Wednesday, March 31, 2021

How de Beauvoir saved my sex life

Having read the Second Sex with the simple intention of developing my female characters a little more comprehensively, I, instead, exposed a wealth of bias I'd been harboring towards the female of our species for my entire life. The myth of an earthly maternal protector was very much ingrained in my psyche. Her role in my stories thus far had been to try and talk my male hero down and keep him from his transcendence. This would be unconsciously brought on by her fear and lack of understanding of the outside world. Had I continued to use this model when developing my characters I'm sure I would find my scope of storytelling would diminish greatly. What's worse is, I was projecting this archetype onto my partner and I think, ironically, keeping her from her own transcendence.

It's very easy to dismiss these ideas as a man because they don't emerge in our every day discussions but if we look at our history of literature, our mythology and subsequently our religions, they are very much centered around the male experience. The truth is we carry an abundance of historically biased baggage that we obliviously succumb to. Like for instance, I never even thought about the effect of the ritual where the father gives away the bride to her new man as if she were an asset that's being handed over from one family to the next. Little things like this that could possibly diminish a woman's sense of autonomy are in fact the things that I never thought about.

De Beauvoir posits that a man can be incredibly clumsy during the first sexual encounter with a long term partner and this can have an effect on the woman potentially causing some deep seated resentment.  Upon first reading, I have to admit that, I gave this statement a very surface assessment; taking the word 'clumsy' as something akin to poor aim, but, as the text went on I realized that it was a lot more psychological than that. This was when the feelings of guilt started to set in. My partner is five years younger than I am which was enough for me to adopt the position of teacher in our sexual relationship even though I, myself, was a novice. Without knowing it I was creating a scenario analogous to a child who is otherwise an ace footballer but can't seem to score when his dad is watching him. I introduced an unnecessary unhelpful pressure into our relationship and at the same time I formulated an exchange where I was unlikely to learn from her. 

I'm a big believer in the idea that our bodies harbor attributes that our conscious minds simply can't fathom. For me it's psoriasis. If I'm unhappy about something, and I'm not actively trying to work through it, my skin cells start to multiply and I'm left with scales. I think that my partner's body now holds a resentment that she has long given up trying to comprehend. Upon some research I discovered a condition called vaginismus. It is an involuntary contracting of the required muscles and it is usually caused by a previous trauma, which made my partner disagree with my opinion that it was relevant. I'm aware that there's a serious case to be made against male doctors ignoring female's subjective reporting in our culture but my hypothesis relies on the condition being unconscious. 

Whenever I imagine myself playing with my partner I usually have my index finger extended and it's trying to poke her, usually in her most precious regions. With this, and the odd pinch of a nipple or bottom, you can see why we don't make time for play that much anymore. The unfortunate truth is that my male instincts in both play and sex are to penetrate. This is something I need to work on (avoiding pornography is a good start!). De Beauvoir hypothesizes that the simple difference in the make up of our sexual organs can have a profound effect on our psychology; where a boy's organ points out into the world, giving him permission to explore, a girl's is hidden away and shrouded in shame. This is potentially the source of the "Mystery" in woman that we are accustomed to in literature. 

This is a very difficult blunder to try and atone for, especially when the victim herself, doesn't agree with the theory in the first place. All I could think as how to make a start was to relieve the pressure somehow. So after a discussion we concluded that going forward, I don't expect penetration out of our sexual encounters anymore. This did, I think, make her feel less objectified and for a while we only did oral when making love. I then encouraged masturbation to try and help her acclimate the area somewhat and I on the other hand would decrease my private pleasure sessions in order to make my climaxes more memorable for both of us!

Now I know this sounds like she didn't have any input on the resolution of our problem but she certainly did. You see the hardest thing I've had to comprehend about female sexuality is that it's like the erosion of a coastline; very, very gradual. I could make a small misstep at the beginning of an evening that'll throw the whole thing off track. She thinks that I'm too negative. This conception is usually spurred by my complaints about banal TV shows or advertising tropes, the same ones that hook her by the heart strings. This is something I need to work on but it's hard, there's a lot of shit out there! The inner critic can be a dangerous companion but sometimes he's just fucking right! But it seems to be a turn off  so I know to limit it, at least on the days where we have made time to get intimate. Etiquette is another one of my "negative" traits. I have a tendency to be quite surly in my daily interactions with people. It's, perhaps, a deeper reflection of my personality type; I take a very long time to trust people, so theatrical use of manners offend me. I find them to be disingenuous. But ultimately these are just excuses and if a random stranger is short with me I get offended just like everybody else. So I'm watching more crap TV and being over friendly to strangers and do you know what? I think it suits me!

The one area where myself and De Beauvoir differ is when she claims that; "to ask two spouses bound by practical, social and moral ties to satisfy each other for their whole lives is pure absurdity" and that "Marriage is a perverted institution oppressing both men and women". I just think it takes a phenomenal amount of effort from both parties to try and be the best and most understanding person that they can be. I couldn't think of anyone I'd prefer spend the rest of my life with other than my partner. She is the most attractive woman I know and when we make love it's bliss.

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