I think the real problem with miscommunication between men and women about sex has nothing to do with what sex looks like. Men want to make the problem about what they do. Say well if I say this, well if I kiss you this way. Then clearly you won’t find what I do objectionable.

But it was never about what men do.

If it’s the right guy, he can do whatever he wants. I might say ‘no actually please kiss me more like this’ or ‘no please touch me more like that,’ but nothing he does is going to make me want him any less. Nothing he does is going to make me want him to touch me any less. So long as he does what he does out of passion, and not ownership.

Guys are taught to repress their emotions in order to be attractive. Guys are taught to kiss women like they see James Bond do in the movies. To touch women possessively and with intent to dominate. Guys watch porn and think what women like is to be fucked roughly, like to be on the receiving end of guys who joke about tearing our pussies up. Guys think sex is about hurting us and too many women have low self-esteem or have repressed sexual trauma. Too many women go looking for a guy who will fuck them hard enough to hurt. And these same women lash out and call men pussies or worse if the men don’t comply. If the man wants a connection.

Too many men I suppose are shamed for wanting a real connection, over an easy fuck.

It took me a lot of time to stop seeing myself as the girl men only liked because they thought I would be an easy fuck. To think maybe the fact I can look at men and see the soul inside and see the small child crying and like both those parts makes me more valuable than gold, to a certain kind of guy.

I cherish my friendships with men. But passion is unmistakable and when it’s there, it’s there. And I won’t let any man hate me or take his shit out on me because he’s confused about where passion comes from. Passion is always mutual. Passion is not a thing women do to men. We can’t.

That being said. Women spend years of our lives learning to fake it. Learning to look attractive, to act like we want to be attractive to just anyone. To flirt lightly with the most powerful guy in the room (so he doesn’t hurt us). To act emotionally intimate with any guy when he is upset so he won’t lash out at us or someone else. We spend years of our lives learning to sell our sexuality off piece by piece, to get jobs or male friendships or mentorship but more often just to create some peace in a man set to explode. We do not take this kind of flirtatious behavior seriously. I do not. It is a survival technique.

Passion, when it’s real. Exists on another level. Lives in another place inside me. A place I sometimes cannot reach. Passion exists in a relationship I have never had. With a man I trust completely. In a way I cannot quite imagine ever trusting another human being.

There are so many things my own body has taught me. Things about making the body feel safe, which is much more important than making either person feel romantic. In a capitalist society where competition reigns and we are all under threat. We are all afraid.

I think for men, sex must feel like the territory on the map that has no name. Like here be dragons. Sex must be a brief return to a part of the body they must pretend does not exist, just to get through the day. To a part of the soul long forgotten, back in childhood, when men are taught women will love them for their accomplishments and never their hearts.

I met a man I loved for his heart. His accomplishments intimidated me. I met a man I tried to impress with my skills and my flirting and my cuteness and my femininity. I met a man I tried to perform femininity correctly for. It didn’t work. I met a man I loved more than anything. I forgot to tell him that. I guess I thought it was obvious. I met a man who taught me that men are people too. Who taught me that men only pretend to be robots. I met a man who made me sympathetic for the pain of men. And given what I have been through at the hands of men, trust me. That is not an easy thing to do.

I met a man I would have loved in any place, at any time. Because he felt like my man. And that was all that mattered.

It’s amazing how quickly other pointless things can get in the way of what matters most.

I was never confused. I only acted that way. Because it was what I was taught to do. How I was taught to be have to make men like me. Only. I suppose I never thought to learn how to make a man know I liked him back. It never occurred to me that all that flirting and all that sympathy and all that survival technique was saying exactly that, and to all the wrong people.

It never occurred to me that I had control over what men do or don’t do. Over whether men think I like them, or act like they like me. It never occurred to me that I could make them all go away, or make him come near me. Honestly. It never occurred to me that any of them cared what I wanted. Even him.

I think the real problem with miscommunication between men and women is that men do not realize that the entire construction of how they are taught to behave in the world, as men, is to act like predators. And women do not realize that our entire construction is to act like victims.

Men approach women and they cut us from the herd. Men hammer us with lines and give us an elevator pitch version of their lives. Men touch us when they think they ought to, when they think we expect them to, not when they actually really want to. Men fuck us how they think they are supposed to, not in a way that feels good to them or us.

Men approach us and touch us and fuck us and sometimes it seems like we are irrelevant to the entire process. All of these Aziz Ansari-esque “bad dates” where he says ‘I don’t see what the problem is’ and she says ‘that is the problem, exactly.’ Is that he is off proving his masculinity but using someone else’ body to do it. Is that he seems more interested in his own masculine ego and getting off and adding another screw to his scorechart, more interested than he is in whether she is enjoying what he is doing. More interested than he is in whether she wishes she were somewhere else, and that he would stop. More interested in getting what he wants than he is in making sure she wants him to touch her or fuck her.

It’s not about whether he asks or not. It’s whether he cares what the answer is.

There is a difference between an honest mistake, versus seeing what you can get away with. So long as he is willing to stop, is committed to stopping, as soon as he thinks she even might not be into it, as far as I’m concerned, he’s okay. Nonconsent is not about whether the guy does something ‘incorrectly.’ It’s not about whether he does something ‘wrong’ that he did not know is wrong. It’s about whether he knows it is wrong to touch someone who does not wish to be touched. It’s about whether he is interested in whether she actually wants to or not. Whether he thinks her ‘no’ is a starting position in an ongoing negotiation he plans to try to ‘win.’ Or whether he thinks ‘no’ is a declarative statement, one he is committed to respect.

Consent is difficult only because respect for other people is difficult in men who have been taught their entire lives that they do not need to respect women. Men come up with all kinds of reasons why that is. But really it comes down to whether her right to determine what happens to her body, when, by whom, and under what circumstances, is stronger than his right to get off. If her right to assert her humanity is stronger than his right to assert his masculinity. That’s all.

Love has nothing to do with nonconsent. Passion especially has nothing to do with disrespect. Passion is an improv session. Passion’s answer is always ‘yes, and.’ As in ‘yes, but not tonight, I’m tired and sore, can you hold me instead.’ ‘yes, but I don’t want to have sex like that, can we try another way.’ ‘Yes, just like that.’ In love, all mistakes should be mutual. All successes should belong to both partners. All fights about solving a problem that belongs to both people. Anything that goes ‘wrong’ has two people to blame, and two people trying to resolve it.

It’s all very simple. And difficult. And important. And worth it.

Writes all the things. Photographs the light. Smiles at odd moments. Reads in the shower. Sings to the trees. Hopes a lot.

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