“I really trust in myself and my own Blackness,” says Quinta Brunson. How liberating! Something condemned, or seen as other and inferior, feared oppressed and resisted, being Claimed. “This is who I am, and it is Good.” Beautiful. I screwed up my courage, and typed: I really trust in myself, and my own
I have wrestled with the concept here for ten years. It feels weak, vulnerable and frightening. It seems an oppressive, Patriarchal concept: women are not always feminine, and should not be expected to be. Sometimes it appears incoherent. And I feel unworthy of it. My internalised transphobia claims I am not really feminine.
I keep coming back to the fact of my femininity. I am still resisting, but it becomes more undeniable. I fear it, and that sets up internal conflicts which paralyse me. I denounced it as weak, sick, perverted, disgusting, ridiculous and illusory. Only as I accept that I am as I am, can I become free.
I desired someone. She was dominant, and I would submit. I wanted to nurture and care for her. The term in a Domination/submission (D/s) dynamic would be “serve”, but I don’t like that word. It is not just false self-image which makes me resist: I have value and agency which the word “serve” does not properly acknowledge.
It appears that some women, like me, want to be “taken”, or “overpowered”, by a sexual partner. Not all women, of course, and sex without consent is a violation. Some would deny it, and some would whisper about it. Some would fear it. Some would see it in themselves, and take precautions: being overpowered could be damaging, unless there is love between a couple.
Most people discover sex in their teens. A lesbian blogger said she was twenty before she found her community, and sexual love. I was so damaged by my culture, society and upbringing, so bound up in the need to make a man of myself, that I could not possibly have recognised my desires then. I want to be overwhelmed, and that would have been too great a threat to my sense of self.
Others saw in me what I denied in myself. At a dance in 1994, I took Jan in a ballroom hold, and she started to lead. I got embarrassed and upset, and she said, “I thought that was what you wanted”. It was, just, not what I could admit to myself. So I was stuck in impossible internal conflicts, denial and suppression, and starved for connection.
I want to be overwhelmed, and wonder if it is pathological: if my mother made me that way. When a trait is disrespected and denied, we search for a cause. The cause is, natural human diversity.
If it is hard for women to accept that desire, how much harder for men! Even when you accept it, the danger of it, the possibility of exploitation, continues. I am not a man, I am more or less clear on that twenty years after transitioning. The desire to make a man of myself recedes, though it was so powerful in me that there are still echoes. And perhaps in others: if men have an inkling that they do not fit the gender stereotypes of Manliness, they might have powerful feelings which they need to deny and suppress out of consciousness just as I did. It would feel humiliating, where if there were Love and acceptance it could be fulfilling.
I have little experience of sex, and almost none satisfactory. Well, we did not evolve to be happy, we evolved to reproduce. Two years ago, I coined this phrase: I want to open up like a flower. I have done, once, with a big, gentle man. My only response to him was to open from a foetal position, curled up protecting my breasts, belly and genitals, to lying on my back with my legs apart. This took more than an hour. And there was no “relationship” beyond friendship. Possibly his care was large enough to fill the word “Love”. Possibly the friendship and trust I felt for him was sufficient.
A scenario: you, the sub, are bound, gagged, helpless, at the Mistress’ feet (apologies to anyone who finds this overly vanilla).
I feel the sub’s attraction. There is the sense of being helpless, overwhelmed, controlled. But the fantasy is humiliating, echoing the humiliation the sub feels at his desires. He realises this is not manly. If he maintains a manly façade elsewhere, it might make him more ashamed and less likely to form a loving sexual bond.
At best, the humiliation might break him open, so he can admit his desire and be his whole self. Or he can explore it, experiencing what it is like to be this part of himself with another human being. At worst, he has an occasional outlet, walled round with shame and denial. I had an occasional outlet in cross-dressing. I could only integrate a huge part of myself through transition, and am still working on it now.
What I can’t see, in the D/s scenario, is anything valuing the sub. I have value. I am not just a plaything. The conventional ways people are valued- family, job, status- do not apply to me. I was systematically devalued, so I devalued myself. The vulnerable sexual being, overwhelmed, needs to be valued. I love Cranmer’s words: “Love, protect and cherish”. Cherished, I might flourish. Devalued and humiliated, I hide away.
Humans respond to being valued. We bring forth our valued parts. We hide those parts that are devalued. I have this capacity for surrender, which I fear in myself, and have judged and seen as weak. I need to value it.
A sex worker can get people to pay for that humiliation. And if she enjoys it, and he asks for it, why wouldn’t she?
Possibly, it’s just me, and everyone else has come to terms with all this…
I had initially called this “Fearful femininity” in the sense of “fearful symmetry”. I am in the embrace of unyielding reality, holding me as I struggle. If I reject my femininity I cannot protect those vulnerabilities in myself. I must value and protect my femininity.
I’m not sure if I understand the concept of dominance/submission, but that might be related to being autistic. I like to please, but in the same manner as I like to be pleased. One of the events that appalled me most was on the first night of our honeymoon when the Wife promised to be a good and obedient wife. I didn’t and don’t see a partnership in that light. I’m not sure if I even understand how one displays or desires dominance/submission.
Even with my children, I never felt I had authority over them. They were my equals, although I had more “life experience” than them. This seemed to be enough for mutual respect.
As for femininity (or masculinity), I can recognise it as expressed in some mannerisms and attire, but as to modes of being feminine (or masculine) I cannot comprehend. Mind you all non-autistics are a kind of unfathomable mystery so perhaps it’s not surprising. I have no idea how one should respond the femininity (or masculinity) of another in the same way that the expectation to respond differently to different forms of gender expression. I think, although it’s never been spelled out directly that I have offended some people because my response to everyone is more or less the same.
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Yeah. There are signs. A woman might be giving signs of dominance which I find gloriously erotic, and you might wonder what she was doing, or not notice she was doing anything at all. I love the idea of treating your children as equals, though. Perhaps being autistic has advantages as well as disadvantages for you.
And those signs produce a response in me. I show my response physically, not always consciously. There might be a dance of two human beings, checking each other out, seeing how they fit, going on more by body-language than by words, the way we say it rather than what we say. But, also, another woman might show different signs and I would not respond at all, not be interested, perhaps not consciously notice.
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Where do you obtain all the paintings of calm contemplative women you put at the end of your pieces? I guess my sexuality is largely submissive but after 20 years my husband got tired of ‘doing all the work’ and moved on
I get all my paintings from Wikimedia, and recently have been sharing paintings by John William Godward. I get what he means about doing all the work.