Posts Tagged ‘analyzing’

Consuming Porn of Other Orientations

July 1, 2010  |  advice  |  6 Comments

From the Ask Me Anything questions from Sugarbutch’s 4th anniversary:

My question is more on the philosophical/political side of things.

Do you feel that, as I am a male, it is exploitative for me to enjoy queer porn so much?

Porn is filled with many different dynamics, and it is within it’s nature to exploit the ‘exoticism’ of anyone who appears in it. We’ve seen this a thousand times, especially with Asian-American women ( forced to play up an exaggerated stereotype in order to get work ), and I wonder if I myself am guilty of such a thing. Queer porn is this amazing, foreign thing to me. I love it dearly. And I understand that, as far as the exploitation from the production side goes, it is nearly nonexistant, but I worry.

I’m always on the road to improving myself and trying to further myself from the patriarchy, and this question has kind of been tickling my brain as of late.

And, since we’re on the subject: Favorite porn star? Like, if you’re given the chance to have one night of just no holds barred fuck, who are you choosing?—Erudite Hayseed, Confessions of a Southern-Fried Kinkster

I think only you can answer whether you’re being exploitive by enjoying queer porn. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying porn where the people in it are an orientation or sexuality or gender identity that you are not—I have watched my fair share of gay male porn, and I don’t think that makes me exploitive of them or their sexualities at all.

I think the exploitation comes in perhaps about how you interact or react or treat queers outside of consuming our porn. If you look at queer people and see nothing but our sexualities, that might be a bit of a problem. If someone was consuming queer porn in secret and feeling guilty and gay-bashing, uh yeah, that’s a problem. But paired with some understanding of queer culture or history or struggle, and as an ally of this movement, I don’t think anyone should feel guilty about watching the kind of porn they like to watch.

Being the analytical & processing person that I am, I would probably ask myself what it is about this kind of porn that is so appealing. Other folks in the kink community might disagree with me about this—some people say we just like what we like and do not need to come up with an explanation for it, and in fact should not examine it too hard, nor ask others to explain the ‘source’ of where their desires come from. Plenty of desires don’t have a ‘source,’ so perhaps that’s a worthless pursuit, regardless. But when it comes to really loaded play, or the consumption of certain types of porn, like for example, as mentioned above, exclusively watching Asian-American women in porn, I think it’s probably worth asking the question of why. Why is this something that I am consuming? What do I get out of this? What am I projecting? Someone may uncover the racial assumptions or associations they are making, which may be good to untangle.

This could also be true of consuming queer porn, or porn of other orientations. Perhaps a queer person always consumes straight porn because they have some hang-ups about their own sexuality. Perhaps a lesbian always consumes gay male porn because gay male porn tends to depict no-strings-attached fucking, and this lesbian has experienced lesbian sex as too emotional and not hot and lusty enough. These are untrue assumptions, however; they are based in stereotypes, and though they may be

I don’t know if I want to speculate on what a straight cis male consuming queer porn could mean. I do know plenty of “lesbian” porn is geared toward straight men, and often those porns are pretty gross, in my opinion, and I could take a few guesses at what the straight men who consume that type of porn are looking for. But I’m not sure what a straight, kinky, cis guy consuming the recent smart queer porn means … aside from that that is some of the very best porn available, in my opinion. Don’t discount the possibility of the answer being “nothing,” too—it might just be what you enjoy, and that’s fine.

Also, take a look, if you don’t already, at Jack Stratton’s Writing Dirty, since he’s a mostly-straight kinky cis guy who does occupy some space in the queer worlds, and does it quite well, and respectfully, in my opinion. (Besides, his writing is just good, and hot.)

And to answer your second question …

That’s a tough one. Madison Young, Dylan Ryan, Carson, and Joline Parton all come to mind. How could I choose between them? Carson is pretty damn toppy, so probably I’d rather chose someone who is a bottom. Dylan is quickly becoming a friend of mine, and after a certain point, fucking a friend is kind of weird for me. So that leaves two beautiful, curvy redheads, Madison & Joline. Madison would probably be incredibly intimidating, since she’s so experienced and so into pain, so I might go with Joline, she seems a little more shy, and I like that. It seems like she’d be great to throw around, she’s got great curves, great legs, and that cute mouth. Okay, final answer.

On Processing & Analyzing

June 7, 2010  |  essays  |  33 Comments

Here’s the thing.

People have told me—in comments, in emails, sometimes even my friends in person make little comments or raise their eyebrows incredulously—that if my relationship with Kristen needs this much processing, perhaps there is something fundamentally wrong with it, perhaps we just aren’t “meant to be.” This argument usually continues with something like, “My girlfriend and I have been together for x years and we never need as much analyzing as you do,” or, “Real couples don’t need to work this kind of thing out so constantly, I should know, I’m in a relationship and we don’t do that,” et cetera.

Well.

First of all, these comments have discouraged me from posting the analyzing, which I’ve been realizing lately I’ve been a bit nervous to do, precisely because of this occasional feedback. But not posting them publicly doesn’t actually solve this complaint, and isn’t actually a rebuttal to this argument.

And I just flat out don’t agree: I know that I am in a good, solid, beautiful relationship, and it is incredibly important to me. I’m not about to end it, certainly not because a stranger says my relationship is no good, and certainly not because we process (according to someone else’s standards) too much. But, yes, we do tend to talk (and talk and talk) about our inner psychological landscapes, about our feelings and histories, as a way to work things out, both individually and within our relationship.

So I got to thinking about that.

I think some people are just more or less analytical than others. I think perhaps we have some sort of “processing orientation,” that some people want to talk and process and analyze interactions and emotions constantly, and others despise doing so, and would even see that as a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

I don’t think one or the other is any more healthy—I think it’s just the way an individual works, or doesn’t work. I do think it’s important to be able to express our emotions, of course, especially to our partners, especially when there’s something bugging us, be it about our partner, about our relationship, or about our life in general, such that the relationship and our partner can be a bit of a sanctuary for us, but that looks differently for everyone.

Given that we all have a slightly different orientation toward processing and analyzing, then, what is important is not whether or not the analyzing and processing is happening, but to what degree, and whether the two people in the relationship are satisfied with that degree.

Despite our frequent verbal processing and analyzing, Kristen and I still have very different processing styles. She likes to talk quickly and immediately about what is going on, and I tend to let things sit, settle in, and to go over it all in my head or on paper before being able to express it to her. She figures things out as she talks, and I talk only after I’ve figured something out. It’s really hard for me to talk through something that I don’t feel I already know. Sometimes, that is really infuriating for Kristen, or so I’ve gathered, as she wants to talk now now now and I am still off in my own land of my head.

(I’m working on this—both by accepting that that’s the way I tend to work and by attempting to be more communicative when I’m off in my own head, even if it’s just to say, “please, can we talk about this a little bit later, I need a bit of time to think.” And by attempting to talk through things, even if it’s not entirely comfortable of my preference, when it is very important to her, and recognizing that it’s not pressure, it’s just part of how she works.)

It’s not as if it’s a perfect system, this human communication thing. We all bring so much to the table, and no matter how much we unlearn, no matter how much we practice being in a state of absolute Bodhicitta, there is so much in our minds, so many complicated moments folding over onto themselves in my muscles and tendons, in the grey matter of my brain.

And sure, it is possible, even (or perhaps especially) for those of us who are inclined toward emotional processing and psychological analysis to overdo it, to spend entirely too much time going around in circles micro-articulating every little thing. Sure, I’ve been guilty of this in the past, even in the past as recently as yesterday. I’m not trying to say that every aspect of processing and analyzing is necessary, just that perhaps we all have different levels of tendency toward these skills, that some of us see the world in a more analytical way and seek to understand our own emotions, psychology, and relationship in these ways. I’m certainly trying to find that balance, that place where I am understanding and expressing my emotions in clear, healthy ways, while not being indulgent or repressing how I feel. Where I am listening and being open, coming to new conclusions or altering my understanding of the situation as needed, and then, and perhaps this is the key part, moving on. (Sometimes it’s easy to just stay in the analysis part.)

So yeah, maybe I do have a tendency toward over-analyzing or over-processing. It is certainly possible that I process or analyze more than you do. Maybe you think it’s unimportant or that I am dwelling or making things harder than they have to be. But just know that we all have different levels of our tendencies to do this, and just because mine is not the same as yours doesn’t make mine or yours any better: it just makes it different.

My Evolving Masculinity: Part One, Introduction

August 6, 2009  |  essays  |  13 Comments

Gender evolves and changes and shifts over time; what’s true for me today might not be true tomorrow, and the questions and puzzlements that plagued me a year ago may seem irrelevant and minor next year.

I don’t have a major attachment to my own personal, inner expectations of consistency such that I believe that who I am today will continue being who I am forever and ever ad infinitium, but at the same time, I recognize that I don’t struggle with my own gender identity, performance, or exploration like I used to. I have come to a very comfortable place, where I am content to swim around and chill – to continue exploring and deepening my own understandings of both my personal gender, gender theory, the social constructions of gender, and how gender evolves, of course, but I’ve come to a bit of a plateau.

Sugarbutch used to be the primary space where I asked gender – and sex, and relationship – questions about myself, about my community, about my friends, and about culture, where I worked through my questions and concerns, where I tried to make sense of what it meant to embody female masculinity, where I asked questions and toyed over ideas and tried things on (and took them off again). I’ve been writing in this space for more than three years, and it has served me quite well.

But I’m not struggling with these questions like I was. I still analyze, I still observe, I still look at, well, EVERYTHING, through the finely-tuned lens of gender theory; I still learn new things or have my mind blown or adopt and integrate new concepts, but even the new things are not as huge as they once were. They are minor shifts in a very large picture that is mostly in focus, now just waiting for the details. I’m not trying to say I’m done – it didn’t just take a three-year exploration and now it is complete. I’ve identified as butch for nearly ten years, though it’s only in the last five or so that I have been adopting and exploring a much more intentional identity around that term. And it has, in many ways, culminated here, in this medium.

That I’m not struggling with this in the same way has meant that the writings on Sugarbutch have changed. Surely you’ve noticed this, if you’ve been reading for a while. I miss the daily journal ramblings about my personal feelings and thoughts and observations on my life and relationships, but circumstance (and a still-increasing readership) makes this much harder these days. I miss sharing with you my struggles and complications, and believe you me there are still struggles and complications, but they are not so much about gender.

So I’ve tried some new things, in the past year or so. Like the On Butches and In Praise of Femmes pieces, and the short-lived magazine-style layout (that nobody except me seems to miss), and the more how-to style posts about masculinity and butch/femme.

This has brought a whole new set of issues, because it is hard – perhaps impossible – to speak for, or about, or of a community accurately. After the fallout from Top Hot Butches, for a minute I resolved I would no longer speak for the community. I would no longer attempt to represent the community, or share our secrets, or expose our weaknesses, or attempt to heal our rifts and heartbreaks. (Who is “The Community” anyway? Perhaps those of you who have followed the sub-plots of Sugarbutch know of the deep thread of queer interconnectivity and the ways that this community is so goddamn small that I keep running into people I don’t want to interact with everywhere I go.)

But as I’m coming into some new projects, and thinking about and moving into what’s next, I am realizing: we desperately need leaders in this community. We desperately need people representing us. We desperately need more representation and recognition and acknowledgment of our beautiful, true selves. We desperately need mentors, telling us stories of how they found themselves and making it easier for us to create our own paths.

I do want to be a part of that, so I do want to keep writing about gender, about theory, about butch/femme, about what it’s like to revalue gender in a heteronormative culture which reproduces compulsory gender roles which nearly destroy us and in a mainstream lesbian subculture which values compulsory femininity and androgyny. I know there’s a need here, and I breathe and eat and sleep and commute this stuff, I can’t not see it, I can’t not think about it.

I’m struggling a bit with the movement from intermediate to advanced: I am beginning to get some teaching materials together, gender workshops and such, a series of gender articles perhaps, things I’ve been thinking about for a while now but which I cannot seem to complete. I know this subject matter inside and out, but now I think I need to learn how to teach it, how to break down the concepts into tiny, easy, bite-sized pieces and present them on appetizing platters. I’m also struggling with the question of continuing to engage the more advanced gender explorers, those comrades and friends I’ve met along the way who continue to inspire and inform my work and my own explorations. I want to encourage those conversations to happen, too. I want to engage on deeper levels AND beginner levels.

So, my masculinity is evolving. I have some particular ideas about where it’s going, and what it means to move from adolescent masculinity into adulthood, which I think is part of what I’ve been going through (and upon which most of the rest of this series on My Evolving Masculinity will focus). I’m a little plagued by questions: How do I continue to become a leader? How do I make a safe space for people to explore this stuff? How do I encourage deeper, more intentional thought, without policing or restricting? How can we, as a community, as friends, as lovers, as allies, continue to reclaim and recreate and remake gender in ways that are liberating rather than limiting? How can I assist the big big energy of this movement that I have felt growing, and that I have helped to create, in moving to the next level?

I want to invite you to participate as I’m thinking about new directions and new focuses of this site, new uses for this space, and new approaches to my own masculinity. Do you have particular ideas for things you’d like to see here? Any particular features? Any concepts you wish I would write more about? Any directions you would love to see? I’m open to ideas and suggestions as I slightly refine the direction, and attempt to continue to further my work in this medium.

Watch for Part Two of My Evolving Masculinity: Yin & Yang, exploring some recent concepts from my tantra retreat on the balancing of transformative and stable energies, coming soon.