Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Stone-as-Liberation Post

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.

11 comments:

Tina-cious.com said...

Oh Leo.

The two of you are sooo emotionally charged right now it's staggering.

I'm glad you are doing what makes you feel safe. I really am and I am glad that FG is accepting of that and that your sex hasn't been so traumatic!

I can't imagine something so reaffirming as sex between people in love being traumatic and would hate it if that's how either of us felt.

I wonder though, this isn't just going to close the door on the issues behind the "no zones", right?

Sorry, I just hope you still try to find what it is that is causing them and deal w/ that.

We love you guys!

Jess said...

Fuck, Dude. I need to think about this and come back to comment later.

I'm happy for you that you are embracing your stoniness (ha) and that it works for you.

Seriously, I'll be back.

avowedvirago said...

I've been lurking for a little while, and I hope you don't mind that this post, of all posts, is the post that brings me out of the closet, as it were.

"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."

This sentence made me cry. I just want to voice support and affirmation, because that truth is so fundamental, and so important, and so hard to remember sometimes. Especially for folks who've learned to relate to their bodies, and their sexualities, through mires of misogyny and abuse and general f'ed-upness.

So good on you for claiming what you need for yourself, and for communicating those needs to your sweetie - who, it seems, is about as affirming and supportive as they come.

tongue-tied said...

good on you for giving yourself permission
to drop another internal expectation
of some sort of required performance
at least
that's what i hear when i read this
and i am 100% with you on that

letting go is freedom
and what is right right now
will surely flow into other rights
as life unfurls

you're measuring truth in
how right you feel
moving into life
rather than some silly checklist
carved in your head

good on you!

LL Cool Joe said...

I was born stone, and I've stayed stone my whole life. Completely, and I'm proud of it. :)

Great post.

Dawn on MDI said...

Wow. Heavy stuff, McCool. I don't know how I feel about stone issues. I just don't know enough about it to be able to form an educated sort of opinion. What I do know is that you write with honesty and integrity and that is what matters. We are all evolving, and what is right for me today is so far from what was right for me a year ago, or five years ago, or ten years ago... I think we define ourselves as we grow, and hopefully we do not restrict ourselves with each new thing we discover. My tastes have changed dramatically in the last 25 years, and each new revelation meant that I had to re-examine and re-define how I identify myself. By allowing myself the flexibility to grow, each evolutionary phase is more about growth and exploration and less about having to break out of a box that no longer fits. Good luck, and I will continue to enjoy watching this evolution.

Bad Decision Maker said...

Thank you for this.

I've been struggling a little with my sexuality and degree of stoneness and body issues (disability/illness related) and maybe gender stuff lately. It is really good and comforting and helpful and thought provoking to read about your thoughts and journeys, so thank you for sharing them.

Holden said...

Thought provoking and honest as ever Leo. And also so familiar in so many ways.

Just a thought about "I wonder about the cost to her of being so open when I need to be so closed"

Are you not being more open now that you are being honest with yourself and FG?

e said...

Leo, I've been thinking about this post all weekend. I'm still pondering it. There is so much that I want to respond to but I'll limit myself... :-)

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. Yes. For so many of us, yes. The cruel, crushing weight of conforming to societal expectations -- I'd guess that we have all struggled with that.

I have no interest in listing out permanent boundaries. Just the one, really: I can ensure a basic level of safety for myself. I'm so glad you wrote these two sentences at the end. It's your boundary. You get to say what it looks like, how permeable it is, when it changes.

I'm happy for you that you are navigating your way through this in a way that feels protected. I celebrate for you the fact that you are choosing stone as an affirmative, empowering alternative. That alone is throwing cultural expectations a curve ball. Good for you! And, I think it is so wonderful that you and FG have the kind of relationship where you can have these potentially difficult conversations and everyone comes out better than before.

Great post, amazing honesty. Thanks for sharing it all!

LilliGirl said...

"the nightmare girlhood of misogyny and abuse."

Yep. I understand. I'm glad you are learning and taking care of yourself. And I'm glad you can share. I for one do appreciate it.

Otter said...

"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."

Yes.