Thursday, April 10, 2008

give me the hook or the ovation

Tonight has been beautiful, in spite of the fact that I can’t seem to sleep more than four hours per night and I am absolutely wired. There was lots of quality girl-time, which is something I’m still getting used to. Having girl friends can be such a hassle that I tend to avoid it, but something in me is starved for that sort of connection. I hate how competition is automatically a factor in so many interactions between women, and how early on that becomes a prescribed condition. But lately, I’ve been lucky – my almost-neighbor Kiah (who is crazy-articulate and awesome and sex-blogging for the month of April as well, so check her out) has pretty much moved in with me and Marshall, and my for-real neighbor Claudia (also sex-blogging, and this girl is like Blanche Devereaux in training!) comes around more often, sometimes bearing hot girly clothes I get to model on the spot. The world is warming up, and I’m seeing people like Holly and Liz and Kelly and Jordanna again, and I’m coming to a place in my life where the sort of safety I crave is much easier to summon when I’m in the company of women.

So, in celebration of that fact, and because it’s something that’s been on my mind all week, tonight I’m going to bare my soul about my femme angst, once and for all. Because it’s not something I’ve ever articulated fully, not even to myself, but you can be sure that it colors nearly every aspect of my life. I mean, how could it not? I cannot get dressed in the morning, interact with the guys who work the grill at Highsmith, or walk anyplace after dark without being painfully conscious of the fact that I’m a girl. It determines the way people talk to me, the way my work is critiqued in writing workshops, the way people look at me and how seriously they take me. It means that people – men and women alike – very often feel entitled to comment on my body, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me, and it means that I hear them at a different pitch than I would if I were male, if looking in the mirror wasn’t such an intimidating notion. And I had nearly accepted that this would always be the way of it, before I came out and realized I could fuck around with gender presentation as much as I wanted to, that I had unlimited options.

That was the idea, anyway. But the fact of the matter is – and this is still hard for me to say without rolling my eyes – I’m a femme. I did everything in my power to fight it. I bound my breasts for hours at a time, dressed in my brother’s clothes, and drove two towns over to see if I could pass as a boy. I stopped reading JANE even though I have an inexplicable weakness for women’s magazines. I wore boxers beneath my jeans and buzzed my hair. Nothing works: my hand gestures and girly voice give me away, and the sight of a stranger’s baby leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy for hours. I can’t use less than six shower products even if I’m in a real hurry. I still can’t change a tire, but I can rock a baby to sleep like no one’s business. I’m such the stereotypical girl, and living in Asheville only makes it harder, because being a femme renders one invisible here, amidst all the obvious, genderqueer dykey types. About two weeks after I came here, I wrote in a letter to a friend, “There’s totally a uniform here – boys’ cargo shorts, white t-shirts, that cocky kind of stance and the butch nod to top it all off. It’s mindblowingly hot, and totally out of my range. But if you don’t wear the uniform, you don’t get to play the game. So maybe I need to suck it up and fake it ‘til I make it?”

Part of it’s a safety issue – I want to be able to get lunch without being hit on, and there’s always the fear that I’m sending off the wrong signals somehow, inviting disaster. And a lot of it has to do with that strange blend between desire and admiration – because my knees go weak for women who wear boy clothes and have calloused hands, I hate myself for not being that way. Any joy I might take in desiring someone else is countered by the self-loathing I feel upon comparison.

Here’s a letter I wrote myself about a year back, just to show how far back the problem goes:

“The thing is, I hate being femme. Hate it. I hate having to wear a bra every day, I hate worrying about whether a particular sweater makes me look fat, I hate sucking my stomach in the second someone pulls out a camera, and I really, really hate the word ‘panties.’ I hate all these stupid trappings of femininity – which is not to say that I can’t enjoy being girly, sometimes, but it doesn’t even feel like a choice, anymore, because people can only see me as femme. If I’m wearing boy clothes, then I must be in drag, and it’s something cute and funny and completely unrealistic. If I shove my girlfriend against a wall, then I’m ‘acting butch.’ I got a fucking buzzcut, and Eve said it looked ‘chic.’ Anytime I do anything unfeminine, people treat it as something cute or rebellious or incongruous, and I hate that. I am not happy in my body, and I never have been, and I think that’s because I’m stuck in this femme mindset that I never asked for. Because I’ve always admired butch women and flaming queens and genderqueer folks, always, and found them unbearably attractive and alluring, but when it comes to my own body, I judge it by all these stupid beauty standards advocated in Cosmo. That’s what’s wrong.

I try to escape all of that: I cut all my hair off and stopped shaving and I can’t remember the last time I wore makeup. And I feel good about these decisions, but not about myself. Why is it that, when someone calls me hot, my first instinct is to get away as quickly as possible? Even when the compliment comes from my girlfriend, who loves me on so many levels and appreciates my mind first, who is clearly not objectifying me or saying anything I should find threatening? Why can’t I wear a bathing suit out in public, not even amongst strangers? I mean, really, I don’t understand, because I love curves; I love real bodies and I like for my arms to be full when I hold someone close; I love girls with some solidity to them, because it’s real and it’s too fucking hot. None of my sexual fantasies revolve around women who could pose for beauty magazines; they’re all too fat or too butch or too short or too tough or too something to ever make it in those pages, and I love that. So why can I love all these traits in others when I still used some pretty fucked-up standards for myself? It isn’t right.

Also, you know what? The only time I’ve felt comfortable in my body all week occurred last night, and took some stealth and preparation on my part. Here’s what I did: I dug out an old polo shirt of my brother’s and some knee-length shorts, slipped into boxers and pulled on a sports bra, and mussed my hair up so it looked almost boyish. And I put on the most embarrassing songs: ‘Faded’ by Soul Decision, ‘Here We Go’ by N Sync, ‘The Way You Like It’ by LFO. And I fucking broke it down. And I don’t even dance, not outside of my room, not ever, but last night, in here, I let go and rocked out and watched myself in the mirror the whole time, and let me tell you: it looked good. I did. Before last night, I can’t tell you when the last time I thought that way was, but it’s been ages. But then, last night, it was like really seeing myself, all sweaty and frustrated and letting go for the first time in ages, and it felt like validation.

I wish it didn’t come down to a choice, because that’s not even one I could make. I can’t even allow myself to ask questions like 'What if I’m trans?' because I know what I’ll do with the answers, and that is nothing. I like wearing boy clothes and boy deodorant and washing myself with my brother’s Axe bodywash (after trying several, I’ve decided that Phoenix is the only scent for me). I like doing the butch nod, and I like looking down and not having breasts in the way. As much as these things thrill me, they also feel comfortable and safe and right. But at the same time, I could never live as a male. I love men – nearly all my friends and favorite people are male – but I don’t love maleness, not as a construct. I hate the patriarchy, and I couldn’t let myself buy into it by changing my body and my name and taking on all the privilege that would entail. That wouldn’t feel lucky; it would just be this terrible burden I have no interest in claiming. Plus, taking testosterone is so dangerous; it elevates your risk for cancer and shortens your lifespan, and I can’t commit to that kind of risk, not when I don’t want it with everything in me. I respect that some people – a lot of people – transition hormonally and surgically because they can’t live full, honest lives otherwise, but that isn’t me. Not right now, anyway. Because I like wearing twirly skirts and the smoothness of my skin, all these little girly things, too, and wouldn’t want to be without them.

So once again, I want it all. But what’s unfair is that my attractions don’t match up with who I want to be, not at all. Because I’m traditionally attracted to women on the butcher side of the spectrum, and those women are almost always looking for femmes, so that puts me in a weird place. And if I were a boy? I would be so fucking gay. Already, look at the company I keep, and the people who take up most of my thoughts: they’re all gay men, mostly flamboyant. I would make the nelliest man ever. I would be all the time calling people “girl” and singing along to Cher and snapping at people; I would be a karaoke queen. I would want to be like Prior from Angels in America, or Emmett from Queer As Folk, someone who can be fierce and vulnerable at the same time. So here’s a question: do I feel that I can’t live that way now, as a woman? And if so, what is that about?”

I still don’t know the answer to that question, even though it’s on my mind every single day. Even now, tonight, there’s nothing more I can write, because it would be lying to wrap this up tidily, to claim that I’ve since embraced my femme self. I wear dangly earrings and lip gloss now, and I can occasionally make it through a bra-shopping venture without breaking down sobbing in the dressing room. It would seem that I’ve come into my own, or had at least started down that path. But the truth is, I still believe I’d be safer, happier, less prone to these bouts of self-loathing if I were less girly. It’s hard to settle into a femme identity without taking on the traditional feminine beauty standards; it’s hard to break the associations between femininity and commoditization, and to exist outside of that fucked-up system. But either society has to shift dramatically, or my thinking’s got to undergo a major correction, and while I understand that it has to be the latter option, it’s hard for me to visualize a way out of this.

Here’s where you guys can help: who are the most kickass girly-girls you can name, whether they’re fictional or completely corporeal? Really, I want to know.

Please, feel free to share your own story, to ask a question, to pick a fight with me, or to say hello via comment or e-mail ( Also, remember that the blog is for a cause: any money you lovelies donate will go to the Rape And Incest National Network, and will be used to fund their online hotline for those affected by sexual violence. You can donate by clicking here - if you're so kind as to kick in, make sure to mention in the 'Additional Information' field that Jen H sent you, and that I'm part of the GBBMC2008.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

sorry to be heavy, but heavy is the cost

Sorry, kids; it’s been a rough weekend, and blogging just wasn’t an option. M and I never made it to Progressive Prom – I bound so tightly that I couldn’t breathe, and fell down twice, and was in such a sad state of femme crisis once I had to go back to being girl-bodied again that staying in just seemed a better option. Which worked out all right, since the party apparently sucked and there was a fair chance of drama that came with attendance. And then some other bad things happened, and I couldn’t sleep at all last night, and god, it’s been a time. But I’m back to blogging now, and promise to make up for my absence, stat.

Before I say another thing, though, let me put this out there: this post addresses rape, and could be triggering. If you have to skip this one, I totally understand, and my heart goes out to you. Truly.

M and I watched Thelma and Louise tonight, which got me emotional in ways I hadn’t counted on. Luckily, we started just around the scene where Brad Pitt shows up, looking all baby-faced and beautiful, so I missed the rape attempt at the beginning, but just seeing the rest of the movie made that scene fresh in my mind all over again. Susan Sarandon, looking ridiculously tough in her mommy jeans, holding a gun on the man who’s trying to get at Geena Davis, and that line: "Just for the future, when a woman's crying like that, she's not having any fun." Was that the first exposure I had to rape? Was it the vague passage in my mother’s dusty copy of A Woman’s Body, which I sneaked downstairs to read at every opportunity? All I know is it happened early, before I could really process it; I can remember having rape nightmares before I can remember seeing anything that suggested sex could be enjoyable or healthy. Seven therapists have suggested that I was molested as a child, that I’ve got repressed memories acting on me, and while I’m pretty positive I’d remember something like that, it’s not something I could ever know.

What I do remember is the way I began so early on to check behind the shower curtain before using the bathroom, to hold my breath while I changed clothes, to be wary anytime I was exposed, however private the setting. I remember having dreams of men my father’s age holding me down, and how relieved I felt when, one night, Wonder Woman showed up in my dreams and defended me from these bad guys. It only got worse when my earliest experiences with boys tended to test my gag reflex as much as they did my nerves. By the time I was eleven, I had several distinct, recurring rape nightmares to be frightened by. And as I grew up and saw so many of my friends being violated by guys who never deserved them, the dreams took on a more realistic tone. Perhaps the saddest thing was finding out that my grandmother was conceived during her mother’s rape, that the circumstances of her birth are so twisted and hush-hush that I may never really learn what happened. Without rape – this specific act of rape, at least – I wouldn’t exist, not as myself. It’s strange how the notion of rape, just the waking threat of it, shaped so much of me before I was actually raped. In a way, I was always waiting for it to happen. There was no reason to believe that I might be one of the lucky ones, not when all the statistics were so damning. Maybe this is why I blamed myself.

But the thing no movie, family history, or anatomy text ever taught me was that rape is not so black and white; that nothing is. Defining sex itself is complicated, particularly when you’re a lesbian. If I got some sort of kickback every time someone asked me what, exactly, two women do together, I could single-handedly fund RAINN’s hotline, no joke. No one’s sure whether penetration is requisite, if oral sex is the lesbian equivalent to the missionary position, whether any given act falls under the sub-category of “foreplay.” It’s difficult, too, to tell when sex officially starts, and how it ends. Two girls together can come dozens of times in one session, so keeping an accurate tally is a slippery business. And if all these things are left undefined, it’s not all that surprising that consent is rarely explicit for most people, most of the time. So do I count those thirty-odd times that I began by saying no and eventually ceased arguing? Or only the two when I raised my voice, when he had to hold me down? If I don’t say no, is that an automatic yes? And if I do say no, but eventually stop protesting because I’m being ignored (or because his ego is bruised, or because I was sleeping naked and that’s sort of like an invitation, right?) – does that pass for consent, somehow?

When I came home early and friends asked what happened, I told them, “He couldn’t take no for an answer.” I didn’t use the word “rape” for weeks, not until my mother asked why I hadn’t been sleeping, why I’d been so high-strung since coming home. I thought the force of the word would cause something to crystallize; I thought it might make a case for all of my messiness. But people just ask questions, and after a while, the things they wonder over begin to depress me. Did he make me bleed? Did I really say no the whole time, did I put up a real struggle? Did he come? Did I? Like I can recall any aspect of it without feeling flooded, without coming up short of breath and shifty-eyed, without making a break for the nearest bathroom or empty classroom where I can take a Klonapin and practice what my therapist taught me. Like it’s a story I’d ever tell anyone if lives didn’t literally depend upon these stories being spoken by someone.

I didn’t report him. At the time, I was just anxious to get home, to throw myself into something with somebody who understood the word “no,” to be something more than the scared little girl I felt like after he’d finished with me. By the time I brought myself to be really angry with him, we had stopped speaking entirely. Now, I check his MySpace every so often, half-hoping to see that he’s been run over by a double-decker bus or that he’s had his heart broken. Last week, he changed his status; he’s in a relationship now, and it kills me that I can’t find out who the girl is, that I can’t warn her. I’m scared that he’ll do it again, and it will be my fault for letting him get away with it. I’m angry as hell that I’m left here, still picking up pieces, when he’s so entirely undamaged by all that happened. I’m afraid that he’ll come find me on a whim sometime; he’s impulsive that way, and I can’t be too paranoid, these days. I hate that I gave so much of myself to someone who was not to be trusted.

Something happened in that twelve minutes, something in me shattered and stayed broken, and now I look at my life in terms of Before Him and After Him. I’ve come to define myself by one of my worst moments, and he doesn’t have to deal with the fallout at all, and it’s fucking unfair. But really, the worst thing is that it didn’t start with him, that I had this terror in me all along, and I may never know where it came from. Is it something all women carry with them, something we hold silently and steadily, instinctively, like car keys spiking from between my knuckles when I walk alone at night? Where do we learn this fear, and how do we come to carry it uncontested? These aren’t rhetorical questions; all I have to go by is my own experience, and I honestly want answers, or testimony, or even just to hear my frustration echoed by anyone else. I’m just sick of all this silence, and sick from it, too. I'm ready to talk, and I'm ready to listen. I'm ready to get past this part, because it's gone on far too long already, because I've got to keep finding my way forward. How do you guys do it?

Truly, feel free to share your own story, to ask a question, to pick a fight with me, or to say hello via comment or e-mail ( Also, remember that the blog is for a cause: any money you lovelies donate will go to the Rape And Incest National Network, and will be used to fund their online hotline for those affected by sexual violence. You can donate by clicking here - if you're so kind as to kick in, make sure to mention in the 'Additional Information' field that Jen H sent you, and that I'm part of the GBBMC2008.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

i just hope you understand, sometimes the clothes do not make the man

So, I didn't get to blog yesterday because I was busy loving on the sweetest little dog in the world, playing teacher dress-up, buying Michael Chabon's latest book (!!!) and a Ferlinghetti collection for good measure, and doing physics homework at the very last minute. And now I'm off to pick M up from work, so we can get ready for Progressive Prom tonight. I'm sort of up-in-the-air about it - the past three proms have left me feeling really teary and helpless, but Kiah promises this one will be different, and it is my last semester here, and I'd hate to turn down an excuse to dress in drag, so I'll be attending, if only for a bit.

Expect pictures tomorrow, and probably a little bit of femme angst, but definitely pictures! And until then, I present some way-ancient pictures of me playing butch. Alas!

As always, feel free to share your own story, to ask a question, to pick a fight with me, or to say hello via comment or e-mail ( Also, remember that the blog is for a cause: any money you lovelies donate will go to the Rape And Incest National Network, and will be used to fund their online hotline for those affected by sexual violence. You can donate by clicking here - if you're so kind as to kick in, make sure to mention in the 'Additional Information' field that Jen H sent you, and that I'm part of the GBBMC2008.

Have a safe but scandalous Saturday night, friends!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

take a chance to recognize that this could be yours

I don't keep up with many blogs - I'm weaning myself off my addiction to my professor's blog, I live for the America's Next Top Model recaps on fourfour, and okay, I am addicted to Stuff White People Like. But the blog I check most frequently belongs to Miss Gala Darling, a hyperadorable fashionista in Melbourne who's unwittingly helping me get over my fear of being femme. Every week, Gala celebrates "Things I Love Thursday," and encourages her readers to do the same. This being a sex blog of sorts, I'm going to riff on that. May I present:

Things I Find So Unbearably Hot That It Pains Me A Little Just To Think Of Them Thursday!

Xena: Warrior Princess. It's a pretty sure bet I was destined to be a dyke, but all the lesbian subtext on this show (and the shots of her suiting up for battle that played during the opening credits) gave me a very clear idea, very early on, of what I wanted from life. Plus, female empowerment and the occasional musical episode! Tough women who can take care of themselves and each other - why don't we see more of that on television?

◦When you find yourself suddenly alone with someone you've been wanting to jump all day long, and it's clear that something really hot is about to happen, but you both go all coy and quiet, and your mouths are grazing each other without making full-on contact, and it becomes a game of who's gonna give in first. Bonus points for the rare (but worth-waiting-for) occasions when you pick the same moment to go for it!

◦Bea Arthur. I don't know if it's that deep voice, that slow-burn stare, or what, but if I can't live up to Xena's example, I hope I can at least be as witty and fabulous as Bea Arthur someday.

◦Incongruity. Butchy girls wearing lacy underwear, ridiculous slang used by rampant intellectuals, when someone scratches me almost to the point of bleeding while saying something really tender. When things don’t quite match up, I go out of my head so easily.

◦Lesbian pulp paperbacks. They've got the most bizarrely brilliant cover art, the kitsch factor is someplace in the stratosphere, and some of them are genuinely sexy, in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way.

◦Button-fly jeans, oh Christ, there is nothing like them. Marshall was wearing some today, and had there not been more pressing business to attend to, I would have buttoned them back up just for the thrill of unbuttoning them all over again.

◦The Pussycat Dolls' song "Buttons," no matter what anyone says. Usually, it takes me at least two drinks to get dancey, but put this song on, and I am guaranteed to act a dancing fool before the first verse even starts up. Kiah is really into the original music video, but I prefer the fanvid above, since it's got clips from some of my favorite sex scenes ever. I once had one of those surreal experiences that I thought only happened in movies, where I was in a dance club and this song came on and I was dancing with this queeny guy, Neal, who can fucking get down like you've never seen. We were having so much fun, and were so into it, that people around just backed off and there we were, in the middle of the dance floor with all these strangers looking on. They probably thought we were straight, but really, it was just the incontestable hotness of this song that made it happen. Truth.

◦Kneeling on shower tile and staring up at a lover. Seriously, there is no better angle on this earth. I’ve looked. Especially if the light is warm and slightly orangey, but really, any lighting scheme will do just fine.

I think it's about time for me to turn in - it's been a long day, and the girl's waiting up for me downstairs, so I'm off to feel better!
As always, feel free to share your own story, to ask a question, to pick a fight with me, or to say hello via comment or e-mail ( Also, remember that the blog is for a cause: any money you lovelies donate will go to the Rape And Incest National Network, and will be used to fund their online hotline for those affected by sexual violence. You can donate by clicking here - if you're so kind as to kick in, make sure to mention in the 'Additional Information' field that Jen H sent you, and that I'm part of the GBBMC2008.

Goodnight, friends and strangers!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

they're gonna be mad at us for all the things we wanna do

Sky, one of my favorite old-time friends and the first loyal follower of lowmindedlover, caught me last night and asked if I’d write about shame, “specifically in the context of the feeling that can overcome one in the immediacy after the act.” And while I’d thought about kicking off this blog with something lighter, perhaps even smuttier, now seems as good a time as any to address the issue of shame, because it’s one that’s bound-up inextricably with sexuality for nearly everyone, in some way, at some point. And usually, shame is instilled in us long before we even have a chance to enjoy sexual activity; what gives? So, since part of my aim with this blogging business is to get past my own issues with shame, why not start here?

Or better yet: why not start with a really hot Queer As Folk fanvid so we can all have in our minds an idea of what awesomely shameless sexuality might look like:

Well, now that we’ve got that behind us: onto shame! Offhand, I can think of two periods in my life which were distinctly marked by sexual shame. Okay, three periods, if you’re counting that embarrassing occasion where my third-grade teacher confiscated the sex notebook Melissa Moss and I were passing during class. (It was a teeny little thing with unlined pages which we sought to fill with all our sexual speculations, and included quite a few crude [but surprisingly accurate] illustrations.)

But the shame really kicked in when I was ten, and stuck around ‘til I hit fifteen and came out of the closet. That’s five years of guilt weighing down upon a young girl, and it all started when a girl I’d engaged in some pretty intimate experimentation with asked me, while she was in the act of kissing my inner-elbow, what boy I was thinking of. I admitted I just thought about her, all the time, and she decided it was high time we stopped messing around. One year later, when I was eleven, the chance arose to sleep with that girl’s boyfriend, and I nearly took it (out of spitefulness or low self-esteem, who can say?). When I said no at the very last minute, the boy called me a tease, threw my Jordache cut-offs with the flower embroidery at me, and never spoke to me again. A few more one-time encounters with boys, inevitably ending when I aborted them at the last minute and ran away to cry, left me never wanting to come even close to sex with anyone, ever again.

Keith wanted to change that. I met him at a New Year’s party when I was fourteen, and even though I barely knew him and really hated his stubble, I figured that having a boyfriend might deter my classmates from calling me a lesbo, so I went for it. Keith would come over to my house on Friday nights, put on an Adam Sandler movie, and see how far he could go with me before I stopped him. I mostly kept my eyes closed, opening them only to check the time, and when Keith left, I usually locked myself in my bedroom and cut myself. Using a safety pin or a snapped Bic, I’d carve words like TEASE, FAT, and DYKE into my breasts and stomach, the things boys would call me when I’d say no, the things I was sure I had already become. I started making sure the lights stayed off, that my clothes stayed on, so no one would see the damage I’d done. I stopped letting people touch me altogether. And honestly, this went on until a girl from Shaker Heights moved into a house down the street and sent my whole world spinning.

Ellen was my revolution. She brought her RENT soundtrack to our first sleepover and talked me through the entire show; she played Indigo Girls on guitar for me and told stories about lesbians she’d met in person. It was thrilling. One taste of feminism was all it took, and I managed to become something of a small-time badass, scrawling THE REVOLUTION IS NOT BEING TELEVISED on bathroom walls, giving into my gutter-mouthed tendencies, fighting with bigoted teachers, learning how to stand my ground. I got myself a girlfriend who slipped me dirty notes during psych class and begged me to keep the lights on during sex. I let her draw me naked; I turned in terrible poetry about lesbian sex to my super-conservative English teacher and told myself I’d never go back to that state of shame I’d grown so accustomed to.

And then I was raped. It’s not a story I’m up for telling tonight; suffice it to say that in about twelve minutes, I was utterly violated with nowhere to go, no one to call. I went from being a hypersexual, down-for-anything kind of girl to shutting down entirely. Once again, I was the girl who spoiled all the fun by saying no; once again, I was overcome by shame. When I told my mother what had happened, she turned it around on me: why had I said no to him? My dad told me not to rule out other guys less than forty-eight hours after the guy I trusted most had completely fucked me over. Luckily, I’d been on the brink of falling for M before the rape occurred, and as soon as I told her what had happened, she rushed back to Asheville and wedged herself into my heart before I could close myself off entirely. She was patient, but not prying; she told me her own story, far too similar, and then she set about finding ways to make me forget my fear of being touched. Lord knows why this girl took up with me when I had so much baggage, but I literally wouldn’t be alive today if she hadn’t. Even still, it’s been seventeen months, and most times, sex still makes me cry, still leaves me shaky and vulnerable. I can’t handle M kissing my neck (previously my number-one surefire turn-on) most days because it takes me back to the night I was raped. When she calls me beautiful, my gut reaction is to shave my head, to somehow mutilate myself, so that the ugliness he left inside me will show on the outside, so that no one will bother with me.

The thing about shame is that it’s a damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don’t deal for so many of us. We’re called sluts or dismissed as indiscriminate if we enjoy sex too much, if we’re too good at it or want it too badly; we’re presumed frigid if we can’t get off on someone else’s schedule. People get squeamish about admitting the number of partners they’ve had, either adding or subtracting to suit their audience. People have the most mindblowing sexual encounters interrupted when they realize that they’ve forgotten to suck their stomachs in, even though the lights are turned out. It seems entirely unfair that something that feels so fucking amazing should cause so many of us to feel guilty afterwards, or empty, or ugly. It’s ridiculous that an act which, by definition, brings people so close to each other, inside of each other, so often afterwards renders the other person even further away.

I was just downstairs, buzzed and having girl-time with M, Holly, and Claudia, talking so easily and laughing so often that it was impossible to keep my stomach sucked-in while I was sitting there. The impulse was there, but I was too comfortable leaning back into the pillows, and enjoying the sensation of laughter too much to waste any more energy worrying about how fat I looked. There it was, a conscious decision: I’ve never had it come so easily or obviously before, but tonight, I just decided not to do it. So maybe it’s always a little like that: a conscious choice to respect and love yourself at least as much as you would a casual acquaintance. Maybe it just took tonight – the combination of Ali serenading me outside my window and the hard lemonade and Claudia’s being so drunk she showed us her tits and Marshall saying, “Give me my sugar, girl,” as I turned to come upstairs – to make me feel so unwilling to feel so bad. Or maybe it’s having written here, feeling unstuck for the first time in months.

As always, feel free to share your own story, to ask a question, to pick a fight with me, or to say hello via comment or e-mail ( Also, remember that the blog is for a cause: any money you lovelies donate will go to the Rape And Incest National Network, and will be used to fund their online hotline for those affected by sexual violence. You can donate by clicking here - if you're so kind as to kick in, make sure to mention in the 'Additional Information' field that Jen H sent you, and that I'm part of the GBBMC2008.

I’m off now to watch Golden Girls with my lover ‘til we fall asleep to the DVD menu music. God, tonight’s been good to me. And this weekend, M and I get to dogsit for the sweetest pup in the universe – which means I just may fulfill my goal to have sex in every room of my professor’s house (including the garage)! Fingers crossed for a cheerier subject tomorrow; until then, goodnight!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

baby, when the lights go out, every single word cannot express

Well, hi! It’s April first, day one of an entire month of sex-blogging, and I could not be more jazzed about it. Admittedly, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to go about this – while some of you know me in real life, I’m a stranger to the rest of you, as of yet. So consider this a post to remedy that!

For those of you who know me in real life: my apologies if this ever gets crazy-awkward, which is a definite possibility. But then, if I know you in person, chances are high that we’ve had at least one lengthy discussion involving watersports, bloodplay, or crime-scene sex, so it’s doubtful that you’ll find anything here too shocking.

For those who’ve found me some other way: hello, and welcome! I’ve never been great with the introductions, and there’s no real protocol for this, so let’s wing it, shall we? My name’s Jen; I’m a 21-year old lit major and I talk a lot about sex, but find myself obliquely referring to it in my writing, all hyper-detailed descriptions of a girl’s fingers and allusions to crazy nights while skimping on specifics. Looks like all that’s about to change, though, and as my swim team coach told me when I was eight, it’s always better to jump right in.

So, some basics: I am a dyke, and while I spend most of my time fervently denying accusations that I’m a femme, I am addicted to Lip Venom and have soccer-mom tendencies. That said, my fail-proof plans to cheer myself up inevitably involve binding my breasts, putting on clothes lifted from my brother’s closet, and breaking it down to boy band tunes from the mid-to-late nineties. My ideal date would involve some combination of the following: sitting on the same side of a booth at a restaurant that serves chicken fingers and mixed drinks, meeting memorable strangers we’ll spend the rest of the evening imitating, night-driving with a perfectly-chosen soundtrack, fisting, and at least three embarrassing admissions made due to sleepiness, a post-orgasmic urge to confess, or intoxication. I am quickly realizing that there is no casual way to work fisting into a list, even on a sex blog. I have this unspoken test where I won’t go to bed with anyone who can’t unbuckle my belt one-handed and without looking. I only regret sleeping with one person, but I slept with that person at least seventy-eight times and regret all of them. I recently took a Cosmo quiz while I waited for a haircut, and it rated me a Five Star Sexmate. My favorite porn star is Billy Brandt, although I did meet Militia of the new American Gladiators, whom I recognized from a jerk-off scene he did in a gay porn flick (he signed a picture for me: “To Jen – eat well, train hard!”). My parents found some pretty graphic pictures I took for a girlfriend when I was sixteen and confronted me with them; they’ve still got them stashed in a drawer, which is way-shady behavior. I love ropeburn, but hate rugburn. I don’t sleep with boys anymore, but I will always be hopelessly intrigued by the innate cockiness of sun-burned redneck boys who limbo at the Apache Pier. I read way more slash fan-fiction than I’d ever ‘fess up to, even here. My wrists are freakishly sensitive. My first celebrity crush was Demi Moore, but now I’m more into Bea Arthur. I am even more into my partner, M, who is the absolute warmest, loveliest, most earnest girl I have ever known, and who is fantastic with her hands, and who will probably be mentioned about a thousand times over this month of blogging.

I’m rambling now, and I promise, the next entry will be more coherent. In fact, I’ve got a growing list of topics and hope to tackle one post daily. But in the meantime, here’s what you should know:

I am pretty much shameless and will answer any question you put to me, via comments, e-mail, or smoke signals. My e-mail is, and I’m about as friendly as your standard golden retriever, so please, get in touch. Also, as always, the blog is for a cause: any money you lovelies donate will go to the Rape And Incest National Network, and will be used to fund their online hotline for those affected by sexual violence. You can donate by clicking here - if you're so kind as to kick in, make sure to mention in the 'Additional Information' field that Jen H sent you, and that I'm part of the GBBMC2008.

Also, feel free to introduce yourselves: we could be in for a long month, and I'd love to know who's reading! Until tomorrow, darlings!

Friday, March 28, 2008

By way of introduction:

This is just a little bit unlike me, but because it's for a good cause, and because it's come along at a truly pivotal, absolute mess of a time, I'm signing on to blog about sex for the entire month of April.

The nitty-gritty can be found right here, but suffice it to say that any donations I can come up with will benefit RAINN (the Rape and Incest National Network). They do incredible work that benefits not only those of us who have been sexually assaulted or abused, but the friends, family, and lovers who are affected by the baggage sexual violence can leave one with. In short, they're trying to make the world a better, safer place for all of us, so I do hope those who stumble across this blog will do what they can to help RAINN help us. Their goal, if fundraising efforts take off this month, is to make their web-based hotline accessible 24/7. (It's currently available 10 hours a day, five days a week, and they've already helped thousands of people this way. I'm included in that number.) Anyone who's ever had to call a hotline for help will attest that picking up that phone can be the most daunting thing in the world; having an online hotline would make reaching out so much easier, and so much more accessible for those who don't have a safe and private physical space from which to call for help.

Whenever the urge moves you, you can donate right here, in any amount. And in the 'additional information' field, let 'em know Jen Hilbert sent you, and that it's part of GBBMC2008.

I'll admit that my motives aren't purely altruistic here: although my rape happened seventeen months ago, I'm still in intensive counseling for it, I've still got PTSD and a whole lot of baggage from it, and this blogging project gives me a chance to sort through thoughts and memories I find it hard to voice aloud. I want to be able to talk about this, not just to help myself, but to put my story out there for others who are in the same situation. I realize that talking about these things could trigger other survivors, and so rest assured: if I post about issues of sexual assault, I will give you all a heads-up at the very start, so you can skip on over it if you're not up for reading.

And believe you me, this blog is not going to be a sad affair. On the contrary: I'm really jazzed about this opportunity, because I love talking about sex nearly as much as I enjoy having it. (Okay, that's a lie. But I do love to talk about it.) I want to write about my sex soundtrack playlists, and about gay porn, and about how badly I wish I was a boy, sometimes. I want to tell you guys about my first time, and the latest time, and that time M fucked me with a strap-on in an empty classroom on a Sunday afternoon. I want to have fun here, because I deserve it, because springtime brings out this ache in me that I'm particularly eager to document.

So, here it is: my sex blog. I won't officially start this 'til April, but expect an introduction shortly, because you all deserve to know with whom you're dealing. Until then, lovelies, take care, be safe, and e-mail away! It's, and I check my inbox compulsively and correspond like someone from another century. Truth.