"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Confessions of a Nymphomaniac.

Now Playing: Hard Out Here by Lily Allen (if I told you about my sex life you'd call me a slut, but when boys be talking about their bitches no-one's making a fuss) 

When I go home with a man, I don’t think he is desperate. I don’t think he is needy. I don’t think he is starved for attention or trying to get my approval, or the approval of my gender as a whole. I don’t read some psychological illness or childhood deprivation when he crows about getting laid or how pretty I am. I don’t think he’s weird for having a sex drive or a freak for acting on his desires. I don’t think he loves me or wants to marry me and I don’t think of us as a failure if we don’t end up tripping down the aisle. I just see him as a man who happens to like sex, and happens to like me, and that’s that.

Cold, isn’t it? Clinical. We’re still not used to women talking about sex in this way. But I’m a young, happily single woman with no interest in dating, but I still have a sexuality. I still have needs and wants. Anyone who sees me sipping overpriced cocktails wearing pearls and red lipstick would pick me for a bit of a hedonist. And if society views men with healthy sex lives as normal and balanced then, goshdarnit, why don’t they see me the same way?

I have never identified as asexual, and I’ve never experienced the stigma and discrimination of being that way. But as much as we are prejudiced against people who don’t feel sexual and/or romantic attraction, we expect this to be the silent de-facto for unattached women. Women aren’t allowed to masturbate, flirt, sleep around, or have any kind of sex that isn’t in or leading towards the perfect marriage to the perfect husband to make perfect babies. Even Charlotte from Sex and the City – the 90s girl’s Karma Sutra – exclaims ‘I’ve been dating since I was fifteen, where *is* he?’

Sex isn’t tryouts, lads. I’m not at the mall trying on shoes, trying to find the perfect ones to take home. I’m in it for the same reason you are.

And it’s not just about pleasure. If it was, all of us would spare ourselves and each other the sweaty, awkward ordeal of sex, fraught with risk of pregnancy, injury, disease & death (source: every sexual health class ever). There’s no chance of getting knocked up by my vibrator, and no guy ever caught chlamydia from jacking himself off. If it was just about the big-O, spending $400 an hour on high-class escorts would be a colossal waste of money. Of course we’re all in it for the intimacy. It’s not a desperate search for Prince Charming to carry me off on his white horse, but at the same time, sex is something you share, with someone, and whether or not it lasts longer than the moment isn’t important to me. In the moment you are closer to them than to anyone else in the world, and that’s one of the many miracles of life.

I like sex. I like people. I like the marriage of the two. But we have this idea in our heads that women can only, and should only, tangle love and men and sex into one inextricable knot, and that one cannot exist without the other; that women lack the logic or emotional intelligence to see them as separate things that can, but don’t always, intersect. When I go out, I’m not looking for a person; I’m looking for an experience. I grow to like the person, unless I discover something unsavoury about them; it’s just like any other relationship, I like you until I don’t like you anymore. I’m friends with many of my partners and former partners, and I still think fondly of most of the ones I’m not in contact with. And, with a few regrettable exceptions, my partners are all exceptionally respectful, decent human beings and excellent company. The idea that you can’t respect and care for someone just because you are in a relationship that isn’t ‘forever and always’ or gooey Disney-princess romantic is seriously disturbing.

We don’t actually have a problem with women having sex. We don’t have a problem with the wives and girlfriends of the world. We don’t have a problem with mothers or grandmothers; all of whom, I’m afraid to tell you, have gotten their freak on at some point. We have a problem with women *wanting* sex.

We shame women for wanting boyfriends, but we don’t shame them for actually having boyfriends. We want men to pick up women, but the only way we can fathom a woman’s opinion on the matter is the oh-so-dynamic-and-complicated ‘slut/prude’ Catch-22. We want women to be sexually available but never sexually eager. We want women to be romantically and sexually passive, and we are terrified of women who resist or make their own advances. Our fear of the nymphomaniac is just one of many symptoms of a deeply misogynistic society. At the heart of it all, we are still terrified of women who call the shots; even on their own lives and bodies.

This, my friends, is rape culture. We can't see anything wrong with a woman having sex when she doesn't want to, because that's how it's meant to be. Women are never allowed to want sex, but they're never allowed to refuse. In this mindset, rape is impossible; or at least very permissible. Just part of the status quo.

When we talk about women having sex, it’s all about women ‘losing’ something, ‘giving it away’, ‘disrespecting herself’, ‘giving in’. If sex was so costly and soul-destroying for women as people make it out to be, women like me wouldn’t exist. Are female orgasms fictional now? Sex isn’t a prize; I’m not rewarding you for your awkward pick-up lines or paying you back for the drinks and the cab ride home. Our society is hellbent on seeing sex as a transaction – I’ll give you sex, I’ll give you head, I’ll give in to you, I’ll give you my virginity. We seem to forget that women have nerve endings, too; in fact, a helluva lot more than cis-males. Think about the reasons why men have sex; a little, a lot, with one person or dozens. None of them are ‘giving away’ anything or ‘disrespecting themselves’, because we recognise that most men get physical and emotional pleasure from intimacy. Well, ditto for women, folks. Newsflash.

This gendered double standard arises, ultimately, from our inability to imagine women complexly. We see what they’re doing in the moment and make snap judgements, without putting things into context or, you know, butting out of someone else’s business.

You know what? Sometimes I feel like Cinderella’s Prince from Into the Woods.

"This was just a moment in the woods
Our moment, shimmering and lovely and sad
Leave the moment
Just be glad for the moment that we had
Every moment is of the moment when you’re in the woods…

Now, I must go off to slay the giant." 

We always seem to remember that men, no matter how much they treasure their moments in the wood, have other purposes in life; we respect that they have giants to slay and that the absence or presence of women in their beds does little to change that. But when a woman wants in, we think her life revolves around the business of man-seducing and husband-getting.

I have my moments in the woods. But I need to slay my own giants, too.

The other thing that is monumentally confusing for people who like to dissect my sex life and make snap judgements about my character/IQ/whatever is that I am, apparently, a ‘virgin’. I don’t have ‘real sex’.

Alrighty, then.

When we reduce sex to a single act, not only do we exclude queer experiences of sex, but we buy into the inherent misogyny of heteronormativity. For a non-lesbian woman who sleeps with male-bodied men, the idea of not having penetrative sex is unthinkable. It’s ‘not really sex’.

Last time I checked, cis-women lesbians seem to manage just fine without penises. Nobody accuses the devilish homosexual of being a virgin; in fact, I think they have the opposite problem.

I choose not to have certain kinds of sex in the same way that everyone else draws the line at what they will and will not do. I do not have to justify my reasons to anybody. But the fact that people take such issue with my boundaries – and these are people I’m not even intending on sleeping with, people who never had any intentions of sleeping with me – is, to me, ultimate proof of how problematic society’s relationship is to female sexuality. This lack of understanding that there are other kinds of sex, that there are other ways for people of all genders to experience sexual pleasure aside from that going in there, the fact that almost nobody knows that up to 80% of women cannot orgasm from penetration alone, is proof that people still think of my sexuality on what I have to offer, what I have to give, and how much I have to lose. For the record, nobody has felt betrayed or conned by my sticking to my boundaries, nor do they have the right to. If you’re up for something that I’m not up for, well then, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. That’s the joy of being single, isn’t it?

They make orifices for men to stick their penises in. They’re called fleshlights. There are people who are happy and satisfied with not experiencing sexual attraction. They’re called asexual individuals, and y’all should treat them with a fuckload more respect. But I am a woman interested in the business of giving and receiving sexual pleasure, and I go out and get what I want. On my own terms. In my own way. I am capable of having sex without love and that is nothing to be ashamed of, or to shame me over, when every night men hit the clubs hoping for the same and nobody thinks of them as lonely childless sad people or perverts.

The only people who have to be happy about what happens behind closed doors is me, and the people I wake up next to. I am sick and tired of having my sexuality ignored, shamed, or ridiculed. The existence of my sexuality is not up for debate and my sex life is not open to discussion. And next time you think about judging me, or the other ‘girls on the prowl’, think about whether or not you would judge them if they were men, and then remember that we are in fact the gender with the most nerve endings, the only gender with an organ which exists solely for pleasure, and the gender of the multiple orgasms. If that doesn’t give us the right to be nymphomaniacs, then nothing does.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What are you supposed to do with spoiled memories?

What are you supposed to make of the happy times with the people who made you so unhappy? I have all these memories and flashbacks and in-jokes floating around my mind, with so many people I have loved and lost. I go back to a place where we laughed or kissed or had our first fight and the memories flood back, good and bad, and I don't know what to do with them.

I'm so tired of living in this city of ghosts.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

yellow paper clip.

There is a letter for you
In my jewellery case
Folded in place
With a yellow paper clip

Should you ever ask for it
I would surrender it
I would do anything
I have surrendered

I have always been so proud
I was raised to be a princess
But here I am
Begging for mercy

And if she ever demanded it
She can also read it
Let the whole world read it
I was never good at secrets

I loved and lost you
Both of you
And I cannot bear being
The villain of your story

Should you ever want to know
What I have to say
I took great pains
In writing you

In writing a letter
That will never find its way to you

I have a letter for you
In my jewellery case
Folded in place
With a yellow paper clip

But I know, somehow
That you will not ask.
And I will never have the chance to tell

I know
That you don't want to know
You don't want to think of me

But I have a letter
In my jewellery case
Folded in place

Waiting for you.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Clarence

If you thought I would relent
That I am a problem you can run from
That I am a skeleton to lock in your closet

That you can disappear for months
And find me still smiling 
If you thought you could crawl back
Into my open arms 

You were wrong

I have only had more time to grow angrier
You tempt fate
You tempt Italian powders from my sleeve
Into your cup

I am done.
I am done smiling, I am done loving,
I am done begging for forgiveness

Perhaps if you had faced me like a man
I would have forgiven you
But it is too late for this, for us
For you now

Are you afraid?
Are you afraid of fire?

Wiser to be afraid of water 

My rage is a witch's wind 
An endless bellow 

A maelstrom; 

And you are my shipwreck. 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Bon Voyage

I am sorry I have you caught
Between a rock and a beautiful place

Let the storm rage, then blow over
I will keep you safe from my fury

In truth, my darling,
I feel quite bereft without you

I have buried one friend
Been murdered by two others

And sent you away
With my love around your neck

I know my love is reckless and rude
Difficult and unkind

It is hard to show
And harder to understand

But I will always be there for you
Come fire, flood, act of God

(Not that you and I think it will come to that;
But if it does, I will still continue to be)

I will wait like Penelope for you.
(Not really, but you know what I mean)

for Daniel. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ghost Pictures

I want my picture back

I know it's your face
And your coffee
And your cheeky little smile

But they're my headphones in the frame
And my hands behind the shot

And it was taken with my love
That you couldn't understand

How can you use it as your face for the world
When I am dead to you?

I don't want people to forget
As you have forgotten
The invisible girl behind the camera
Who loved and lost you

I don't want people to think
That smile was for her

Because I own this one thing of yours
That smile was for me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

B & S

I started to think
'How on earth do you expect me to endure this?'

But then I realized
You weren't thinking of me
You weren't thinking of anyone but yourself

And I don't quite know what to say
But does it matter?
I know you're not listening

Poetry!
Poetry is for silly little boys
To scribble empty words
And broken promises
To exalt things they do not understand

How can you talk of love
When you forget your flesh and blood
And your flesh friends crying blood tears

You're the one with the God
But no conscience

And I
I will do what I always do
Whisper silent goodbyes
Pick up the pieces

Thursday, December 11, 2014

We drove into the clouds today and I
I do not mind if I should die here

I have finally learned my lesson
That the spaces between bodies do not matter
Whether we are pushed together or wrenched apart

It is the distance between hearts
And I know, now, for you and I
They have always been worlds apart

Thursday, November 20, 2014

서리

I cannot fix our problems
On my own

My faults are my own burden to bear
And I am sorry that they have hurt you

But I think I can say with a little certainty,
A little honesty,

That you have not sobbed a lullaby
And let your tears rock you to sleep

For me.

I have survived horrors that you have never known
And I hope you will never know

I live with demons in my head
And war wounds on my flesh

But this cold, cruel indifference
Shall be the death of me

Some say the world will end in fire,
But I say ice.

I can already feel the chill of your icy contempt,
Your frozen neglect.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Waves.

I know it will hit me
Like the waves I never quite learned to dive under

But what a thing it must be
To lay down your head and sleep

I am more afraid of pain
Than drowning

I wish more than anything
That you can lay down your head and sleep

But I cannot remember you as you were, my friend
I cannot even remember what colour your eyes are.

And I cannot pray for you, my friend
I don't quite know how

But I will let it hit me
Like the waves I never quite learned how to dive under

And sink, or swim
For you.

For a dear friend.