Biggest fears

  1. Getting stabbed, stabbing someone (I have nightmares about this)
  2. Antibiotic resistant infections
  3. Friends dating someone else and then never making time for friendship
  4. A favorite item of clothing getting stained/torn beyond repair and never quite finding something as perfect
  5. Inadequate interpersonal, organizational, or motivational skills
  6. Losing/not finding community
  7. Increasing totalitarianism eroding our democracy
  8. Global warming’s most devastating effects
  9. Resource scarcity
  10. Sitting on my hands and being unable to apply my considerable training and skills to the world’s most important problems
  11. Religious fundamentalism’s rise and subsequent fall of the secular, logical systems we rely on to fix problems and guarantee human rights

On Israeli American Identity

What brings up this particular issue are two recent current events: controversy surrounding Wonder Woman’s Israeli identity (and “pro-IDF and therefore pro-terrorism” stance), and the removal of marchers carrying rainbow flags with the star of david on them at the Chicago pride rally.

Me, I am a white Jew with a dual American/Israeli citizenship of very liberal upbringing.

It has been brought to my attention recently, by the liberal left, that my Israeli identity is triggering to some and is pro-occupation.

As someone who grew up with anti-settlement, pro-two-state talk in the house, this was a surprise to me. Was I not vocal enough in my dissent?

On the other hand, where would my parents be were it not for THEIR parents’ ability to flee to Israel? Fucking gone. There was no other safe place for Jews. It’s REALLY hard for me to apologize for the existence of a state that literally saved their lives.

And when non-Palestinians non-Israelis voice these sentiments, it boils my blood because they don’t know the region. They don’t know what my family has been through to survive. They don’t know. And as long as Israeli children attend schools and Israeli hospitals operate there will need to be a military to protect them. And unfortunately that same military engages in occupation as well. (This is where I interpret Gal Godot’s tweet as being pro-two-state solution while still supporting Israeli troops… though I guess who knows what her opinion is on the settlements.) But as long as Hamas fires rockets into Israel, the military will fight back. And as long as the Palestinian people are desperate, Hamas will not stop firing rockets. It’s a vicious cycle that we kicked off… that Europe’s antisemitism kicked off.

I don’t have easy answers here. And the sad reality is, coexistence is a distant dream at this point. What do we do, us Jews who benefitted from the creation of a state just for us–a state that then went on to occupy others and support islamophobic xenophobic policies? It’s no longer home for my parents, nor is it home for me; nevertheless, I won’t apologize for the identity I have. To me, that identity means survival, and I can’t think of anything more important than that.

But times change and the politics changed, and though I’ve never aligned myself with the more imperialist policies, fighting them can no longer be a passive pursuit.

I’ve found some great organizations, starting with the Jewish Voice for Peace, an org that

“opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression.  JVP seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East. Current mission statement adopted in 2009.”

And I’ll keep looking.

To all the cats I’ve broken up with

The first time we met you were so shy. You slunk your little body behind the couch, but with one look you conveyed everything: that with time comes trust, that you’ll give me a chance, that you’re just looking for laser buddies and treat buddies. We didn’t have much alone time, as I was dating your human, but you know when I came over it was you I was excited to see.

When we did have alone time, we could chill for hours watching TV, or you’d nap with me while I worked, or you’d beg for my food, or you’d find the mysterious laser light bouncing around the apartment just as you started getting restless. And when your human was there, we’d always make space for you to sleep with us and curl up with us, letting you warm yourself on top of the blankets radiating our collective body heat on cold winter nights. And I’ll never forget your little paws, and how you kneaded my stomach before making yourself comfortable.

No, I don’t have my own cat yet. But I have fond memories of you; and believe me, when I do get one I’ll be looking for one that reminds me of you: your youthful, playful energy and how sweet you were when I was upset.

I miss you every day… your human, not so much.

Podcast on queer/queering sex

You guys have to listen to this episode. Tina Horn interviews the manager of my favorite toy store in New York (sorry Babeland; can’t beat the Pleasure Chest’s selection!) in an amazing conversation about queer as the opposite of capitalist in the context of sex: sex that is creative and not procreative, that takes up time and money and is solely for the purpose of pleasure and personal expression.

Listen to the episode here.

Pangs of jealousy when they talked about just how much creative queer sex they have.

Just more feels.

Ugh. Enjoying a feels buffet right now. Here’s what’s steaming in the chafing dishes (all of which pertains to people–mostly straight men– who I’ve met through apps, and a small subset of whom I met/talked to in person):

  1. I’m never sure when I’ll feel safe and comfortable with someone, and therefore completely open to everything, or when i’ll feel turned off and distant. Just one off moment, and I shut down.
  2. I have trouble meeting people in person because we have to keep the vibe light but in reality i’m always a little scared.
  3. There are some very friendly, open, warm inviting swinger couples I’ve talked to, and I’ve always chickened out for one reason or another: the guy is driving everything, or asks me about things that again would bring down the vibe.
  4. Why should I constantly worry about killing the vibe?
  5. I have trouble thinking about/conceptualizing kink dynamics that are open and honest in person, because I’ve had two potentials fall through: one because he didn’t fully disclose his relationship status, another because he crossed a line. I hope I can build that trust.
  6. Feelings make so much more sense to me now after having re-engaged with straight dynamics. The first straight man I hook up with who is respectful, with whom I don’t have any reservations, I catch feelings. I’m not able or willing to pursue him, nor is he able or willing to pursue me; we don’t have time, there’s too much life. But that attachment was real for quite a while after we hooked up the first time. All it took was for him to stop when I said stop, for him to hold me when I needed to be held, for me to think WOW THIS MAN INVENTED RESPECT AND CONSENT. He didn’t. It’s just basic decency.

Outlets for talking about sex seem to be focused on pleasure and turn-ons, and maybe turn-offs/triggers/hard- and soft- limits; there aren’t many for bonding or communicating about the double-edged sword that is this incredibly intimate act. I want to process all the things, but I’m not sure how. My processor is at capacity.

Sex is so unfair to genders other than cis men. I feel alternating pangs of sexual empowerment and disempowerment.

Singledom

Ugh. Hooking up with sperm-producing individuals is so fraught. There is a lot more trust involved, and that makes me feel inevitably disappointed when their level of vulnerability does not match mine.

I had a date tonight with a slightly older woman, and it was wonderful. I’m tired of dating younguns who don’t know what they want. But I’m also tired of older people who don’t know what they want.

It doesn’t help that I’m not among my things, not living near my friends, and that my self-care routine is non-existent. Instead I drink, smoke, and date people who are as unhealthy as the food I’m eating. Only 2 weeks til I move and start fresh…

Basically, and I know this isn’t cool these days, but I’d love to either be alone or enjoy monogamous partnership. I’m tired of the in-between; it’s a young woman’s game, and it’s a waste of time. But then I get lonely, and one “hey what’s up?” later I’m giving space in my life to someone I loathe.

I assume this will get better when I move.

Regaining control

Feeling much much better this week. I had a week of weakness but am now getting my confidence back up there.

I’ve learned a lot in the past week.

  • Friends are amazing. I’ve been incredibly depressed but nowhere near the edge because shoulders to cry on and people to laugh with abound. I only hope I’m as supportive in return when another friend is in crisis.
  • Nothing is black and white. I think of my ex as manipulative, but I also think I tend to be very self-sacrificing. The combination was bad, but I think I could have stood to push back a little bit more. I’m now in a phase of getting to know my own boundaries, and value those boundaries, and it’s been great.
  • If I were to generalize… haha I feel like cis straight men are generally terrible at sex. Queer sex can be bad too of course, but the concept of tuning into one’s partner feels more intrinsic to queer dynamics. Cis straight men who have gotten their sex education from a limited range of outlets and who were never told that their anatomy isn’t going to make up for lack of finesse are limited in their capabilities. I could definitely stand to be more clear about how I like being touched, with all partners.
  • Anger is valuable, has been good this week, but can blow small crises out of control. Anger means I’m valuing my side of things and asserting myself, externalizing rather than internalizing pain. But it also means I stop listening and taking in information. And it means it puts me closer to collapsing.
  • When I slack on self-care, I lose the ability to handle life situations. I’m missing writing, reading, yoga, meditation, exercise, and healthy eating a lot these days.

Everything will be alright in time. I’m doing okay, all things considered. Working on being okay with myself, valuing myself, forgiving and letting go of anger and pain, is a long process.

Why do I do what I do?

Tw: cishet sex, men, rough, boundaries

I just got back “home” (or whatever I have right now of it) from an online date. With a straight guy.

We had sexted before so we knew some about what each other was expecting, but it’s one thing to sext about being used and it’s another to not be sure where the line is in real life.

I wouldn’t have done this if I was doing okay emotionally. Sex with cis dudes is part self-flagellation. I won’t deny I was turned on, of course I was, but I was also at times in pain, and I didn’t come. And it was all fine until the last few seconds, when I told him to go more gently but he was so close he pushed on. I know what that was, that shit doesn’t get past me no matter how much we smoked before.

I knew that if I told a guy I wanted it a little rough, he would be rough with me; but in the fantasy he’s also gentle when he needs to be, he’s also focused on me. But he did less foreplay and more “warming me up”… maybe women are just way better at sex than men are, and the last 5 years has upped my standards of “doing it right”.

Sex with cis men is so different. I’m sure some decent ones are out there, but I found what I was looking for: a way to get off as self punishment, which I haven’t quite yet learned to evolve into something pleasurable. I haven’t quite learned how to play with boundaries without getting them crossed.

Cool. Got that out of my system.

Steering into the skid: overcoming trauma

Tw: sexuality, sex, sexual assault, dominance/submission, anxiety, r-pe, healing.

 

I haven’t had to process trauma that happened to me just before grad school, and all previous traumas, for 5 years. I retreated exclusively into the queer dating world in all its beauty and wonder, and loved it. But I feel as if I’ve been ignoring part of my identity out of fear, fear of not knowing my limits. I struggle with relationships and even friendships because I don’t know what my boundaries are; I don’t know when I want someone and when I need to use them/let them use me. I don’t think I can sort it out until I work through everything that happened to me since I began my journey into the sexual world at the ripe age of 17–or maybe even before that.

I’m feeling icky and triggered right now for two reasons. One was that date on Thursday night; the one where he massaged my shoulders a bit at a show and I left minutes later and started crying on the train. I’m still not okay, days later. I actually had to take my vest off and readjust my bra straps earlier, because of how they were weighing on my shoulders.

The other was that this man that I’d been texting explicitly with… turns out his girlfriend (whom I’d known about but he’d made it sound more casual/open than it was) lives with him. We were never going to meet up; I was hesitating before. The fantasy was better than the reality anyways. The fantasy was healing; the reality would likely be triggering. But this shattered the fantasy of a guy who would throw me around and use me on my terms, in safe play, let me give trust over to him… and suddenly I didn’t trust him. I’m not okay from that either.

A straight friend of mine and I had coffee yesterday, because I had to process all my icky feelings. But for all the shitty triggering that I’ve been experiencing I learned something big about myself: whereas I never thought I wanted this before, I find myself in desperate need of a (presumably cis straight male) partner I can trust to dominate me and work my boundaries with care. One who runs the risk of triggering me, but with whom I can build mutual respect.

This is apparently a common thing in survivors of assault: BDSM and kink are ways of building radical trust and reclaiming one’s body, crucial things for healing after trauma. There’s even a very healing experience in being the submissive. I’ve never ever been interested in anything remotely in this direction so I never realized this; now it seems painfully obvious.

It surprises me because nobody’s ever held me down and r-ped me. I’ve just been guilted and coerced and denied emotional comfort until I gave in. I found myself after my first sexual experience wishing he’d just gotten it over and r-ped me; I felt that worthless. The gentle touch can be triggering sometimes, because it can be dishonest; it’s not violence and it’s not cold distance, it’s a “nice guy” who is using his gentle touch to mask the true power of his desire and lack of respect for my needs, and if gentle touch becomes icky it’s hard to get close to another guy after that. So in my fantasy world, I get used and I get fucked and the other person has complete physical control but I am in complete psychological control over the situation. But they know my boundaries and my triggers and will turn it into play.

For the first time in a long time I’ve shattered another wall, and after talking with my straight friend about it I was finally able to feel positively about what I need from a partner, finally able to process it completely, able to explain what I need to get past everything.

I’m not discovering anything new here. This is an age-old game. But to me it’s brand spanking new. Do I trust someone else bigger and stronger and maybe even cis het male? Do I trust myself?

I’ve talked with a few more people and learned more about the psychology of kink and my boundaries and open communication than I have in all my 12 years of being sexually active. How are we not teaching open communication and knowing ourselves and being in tune with ourselves in sex ed?! What the fuck. And how are we not as a culture talking more about sexual play outside of a wink-wink context? Again, nothing new here that kinksters didn’t already know, but wow, have I ever been repressed.

And one last thing; this exploration of gender I’ve experienced, just like my early college weight gain, is an effort to protect myself. It’s a way to feel in touch with my masculinity and my strength and to distance myself from (and even punish myself for) the things that make me sexual. I struggle, still, to embrace my femme side, because it can feel like vulnerability.

Even as I’m working through the triggers of the last few days, I’m learning or at least trying to channel it by steering into the skid and exploring things one step at a time. It feels terrifying, but it feels like what I need. I will be safe and listen to my bodily reactions; I will learn my boundaries; I will know myself. Who knows; someday I might even feel empowered.

 

A bilemma

I’m so happy to be back “home” right now. Quotations necessary because I don’t have a home right now.

I’ve expanded my tindering to men and women, if only to explore all sides of me and maybe see what others see in me. Hence why I’m back tonight after my first date with a cis straight guy from Tinder, and hence why I dragged myself to the nearest queer bar to nurse a beer, hug myself to myself, reassure myself that I’m safe, and talk with an incredibly charming, much older butch.

The guy I met up with was easy going. I wasn’t not attracted to him. But by the end of the evening, when we were at a punk show and he was standing behind me rubbing my shoulders, I felt suddenly claustrophobic. I gave him a hug and told him to enjoy the rest of the show just before I bolted. On the train, I wanted to cry. I was shaking. I made it all the way to the queer bar and sat down with relief, nursing my $3 beer and letting the evening sink in. He hadn’t even kissed me; all he did was barely more than friends would do to one another.

I texted two friends about it, one of whom is monosexual and didn’t understand at all the need to explore other genders; and the other who tends toward the monosexual but gets it. I think a big part of biphobia in the queer world is just not understanding the ways in which experiencing different genders are inherently different experiences.

I don’t get it. Alright, some more context: I have been (very explicitly) texting another cis straight guy from Tinder. It gets me so hot and bothered that I sometimes have trouble concentrating on work. He asks me about my preferences, turns my individuality into something fun/cute/sexy, and makes me feel really validated. I, on the other hand, imagine myself relinquishing control, giving it up to someone else bigger and more masculine, and playing to my own strengths in a cishet context for the first time in my life (rather than trying to be someone else within that context). I wish I weren’t into it, but I am. I wish it were about dating someone, but it’s not: he’s got no redeeming qualities. We’re supposed to meet up in a few days, quite honestly just to have sex. I’m not sure yet if I’ll go through with it. It makes me feel really dirty and guilty, especially as someone who identifies as a queer woman, to talk about hooking up with someone so overtly heteronormative; but at the same time undeniably excited. In immersing myself in queerness, cisheteronormativity has become taboo. In discovering sex that respects others’ bodies, being used on my terms feels like a way to reclaim my own body from other peoples’ terms.

Why is it that one guy rubbing my shoulders is more invasive than another guy sexting me? What will happen should guy number 2 and I actually meet? (I predict I will be into it, and then run outside to cry soon after.)

Where does that leave my sexuality, that I can date women but I can’t date men but that I want to sleep with men but also the thought of a man’s hands on me makes me want to curl up in a tight ball, retreat into a shell, and never emerge?

Do I really think that hooking up with, or even just getting a shoulder rub from, a man would be simpler than hooking up with other genders?