incredible amount of change. I’ve written about much of this change, from my shifting professional aspirations, to my blossoming activism, to my personal struggles. But one thing I almost totally stopped writing about ever since Eileen and I broke up was my sex life.

It’s interesting to note that I was already “the sex blogger that didn’t blog about sex,” at least relatively infrequently and tamely. Nevertheless, I’m even more widely read now (after stopping to talk about the practice of sex) than I ever was before. More interesting, however, is that I’m still asked questions about my personal sexual practices, and asked questions about sex in general, regardless of how much I do or do not talk about what I like to do in the sack.

Recently, I got one such question in an email from someone calling themselves Charybdis:

I like pain, bondage and most of the BDSM culture, but one problem I keep bumping into is that I cannot find a partner who accepts that I do not need, or really want, penetrative vaginal sex. I find a far more intense pleasure moment in other areas of sexual play.

I know what I like and want. But I keep bumping into that wall within the culture that I am supposed to really enjoy his dick inside of me. Will I ever find anyone who understands? Is it alright to be me, as I am, and still be the dominant personality I am, yet not want to be fucked in my vagina?

I have read some (ok, a lot) of your posts, and you seem to really GET how to explain things. I just haven’t read anything where you spoke to this.

Charybdis

Both the tone and the content of Charybdis’s email resonated with me. It’s frustrating at best and downright depressing at worst to continually feel barred from a full and happy expression of my sexuality thanks to other people’s failure to acknowledge my desires. When Charybdis says they “keep bumping into that wall within the culture,” what I hear is, “I’m frustrated by the systemic suppression of the validity of my sexual desires simply because they do not conform to cultural norms.”

It’s worth calling out the fact that the “culture” being spoken of is, itself, a subculture (the BDSM subculture, specifically), and yet even here, far from the mainstream, there’s cultural pressure to conform to some idealized standard of behavior and desire. Regardless of whether such conformity is required by the mainstream or a subculture, the root of the problem is the same: unquestioned values coupled with disrespect of diversity. While I see nothing inherently wrong with communally-defined idealized standards, I see a lot of things wrong with the ways those standards are perpetuated, ways that needlessly harm people like Charybdis and myself.

So, first, Charybdis, know this: Yes, it is alright to be you, as you are, and still be the dominant personality you are, yet not want to be fucked in your vagina. Second, know that you can fuck with your vagina as easily as you can be fucked in it. And finally, know that while you may not have found people who understand this or who don’t value intercourse highly yet, such people are out there, and they are probably looking for you, too.

Intercourse, which is the word I use to distinguish penis-in-vagina sex from the many other and equally enjoyable kinds of sex I have with partners, is one of the things that’s changed a lot for me over the past two years. Eileen and I did have intercourse, but extremely infrequently by anyone’s measure—maybe once every few months or so? Anyway, it was certainly rare enough that it was especially noteworthy when we did have intercourse. By contrast, intercourse is the sex that Emma and I have most often—intercourse is at least part of almost all of our sexual encounters.

Although I haven’t written much about intercourse specifically, which speaks more to how unimportant the fact of the act is than my interest or lack thereof in it, Eileen has, and I’d encourage you to read through her archives on the subject of sex:

ladies and gentlemen, I am a supposedly “sexually liberated” woman who does not enjoy the act of sexual intercourse. […] I’ve been there, in many different ways with a moderate handful of partners. And I’m here to tell you, it just doesn’t do it for me.

[…]

I would rather curl up in bed with my Hitachi Magic Wand than my achingly eager boyfriend. I’d say it’s a very good thing I ended up with a boy with a fetish for pleasure control.

I don’t doubt that it’s my “fetish for pleasure control” that shaped my rather existential values regarding sexual acts; the act of intercourse isn’t hot for me without a certain intentionality and since that intention can be achieved regardless of a specific sex act, I have no worldly reason to find having my cock inside a partner’s cunt particularly important. Sure, it feels wonderful, but so do many other things. I kink much harder on being sexually controlled in novel and psychologically intimate ways than I do on simple intercourse.

Indeed, the only strong motivation I can remember feeling for intercourse is derived from my partner’s desire for the act itself. Enjoying particular sex acts for the acts themselves very often boils down to sexual compersion, for me. Such is undoubtedly the case with Emma.

When Emma and I have intercourse, we do so because she wants that, specifically. So clear is the distinction between her desire for the act and my desire to pleasure her through the act that intercourse, for us, often revolves around an explicit and intentional challenge in which my sole purpose is to pleasure her with my cock (often to the exclusion of my own orgasm, because then the power differential is even more pronounced). During these scenes, which rarely involve restraints or any other traditional symbols of the BDSM subculture, I’m not a man wanting sex but rather a mindful and sophisticated pleasure toy that’s been “turned on” for her use.

While the sex I had with Eileen is stunningly different from the sex I have with Emma, my intentionality has not changed. I was Eileen’s toy. Then (and, happily, now) I was Emma’s. Eileen had her personal motivations. Emma has her own, different set.

When sex is amazing, it is never because of a sublimation of desires on anyone’s part, but rather an alignment of individual self-interest and fulfillment. For many men, intercourse has specific meaning, value, and importance. For me, it doesn’t. I’m no more or less a man than the men who desire intercourse, and neither Eileen, Emma, nor Charybdis is any more or less (presumably) women than other women with different desires than theirs.

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