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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Others Determining Your Identity for You

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Author Topic: Others Determining Your Identity for You
Member # 69429

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[Just FYI I was previously skiesofgreen on these boards but I had to make a new account because I can't log into that account anymore]

The other day I was sitting around with a group of people I recently met in this new town I've moved into for the summer when I became a part of a rather disconcerting interrogation about my sexuality.

We were sitting around talking, playing pool, when one of the girls (let's call her Ally) told me that I should get it on with her friend. I was a little taken back by the forwardness, I'm personally of the opinion that who I do and do not get it on with should be something I decide on my own, but I laughed and told her that the girl in question was great but I'm straight and not interested. Now I probably could have left my sexuality out of it and just let her know that I'd make my own decision on the matter but the point is I didn't and once my identity as straight came into the picture I was suddenly harassed with questions of "well how could you know that if you've never been with another girl." Which, while the role reversal of the situation was slightly humorous, overall was just offensive. I mean not only was the assumption being made that if I identified as straight I had never been with another women and that somehow I HAD to have been with people of both sexes to know how I identified but even more so that they felt that their interpretations of my sexuality were more valid than my own. That their perception of me was more valid than my own experience.

I didn't bring up as the discussion progressed that I was questioning, because their pressuring didn't make me feel safe doing so, but it did make having to talk in absolutes more frustrating. But the part of the discussion that left me confused more than frustrated was when another person who identifies as Bi (let's call him Brian) told me (in response to me saying that one didn't have to have sex with someone of any gender to know whether or not they were attracted to them)that he hadn't been attracted to the majority of men he'd slept with. Now people can obviously have sex with people they aren't attracted to but I don't see how having sex with someone you aren't attracted to somehow helps determine what your sexual identity is. At most it would tell you about your attraction to that one person. I don't know whether we were using differing definitions of attraction (maybe he thought I meant interested in perusing a relationship with when I really meant just physically turned on) or maybe we were defining sexuality differently (him as who you had slept with, me as who you had sexual or romantic attraction towards) but needless to say I'd gotten a little flustered by that point and let the conversation die.

The whole situation left me a little more than a little put off however and entirely annoyed that someone felt they had the right to have a say in what my sexuality may or may not be.

It was made more complicated however when I did sleep with the girl in question which was a really bad idea for a lot of reasons (mainly that we were both very drunk, that I have no reason to expect this group of people to react in a way Iíd find positive to my questioning, and also because, as some of you here know, Iíve been working through issues with sexual abuse and if thereís anything this situation reinforced itís that Iím still not capable of saying no properly, which makes me feel very much incapable to say yes either) and now Iím stuck wondering what to do.

Iíve talked to the girl since, but not about the sex. I feel like I need to at some point, but I donít know what to say, or even what I want to say, except for that it probably shouldnít have happened and it probably shouldnít happen again.

So I guess I have two questions than, one personal, in how should I approach a conversation with this girl, what should be brought up, etc. and also, more generally, have any of you been in a situation where someone has tried to define your sexuality for you and if so how do you respond?

Posts: 1 | From: Vancouver | Registered: Jun 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 29269

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Hi there! I'm sorry that these people were so rude and inconsiderate to you. That's crappy behavior on their part.

So, point one: you don't need to talk to this girl about the sex if you don't want to - and I'm hearing you say more that you feel you need to talk to her rather than you wanting to talk to her. Too, if you do want to talk to her, I think saying like you've written here that it probably shouldn't have happened and it probably shouldn't happen again is just fine. It would give her the info that you wouldn't welcome her saying she wants a repeat.

On the issue of consent, can we talk about what you feel you would need to be able to say "yes" in a way that's meaningful (and equally, to feel able to say "no")? I don't know if you've read this article yet, which is pretty darned awesome:
An Immodest Proposal

As for people defining my sexuality for me, I usually react by trying to make it as clear as possible how rude what they said was. How you want to do that depends on what you feel most comfortable with - I often do something like a sarcastic "Oh, well thanks for correcting me - I'll bear that in mind from now on." What's good with that, too, is that it reinforces (both for you and for the other person) that YOU get to be in charge of how you're identifying, and it's none of the other person's business, really. [Smile]

ďIn a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I donít know what I am. I donít know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.Ē

Posts: 1269 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 46170

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[ apparently I can still get into the account now, I think I'll revert to this one, sorry for confusion]

Thank for the reply,

I have read that article, and I love it. It's been passed around, shared, and generally loved.

I've been working through the issue of consent a bit over the past year now, starting with scarleteen actually, and eventually in person with a counselor a couple of times. And largely I think it just means time and not having sex until I'm doing it with someone who I feel comfortable disclosing my past with and having them be aware that they need to ask first before they do anything, because I'm unlikely to say no if they don't. Generally I've had so much reinforcement that my saying no means nothing and will be overlooked that I have a hard time using it anymore. It's frustrating really because I feel like I should be able to and yet somehow I'm still not, even though I feel like it should be getting better. Or like, I haven't found any proactive ways to improve upon it other than wait. Things take time I guess?

Also I like your response. Sometimes simplicity is for the win.

[ 06-25-2011, 06:53 PM: Message edited by: skiesofgreen ]

Posts: 245 | From: British Columbia, Canada | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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