The Sexy Time You and the Public You
It seems to me many people have failed to understand the act of sex at its core and what it means for human behavior. While I am not a psychologist or physician I am a veteran of the sexual playground and frankly, I think that counts for more than a degree with little to no actual experience in the matter – especially in a sex-scared country like the United States.
Some people seem to believe that sexual encounters should represent something closer to tea-time than the carnal, hungry, sweaty encounter that it truly is. No one is saying sex can’t be romantic or love-centered as opposed to lust-centered, but even then, as I stated in an earlier post, this is still ultimately a meeting of urges and not identities. Acts that transpire during sex cannot and do not translate to the public sphere.
What do I mean by this? To give an example, I was reading a recent New York Times article about Stanford and a girl who claims to have been raped after the fact by one of their assigned ‘mentors’. I am not going to take a position on that but I want to relay and discuss a detail of it, one used as proof against the accused as testimony of his bad character.
At one point she claims that during consensual sex he would put his hand around her throat. This is clearly meant to evoke violent imagery and cast her one-time partner in a negative, controlling and vicious light. But the reality is that within the context of consensual sex (which it was) this doesn’t mean much.
So many people do this. I do this. My friends (gay and straight) have done it. And many heterosexual female friends of mine have expressed receiving pleasure from such behavior during the loving nasty. I was once told by a girl I went clubbing with that I was obviously gay because I wasn’t ‘aggressive’ enough which she viewed as unattractive. I even know some heterosexual men that enjoy the same behavior from their female partners.
Sexual behavior between intimates cannot and does not translate to the public sphere. Putting a hand around someone’s throat during consensual sex is not the same as doing so to a colleague or partner in public, at work, or while dinner is being made. Because someone might do this during consensual sex does not mean they will do it outside of a sexual context. Nor does it say anything about their nature as a violent or non-violent person.
Context matters because location and audience matters. How we speak to a younger sibling, a close friend, a grandparent, stranger, or superior is determined by a multitude of factors. You might be very assertive with a younger sibling and cowed by your colleagues – so are you truly a passive person or assertive person? Or are you someone who knows how to read and understand social cues?
Sexual encounters are not the same as social encounters and the rules are different. What is expected is different and what is considered acceptable and unacceptable is different. Kissing hellos and goodbyes do not include tongue. In the movie theatre, however, a tongue may very well be included.
If my partner wants me to aggressively control his body while fucking him at high-speed this does not mean I go around grabbing people’s arms in public. And if I enjoy a slow fuck this scarcely means I will shy away from using violence in public. Who we are in bed divagates from who we are in public because it often becomes a realm of fantasy.
I fully acknowledge that violent personas can bring their violence into the bedroom. But we must also acknowledge that because a behavior is exhibited in bed does not mean it is a manifestation of who that person will become in society.