Earlbecke joins us from definition:

Expanding a little more on my comparison of queer sexuality and kink yesterday, I really have to say that, for me, the two are inextricably intertwined.

When I talk about my “sexuality” or “sexual orientation” I’m not just talking about what genders/sexes I find attractive. I’m a pansexual submissive with a preference for “feminine”-leaning (whatever that means) people who blur gender/sex norms, who are extremely dominant. In the particular case of my current relationship, that’s a bisexual cisgendered man. (I don’t think I could relate to a cismale who wasn’t a little queer.)

My strong attractions have always been for charismatic people. Those people who have an inexplicable draw. They might not even be anything to look at or they might be drop-dead gorgeous, but that’s not why people like them. They exude confidence and charm, whether they’re particularly charming in the conventional sense or not. They’re the kind of people who generally have dozens of suitors they don’t really care for who just seem to accumulate with no effort on their part. For whatever reason, they make friends with everybody, and everybody they meets likes them. These people have a charisma that makes everyone around them eager and willing to pretty much go along with whatever they say.

These are the kind of people who compliment me. (It’s ironic; because other people would probably say that I, myself, am really charismatic. And while I’m glad I come off that way, that’s not really who I feel I am inside at all.) I’m shy in unfamiliar situations and tend to be voluntarily withdrawn. I don’t party. I don’t make small talk. I have a difficult time really relating to people and making friends (but I like the ones I do have, thank you very much). I don’t really like talking to most people at all. I prefer to stay at home, cook a nice meal, read a book, paint. I’m an introvert. I don’t like to try new things unless someone else is trying them with me. I enjoy being challenged but don’t challenge myself unless pushed by other people or circumstance. I’m incredibly indecisive. I like people with a more extroverted, commanding presence, who aren’t afraid to just make choices and stick by them.

There’s other elements at work, too. I’m very short: I stand at about 5′1″. I’m always attracted and have always been attracted to taller people. This is not hard to do, most people are. But I mean much taller. My boyfriend is about 13 inches taller than me. The power dynamics are that physically evident in my choice of partners. I also have a strong attraction to men and women who are physically stronger or larger.

And trust is very important. When I mean trust, I don’t mean it in a casual sense. I mean that the more someone has the capability to harm me, the more pronounced the power disparities, the knowledge that I can trust that person makes them exponentially more attractive. I’ve known plenty of guys who were very nice men who I felt safe around to whom I felt zero attraction because they’re weren’t dominant or otherwise wouldn’t/couldn’t have the potential to exercise power over me. And my ability to trust is definitely gendered.

I’ll try to explain. It sounds terrible, but it’s true: by and large, I do not trust men. I go with my gut instinct, and it’s always been right, so I don’t give people the benefit of the doubt anymore. And it’s only ever been men who attempt to intimidate, harass, or threaten me. Because trusting men, especially men who are taller or stronger than me, is such a difficult thing for me, when I actually have met guys that I like, the attraction is much more intense than that for any of the women I’ve liked, even though I like women in general much more. The painful knowledge of how imbalanced power relationships already are and will always be between me and men actually makes them more attractive, even though physically I’m less into them. As my feminist awareness has grown, so has my attraction to men, where when I was convinced the world was totally egalitarian as a teen (or egalitarian enough) I wasn’t really interested in guys at all.

Then there’s the fact that I have a tendency to attach myself to people with more experience (and therefore, often, age) than myself, which is definitely the biggest power imbalance involved in my attractions as far as I’m concerned. (You think the height difference between me and my guy is a lot? He’s two decades older than me and has had more sexual partners than I can even really imagine or grasp in more than an abstract sense, he being my second, ever. Now that’s a power imbalance.)

And I find arguments “against BDSM” (since I don’t see how you can really argue with someone’s sexual orientation; it’s not going to change) kind of weird. The whole idea that no one can enjoy a consensual D/s relationship because of the patriarchy strikes me as a little strange. (Of course, feminists who argue “against BDSM” are really only arguing against Dominant male/submissive female power exchange because they think that’s the only dynamic that exists.) First of all, it’s the person and personality that matter most to me, not sex or gender; I don’t really think about it that much and even if it’s a factor, gender is not even close to being the deciding factor in my attraction. Second, like I said before, I admit to getting a bit of a naughty thrill out of the pre-existing male/female social power imbalance. That doesn’t mean I think it’s right, and if the world were less sexist, I’d probably be even more lesbian than I am.

But the point is, arguments about kink based on the existence of patriarchal power imbalances are kind of moot. I am queer. Even with a man, I remain a dyke. More importantly, I am genderqueer — I don’t think of myself as a “woman” in anything other than a strict anatomical sense, and I definitely do not adhere to gender roles. I have trouble with the cognitive dissonance when someone does something as innocent as refer to me with gendered pronouns. The very idea that I only submit because “I’m a woman and I’ve been taught to” is bizarre to me — no, I really wasn’t, I had kick-ass feminist parents, and I have always had a difficult time squaring my sense of identity with my anatomy and how it caused people to treat me. That, and I’m the kind of obnoxious rebellious person who does pretty much the opposite of what I think people expect of me just to be stubborn.

But, well, these musings have all been well and good, but the most important aspect of my sexuality is this: whether or not society says men should be dominant and women submissive, whether or not I am a woman, whether or not I am with a man, whether or not I am genderqueer or queer… There is no rationalizing it. Trying to be a less submissive person — not even dominant, just normal — is deeply, deeply upsetting to me. I can’t do it. The very thought makes me feel sick. I can’t physically bring myself to act that way. It doesn’t come naturally. It doesn’t make sense. I have no idea how to even try.

On the other hand, being with the kind of partner who has power over me and uses it wisely and compassionately… That’s the best thing in the world. It’s the only thing that really feels right. I don’t care what anyone else thinks of it. It’s just what I need.

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