Some things are a big deal to some people, and those very same things are not that big of a deal to other people.
Water is wet, the pope is Catholic, and the world will keep spinning on its axis.
One of these things that is a big deal to others, but not me, is sex. I see it as a part of life that exists in layers, so it’s humor, it’s intellectual, it’s art, its deeply private, etc. Whether it’s all of these things, none of them, or some in different ways depends on the individual in question. I personally don’t mind talking about it, and sometimes I even enjoy discussing it. To not go overboard with puns, but different strokes for different folks and all that.
(Pause for a second.)
One thing I don’t enjoy is the concept of respectability politics being applied to me.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, respectability politics is the idea that to deserve what I believe is a human right, you have to play by a very specific, and arguable narrow (sexist, classist, homophobic, et al) set of rules. The ideas that support rape culture can be traced back to respectability politics, and you similarly trace back pretty much any -phobia or -ism to this concept.
Now, if you know anything about me or this blog, you will know I don’t cater to bullshit like this. That said, I won’t sit here and pretend that talking about sex in 2014, even while as a woman, is some sort of groundbreaking or revolutionary act. Simply put, it is what it is and there is so much more to life (mine and yours) than this one particular topic
Without being theatrical about it, it’s just that talking about difficult things, like sex or even death, is part of what I feel is my purpose in my life. As someone who has lived around the world, I’ve seen firsthand where and how shame is born. My takeaway from those years of experience has been that I don’t see a reason for the shame surrounding sex, or most things for that matter, and so I do what I can do undo it.
Naturally, this dialogue is not comfortable for everyone. Hell, it’s not even really appropriate in most settings, unless you run in socialist arts circles like myself. I know this, and I am aware of the reality I live in. As much as I aspire to be a progressive woman, I don’t turn my focus away from the world I do live in.
I don’t even know how to phrase this next part, because it sounds like I’m complaining, which is awful, or defending my choices in life, which is even worse, but here we go:
I live my life in the way that I feel honors myself and my spirit.
It’s not for everyone, and after a lot of reflection on this, I’ve come to accept that. I welcome people into my life with acceptance, and I send them off with love and forgiveness if the time comes and we are no longer on a similar path. I do my best to live my truth while still ticking every box I have to as a woman, as an Arab, as someone who still speaks for my Muslim family with my actions. I wish I didn’t, but it’s not a choice up to me. As of this moment, I have yet to embarrass my family, friends, or employers in any capacity or regard. As much as I try to be the protagonist in my life, I respect other people’s narratives and work to complement their truths. I don’t, and never will, expose children to anything inappropriate, and I care about the safety and well being of kids (whether family or other) more than pretty much anyone I know.
So it hurts to sit here and have to write this. I’m trying to lead by example, and all I get in return is people thinking it’s okay to tell me to “go practice sucking dick” as a joke. As much as I talk about sex and sexuality, I have never said anything like that to anyone in my life, because saying things like that isn’t talking about sex. What something like that tells me is that you’re fine with (publicly) degrading a woman who is comfortable talking about sex.
Surprise! There is a wrong way to include sex into the discussion! Who woulda known?
I don’t care what me being comfortable talking about and expressing my sexuality means to anyone beyond myself. I don’t care what anyone says about me either. It’s what people (mostly straight men, and a few straight women) feel “comfortable” saying to me that is not okay.
But then this is where we hit a fork in the road.
I try not to be upset about it, and for the most part I am not. Free speech is a thing, so I encourage people to go for it anytime they have the chance. As I delve deeper into my twenties, everything I thought I understood as my place in this world (as a woman) further crumbles around me. Maybe it’s Kuwait, maybe it’s the people I choose to spend my time with. Maybe it’s every single reason that’s always been there since the beginning of time, or maybe it’s none of them at all.
I don’t know, but I do find myself growing weary.
Respect from others isn’t what I want, because it ultimately does nothing for me. Understanding isn’t really what I’m seeking, because if it has to be explained to you, it’s probably not for you. Sadly, I don’t know what it is that I want.
What I do know that is that it is really a black hole in the middle of my spirit, and the more I try to fill it, the more it demands. It’s trying not to be angry with my younger self who thought transparency was the answer to most things. It’s trying not to snap at people who want to hang their sexual repression on my back. It’s not cutting ties with people, with friends of years, who know me and know the person I am, yet still think the worst of me.
It’s having to explain myself over and over again, until I start to feel like a witness on the stand.
I don’t know where things go from here.
Part of me figures these are growing pains, and so I imagine documenting them for anyone familiar with this bump in the road could be worth something. If nothing else, I’ll have something to look back on once I’ve moved past this place in my life.