“To fuck, or to be fucked? That is the question.” Hamlet.
Tonight, as a group of friends and I sat playing a particularly despicable round of CAH, rife with abortion and a healthy dose of racism – one of said chums took me by surprise with a socially poignant question:
“When you talk about having sex with someone, do you say that you fucked someone, or they fucked you?”
This opened up a genuinely provocative discussion about unintentional sexism, patriarchy and male dominance, and our attitudes towards sex. Do we still, unconsciously, label the male with the active role in a sexual context? Is it a subconscious acceptance that the male assumes the role of ‘Bonker’, and the female, ‘bonkee’? Where do I personally perceive my own place to be, within a sexual act?
It’s a question which I’d never previously given much thought to, but that stirred up a flurry of further questions about my own power and accountability as a woman. Until now, I’d figured that I had always been innocently ad-hoc and unthinking with my ‘who boned who’ details. Surely it all meant the same thing?
I began to mull my thoughts over on the journey home, and concluded that the answer was pretty simple: Quality and Ownership. If a sexual encounter has been enjoyable, then I fucked him. If the encounter was awkward, questionable of taste, or I fell asleep – then he definitely fucked me. If I’m feeling particularly generous after some good sexy time, then the authority will be equally distributed – and we fucked. As with anything in life, when something goes udders up – nobody wants to claim responsibility for the situation, and therefore the ownership of the catalytic action will be applied appropriately.
Example: A friend recently regaled me with the charming story of how her ‘boyfriend boinked her in the back of the car’. (For any of you wholesome souls that were concerned about romance being dead – I can assure you it is still very much alive in the back of a shite Ford Montego). At face value, this appeared to be an innocent statement. Until Doreen revealed the plot twist. In the final scene, Bob leaves his Ford with one very snapped banjo string, and crimson pair of pants. And it was, or course, Doreen who had been excitably manoeuvring when the banjo had gone painfully out of tune.
M. Night Shyamalan himself could not have written a sneakier curveball.
We are all Doreen from time to time. But I believe that this is on a subconscious level; a primal instinct to protect ones reputation and/or ego; an in-built impulse which has been branded onto our brains, since the first caveman stuck a surprise finger up his cavewife’s bum, and realised he’d made a big mistake. So yes, now that I’ve tapped into my psyche, perhaps I could (and should) be a little more feminist about the whole thing, and accept equal responsibility for every bonk I have. Even if the boy leaves in tears. But I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t leave a little room for self-preservation.
*Sherlock sits back and sparks up a smug, celebratory pipe*
It was then suggested to me by a friend – a middle class gentleman, who cares for a dash of vulgarity in his afternoon tea – that it all comes down to the Initiator. The Chaser and the Chasee. He/she who instigates the hanky-panky is the one who owns the authority, and takes home the title of Bonker. I had to admit that this theory had legs, so began to back-track on my initial bold claim, and put out my pipe.
I spoke to Lora Hristova – a London artist with special interests in feminism, sex and pornographic research – who told me: “It is however still the presumed, hetronormative perception that the male takes charge of the initiation as well as the physical labour of sex. It is more than common for the man to be labelled with the active role, and is something which has been socially engrained into our beliefs, even if experience tells us otherwise.”
So perhaps it is actually an equal measure of initiation and depressingly ignorant sexism? I couldn’t deny that, if we had to make a sweeping generalisation, this would probably be an acceptable ‘one size fits all’. But after re-visiting my own feelings on the issue, the shoe still didn’t quite seem to fit my own foot.
As a younger woman I was, for want of a better Northern phrase, ‘proper frigid’. I didn’t remove my ‘V’ plates until the ripe old age of [use your imagination], and even post-popping – it was a solid eight years before I was truly comfortable conducting a bedroom symphony with the music stick, or taking off my clothes without the relaxing darkness of a black hole. It was certainly an era in which I can distinctly remember using the phrase ‘He did me’ on repeat, and feeling like an imposter at my own sexual awakening. I was an un-rampant rabbit, terrified in the headlights of insecurity, inexperience and crippling body dismorphia. Even when I had been the jiggling hunk of meat on top, I had still considered myself fucked. Only on entering my later twenties have I unconsciously jazzed up my vocabulary, and begun to include possessive language in my kinky tales.
It then became clear that it has never been a question of gender, satisfaction or even initiation. For me, it is a vomit-inducing epiphany, which wouldn’t sound out of place on stage at a wanky high school prom: It reflects how comfortable I’ve become with myself; how – by finally being secure in my own skin – I can be assertive and take control, emotionally, of a situation; owning my actions because I feel happy and empowered by being there – not uncertain and obliged. After years of exhausting self doubt, I now respect myself enough to be included in the unspoken decision process of what happens with my body.
By appointing the man with the authority, a woman is not forfeiting her worth, as long as she is enjoying it. In the world of BDSM – dominant/submissive (D/s) relationships thrive on the surrendering of one’s self to the to power of a mentally strong and confident partner – be that male or female. But at the root of each action is always enjoyment, unshakable trust, and mutual respect.
As my posh familiar so eloquently put it: “Some women refer to ‘being fucked’ as a positive experience.”
And so they should. As long as you’re giving yourself a bit o’love – you’ll always be on an even par with your bonking buddy; whether you’re upright and screaming ‘yee-haa’, or lying back and wondering how the hell Michael Bay became successful.
At the risk of sounding suspiciously like a Sex-Ed video from the bible belt of America: respect yourself. It changes everything.
Love and lube,