"Why do you play with girls?"
A question I ponder every now and then, especially in conversations with Majeste. Something that struck me once again, last night over dinner with a prospective new (female) play partner. We discussed the anxieties and challenges of forming connections and meaningful relationships with women. We both have poor experiences of women, well, girls, from our school days. The sort of ongoing, oppressively vindictive, back-stabbing campaigns of fair weather friends, lies, secrets and bitchy bullying that never made its way into Mallory Towers. The conceit, often expressed and supported by society at large that women are "not nice" or "out to get you." There is a belief that women are unable to co-operate, certainly not with each other, and that women will lie to your face then smile about it. We did joke that men were also often out to get you, they just were more open and honest about it.
So how can that formulate into the desire to play with women? For her, it was because she finds women attractive, more so than men. For me it is part of an ongoing process over the years of Dealing With Women. The first step is making friends with women: aside from a couple of close friends from my University days most of my friendships have been with men. The Ladies Who have been a fundamental part of this, they have taught me how to relate to women as a grown-up, not as a schoolgirl, they have also taught me what adult sexual exploration and friendship can look like. They have taught me to appreciate and understand female flesh and female company without feeling awkward or out of place, or wondering where the catch is. And that women in a group can be powerful, supportive of each other and neither catty nor fluffy. I owe them rather a lot, come to think of it.
Because I enjoy bodies and because variety in bodies is an important part of my development as a dominant, women are an important part of my nutritionally balanced sexual diet. On one hand, that does sound rather callous, as if I am including people solely as "tick box" participants in my own personal experiments. There is a little of that, perhaps, but I still find them attractive, it's just I'm currently stearing towards variety in a deliberate quest to understand more about myself, my play and BDSM in general. First and foremost I find particular people attractive, regardless of their gender. At the moment, I have a reasonably fifty fifty balance of male and female partners. What they have in common is me, and that they are striking in some way: beautiful and different.
Language makes a bid to be noticed in my conversations surrounding gender and dominance. For example, I will use the word "girls" specifically in the sense that my male submissive partners are "boys". In almost any other context I would avoid calling a woman a girl. A diminutive makes them softer, more open, a little less-than but with the emphasis on the kinds of support and input they require from me. Perhaps it also makes them less scary? By making women my de-personified, sexual toys they do not cause any of the anxieties I might otherwise hold. On the other hand, I do the same thing with "boys" rather than "men". The linguistic knack of making smaller is a common trope for all sorts of power plays, and is a dominant feature rather than a "playing with women" feature.
The discussion turned naturally toward sexual and kinky identity and the difficulty of labels when one finds people attractive as people, rather than as male, female, gay or straight. I'm not gay. I'm not really bisexual in the sense that when in those rare moments when I imagine my future life partner they are male. I've taken to identifying as queer because it covers the multitude of sins, personal and political, that I like to indulge in whilst also clearly stating "not straight". I'm also prone to outbursts of masculinity and androgyny at the same time as being absolutely comfortable and, certainly in the past couple of years, confident in my female body.
As reminded by Hedwig today, the gender-flip/queer aspect is quite heavy in my play. I wondered briefly whether I dominate girls as a woman or as a man, but then remembered I hold equally powerful masculine submissive fantasies, that centered around being the teenage male bottom. I think it is possible that my flexibility on this front is what enables me to enjoy playing with such a variety of people in different ways, it's certainly something that Spirit has mentioned when we've discussed how our power dynamic might operate.
Ultimately, I am a queer woman. Sitting in the middle. Playing with that which takes my fancy in ways that utilise power tropes drawn from all angles of the gender sphere.
As my thoughts meandered around, I started to feel that my presupposed and perceived differences between dominating women rather than dominating men were actually few, far between and relatively superficial when compared to the difference between dominating person A and person B. Eventually, I boiled it down to two clear, discernable differences between my feelings about playing with men and playing with women. One is familiarity. I have much more experience with male bodies. Women's bodies are still new and strange to me, despite having one of my own - and I am slowly, slowly learning that my own remembered sensations are not always the best guidelines for how someone else might respond. This makes women both nerve wracking and also exciting.
The second is about switching. I find it a lot easier to dominate women than to submit to them, which is interesting. I've had a lot of fun bottoming to women - Spiral springs to mind rather ferociously, as is her wont, ditto Rossetti. But being dominated was always a psychological and emotional challenge. Having thought about it for quite a long time, I'm convinced that the major stumbling block in my sexual relationship with Majeste was that the submissive that I was then just didn't sit at all well, with her very clear and strong sense of femaleness which went hand in hand with her dominance. What I'm not sure about is why this might be.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps on some subconscious level, part of me is still anxious about how I relate to women, especially emotionally. By remaining dominant towards them I maintain control and therefore safe. And with even more "perhaps-ing" involved could the fact that, in my mind's eye, I do not view women as potential future life partners mean that the deep-down emotional connection that is part of my submission is wary of them or entirely absent?
I'm very uncertain about these sorts of ideas - they strike me as explanations or reasons for something that is basically unreasonable: desire. They are also based on a very low sample of the human population: those people I've fucked. It's fair to say that actually I find relatively few people attractive and even less of those people are kinky or interested in me. Plus, I'm still exploring. Just because I have yet to develop a serious emotional attachment to either a woman or, to date, a submissive (of any gender) doesn't mean I won't.
Time will tell. In the meantime, more input required.