When people negotiate what they want to do in bed, or discuss what they like sexually, there’s usually talk about lines. There are lines that must not be crossed, lines ok for nudging and pushing and lines that move around with the time of the month. Some lines are just fences to keep anything from happening (no touching below the waist or above the ribcage!) and others just make everything more tittilating (knees have to touch the ground at all times!).
I’ve a few lines myself (no breaking skin, no humiliation, among others) and I’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty open-minded lovers, and in exchanging likes, dislikes and boundaries, I’ve often heard some variations of ‘I draw the line at kids, animals and shit.’ This always seems good, self-explanatory. Children must be protected from abuse, and sexual experience/knowledge inappropriate for their developmental stages. Plus, they’re not sexy to me or the people I want to date. When it comes to the other two, the ‘ewww’ in my brain is louder than the ethical arguments.
At the same time, my personal philosophy about things that gross me out is that I should learn more about them. Not just because education develops tolerance (or a more intelligent, solution-oriented aversion), but because being able to put my finger exactly on why something bothers me gives me important information about myself and helps me remember we’re all flesh-and-blood, 3-D people with feelings, no matter what we’re into.
I’d like to say that it was in that spirit that I watched Animal Passions on YouTube, but it was actually out of wide-eyed, open-mouthed fascination. Still, I appreciated how the British documentary on zoophilia portrays people who have sex with and/or love animals with respect and gives them the voice they deserve without ignoring the ethical problems connected with bestiality. I won’t go into that aspect, though I can recommend Peter Singer’s and Clive Hamilton’s thoughts on the matter.
What really stood out for me was the idea of mutuality. As I watched, I kept thinking: “but can they love you the way you love them?”
As I tackled this question I began to wonder: ‘Is any relationship really mutual, though?’ If mutuality means that everyone values and is valued equally, and that each person holds the same place in the other’s life, has any couple has managed that? And mutuality is as possible in a polyamorous group as a simultaneous orgasm is at an orgy. Facing that means facing down some basic insecurities – ‘Am I the vulnerable one here?’; ‘Do I matter to my partners?’ – and getting to really transformative questions like: ‘How vulnerable do I want to be?’; ‘Am I treating myself well?’
- Her eyes sparkle with joy – it’s clear she loves what she does;
- she accepts herself and her pleasures unconditionally and without apology;
- German vocab that I didn’t get in class: scat films= Kaviar Filme
How and where do you draw your lines? Do they ever move? How do you deal with and think about people whose lines lie in radically different places than yours do?