This is a guest post by Holly Pervocracy. Holly Pervocracy is a kinky, geeky feminist sexblogger. She writes essays on her experiences as a member of the BDSM and polyamory communities, editorials from a sex-positive feminist perspective, advice on sexuality and kink, and humorous critiques of sexism online and in the media.
This post originally appeared at Holly Pervocracy’s blog.
Note from the GF mods: links from this post may lead to sexually explicit writing or images. In addition, Holly Pervocracy’s original entry has some anti-feminist comments, so ‘ware for that if you head over to her site. (Comments made here are expected to adhere to our comment policy.)
With all apologies to the original, which all geeks should read…
I think geek sexuality is an awesome thing. God knows it’s the only sexuality I’ve ever known. Geeks are tinkerers who constantly try to improve and innovate, and geeks are not bound by many mainstream social rules, and these two things combine to create some fucking hot sex. Also for some semi-mysterious reason the overlap between “geek” and “kinkster” is, like, 90% of both groups.
But geeks also are prone to weird social thinking, some of it a reaction to the ungeeky mainstream, some of it their very own invention. Here’s some common misconceptions that can fuck up geek sex.
GSFS 1: People can voluntarily control their emotions about sex.
This manifests a couple different ways:
“We’ve agreed this is casual sex, so as long as we decide not to develop feelings, we won’t.”
“Sex is just a physical activity, so adding it to our dating/friendship won’t change our relationship.”
“My partner promised not to feel jealous because I’m not monogamous, but they’re betraying me by feeling jealousy anyway!” (Note that in this example both partners are apparently carriers of this fallacy.)
Pretending you can just decide whether you’ll feel any emotions at all is a geek fallacy stemming from the idea that you should be able to optimize your own brain to not do anything unproductive or unintended. But geeks ought to know better, because come on, you can’t even get a computer to do that. This stuff comes on you, it gets you by the heart and the gut, and it doesn’t ask you “pardon me, I’m an emotion, are you okay with experiencing me?” first.
What you can and should voluntarily control is how you express your emotions. It’s okay to feel strong emotions; it’s not okay to attack people or break promises and use “I was emotional” as an excuse. This is when it’s time to tell your partner “hey, we need to talk, I’m feeling an emotion!” Solving the problem may involve changing your relationship boundaries, it may just involve talking it out, or it may mean you have to end the relationship. But the solution is never “that is an incorrect emotion, please stop experiencing it.”
GSFS 2: The weirder your sex, the more enlightened you are.
I’ve done a whole post on this, so go there if you want extended pontification. The short of it is: geeks have a tendency to mistake “less mainstream” for “better,” and to conclude that sex that least resembles the mainstream is both the sexiest and the most virtuous. So polyamory gets seen as more enlightened than monogamy, kink gets seen as sexier than vanilla, and monogamous vanilla geeks get a big steaming pile of “I guess you’re just not very open-minded.”
I think polyamory and kink have great things to offer geeks of all sorts, but “having sex with multiple people” and “having ouchy sex” aren’t those things. Those are just neutral activities, things to do if you like and not if you don’t. The real takeaways are conscious and explicit communication. That’s what makes us cooler than the squares.
GSFS 3: Cool chicks don’t worry about sexism.
This isn’t exactly a sex thing but God does it plague some geek circles. I know because I’ve been the cool chick. I’ve played the “don’t worry, I’m not like those other girls, I’m not into gossip and drama” card; I’ve played the “well, you have my permission to objectify me, because I take it as a compliment” card; I’ve even played the “that mean lady was such an uptight no-funster for having boundaries” card.
Those cards are the fuck out of my deck now. And I’ve paid the social price for that. There’s definitely some people in my circles who’ve put me in their “uptight no-funster” mental box since then, or who deliberately bait me about “watch out, Holly, I’m going to patriarchally oppress you!” because ahahaha she’s an angry little lady isn’t that cute.
I don’t blame a woman who sees this go on, decides she wants friends more than she wants to start fights about some abstract problem that doesn’t seem to affect her personally, and starts telling her male friends not to worry, they can be sexist around her, she’s cool. The problem isn’t her. The problem is all the people who made it so much easier and more pleasant for her to be a “cool chick” than a woman who gives a damn how people think of her gender.
GSFS 4: Drama is always worse than the thing the drama is about.
I guess the xkcd comic has a little bit of this one. Drama’s never fun, but it beats the fuck out of suppressing real issues. In my time in geek circles, I’ve seen reports of sexual harassment and even outright assault silenced with “well, I don’t want to make drama” or “but whatever, that’s just drama.” A woman in the group is a sexual predator? Gosh, I don’t spread gossip. A man needs to be disinvited from parties because he’s repeatedly threatened people at them? No, kicking him out would make a scene, it would make drama.
In geek sexual communities, the illusion of smooth functioning and of everyone being bestest friends with everyone can supersede people’s needs for comfort and safety. A lot of this has to do with the “Ostracizers are Evil” non-sex GSF, but it gets worse when you add sex to the mix, because defensiveness about our non-traditional sexuality suppresses important issues even further. Like, if you admit that people violate boundaries in BDSM circles, then you’re admitting that BDSM isn’t a perfect haven of consent and negotiation, and that’s just going to play right into the mainstream idea that BDSM is abusive! So we end up defending abusers to prove BDSM isn’t abusive.
“Drama” is a trivializing word. Let’s try “conflict,” instead. “I don’t want to treat him any differently just because he gets a little handsy with women, that would cause conflict.” It doesn’t sound so superior and level-headed now, does it?
GSFS 5: Sex should be no big deal.
This is related to GSFS 1, but even nastier. This is the idea that since sex is just a super simple physical act–you rub some bits together, it feels good, the end–that there shouldn’t be anything complicated or difficult about sex. That casual sex should be easy for everyone, that having multiple partners should be as simple as “it’s like having a sexual partner, but more than one of them,” that everyone who makes sex into a big complex issue is being dramatic (GSFS 4) or no-fun (GSFS 3) or narrow-minded (GSFS 2).
Sex is complicated as fuck, and if you think understanding sex is easy, you don’t understand sex. I’ve written 1300 posts on sex and I’ve already changed my mind about roughly half of them. It amazes me that the same people who admit that games about rolling dice can hide deep complexity and meaning will go on and claim that sex is just some squishy bits coming together. It’s not. Sex is two (or more) people interacting in a huge diversity of ways, and while it can be great, it’s never simple.
I love geek sex. I love the way we’re endlessly willing to rethink and improve and break stereotypes about sex. But we gotta stop buying into this crap. We’re geeks; we oughta be smarter than that.