Exploring sexuality respectfully

Questions and discussion about your sexual lives, choices, activities, ideas and experiences.
pathconnected
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Exploring sexuality respectfully

Unread postby pathconnected » Sat Oct 24, 2020 10:14 pm

Hello! Apologies in advance if a similar question has already been asked.

So recently I've been trying to get more in touch with my sexuality. I have been sure enough that I am attracted to women to identify as lesbian, but since I've never had any romantic or sexual experiences with other people I'm always a little unsure. At any rate, I think it would be good to get a better sense of what my preferences are. I've mostly been doing this through fantasizing.

The problem is that I often feel like I am objectifying the women who appear in my fantasies, like I'm sort of adopting the male gaze or whatever (even though I'm a woman). For example, one of my first "celebrity" crushes was on a young musical artist whose listeners are mainly middle-aged men. A lot of these men would leave weird comments on her music videos, like "I'm in love with her, don't tell my wife!" When I fantasized about her, I couldn't help thinking about how uncomfortable she must be made by those older men, and I felt bad for having the same attractions (even though I'm younger than her). Similarly, I once had a young professor who I found attractive (not that I would ever act on those attractions). But then I had a conversation with her about how tough it is to be a women in her male-dominated field, and I felt terrible for sexualizing her in my head when all she wants is to be respected as a smart and capable researcher. I used to sometimes think about people my own age, but that felt even more disrespectful somehow.

I've tried watching porn, but it just didn't do anything for me—either it felt too impersonal, or too aggressive, or I kept wondering about the lives of the performers. I've also tried reading erotica, but for some reason a lot of the stories seem to be about 30-something office co-workers and I just can't relate to that. I've had some success with fanfiction, but I guess I'm a bit picky when it comes to the writing (sorry if that sounds snobby).

In short, I feel guilty for fantasizing about people I "know" in some capacity, but can't fantasize about people I don't know. If anyone has any advice, that would be super helpful. My friends and I don't ever talk about this stuff, so I don't have a good sense of what is typical or not.

Siân
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Re: Exploring sexuality respectfully

Unread postby Siân » Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:31 am

Hi!

So I think you've hit on a really important question, and I'm not promising to have a perfectly complete answer in just one post but I do have a couple of ideas about this.

1. Fantasy is fantasy
2. Respect and attraction aren't mutually exclusive.

Let me elaborate. My first point is that your fantasies, the things you think about when you're alone with yourself, are just that - yours. No-one can know what you've been thinking unless you tell them. Your thoughts have absolutely no impact on anyone else unless you share or act on them. You aren't harming someone by noticing that they are hot, so as long as your words and actions are respectful.

My second point is that finding someone really hot is not the same as objectifying them. Objectification is when you deny someone's humanity, or agency, or their complex human experience and replace it with basically seeing them as an object or tool to serve your own needs. Being into someone is not about seeing them as sexual OR a whole complete human being, but rather seeing then as a whole complete human being AND super-hot and sexual. Like, I want my partners to love my drive and the way I nerd out about the things I care about, and also notice that I look really great in these shorts today. Does that make sense?

Bringing those things together then, fantasies tap into the moments where you are noticing the things about someone that you find attractive. It doesn't mean you don't also value them as a talented artist or admire them for being a super-capable researcher. What do you think? Are there bits of this you'd like to dive into further?

pathconnected
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Re: Exploring sexuality respectfully

Unread postby pathconnected » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:47 am

Thanks for the super quick response. I think what you're saying makes sense. I guess there's a couple of things that are still bothering me, though.

You said that "Objectification is when you deny someone's...agency...and replace it with basically seeing them as an object or tool to serve your own needs." But isn't fantasizing about someone using them as a tool to serve your own needs? They also don't have "agency" in the sense that you are deciding how they behave in your fantasy. Maybe I'm overthinking this, I don't know.

Another thing (somewhat separate from my original question) is that even though I agree that my thoughts are my own thoughts, I can't help but try to view them from an outsider's perspective. I keep wondering how people (including those who appear in my fantasies) would feel if they could see in my head. Do you have any tips for how to unlearn this sort of overanalysis? I think it kind of curbs my creativity and makes it so I can't keep a fantasy going for more than like a minute.

Sam W
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Re: Exploring sexuality respectfully

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Oct 26, 2020 7:33 am

Hi pathconnected,

It may help to think of agency as being about people's ability to do things (or not do things) in their real lives, rather than in their, or your, imagined ones. So, while it's true they don't have control over how they act in your fantasy, your fantasy doesn't have any influence on their ability to actually live their lives, which means it's not restricting their agency. Too, I think most people understand that we can't control if or how other people think of us, whether that's fantasizing about us or blaming us for being too slow in traffic. Does that make sense?

As for that feeling where you switch from your own fantasies to an outsiders perspective of your fantasies, does that only happen with sexual things? Or does it happen with other types of thoughts or fantasies as well.

pathconnected
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Re: Exploring sexuality respectfully

Unread postby pathconnected » Tue Oct 27, 2020 6:11 pm

Thanks for the helpful response! That does make sense.

To answer your question, I think I'm a pretty self-conscious person in general and tend to overanalyze—but that usually doesn't stop me from daydreaming anyways. It's only sexual things that I have trouble fantasizing about. Not sure why.

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Re: Exploring sexuality respectfully

Unread postby Sofi » Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:58 pm

So, the dilemma you're facing is actually not rare. Something helpful I learned in a Ethics of Sex college course was looking at sexual fantasies using consequentialism. If you're not familiar with it, consequentialism is basically an ethical/moral philosophy theory that determines whether something is 'good' or 'bad' based on the outcome (or consequence). If we apply this to sexual fantasies, as long as they aren't with malicious intent, they don't have any negative effect on the person and therefore aren't intrinsically bad. Technically, impact is what matters and not intention, but in your case the intentions are still good. So even if we step away from our personal feelings towards this and look at it from a purely ethical point of view, there's really nothing morally wrong with fantasizing about someone you know (or don't know). Does this make sense? I can also help you find some studies and scholarly texts written about this if you'd like to read more about it!

pathconnected
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Re: Exploring sexuality respectfully

Unread postby pathconnected » Mon Nov 09, 2020 11:31 pm

Yes, thank you so much! That makes sense, and just reading your response was very helpful and validating.

Siân
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Re: Exploring sexuality respectfully

Unread postby Siân » Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:30 am

Glad we were able to help! We're always here if you want to dive into this a little more or have questions on anything else :)


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