It’s a little like a video game, but instead of moving up a level by killing enemies, I cross another taboo-laden threshold on a journey of enlightenment into the inner sanctum, the ninth circle of my own personal inferno. Slaying demons right and left along the way.
Or it’s like relaxing into the truth that has always been there, for better or for worse. I am one of those people: I am homosexual, I am a lesbian, I am butch, I am some kind of trans, and I am stone. And falling backward through that list I discover that the power of each label is dispelled in the claiming. All that trying to be not that, oh please God just not that one was more confining and rigid than admitting: yes, of course, that’s what I am and always have been, and in fact it’s more varied and complicated than I ever could have guessed when I was ducking my head and shading my eyes and hoping the monster would go away. Or maybe it’s just more personal and more alright.
Because the monster, in reality, was never the thing I feared (the lesbian, the butch). The monster that has been haunting me really has been this girl I was supposed to be, or this woman. And not only a girl but a certain kind of girl, the kind who has no boundaries and exists only to please. This is not the womanhood I see queer femmes reclaiming. This is the nightmare girlhood of misogyny and abuse.
Claiming stone(ness) for me has been finally letting that compulsion to girl go. It has been about claiming absolute autonomy over my own body and its responses for the first time ever. It means I get to set the boundaries where I need them, and what I owe my partner is not access or orgasm but honesty and communication and responsibility for myself.
Over the winter sex wasn’t always ending well. I felt a rawness and vulnerability welling up in me and I would override that and push through to achieve what I thought was necessary. And I found myself unable to keep faking it, I found myself defeated and shattered and miserable afterward, and my beautiful femme beside me begging to know what she’d done wrong while I sank into a white noise of fear and sadness.
And we talked and talked some more. And there came a moment when I decided I could be as stone as I needed to be or wanted to be, and I did not have to go involuntarily to that raw place. A breakthrough moment for me came when I declined, one day, to get off during a particular session of sex. And she was anxious, worrying that she’d done something wrong or that I was disappointed or frustrated. Which was not the case, not at all. And I said to her, “It’s not a boundary if I can’t say I’m ok and I’m done and have that be ok between us.” And she nodded, and somehow it was ok between us then.
I am not prescribing norms for butch behavior. I am not even prescribing norms for myself. I have no interest in listing out permanent boundaries. Just the one, really: I can ensure a basic level of safety for myself. I don’t know, really, how much this has to do with gender, and how much it has to do with all my personal messy baggage. We both exult in her radical openness, and I wonder about the cost to her of being so open when I need to be so closed, when sometimes I can’t bear to be touched at all, anywhere. But it is nonetheless a liberation to me that sexual intimacy isn’t an emotional roulette; or more simply, that it doesn’t have to hurt.