Why we need to examine our lives

I went back and re-read the article Lina posted, and I’m pleased to say, it didn’t frustrate me nearly as much as it did the first time I read it. I have various responses at the ready and I feel like I could easily defend my position & claim.

During this gender discussion we’ve been having, I was reminded of this quote:

Nothing can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own.
– Sidney J. Harris

… and I think it is fitting in this situation for various reasons. This argument of “butch/femme as reproductions of the patriarchal compulsory gender roles” et cetera is old, nearly forty years old at least. It strikes me as ignorant and arrogant and young to go around spouting opinions about things which one knows very little. These are old ideas, they are not radical, they are recycled, get your facts straight.On the other hand: there is much value in observation. And there are many, many butches and femmes who – I believe – to fully pass judgement here – are NOT using these identities as subversive tools, but rather ARE reproducing the heteronormative paradigm (gasp! I said it!).

Mostly, I feel like I have no ability or right to draw conclusions about how other people occupy and use their gender. However, occasionally I get the chance to actually converse with someone about it, and I am often shocked at the ignorance and thoughtlessness.

So, here’s what I haven’t said during this gender rant exploration yet:

Sometimes, butch/femme is a reproduction, a mimicry. And honestly, I disapprove of that. I believe that because of the grand amount of gender injustice that happens, because of the prevalence and acceptance of misogyn, because of the objectification and damage done by compulsory gender rules, we must – MUST – do some deep searching and analysis as to how institutionalized oppressive structures function and effect our lives. Especially the big ones: race, class, gender, sexuality. It is life-altering to understand how they work. I honestly think feminism and women studies played a huge role in my dealing with my depression, and the shock of becoming an adult woman in this culture.

But I digress.

This help that gender analysis and theory offers is where feminism comes in. And 1907s US lesbian-feminism – also closely related to what I tend to call “white western feminism,” WWF – was limited in its view at times, dismissing all butch/femme representations as hetero or all hetero sex as rape (coughDworkincough). Obviously there are some issues with these limitations.

BUT!

Though this may be a mainstream understanding of What Feminists Think, it is not the only understandings of sex that feminists hold. And to dismiss feminism as only viewing things this way is also limiting.

So. In summary: sometimes butch/femme is a reproduction of the compulsory misogynistic heteronormative gender roles. This is why we must examine the hierarchical structures in which we operate and make conscious choices about how we participate or resist.

And, not everyone’s participation or resistance looks the same. That’s why I try to talk to people about this stuff. Ask questions, listen, be aware. I feel like that’s all I can do, is attempt to understand the wild and precious ways we all live our lives.

Top 10 things I love about being gay

  1. There’s that whole fucking women thing. Yeah, I like that.

  2. It challenges all sorts of compulsory hegemonic systems and encourages new ways of acceptance, tolerance, living, and loving

  3. The community! We have such fighters, artists, activists, lovers – I love our arts and culture, our philosophies, our theories

  4. Drag kings, drag queens, and queer burlesque

  5. That we are a lineage of kisses; because we do not inheret our legacies through our blood-related families, we must claim our heritage through our desire, love, play, and kisses

  6. Getting over the “ick factor” – which is what I’d call a lesbian’s aversion to men (and masculinity) or a gay boy’s aversion to women (and femininity) – and creating alignments with all sorts of genders within the queer spectrum

  7. The synthesis of feminism, gender, and sexual revolution

  8. The brilliance and hilarity of our (mainstream) queer celebrities – Ellen, k.d., Harvey Feirstein, John Waters, George Michael, Jenny Shimitzu, Rosie – and our media – Better than Chocolate, But I’m a Cheerleader, Bound, Queer as Folk, Brokeback Mountain, Will & Grace … and dozens more. They really are forging through.

  9. The Pride Parade & Dyke March. Stonewall. Knowing where I come from. Honoring traditions, and making new ones

  10. I do have a great toaster oven from all those young’uns I’ve converted …

What Gender Is

… and the beginnings (continuings) of My Gender Manifesto.A little bit of conversation about femme (specificially) and gender (in general) is happening over in this last post, and I have some things to add, especially about a comment on “butch in the streets, femme in the sheets.”

Essin’ Em said: “I hate the phrase “a butch in the streets, femme in the sheets” because it places value on each…is there something wrong with being a Femme in the sheets?”

And, duh, you probably already know my response, at least to begin with. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being a femme in the sheets, let’s just make that clear.

I love femmes in my sheets. My favorite. Rawr.

But.

That’s not quite what this phrase is saying, or means, in my opinion. The implication that a “butch in the streets” would be a femme in bed is implying – and correct me if I’m wrong here! – that the butch was a bottom. Someone who didn’t have the gruff masculine throw-down take-charge style that is assumed to come with the butch gender identity.

Which comes from the assumption that all butches are tops.

Which comes from the heterosexual gender hierarchy, which tells us that men are the agressors, women are submissive. Men are in charge, women are passive. Men take, women receive. Et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum.

But, see, these things are actually different. Being butch is a gender, and being a bottom is sexuality (a sexual orientation? What is that category?). And to assume that all butches are tops or all femmes are bottoms is to buy into That Infamous Heteronormative (and misogynist!) Paradigm.

With me so far?

And, it’s just not true! Femmes are tops AND bottoms AND switches! Butches are tops AND bottoms AND switches! And, there are tops and bottoms and switches who do not consider themselves either butch, or femme. One thing does not necessarily constitute the other.

This is absolutely one of those places where butch and femme should – and MUST, in my opinion – deviate from heteronormativity. Come on, we’ve gone through the sexual revolution and the gender revolution, for pussy’s sake. We can differentiate between biological sex, between-the-sheets sex, and gender.

I’m not sure “butch in the streets, femme in the sheets” would EVER be an accurate description of anyone, unless their gender actually changed while “in the sheets.” And I’m not sure how that would happen … would they put on lingerie? A dress? Heels? I might prostelitize that that person had a cross-dressing fetish, rather than becoming femme in the sheets – but perhaps that’s the same thing? I’m not sure about that.

And this leads me to another interesting point. What is gender, anyway? What is butch, what is femme? How to define these ever-elusive, ever-complex terms? And, as bird and I were saying just last night, how do we make these terms expansive, rather than limiting?

Here’s what I think.

Gender is about my physical body: how I appear, the clothes I wear, the accessories I choose. And, it’s part of the way that I communicate physically, and thus becomes a big part of my sexual life, which is all about my body communicating with another’s body.

My hobbies, interests, values, activities, and personality are not dictated by my gender. I refuse to let them be. Those are dictated by ME. My unique spirit, whatever hippie shit you want to use to describe my “essence.”

This was one of the hardest, hardest things for me, in coming out as butch, after I came out as queer. Because I’d grown up in a very feminist household that devalued gender, wrote it off as compulsory and constrictive. And, yes, absolutely, it has been that – women forced to wear skirts, men forced to keep their hair short, etc. But this is not where we are anymore.

There is still work to be done, don’t get me wrong – and, in fact, for me, this is the work, right here.

I can pick and choose what aspects of gender that I want to adopt. Some of them work; some of them do not.

I, for example, am really interested in processing, emotional intelligence, gender theory, feminism, psychology, sociology, how people relate to other people, group dynamics … and those have, at times, been interpreted to being “feminine” traits, yes? And reading, cooking, preparing nutritous meals, home decorating/interior design, organizing, collecting.

And when I came out as butch (which was a long process for me, it took about 4 years, much longer than it took me to come out as queer), I went through a long time period where I was really struggling with what it meant to adopt a butchness, to be butch at all. I loved the suave masculinity of collared button-down shirts, boy jeans, polos, tee shirts with cigarette packs rolled into the sleeve, vests, fedoras, pinstripe suits, wing-tip shoes, motorcycle boots … and I wanted it. I wanted to BE that. But I didn’t know how to BE that without being the rest of masculinity, too – the “tough guise” of machismo, of violence, of emotional miscommunication, of misogyny.

I guess I figured it out: I separated gender from personality.

Butch is a masculine presentation of the body.

Just as femme is a feminine presentation of the body.

And there is a whoooooole lot of room there, within “presentation,” in my opinion. I know butches who wear lacy thongs, I know femmes who have short hair. I know butches who wear heels and skirtsuits, I know femmes who rarely wear much more than sweatpants or jeans.

My test, then, I suppose, for the butch/femme sphere, is the Dress-Up Test. If I am getting fancied up, do I put on a suit and tie, or a dress? And some of us, of course, would say “it depends” — well sure, that’s a gender too. I guess that’s what I might call genderqueer, though we don’t really have much of a label for it. Somebody should create one. Hint, hint.

There are certain things that gender does dictate when it comes to action or personality, but that seems to be primarily set around chivalry, which is really that physical communication aspect of sex and relationships.

Ahem. For example:

I hold my hand out for a femme who is walking in heels next to me when we go down stairs, because I want her to have something solid to hold onto in those high heels. I switch sides of the sidewalk when I notice a grate or something she can’t walk over. I open the door for her because I don’t want her to ding up her fingernails that she spent two hours perfecting. I take her coat because her dress is tight and if she lifts her arms up above her shoulders it could actually damage the dress.

I am aware of the ways that her gender – her physical body – interacts with the world, and I want to enhance that presentation, cradle her, protect her, celebrate her ways of showing off her beautiful, sexual, powerful self.

Just like she does for me.

Gender Dynamics in the Sexblog Community

Welcome to the community, Colleen and Jake. Even just a few months ago the dyke-run sexblogs were few and far between, but this little empire (car tires & chicken wires) of ours is growing. Have you seen my “Playin’ for My Team” sidebar list recently? Not all of those are exclusively sexblogs, but most of them are. But here’s a funny thing … almost all of these dyke-run sexblogs, though, are from self-defined femmes. Hey, all the better for me, really, but where are the butches?Similarly, I was at the Pervert’s Saloon Tea Party this past Sunday, and it was me, Jefferson, and six other women – Tess, Viviane, Calico, Selina, Rachel, and Lolita. (I missed Madeline, who has been there every other time I’ve been to a tea party, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.) We were interviewed by Craig Collinson of Nobles Gate for his documentary “A Sex Bloggesy” about, um, sexbloggers.

That’s us. Anonymized in the interviewer’s monitor. Photo borrowed from Viviane.There was a question at some point about the imbalance of genders in the room – At one point, Jefferson said (about me), “Well hey, you’re the only man in the room …” This imbalance is in the sexblog community in general, too. We did some speculation as to why this is. The interviewer even brought up the idea that women are not as sexual creatures as men. I think, honestly, he was playing TO the stereotypes intentionally, though he was also asking us to defend/discuss it. I spent much of the interview biting my fist to keep from jumping up on the table and start proselytizing.

And, what is that about, anyway? That it is primarily women who are running sexblogs? Oh, I have some ideas.

  1. The mainstream audience for porn is, of course, men, so women are better able to get a handle or corner on the potential marketability of a sexblog.

  2. Because of the way patriarchy works (gasp, the P word), men don’t have to examine or question or explore sex in order to figure out how to get pleasure, how to get validation, and how to reconcile their identity as a sexual person, because it’s socially acceptable and, in fact, encouraged, for a man to be sexually explorative. This is still not true for women.

  3. Women, as a whole, do tend to be more verbal (whether it’s nature or nurture, we can have that argument another time), and also attach more emotion to sex, probably for biological purposes (and this has been proven by sociobiological scientists, not just stereotypes). Therefore the act of sex is potentially more complicated and problematic for women (?? … I’m brainstorming here, don’t mind my generalities).

  4. There has been a lot of work done by women on the gender of femininity in the last forty years (holy smokes, second-wave feminism was forty years ago?) because of the sexual and gender revolutions of the 1960s and 70s. Therefore, many many many of the limitations and constrictions that were previously placed upon women and femininity have been deconstructed and revalued, and, generally, quite successfully I think. This is NOT to say that I think feminism is over, or that we are now in a post-feminist state – only that women and the feminist movement have done a lot of work on the feminine gender, which may actually be leading to how women are able to take control of and elaborate upon their various sexualities via writing on the Internet. However, that work has not been done in the same way by/for masculinity and men. I would argue, in fact, that that is where the next gender revolution needs to come: from and for men, revaluing and deconstructing masculinity and the mandatory tough guise. However, because we are STILL in a patriarchy, and STILL value maleness more than femaleness, men haven’t been forced to do this – yet. I don’t know how I can help fuel this revolution-to-come, but I sure would like to.

  5. Hmmm … anything else? (I’m digging this list format. Feels like my ideas are more organized this way.) I’ll keep thinking about this question. So, riddle me this, folks: Why is the sexblog community dominated by women? And why are the queer women sexblogs primarily femme? Where are the gayboy sexblogs, anyway?

So, after the interviewers left, we went back to our regular fabulous Tea Party, catching up with each other, discussing and processing and catching up.Viviane, always the amazing host, made strawberry shortcake and mint juleps, along with watercress & goat cheese tea sandwiches. And delicious tea, of course, both iced and hot. Selina brought beautiful cups & saucers for our tea, Rachel ran out to get the proper milk, and looked gorgeous in her summery dress. Selina had some pretty fantastic heels on that she’d discovered in London, and Tess … well, Tess had heels on too. (Oh I’m such a sucker for stilettos.) Lolita had a beautiful new cutting by Jefferson Sharrin Spector (who wasn’t there, but Lolita gave me her link so I figured I’d include it. I’m kinda jealous, I want a cutting). Calico I met for the first time, who is a newcomer to this scene but is already making quite the impression. And Jefferson, of course, infamous Jefferson, was showing off his rubber ducky boxers by the end of the night.

What else happened at this tea party, you ask?

Well … After the girls said they’d gotten pedicures just so they could wear their fancy shoes, I mentioned that I cut my fingernails just for the party … to which of course Jefferson retorted, “What, did you think you were going to get laid?” … which was the beginning of the shenanigans.

Jefferson told me “what gender is” while we were in the kitchen devilling eggs. To be fair, I thought he was saying “ginger,” because of his cute little southern accent, which prompted me to ask what the hell he was talking about. Although ginger wasn’t actually that out of context considering we’d been discussing ginger butt fucking (apparently called figging?) just shortly before.

It’s true what they’re saying, I did get a little lesson in flogging from Lolita, as did Tess and Selina. I felt out of practice and incredibly embarrassed, actually. Because I am good at flogging. Actually, quite good. And I hated being seen, in front of a roomful of experienced people, of whom I was one of the youngest, as not experienced in something I am good at. It was very frustrating. Really, it made me draw the conclusion that I need to flog more, to be sure to keep my skills fresh. … perhaps I should seek volunteers.

Viviane did a bit of a roundup, Tess wrote about it, and Lolita did too.

One last thing: I really have NO idea what I said on camera, what quotes of mine (if any) will be used. The one thing I did really want to press was how much I believe that our discussions of sex, relationships, and gender in these online communities is actually an act of social change and revolution. That it helps and encourages open communication about pleasure, identity, and of course sex, all of which are still taboo. We’re makin’ history here, we’re paving the way for a more sophisticated, more particular, safer, happier, much improved cultural dealings with sex. And I am oh so grateful to be a part of that, even in the smallest way.

Ranting about Gender Binaries & Stereotypes

I should be sleeping. And I have too many things to be writing about to be flying off the handle at some random thing, but I just ran across something that has me all … hot under the collar.The lovely Miss Avarice made some comments on my post about active surrender where I wrote about topping & bottoming, and who really has control. Fine, good. Sweet of her to link to me, actually, and I should’ve said that in my comments, but I got distracted, because someone commented by saying: why do lesbians hold true the male ideal of duality? male vs. female…masculine vs. feminine…i mean it is still a ridiculous battle and fight over nothing. still a struggle that is ultimately useless.

And oh my god I don’t even know where to start. Go read my very sloppy comments on the subject if you’d like.

You’re not going to go read the comments, are you? Okay, here’s what I wrote:

The dualisms absolutely can be confining, if you let what they’re “supposed” to be dictate who you are. But many people, and I include myself in this description absolutely, find categories and dualisms also extremely liberating, and celebratory. there is infinity inside of these dualisms, if one wishes to embody them that way.

Also: “the male ideal of duality”? Why would duality that be a male ideal? That makes no sense. Humans categorize, male and female and beyond and in-between.

But – I believe Miss Avarice was discussing topping & bottoming here in this post, which is not male vs female or masculine vs feminine. Which is also, perhaps, a duality, but you missed the point of the post: even when someone is bottoming, they are still in charge. so who is really bottoming? who is really in charge? who is really in control? who is really submitting? those lines are extremely blurry, and difficult to categorize, when you actually examine them.

I have two hundred more words I could say about this “struggle that is ultimately useless” and what is problematic about generalizing all lesbians as holding to dualisms. Makes me want to shake my fist and spit at the ground a little bit.

I have books and books to say about how, to start, the gender expressions of butch and femme are not reproductions of the heteronormative paradigm.Can everybody please just say that five times, out loud, right now? Butch and femme are not reproductions of the heteronormative paradigm. Butch and femme are not reproductions of the heteronormative paradigm. Butch and femme are not reproductions of the heteronormative paradigm. Butch and femme are not reproductions of the heteronormative paradigm. Butch and femme are not reproductions of the heteronormative paradigm.

But beyond actually even addressing this misconception, and further perpetuating this argument about how lesbians are reproducing heterosexual gender roles, there’s another issue here which is really the one irking me: are we really still asking these questions? I mean, really? Have we not addressed this, over and over and OVER?

And maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m just fucken lucky that I’ve been examining gender expression and dynamics and paradigms, and the history of feminism and women’s liberation and sexual liberation, and kink and play and sacred sexuality, and so I take it for granted that I have done this work, and others still haven’t.

But goddammit, why why why haven’t these ideas prevailed? Why haven’t they permeated the general public’s consciousness, just a little more? What a fucken battle we’ve been fighting.

And! – I was at a round-table interview today with seven of the smartest sexbloggers I know (more about that later) and one of the things the interviewer postited was about how a woman’s sex drive is still (perceived) to be lower than a man’s.

I just had to bite my tongue. I mean, really? Are we seriously still believing that in this culture? In 2007? Women still aren’t sexual beings, when compared to men?

What. The. Fuck.

This is why we still need social change, and why writing about sex IS an act of social change and liberation, subversion and joy.

I have so much more to express about this, about my own personal story of coming to and coming to terms with my own gender identity, about my attraction to femmes and to the so-called “gender binary,” about why dualisms are fascinating and important and celebratory instead of limiting.

But.

Two things.

  1. If it doesn’t work for you, fine! If you don’t find a particular binary useful, don’t use it. But do try to understand it before you go around discounting and patronizing other people’s values and choices. (Or maybe that was the anonymous commentor being authentically curious about the reasons behind “the lesbians” supporting as-a-whole these dualisms? To me, it just came across as holier-than-thou aren’t-you-unenlightened belittling.

  2. … And this is a new thing, something I’m trying to remind myself of, and remember. I am under no obligation to educate any random person who comes along and challenges my beliefs. For some reason, I have kind of been operating under the assumption that I should, actually, engage with these questions, and attempt dialogue. I don’t actually have to do that. That feels like a weird thing to be realizing – and it lifts a sort of weight, whereas seeing a random post, on a friend’s blog which discusses some ideas that originated from me, makes me feel very much obligated to discuss and engage and argue and support and defend.And you know what, anonymous? You didn’t even leave your name, blog profile, ID, or email. Why would I discuss this with you when you clearly didn’t really want to engage in a conversation anyway? Why waste my time defending and defining parts of my fundamental identity to someone I don’t even know?

This is the difficulty, that I sometimes very much forget, of occupying space within these binaries. It’s somehow unlesbian, and therefore unfeminist, to be inside of those dualisms because they are supposedly originated from the heteronormative gender roles.Before I go to bed (because it is one am and I had just a weeeee bit too much bourbon tonight), I do want to say briefly (ha!) why it is that butch and femme are not reproductions of the heteronormative paradigm. And that is because of exactly the reason our anonymous misinformed friend over at Avarice’s place was saying that lesbians shouldn’t be adopting these “dualisms”: there is a wide, wide range of human gender expression. And these roles are taking certain organized human traits and playing with them, enhancing them, celebrating them.

This is such a huge topic, I could write (and have written) for hours on it. What is butch, what is femme, anyway? I would probably have to define those things before really examining their liberatory function. Honestly, the closest I’ve come to actually defining them really has to do with formal wear, and underwear: when I dress up, I wear a suit. It is how I feel most comfortable. When I wear briefs, I feel sexy. And that physical gender expression actually makes my actions, hobbies, and interests all the more interesting – I think – because they are not necessarily in conjunction with your perceived idea of who I will be, because of my gender expression. And that, right there, is an act of subversion.

Those are the moments in the binaries and dualities that are the whole purpose, to me. When two seemingly mutually exclusive things occupy the same space: boy and girl. Love and violence. Power and surrender. That is how things feel made whole, balanced, right.

active surrender

I spent much of yesterday going over the Sugarbutch Star entires (again & again, some of them) and I am still just overwhelmed, in awe, in amazement at how revealing, detailed, and fucken hot they are. I’m humbled and surprised at how much perfect strangers would share and reveal and ask for and exchange.Years ago, around 1998, I met a girl through the anonymous journal I was keeping, and she used to photocopy parts of her journal and mail them to me when she found our writings matched up – she felt like what I was revealing was so intimate that she wanted to reciprocate.

And I think this contest opened up that exchange for many of the folks who read this place. I put a lot of personal, emotional, complex details about my life up here, not just the sex but the emotions, my psyche, my very makeup, which is partly why readers do feel safe and comfortable revealing things to me. You all know more about me than most of my friends, you have an understanding of how my mind and inner world works in ways that nearly no one in my “real world” life does.

But. Even still. I am a little shocked and definitely humbled. Thank you, for all you’ve revealed. Thank you for trusting me with your stories. Thank you for writing them.

Many of the stories I received are from very submissive girls, wanting to be taken in various ways, and I am continually surprised at how much some people (women especially) want to play with the line between submission and degredation. I can play with it, I have and probably will again – but it makes me nervous, and cautious. I worry about the emotional and psychological effects, especially on impressionable young women. Maybe this is my feminist-hippie background coming through, believing that every person is valuable, good, whole, worthy.

It got me thinking, though, about submission. I think there is a big difference between submission/surrender and degredation. I think there are ways – hundreds of ways – to be submissive, to surrender in a scene, without fundamentally losing your own value.

I was taught, by the D/s BDSM community that raised my kinkster self, that the bottom is always the one in real control. That the top may be inflicting the pain or sensation, may be the one holding the knife or the flogger or the end of the rope, but the bottom is who is dictating the next move, the depth of the cut, the strength of the paddle, the moment of release.

Honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t want to top someone I didn’t think was on equal grounds, I wouldn’t want to top someone who couldn’t hold their own up against me in just about every way. I need active bottoming, active submission, active surrender.

If you want to know more about this stuff, I suggest reading The Topping Book and The Bottoming Book. Go to the Body Electric workshop Power, Surrender & Intimacy.

I guess I’m trying to encourage lots of examination here. I want to know the whys behind the degredation, the whys behind the unworthiness. When I witness it, on other sex blogs or in erotica or writings or submissions or comments or lovers or friends or porn or anywhere, I feel skeptical, and sad. Sex and BDSM and D/s and power and surrender can be tools to discover and rebuild and enhance and create a better self, a stronger self, a more open and loving and conscious self. But they can also follow unhealthy, dangerous old pre-determined pathways.

Don’t get me wrong, please – there were lots of submissive/bottom submissions to the Sugarbutch Star contest and most of them seemed fucken solid. Just a few in particular felt dangerously degrading, perhaps only because I didn’t have the backstory, didn’t have the context. But it made me wonder all the same. Made me want to cradle and protect, to hold and comfort, before I would bust out my cock and paddle and fist and fuck into the night.

kiss & tell

The inside of my bottom lip is still swollen and a bit tender where she bit hard. And I’m bursting to write about it. Instead, perhaps I’ll write about something else: kissing & telling.

I’ve been thinking about it: I don’t really know what the rules are. I only know that, on occasion, the chivalrous guys in films or in literature say things like, “I don’t kiss and tell.” This seems to be one of those straight social dating conventions that I have somehow never really understood, like the waiting-to-call after a date, the I’m-not-interested games, etc. (Living with my straight sister has brought all sorts of new social dating conventions into my life. Actually, I’ve never lived with a straight girl before, and the only straight boy I lived with, I was dating at the time. Since then I’ve only ever had queer roommates. Interesting …)

This kiss-and-tell thing seems to be for straight men more than anything else. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen straight women (I’m racking through the Sex and the City archive in my brain – surely, if straight women do that, it was depicted in that show) talk about kissing and telling, and there’s little hesitation to talk about how the kissing was, or even how the sex was, between women. And, do we see this as rude, when women talk about sex? No – at least I don’t – I see it as HOT.

When men talk about the sex they had, though, I do sometimes see it as rude, because of the way it is depicted. It’s different to see a guy sit down with his friends and say, “Wow, I had a fabulous date on Friday, and we ended up going home together – gosh, she was so great in bed,” than, if he said, for example, “Dude I totally hit that, she was beggin’ for more,” (which is not the best example, but you get the point).

So that means, for me, it’s actually about the respect given to the people these folks are sleeping with. I imagine I could hear women – straight or gay or queer or whatever – talking about a sexual escapade and be totally offended by the rude, lewd, lack of respect, more than who is actually doing the talking.

Even so: it is so much more common to hear (straight) men speaking inappropriately about their sexual conquests, probably (ya think?) because of the sexism in this culture, not only the treating-women-poorly thing but also the notion that women aren’t inherently sexual creatures, that we are either/or mothers or whores. There’s also that machismo guise within masculinity that says that you’re a “real man” if you conquer women.

Well so, it would make sense, then, for “I don’t kiss and tell” to evolve out of that type of culture, as a social convention to keep the lewd sexual misogyny in check.

So how does it apply to women, if at all? And how does it apply to lesbians?

I mean, to a certain extent it is incredibly tacky to talk about your sexcapades with your friends. For example, if you start sleeping with your best friend’s ex, you probably shouldn’t go into details about how you fucked her up the ass with a strap-on last night. And if you happen to be dating your buddy’s sister, he probably won’t want to know how she likes to be roughed up a bit.

But aside from disclosing the sexual details of people your friends actually know (which, it seems, shouldn’t be disclosed primarily because it’s private information. Which is interesting, that some things are more private because a friendship exists, rather than keeping a stranger’s details private, which isn’t as important), how much is it okay to talk about sex?

I like sex. Not that I expect that to be a surprise to you, but I love talking about it. I love hearing about what other people think and do, because hey, I just may learn something – not only about my friend, and what they like (and that can sometimes be incredibly deep held beliefs, psychological complications relating to other aspects of their personality, which can be fascating) but I also might discover more about what I like. Or I might understand something in a new way, I might “get” a fetish or sex act in a way I never understood before.

Also? It is oh so important to be open and honest about what’s going on in our sex lives, I think, because a lot of strange damage can be done there. A lot of healing can be done, too – but it’s similar to the reason why I believe we should talk about our relationships, in depth and often, with our close friends. Our friends (one would hope & assume) watch out for our best interest, and if something strange is happening, if red flags are going up and up and up, hopefully our friends will be able to tell us those things. Our relationships should be socially monitored. And, perhaps, so should our sex lives, to a certain degree.

So. Back to kissing & telling. I think that means, for me, I believe in talking about my sex life.

Not that you’re surprised, I know. I’ve been writing about it here – explicitly – for more than a year. But I’ve never quite gone all the way into the kiss & tell argument, so I’m glad to now know where I stand, and why.

But I’m still not going to tell you what happened Saturday night.

(At least, not until she gives me permission.)