Fucking Language

I have him exactly where I want him- his wrists are pinned, I’m straddling him, and he’s moaning, struggling, and begging. I’m going to do exactly what I want to him, whatever I want to him, which is (mundanely enough) to fuck him, to feel him inside of me… to be penetrated by him.

In the age of gender deconstructionism and queer studies, we ought to have dispelled the myth that one’s sexual organs define the way one can engage in sex. Everyone knows it’s more fun to color outside the lines, but for some reason, sexuality is kept within strict boundaries.

Despite the fact that sex is mutual–people “have sex with rather than “do sex to one another–intercourse always seems to be classified by penetration.  There is always presumed to be one person who is “fucking and one who is “being fucked –“pitcher and a “catcher, a “giver” and a “receiver”, and it’s taken for granted that the receiver is the one being penetrated.

I find this problematic, and not just for personal reasons, although I admit I do have my own agenda (when it comes to sex, I’ve always strongly believed that “tis better to give than to receive.) I’m female, I tend towards toppiness and I love to be penetrated and to penetrate, with a slight preference for the former. The model of “insert tab A into slot B bothers me for a deeper reason than my own–it takes the creativity out of sex and insidiously reinforces a very rigid, sexist, and heteronormative view.

When you look at the way our language is structured, it’s not terribly surprising that this false dichotomy of penetrating/being penetrated exists. We have a word for “penetration” but we have no dictionary-given word that means the complement. This passivity is built into our language; you have to say “being penetrated,” as there is no active term for it. This implies that the active partner is the one who is penetrating, since the language doesn’t exist to describe it any other way. Some people use the word “engulf as a complement to “penetrate, but that’s not quite right.

This lack of language is what inspired a feminist blogger to coin the term valprehension, an active alternative. While I applaud the effort, I haven’t been able to bring myself to use it. It feels a bit too forced and formal. It’s also almost completely unknown, and while the backstory is nice, it’s difficult to explain, and it kills the mood when you need to stop whispering sexily into your lover’s ear to make them hurry out of bed (or sex club, or dungeon, or random-clump-of-bushes-in-the-park) to go look up a definition.

I know I’m not the only one who feels left out by this lack of language. When I was first discovering my own sexuality, I felt dysphoric and alone. Sexual education at school provided me with stark images and clinical descriptions of “penises being inserted into vaginas while pornographic images of male-on-female sex certainly didn’t offer any alternatives. It all seemed extremely limited to me, full of “he acted and “she reacted. I found this unappealing. I didn’t want to only be reactive–I wanted to act. I wanted to see my partner react. But that didn’t seem to fit into society’s perception of what was supposed to happen.

The vast majority of the time, when I am fucking someone, I am the one who is doing the fucking, no matter who wears the cock. The other person can be getting fucked, or they can be fucking too. It doesn’t really matter to me. What does matter is that I am the one who is doing the fucking.

I used to wonder if I could ever find someone who thought about sex in my terms, and I couldn’t stomach the idea of having sex with someone who didn’t.

Eventually, my immense desire for sex overrode my feelings of fear and I decided I should just take sex where I could get it, even if it wasn’t the type of sex I’d ideally want to have. I told myself that perspective and language didn’t matter, and tried to concentrate on the physical act. Nevertheless, sometimes I’ll bring a guy home and wonder to myself, “does he think he’s fucking me? Does he think I’m not fucking him back½ The idea of my partner’s perspective of what we’re doing not aligning with my own is somewhat terrifying. As I always emphasize when discussing disability and sexuality, sex is mostly mental. Sex isn’t about the body- the biggest and most important sexual organ is the brain. It’s very important that my sexual partners and I both be on the same mental page when we’re having sex. When I’m topping someone and they tell me “I want to fuck you, it brings my power-laced fantasy to a screeching halt- I am reminded that when it comes to sex, I am expected to lie back and receive, limited to this role by my physiology. But this phrase is a mainstay of most sexual relationships. I have even had to train my submissive partner, who enjoys being a bottom more than any man I have ever had sex with, to say “please fuck me or “I want you to fuck me instead of “I want to fuck you.

Once, when I was about to fuck him, I had a brainstorm. He loves being bound and confined. I was on top of him, teasing him, rubbing my naked chest on his, about to- for lack of a better term- valprehend his quivering cock. “I want to confine you, I whispered. “Yesss, he moaned. “I want to make it so that no matter how hard you push, how hard you fight, you can never get out, I said, to which he responded by thrusting up against me. “I’m going to squeeze your cock so hard, you won’t be able to move. He loved hearing that and so in this way, I was able to have us be on the same mental page, giving him what he wanted (to be restrained) and be what I wanted (to be the “doer) at the same time.

Of course, many people enjoy the combination of being the one doing the penetration and also being the top and/or the active partner. There’s nothing wrong with that. I enjoy it myself, from time to time, but there is still this disconnect between when I’m pounding away at someone’s ass vs. when I’m pounding away at their cock.

My own personal motivations aside, I also wonder how much this penetration-centric view of sex influences our culture. It takes agency away from the “receivers, as if they are just bystanders.  Furthermore, it’s overly simplistic. It completely negates the fact that all participants in sexual activities need to be involved and engaged, if not active or assertive. If they are not asserting themselves in their sexuality, then are they consenting to sex? As gender deconstructionist Hugo Schwyzer points out, lack of assertion can lead to violence, as we casually use “getting fucked to mean “having something really bad happen to you. This line of thinking is what led anti-porn crusader Andrea Dworkin to assert that heterosexual intercourse, fundamentally influenced by patriarchal society, is inherently violent. I wouldn’t go that far, but I do wonder how much rape or sexual abuse could have been prevented if our culture didn’t have this mindset. I think back on my own sexual education and I wonder: What if, in the course of sexual education, we told young women that they are not bound to being passive receptacles for their male partners? What if we told young men that they don’t have to take all the responsibility for sex, that they could be equally sensitive and reactive? What if we taught them about queer sex, about sex that doesn’t conform to societal norms? What if we told everyone that sexual fulfillment and pleasure is the shared responsibility of all partners involved?

While I don’t believe in telling consenting adults how to frame their sexuality, they need to know  that they have options in doing so. Sometimes, sex can be “insert tab A into slot B or “slot B surrounds tab A. And sometimes tab A and slot B get so incredibly, wonderfully wrapped up within each other that it’s impossible to tell what’s what.

Good Vibrations

Good Vibrations is the premiere sex-positive, women-principled adult toy retailer in the US. An iconic brand and one of the world's first sex toy shops to focus specifically on women's pleasure and sexual education, Good Vibrations was founded by Joani Blank in 1977 to provide women with a safe, welcoming and non-judgmental place to shop for erotic toys. Good Vibrations has always included all people across the gender spectrum, and is a place where customers can come for education, high quality products, and information promoting sexual health, pleasure and empowerment. Customers can shop Good Vibrations' expertly curated product selection across any of its nine retail locations or on the GoodVibes.com website, where they can also find a wealth of information pertaining to sexual pleasure, exploration and education.

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