Man Cave

Fair disclosure: This post deals with some personal stuff, and those who are looking for daily snark, fun, and observations may be either disappointed or TMI’d. Or both. I really wrestled with putting it up here but I’m both trying to be brave and hiding it on what I anticipate will be a low-readership day. Read at your own risk.

I’ve been struggling lately with fear. I like to be a “tough guy”, to feel like I can do it all myself, like I can go into any situation and come out unscathed. I like to feel safe. And for the most part I’ve been able to construct a life for myself where, by and large, I do. I’ve learned to walk like I know where I’m going, even when I’m completely lost. I’ve present an air of confidence even when my shoes are filling up with sweat. I take on undoable tasks with aplomb, ready to roll up my sleeves and figure out how to get it done. I’m learning, slowly, that sometimes true strength is in vulnerability, and am getting better about asking for help, support, and encouragement. Want to know more? Below the jump.

But still, I carry with me a fear of men, and more specifically, being the object of male sexuality. I’ve not had to do a lot of work on this over the past 10-12 years, but rather, had constructed a life filled with mostly women and gay men. But the world is changing – gender and partners and identities and bodies are more fluid than ever before, “Women’s Spaces” are grappling about how to accommodate trans folks, and I’m finding that this fear is coming up in my body in a way it hasn’t before. I feel like it’s holding me back, like I’m making decisions about where I’ll go and with whom based on fear, and I’m unhappy with that. So I’m taking it on.

So. Why am I afraid of male sexuality? I think it’s because I’ve had too many experiences where I’ve been clearly in the “friend” camp with a guy, and for whatever reason they’ve seen an “opportunity” to try to kiss or grope. While I’ve dated women who were sexually coercive, the relationship already had a sexual dynamic. I’ve never had a female friend, of any sexual orientation, suddenly shove their tongue in my mouth at a bar, or roll on top of me while watching a movie, or follow up a statement like “I really value your friendship” by coming in for a kiss. And frighteningly, most of these young men didn’t really think there was anything wrong with this, though they were upset that they had upset me. Clearly, there is some cultural pressure at work, where boys are supposed to push and girls are supposed to say no.

Last week, I checked my email and found an article about men raping women they know, but not considering it rape, and an article about sex and gender in kinky play spaces both in my inbox, emailed to me by two different friends. I guess that’s the sum of my conflict – I want to be open to anyone and anything, and feel like my fear makes me bail out of too much intimacy with cisgender men. And then last night, I was watching Family Guy, which contained this scene:

INT. AUDITORIUM – DAY (CUTAWAY)
A room full of FRESHMEN watch a movie on a screen.

WOMAN ON MOVIE SCREEN
Hi, I’m Kelly McGillis and I’m here to talk to you about rape. Ladies, look to your left. Now look to your right. Statistics indicate that both of those men will rape you.

ANGLE ON a COLLEGE GIRL sitting between two GUYS. She looks nervously at them.

GUY #1
I’m not gonna rape you.

GUY #2
I might.

Hilarious, right? Maybe in that “it’s funny ’cause it’s true” way. Or maybe not.

Anyway, I’m trying to let go of my fear, to make choices based on what I want, not what I’m afraid of. And I’m looking for ways to release the fear that lives in my body. Yoga’s not enough, so I’m thinking of trying Rosen Bodywork. I would love to hear if anyone else has had experiences with letting go of fear and trauma in your body, and what worked for you.

3 responses to “Man Cave

  1. I love you and want to walk with you through this, if you’ll let me.

  2. Great piece.
    I’m curious, what do you think you’re missing out on? What is there to gain from being less guarded around straight men?
    I guess I feel guarded around straight men, too, even ones I know and love (though for different reasons). I don’t really think I’m missing out on much with them, though….

    PS: Thanks for the plug on ‘Why I Left AIDS”. It was interesting to read your reaction.

    • Good question, and I don’t have an answer. I think what I’m looking for is to be able to make decisions based on what I want, not what I fear. I’m working on it….

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