SM, SIDEWAYS, AND THE LAST STRAW
I met a man in a bar who told me he was in an abusive relationship.
His girlfriend was beating him, throwing him down stairs, locking
him in the basement, and burning him. He was afraid to go back
because he thought that she would kill him.
Then I noticed that while we were talking, he was rubbing his dick
and I realized that telling me about the abuse was part of his
kinky fantasy. Having me believe the story made his fantasy more
pleasurably real, but it also made him a jackass.
This guy broke the most primary rule of SM: he tricked me into
entering his playspace without telling me that we were in a realm
of fantasy. He used me for sex without my consent.
I love that in SM, everyone agrees on what they're going to do
before they do it. Participants agree to give up part of the
fantasy in order to make the fantasy possible and safe for all
parties. Informed consent is what differentiates kink from
A character in Sideways reminded me of that guy from the bar. Jack
is about to get married, but wants to have one last fling. He meets
a woman and they have lots of sex. As the affair evolves, Jack
spins out a fantasy parallel life where he buys a vinyard with the
woman and they live happily ever after. Of course, the woman
eventually finds out that Jack's engaged and she beats him up with
her motorcycle helmet.
Ironically, Jack gets unwittingly sucked into another couple's
fantasy later in the movie and ends up naked and sobbing in a motel
room without his wallet and wedding rings. See, Jack? it *hurts*
when people play fast and loose with your feelings just to kink up
their sex/romance life.
Both of these guys remind me of the man I consider my dating last
straw. This man was a former colleague from over a decade before.
We had lost touch until he found me on facebook. He threw himself
at me. Ardently. He talked about how amazing it was to find me
after all these years, about how he'd had a crush on me before,
about how we shared this common history, about how he was ready to
settle down and thought I was the one.
I believed him, which was why I was so shocked when he bolted with
some muttered bullshit about needing to go for a long walk in the
desert to gather his thoughts and decide what he wanted to do with
I realized then that he had been spinning out fantasies for
himself, experimenting with different futures, trying to figure out
what sort of person he wanted to be. That's all fine, but he conned
me into participating in his playspace without telling me that it
was playspace. He coerced me into intimacy without seeking my
consent. Not knowing what he wanted was no excuse.
And I know some of you are going to say, "but Jack and your former
colleague didn't *know* what they wanted!" which might be true, but
then they should have said so. Even if it comes out clumsily, or
all wrong, or whatever, it's better than the alternative.
And I know that taking the time to get consent, working out the
logistics, admitting to yourself what you're doing -- that's all
scary and puts a damper on this story we like to tell ourselves
about passion and fate and love, but you need to do it
In exchange, you get to enter a playspace with a clear conscience.
And no one beats you up with a motorcycle helmet.
ACTING LIKE A MAN
I dressed up as a man once. I bound my breasts, put on a moustache,
and walked without moving my hips. With a high femme friend, I took
the subway to a drag king show, where I made a date with the runner
up. Other than that, I've lived as a woman.
It's ironic, then, that when I create a manifesta on OKC with my
breasts as a userpic, I get asked repeatedly if I'm really just
"acting like a man."
I get the question, I think: If I'm switching roles by sleeping
around, then am I guilty of the same behavior I'm
The answer to that question is no.
After my first casual fuck, I went over to my confidante's house.
"I did it," I told her. "I can do it."
I didn't just mean that I could disengage sex from romantic
relationships. I meant that I proved to myself that I could do so
It wasn't easy to be ethical: I recognized the desire to dress up
fucking with romantic kink and indulge in a fantasy of leaving my
awful single life behind. It was so tempting to whisper a lot of
sweet bullshit into his ear, to sleep over, to let him think there
would be more. I also recognized the urge to flee, to blow him off,
to sever all ties in the hopes I could avoid any awkward
But I refused to give in to those urges, so I know it's possible to
do. That night, I felt an odd mixture of condemnation and
forgiveness for the men who pushed me to this choice: I understood
how powerful the urge is to act like a cowardly jerk, but I also
knew it was possible to resist the temptation. That night, I
decided to write this manifesta, because I hoped that other men
might also resist the urge to act like Jack in Sideways and the man
who was my last straw. Then I wanted to find them and fuck
There are also faulty assumptions behind the question about "acting
like a man." The assumptions are both sexist and anti-male.
I object to whispering sweet bullshit into women's ears to get sex.
I object to being too lazy or clueless to figure out what you want
and too dishonest to admit that you don't know what you want. I
object to men being clueless, callous cowards, because I know
there's another way.
I don't object to men (and women) wanting to have sex. I don't
object to casual sex. I also don't think that doing those things =
"acting like a man." Equating having casual sex with "acting like a
man" is sexist.
The suggestion that I'm "acting like a man" is also based on the
assumption that you can simply interchange male and female behavior
in the first place. Doing so ignores the fact that male and female
sexuality are regulated very differently in our culture. Women
aren't supposed to seek out and enjoy sex with multiple partners.
They're supposed to be selective with their mates. They're supposed
to barter sex for emotional security, romantic love, and
domesticity. Men are supposed to avoid this trap at all costs.
According to this logic, I can never act "like a man" because we
already have a term for a woman who acts like I do: slut.
I wonder, then, if calling my slutty behavior "acting like a man"
reflects a desire to regulate my sexuality. The question implies
that I should stop what I'm doing because I'm guilty of
It also assumes that "acting like a man" means acting like a
jackass, which is profoundly anti-man. I don't think man should =
jackass. I don't think one gender has cornered the market on bad
behavior. I do think men have cornered the market on this
particular type of bad behavior.
I'd like to consign the phrase "acting like a man" to the dustbin
of pre-feminist history. Instead, I'd like to see more people act
as ethically as this slut tries to do. I'd like the world to decide
that the only person who needs to regulate slutty behavior is the
slut him- or herself.
And if I find that man who really acts like a slut in the best
possible way, maybe I'll whisper sweet truths into his ear, and
maybe I'll sleep over, and maybe I'll let myself imagine romantic
love and emotional security, and maybe I'll let him know there can
be more, and maybe I'll invite him to join me in making it up as we
And then I'll wrap one long leg around his waist and press my other
calf against his shoulder and beg him to fuck me into sweetness and