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Author Topic: associations with power dynamics affecting sexuality...
Member # 45983

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Hi. I've been lurking around scarleteen since my early teens. In fact, if it weren't for scarleteen I wouldn't be sex-savvy at all, thanks to "education." This is as good a place as any to introduce myself, anyway. I'm nineteen and bi...curious.

I was recently assaulted and have completely sort of embedded myself into a deep study and rape & rape culture (I swear I'm in the right place, it'll just take me a second to get to the point) and...

Well, I've always been a little bit bi. Never enough that I identified as bi, if that makes sense. It was just less complicated to identify as straight and I didn't particularly want to date girls, so I just sort of shrugged. I'd admit to people, "Yeah, I've got bi tendencies," and they would correct me and say, "You mean you've got lesbian tendencies," and I'd shrug. I know what I said.

Now, however, the power/control dynamic of the "mainstream" heterosexual couple, well... it makes me sick to my stomach and I am hypersensitive to it. I don't hate guys, but I've lost all physical attraction to them not because I no longer find them physically attractive, but because I recognize within myself that my attraction to them has always been linked to a sort of internalized protecting lover/slightly submissive lover image.

I can't think about a guy, any guy, without feeling a little nauseous, specifically because of my associations with that dynamic and how being assaulted (guh, raped, for some reason assaulted is so much easier to say/write/admit to), and thus I am turning to my long-ignored (but not denied) attraction to women. I find the power dynamic pretty much equal there and feel much more comfortable with it.

I don't feel like I've been "turned against" men or anything. They're great, they're attractive, and I in no way feel inferior or superior to them. Thinking about them sexually doesn't make me feel traumatized, it just makes me feel sort of detached and apathetic and vaguely sick at the underlying sense of imbalance. I love harmony. Women bring that into my life.

Is it common for sexuality to be switched like this? Has anyone experienced it before, due to time or events? How fluid is sexuality, and how much sense would it make to you if someone told you they had "Bisexual tendencies" instead of "lesbian" or "gay" tendencies? Does it annoy you when people shirk labels?

I also wonder how likely it is that my sexual and romantic interest in men might return, and I wonder how much of my change is political? Is it legitimate to change my sexuality because of cultural values that I detest, given that I've always had an underlying sexual attraction to women that I simply ignored because I had a larger romantic attraction to men? What are your thoughts?

I love discussion about sexuality. I'm not necessarily looking for advice. I'd just like some opinions (and I think discussing it helps me to focus on healing, as discussing "taboo" things is something I've been clinging to lately).

Neil Gaiman on writing: "1 Write."

Posts: 1 | From: Ohio | Registered: Feb 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 13388

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Ecofem     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi wendyelizabeth, here's a (belated) personal welcome to Scarleteen! [Smile] I'm so sorry to hear about your recent assault and I wish you the best of luck with your healing process. I just wanted to leave a note saying I've read your post and plan to reply tomorrow, although another volunteer or staff member may reply sooner. I hope you have a restful evening. [Smile]
Posts: 3318 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 13388

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Hey there! I think the bottom line is to recognize what feels/seems right to you as valid: only you can truly know who you are and who/what you're attracted to. I think we can definitely dialogue with you and discuss some ideas but, in the end, you go with what feels good and works for you, regardless of gender. In terms of labeling, it's up to you to choose which ones you want to use--or reject them completely-- and I've got to say that it's really not others' place to tell you how you can or can't label yourself. [Smile] We have a piece on the very topic: Living without Labels Additionally, have you seen the other pieces in the Gaydar section recently?

In terms of your being attracted to women, we definitely support the idea of sexuality and sexual attractions being fluid. I believe we're born with an orientation (perhaps "potential for attraction" could be a better term?) that can certainly be influenced by experience and outside factors. Of course, I'd disagree with the idea that any one sort of experience "makes" someone gay (or straight or anything else.)

Being attracted to women is about being attracted to women: if you had said that you had always been attracted to men but no longer were after the assault and, therefore, must have "become" attracted to women as a default, then I'd approach this differently. However, it sounds like you had always had that potential but you're just really getting more interested in exploring that now, which sounds very valid to me (although you don't need me to tell you it's ok, of course! [Wink] ) For example, if someone grew up in a place where being queer was very taboo or never were even exposed to the idea that something other than being straight existed, then it wouldn't be surprising that they didn't recognize or act on their feelings at the time. However, upon gaining the freedom and safety to explore this part of their personality/sexuality, did.

If you're finding yourself attracted to women and having opportunities to date, then I say go for it if you want, by all means! [Smile] I will say that, while I think it's 100% positive for you to realize you just want to pursue women right now, I'd also think that individual women aren't automatically positive, harmonious people because of their gender: I mean, go with what feels good for you but that there can be power imbalances, heartbreak and domestic violence among women, too. I swear I'm not trying to be a downer, I'm just giving you some stuff to think about here. [Smile]

While I can get peeved about biological inequality in terms of things like reproduction and social equality on a societal scale really bothers me, I personally don't feel the same power imbalance you mention in my one-on-one relationships with me. It certain can and does exist, but I choose to be in relationships where we feel like equal partners, where we can both be heard and assert ourselves. But I know that there are many women who'd share your views and, again, it's good to stick to what feels right to you. You may find your feelings about this inherent inequality may change over time, with reflection and/or personal experience, and that's fine, too.

It sounds like you've started a positive, if at times painful, journey of healing. I wish you the best of luck with that. If you're not already seeing a counselor, I'd consider that, because I think that person could also help you reflect on all this, especially how it pertains to you (and just help with the healing in general.)

Additionally, here are some related articles:
An Immodest Proposal
The Bees and...the Bees: A Homosexuality and Bisexuality Primer
Bi the Dozen: A Bisexuality Quiz
Dealing With Rape
From Victim To Survivor
How You Guys -- that's right, You GUYS -- Can Prevent Rape
Let's Get Metaphysical: The Etiquette of Entry
Potholes & Dead Ends: Relationship Roadblocks to Look Out For
Reciprocity, Reloaded
Safer Sex...for Your Heart
Shrink Cocktail: My Starter Experience of Counseling
Supermodel: Creating & Nurturing Your Own Best Relationship Models
Three Steps Forward, One Step Back: Hollie's Story
With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body
Working the Kinks Out
10 Questions with Jennifer Baumgardner

Sexpert Advice:

(I know that's a LOT and you're probably already familiar with a bunch of the articles, but because you're looking to reflect, I think the more the merrier. [Smile] )

Posts: 3318 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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