I strive to be a good person. I want most people to walk away from interactions they have with me thinking ‘oh, she was nice.’ Whether through anxiety, paranoia or genuine desperation to be liked, I try quite hard to not piss good people off.
But I also probably want your boyfriend to finger me.
I realised this as I watched a play recently. It’s called Bridle, and Stephanie Martin – who wrote and performed it (really fucking well, btw) – guest blogged about it for me a while ago if you’d like a bit of background info. It’s a one-woman show about female sexuality. Although I’m not sure that ‘female sexuality’ comes as close to what I felt like it was about: I felt it was about my sexuality.
It’s about shame, desire, and wanting to fuck almost everyone. Or at least wanting almost everyone to want to fuck you.
I don’t know, really, how to describe my sexuality. I’ve occasionally summed it up as ‘I have a fetish for cock’ or ‘I am a pervert’ or even ‘I want you to hurt me because it makes you hard.’ My desires and needs revolve around getting a certain kind of attention – essentially the kind of attention I used to get when virgin boys with a tendency to jizz their pants were the only prospects on my radar.
In those days, a successful night was one in which I got clumsily dry-fingered by a boy in a weird shed that smelled like cheap hash.
Today, success is supposed to look different. Since I graduated from weird sheds and fingering, I’ve been taught to seek out a little more from my relationships: marriage, a mortgage, a baby perhaps. A plushy sofa. A garden without weeds. A kitchen with sparkling surfaces that I’d be proud to show to my in-laws.
It’s good to be sexy except when it’s not
I’ve learned that it’s good to be sexually adventurous, but only in certain contexts: saying ‘yes’ to a guy’s suggestion is great, making suggestions of my own is often ‘too much.’ This thing here is sexy, that thing there is not. It’s cool to enjoy sex, but not cool to get too wide-eyed enthusiastic about it. That ‘hard to get’ is better than ‘up for it’, except when it’s not. That ‘coyly fluttering my eyelashes’ is a better way to approach someone than ‘fancy a blow job?’, except when it’s not.
Someone once called me ‘sexually aggressive’ because I’d asked him for a shag, rather than waiting for him to ask me first. We still fucked. Afterwards I wanted to tell him that comment had hurt, but I didn’t, because I’d got what I wanted so I figured I should be grateful.
I’ve been taught that horniness should be hidden beneath a layer of coquetry. A means to an end rather than an end in itself. And although I’m trying to slough off the baggage of these weird and inconsistent ‘lessons’, I still internalise some of the messages, and they’re not always easy to weed out.
Harmful ideas. Disappointing conclusions. A nagging feeling that the proper, polite way to be sexy is in response to male attention, not in search of it. And it’s definitely not OK to want other people’s boyfriends to finger you.
The reason I tell you I want your boyfriend to finger me is because it’s something that has been true of me sexually ever since I started thinking about sex. It is a constant. If you have a nice boyfriend, I will probably think about him fingering me. Wrapped up in that there’s a hell of a lot of stuff: my actual desire, my intentions (or usually in this case my lack of intention – it’s possible to casually fantasise about your boyfriend’s fingers in my cunt without ever intending to act on it), my need to be liked by everyone and the fact that ‘like’ and ‘willingness to fingerbang’ occupy the same space in my head. It’s a desire that can be casual or serious, moral or immoral or amoral. A thought that flits through my mind frequently, and which I have in turns either dismissed outright or wallowed in for far too long as I beat myself up trying to come to terms with what it means about me as a person.
This splurge of thoughts was prompted by the play Bridle. Because I saw a woman on stage talking very frankly about a whole bunch of sexually exciting things. Not tittilating, or teasing, or doing what I do here – telling stories because you want people to get aroused. Just talking about sex.
I think there’s a temptation, when talking about sex, to put a spin on it that is either sexy or shameful. Sex is either this Big Bad Wolf that is eating your life, with which you have an unhealthy obsession, or it’s a Glorious Act Of Empowerment, which enhances and completes you. I’m certainly guilty of the latter sometimes, especially when I’m fantasising about your boyfriend fingering me.
Seeing Stephanie Martin on stage talking about a whole range of sexual experiences and desires, I was reminded that sex isn’t either good or bad: it’s both and neither. It’s sometimes transcendent joy and other times a giant mistake. In between, there’s plenty of sex that just is. A bit fun, a bit boring, a bit half-arsed or fumbly or drunk or happy or casual. Sex is something to do when there’s nothing on telly, or it’s something that can take the pain away when you realise you’re heartbroken and there’s nothing that’ll fix it. Sex itself is not a moral thing – but in viewing it as a moral thing all our sexual desires are viewed through a lens of ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and we are left with little room to explore the nuance.
Who am I sexually? What do I really want? Am I secretly in love with your boyfriend, hoping he’ll whisk me away to a suburban house with high ceilings and original fireplaces, so we can cook adventurous dinners together on our induction hob? Or am I just a reasonably horny woman who enjoys the thrill of getting male acquaintances to fancy her? Do I just like the look of his slim fingers and busy hands and think ‘yeah, that guy would probably finger me well’?
A kind-of review of the play Bridle
I was fascinated by this play. I was, in fact, so absorbed that I am writing a review of a play, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. The run has finished now, but I hope it gets another, even though I recognise that in writing this, I am opening myself up to criticism if some of you go and don’t like it. In saying ‘this play felt like me’, I don’t get to add the nuance of going ‘not this bit though’ or ‘only part of that’ or ‘her character is way posher than I am.’ I could do that, but I haven’t written a review of a play before so I’d end up giving you spoilers.
Suffice to say, though, that I’d like to see more plays and TV shows and media about women who like sex. Not women who use sex as a weapon, or a hook to ensnare a man, or who use sex as a means to escape some other problem. I’ve seen countless programmes about men who are led astray by the things their dick wants: the dick-as-downfall trope is so common in mainstream media I can almost forgive those angry guys online who seem to believe that the presence of a penis indicates a total lack of moral agency. Almost. But we rarely see women doing the same thing. For women, sex is usually a means to an end. Based not on a desire for someone but a need to drive plot. In this play, I felt like I was being taken on a journey through someone’s sexual subconscious and – like mine – it had meandering twists and turns, random fantasies, good and bad experiences, and not once did it feel like the sex was part of a strategy or considered plan. It just was.
If this is a review, I should give it some stars. So I give it five stars – the kind I used to doodle in my notebook during University lectures, as I wondered what it’d be like to watch my lecturer jerking off.
I give it five notches on a bedpost, and realise that not all of those notches were with people I actually liked.
Five cream-filled doughnuts, that I’d eat in front of your boyfriend suggestively.
While hoping that maybe he’d finger me.