Monday, April 02, 2007

It's no use getting into heavy petting. It only leads to trouble and seat wetting

Someone told me this week that I am a huge flirt. I wasn't exactly surprised, However, sometimes when I am bouncing around, crawling all over random people, I am not even seeing it in those kind of terms. I am often crawling over one or more people with definite intent, but sometimes - and this is why I usually give bioguys a wide berth - my exuberant behaviour is directed at the universe in general, and no one in particular - and is open to misinterpretation.

The last time I was living in a huge share house, comprising 5 boys and 2 grrls, the sexual energy in the house was intense. Every person in the house was fucking at least one other person in the house, except one of the guys. The other grrl and I were fucking 3 housemates each (including each other) [hey, I was all of 19 - I have much less energy now]. The guy who wasn't getting any was a good friend of my primary partner, and was on really good terms with me - we'd sit around the kitchen table over coffee for hours and talk about religion and politics.
Then one night, when two of my partners were out on other dates, and the other one was shagging another partner, I was bouncing around the kitchen, a whirlwind of kittenish sexual energy and playfulness, when I realised that my energy was affecting this guy dramatically.... "Look at what you're doing to me!!"He pursued me down the hall. I ran out of the house before things got ugly. This wasn't the first time I was aware of that idea that a woman expressing sexuality is perceived as asking for it, or causing uncontrollable desire in men, but it was certainly one of the most scary incidents of recognition.
The fallout from this - in which most of my housemates agreed that I had callously lead the guy on was almost as scary - this is from a crew of queer or queer friendly punker kids who would be familiar with basic feminist thought. I felt punished by a small, judgemental community. The fact that I was polyamorous and a sex worker seemed to add fuel to the judgements. This, and various other incidents have probably added to my seclusion from the world of str8 non-trans men.
I sometimes wonder if people may think that my lack of contact with men extends from my sex work experience. In fact, my sex work is one of the few places that I feel is safe for me to have contact with guys. My sex work is so heavily negotiated, and so choreographed, that it is probably the most consensual contact I have with anyone, ever. My clients know that anything other than massage, oral sex with a condom and vaginal sex with a condom is all the activities on the menu that is actually a given. Anything else, kissing, cunnilingus, fantasies of any kind, have to be negotiated before we even go in to the bedroom. Some clients will ask me if I would be okay with them choosing me before they make their finally choice. I am not suggesting that all men are rapists, or can't be trusted to respect physical boundaries, or comply with basic standards of negotiated consent, however when I walk down the street to cars full of hooting and hollering men - a regular occurrence for the last 20 years - and when I don't respond, they start yelling abuse instead, I am reminded of popular culture constructions of clients as crazed psychos - who will emulate Jack the Ripper at any chance - and feel like we do clients a real disservice.
I feel like decisions around safety shift all the time for me, and my sense of appropriate behaviour and personal space boundaries are affected by mood, exhaustion and mental health. I certainly don't get it right all the time, and sometimes I'm still the bouncy, oblivious 19 year old who is oblivious to the impact of my behaviour on others, and struggles with self control and propriety. When I am sharp and clear, my sense of these things is really honed, when I'm not, I need a straight jacket, chastity belt and an isolation cell.

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