Sunday, February 12, 2012

Power Play

I watch the city lights and stars respectively turn from tidy points of light to wild, elliptical snowflakes in the absence of my glasses.  The hot tub is a grand perk of the Santa Fe Polyamory meetings and, as usual, it's just me, listening to the desert stillness, hoping the heat and the dark night will steal away my hyper conscious activity.

It was a challenging meeting full of process and concern.  I found many things to say, but not spaces in the conversation to say them.  And I was tired.  And the gentleman beside me was chewing ice.  Yagh!

"Let's have people talk about some successful experiences!"  Janet*, our illustrious leader, invited.

Jared** starts excitedly.  "I had a successful time the other night, well, not like I got laid but..."

Got laid?  Your definition of success in dating is getting laid?

Let's be clear, sex can be super wonderful; as humans, we tend to like it.  It also has the effect of keeping our population populated, though it hasn't needed any help in that direction for a long time.  So what's the issue with equating getting sex with success?

Part of it is that it turns sex into a thing to be obtained, almost a commodity.  It takes sex off the table as something to be shared or worked towards by two or more people, and puts it in the sphere of the individual, maybe a competition or a game about how it can be obtained, which pits one partner against another, even unwittingly.  So what happens to that other person, or people, if one is bent on obtaining sex? 

There's also the idea that other lovely things that can happen on a date, don't count.  Something like personal connection, shared experience, good food... they just don't add up apparently.

Now, ask yourself what the purpose of a date is.  Got it?  Okay, now ask yourself what you think the purpose of the date was to the person you last went on a date with.  Do they match up?  Are they the same?  This brings us to my third point.

There's this concern about cross purposes.  I have no quibbles about giggle sex (sex primarily for the sake of sex).  If, however, one's goal is sex, why the date? Right?  Like, if two people have the same goal (to have sex) then the only reason to have a "date" is to talk logistics about barriers and what each of you likes/dislikes. (I don't, personally, call that a date.)

To me, "date" presupposes the possibility of a relationship.  If sex is the successful culmination of a date, then the goal, at least for someone, wasn't about relating.  That could be found hurtful by someone who assumed the date was about relating.  And actually, often is.

Okay, anyway, it gets better.  So, Janet is putting on a play aimed at sex education called The Vagina Penis Dialogues.  She brings out her home-made 6' vulva costume for us all to see.  The costume has an amount of EL-wire in it that lights up when you flip a switch.  She's fuddling trying to find the switch when Jared says "Give it to me.  I can turn it on with my tongue."

I've been thinking about this statement in the hot tub for the last 10 minutes.  Why is it that sometimes sexual banter about prowess is funny and acceptable and sometimes it isn't?  This was one of those times it wasn't.  But why?  We're friendly, sex positive people.  I keep thinking about it and can come up with at least 5 things he could have said, that would have had similar meaning but would have been funny, not creepy. 

This is what I think: when a man claims some sort of power (mastery, intense skill) over some part of inherently female sexuality it brings up associations relating force, power over, etc.  In a way someone is saying "I and my Penis are King!" through the associations one might give to power of a monarchy.

True power over isn't sexy.  Power with is.  And playing with power can be very sexy, and we only do it with people we already really trust.

This all comes down to familiarity.  How much do the people you're making this comment to, trust you already?  Perhaps for others in the group there was already a sense of trust built with Jared.  But not for me and since no one said anything to his comment, I'm guessing others didn't either.  Sorry, Jared.  Didn't work out for you this time.

*Janet not real name
**Jared also not real name