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cry baby

a new appreciation of women-only space

Posted on 2009.04.12 at 01:59
the play party

taking a break from writing i decided to pedal down to a play party that a friend invited me to. i'd been to a couple of other play parties and many a bathouse in the past few years, all of which were women-only spaces. this party was mixed genders and there were several cis boys in the mix. i wasn't certain about how i would feel in the space.

intellecually at least i thought that i was not going to be a big deal - i was thinking 'come on becca, you know how to say 'no' and besides, it could be hot to watch some guys (or girls and gusy) getting it on'. i felt that politically, as a progressive queer i should be comfortable and into having sexual spaces that aren't gender sequestered, right?


maybe it was the pheromones in the room? i was just so not feeling hot or at all interested in being sexual. i felt extremely asexual. there was nothing that actually 'happened' per se - all the guys were very respectful and cute in their lovely passivity. but, despite that, i was just totally not interested in them and their presence completely was a turn-off and made me feel extremely uncomfortable in expressing myself in any sexual way. it was disappointing and i was disappointed in myself for being unable to just get into it.

i left the party. first to leave. i cried in the hallway for a good 10 minutes before leaving. it was in this moment that i really realized that i am a total, utter, unrepentent lez. the though of men grosses me out. their smell, their pheromones, their bodies do nothing for me. moreover (and informing why i was crying) they are very much a trigger having been through an abusive relationship with a guy when i was 17/18 and also some childhood stuff. i've never really gotten over that. i've never really dealt with that and, i suppose, being sequestered in women-only spaces has provided me with the safety from ever having to confront that.

i don't honestly know if confronting that abuse. i don't think that even if i did i would feel differently about men. even this thoughts i find rather fucked up as it seems like my identity as a lez is both a response to abuse (which it's not) as well as being something that is inherently something that i need to get over (which i can't nor do i want to). nonetheless, being in that space made me feel like a bit of a failure, like failing some pansexual litmus test.

i really wanted it to be a women-only space. i realized how important that is to me despite being someone who has often criticized the limitations and supposed intellectual problems of such arrangements. but on a visceral level i realized the importance of such spaces, to be free, as women, from our traumas and judgments put onto us by men.


queerasmoi at 2009-04-12 08:02 (UTC) (Link)
Hugs. I'm sorry to hear how that experience affected you.

Personally I have trouble conceiving of how I would feel comfortable in any play space - I don't know if it's just because the people I like are men, and that there is just something inherently intimidating about a bunch of horny men. Perhaps if I were a queer woman in a women's space, this would not be the case, but it's hard for me to hypothesize like that.

I'm more inclined, though, to chalk it up to how intensely private I feel about sex. Nothing shuts down my sex drive more than exposing it to scrutiny. On some level I feel like this is causing me to "miss out" on something. But I think it's also unrealistic to expect myself to keep up with the most intensely sexual elements of gay culture just because it's gay and so am I. I'd rather just devote energy to what I know makes me happy.

What I'm leading up to, though, is - bravo on your comfort level in women's play spaces. I hope you can realize how amazing that is. :)
deliriumfae at 2009-04-12 13:27 (UTC) (Link)
Our head and our heart are two very different things. We all require time to heal those wounds on our heart and the scars that are left there. I know I'm less comfortable in a space if it includes men even if those men have never harmed me or anyone I know in any way. It is due to the reality of being harmed by men in the past. I can intellectualize that I should feel that way, but it doesn't change things. It is only through healing the past issues and finding men whom I can trust and have positive experiences with that those things change.
petite bouche
lhaya at 2009-04-12 19:35 (UTC) (Link)
You've articulated something I've personally struggled with. I haven't even been physically abused by cis men--just harassed--and I still am weirded out when they proliferate in spaces that have the potential to be women only. I'm not even exclusively referring to play spaces! Wow, that seems small-minded of me. I've been convinced that I have a chip on my shoulder and have tried to get over this only to discover that I still have the same preference, even after all of the introspection.

In any event, I am sorry that the event brought up harmful memories from your past. I've never gone to a pansexual play party and I wonder if it would dredge up harmful memories for me too.
etherealgrace at 2009-04-13 14:49 (UTC) (Link)

Fair enough, yeah. I struggle with similar issues, although I know for a fact I'm not actually a lesbian. I suppose there's a need for both types of spaces, because I know my partner, being more rabidly bisexual than I, laments the single-gender nature of most play parties. While I agree with him, I also feel your pain. It's so not fair that we as women just become shut down in any space where men proliferate. I'm certain it has to do with hegemonic gender structure, but it doesn't stop it from being real. I'm so sorry you had such a difficult experience... *hugs*

splinterjete at 2009-04-13 15:07 (UTC) (Link)
thx love. these are really insightful words:

"I'm certain it has to do with hegemonic gender structure, but it doesn't stop it from being real."

i think we always have to struggle with individual needs in broader quests for justice. i, for one, have been guilty of eclipsing the former with the latter quite often.

etherealgrace at 2009-04-13 15:10 (UTC) (Link)

Thanks. It's part of why I can't do the activism thing. The feminist mantra of "The personal is political" is fine and dandy if the personal isn't tearing you to shreds, right? It's important to focus on your own needs sometimes. Take good care of yourself, k?

ginoushka at 2010-01-24 04:04 (UTC) (Link)


hey friend. just dropping you a note to let you know that i'm adding you here. so good to finally meet you last week!


splinterjete at 2010-01-24 04:09 (UTC) (Link)

Re: off-topic

hi gina! i am likely going to delete this LJ (or take it offline). it's got a lot of great writing on it but also a lot of stuff that i don't feel comfortable floating around in the ether. ;) thanks for finding me though - and it was great to meet you too!
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