Postmodern Sex

Articles keep popping up advising people (especially lesbians) on how to “have sex” with trans women. Among the creative acts recommended are “muffing” (fingering the inguinal canals, which are the indentations in the pelvis bone from which the testicles descended at puberty) and “eating ass.”

These ideas are usually proffered when people (especially lesbians) assert that they are not attracted to male bodies or penises. Well! goes the argument. That’s ok. Because sex with trans women doesn’t have to involve penises. It can involve, say, pelvis indentations and asses.

The problem with these recommendations is twofold. Problem one: people aren’t interested in becoming physically intimate with people they aren’t attracted to, notwithstanding the availability of previously-unimagined orifices.

Problem two: these acts aren’t all that enjoyable, especially to the performer. Arguably, they aren’t even sex.

Perhaps it’s intrinsically pleasurable to have your inguinal canal fingered. I wouldn’t know–I don’t have inguinal canals. However, I’m going to openly doubt it. I think it’s more likely that it’s validating–it allows trans women to imagine that they’re having some sort of sex, especially in a receptive (read “feminine”) way, especially with someone (i.e. a lesbian) who typically enjoys fingering and licking the bodies of actual females.

I’ve got this apparently old-fashioned view of sex, where it’s something you do with someone you’re attracted to, someone whose body you want to explore and ravish because you’re driven mad by it. For me, sex is not body parts chosen from an ala carte menu. It’s not an opportunity to signal your political alliances. It’s not when a reluctant person is pressured to rub up against another person whose body is, because of medical intervention, no longer sexually responsive.

We can keep stretching the definition of sex to its breaking point. For example, it’s pleasurable when someone rubs the inside of your elbow, too. But it isn’t sex. If it were sex, some of those who’ve experienced this pleasure would have to say they’ve had sex with their massage therapists, their doctors and their parents.

Sometimes strap-ons are defended as the “real” sex organs of trans men. Is it sex, then, if you retrieve a trans man’s dildo from her dresser drawer and stroke it when she isn’t home? With her consent, of course. I mean, if you’re attracted to men, why shouldn’t you be attracted to a trans man’s male organ?

These tortured definitions of sex become inevitable under queer theory. That’s why Judith Butler had to coin the term “post-genital sexuality.”

After all, if you’re going to defend transgender hormone use and surgery, you’re going to have to address the pesky concern that such interventions nearly always render their recipients uninterested in sex and/or unable to orgasm (don’t ask them–they lie about this. Ask their partners). And for some reason, as a transgender activist, you can’t tell the truth about this, perhaps choosing to defend transgender treatment as nonetheless worth the sacrifice. Instead, you have to pretend that hormone-using and post-op trans people have amazing and vibrant sex lives.

I get it. Any buyer’s remorse for those who have sacrificed their sexual pleasure to “gender” must be literally intolerable. As in, not to be tolerated. To be suppressed via rationalization.

Plus, “We’ll eliminate your orgasms!” is just bad PR.

Unfortunately, this defense mechanism hurts other people. Gender-questioning children and others who are being fed a lie about their future sexual and romantic prospects. Young lesbians who feel pressured to lick a man’s ass before admitting that they exclusively love, and desire, women.

Patriarchy’s always tried to get women to lick men’s asses. It’s just getting a lot more literal.

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