The idea that the human body, if left to its own devices, undergoes a single puberty is an oversimplistic explanation, or an outright lie. Trans people who take hormones can sometimes be said to undergo a second puberty, depending on their dosage. But I think puberty, as a concept and a physiological phenomenon, is just as nuanced and unique to every individual as “biological sex” itself – a Frankensteinian construct cobbled together from a constellation of chromosomes, hormone profiles, genital appearance, among other things.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve undergone three different puberties over the course of my life – maybe four, depending.
The first was what most people would recognize as the puberty. I started getting periods, growing body hair, gaining weight around my hips and chest, and grew a few inches. I started being drawn to material I understood to be sexual (whether anyone else agreed with me or not is a whole different ballgame), and started developing what I now know to be a very kinked sexuality. I began to understand myself as a potential target for the sexuality of others, too. That was when I was about 11-12.
My second puberty happened when – ugh – I saw the 2007 Transformers movie. It opened some kind of floodgate in me, flipped a switch, however you want to describe it. Either way, it changed (ruined?) me forever. I suddenly had a completely new, completely unprecedented direction welded onto my already nebulous grasp of sexual orientation. Out of the blue, giant robots that turned into vehicles were now officially fair game. It was like seeing a new color for the first time.
I was talking about this with my husband the other day – the urban legend, “ghost story” aspect of Transformers mythology that nobody hardly ever explores in the franchise. That feeling I got when walking out of the theater after that movie and looking around at the cars parked in the parking lot or driving in the street, this feeling of they could be alive! For years after that I couldn’t shake the feeling that cars parked along the street might be looking at me as I walked past them, or that I had to be on my best behavior when sitting in one because it was courteous to the car, and not necessarily the owner. Sometimes I’d see the same car being driven around my college neighborhood in midtown Manhattan – a four-door Jeep Wrangler being one of them – and I’d wind up with a spring in my step as I straightened up and looked my best as though there was somebody there to impress.
I don’t really do that anymore – and this is honestly something that I’ve never told anyone in my life – but I do still get crushes on cars (…Jeeps in general and green Wranglers in particular), and lately, with my current comic work, WW2 aircraft. I always thought that the Jeep thing was because my favorite character, my “uberfuck”, as a friend calls him, turns into a Jeep, but the airplane thing is new. This is all just at looking at photo reference, reading specs, studying their interiors and gear and crew. Not in a million years could I imagine myself saying, “yeah, nightfighters are kinda hot”. Those floodgates that that stupid franchise rent open? To mix my idioms, there’s no putting that genie back in that bottle. This is going to be with me for life. Thank god I can’t afford to own a Jeep and have no love for modern car culture whatsoever – otherwise I’d have to really start calling myself poly.
I was 18 when that movie came out.
My last puberty happened over the course of 2015, after my hysterectomy. I went off birth control at the same time, too, and was expecting to get my libido roaring back like I’d done almost every month up until I was 19 and went on the pill for medical reasons. And it did, though not right away. Hysterectomies fuck with your hormones, even though the uterus isn’t exactly part of the endocrine system, and it can take months to get back to normal. Which it did for me, but I was also going back to a pre-pill normal – that is, raging with testosterone and adrenaline until I ran myself ragged. So come back it did, and my first few months of dealing with it were really intense. I was rabidly hypersexual – and this is where the open-marriage arrangement for me came in – but it came in waves like it always did. A week of being “on”, and several of being almost completely “off”, and so on. But I’ve noticed that, like a pendulum, each pass is getting shorter and less intense, and now, over a year post-op, my days of being “on” feel less dysfunctional. I don’t know if this is because I’m getting better at curbing myself (because it’s easy to let it sort of spiral out of control, especially where adrenaline is concerned) or if it’s because my hormones are finding equilibrium, or a combination of both. But last year, I feel, was a kind of puberty. That’s another genie that’s not going back into its bottle – that uterus is not coming back.
I was on the cusp of 26 when I had my surgery.
The other puberty that may or may not be considered as such, is a similar such moment as the one I had at 18 – that is, I was imprinted with an orientation suddenly and by chance. I was probably 5 or 6, and that’s when I became fascinated by size difference thanks in no small part to television. (But you’ve heard that story already.) But this, and I guess by the later imprinting experience too, depends on whether sexual “awakenings”, or imprintings, really might count as part of puberty. I don’t know, and there’s so little research done on what prompts someone to develop one sexual orientation over another that I’m not even going to bother with conjecture beyond what I can extrapolate from anecdote. (Not to mention that such research would be very difficult to structure in an ethical way, so I’m actually kind of glad that science is staying out of our heads.)
To end, here’s Wikipedia’s explanation of puberty for reference, with the essentialist crap removed:
Puberty is the process of physical changes through which a child’s body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction to enable fertilization. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads[…]. In response to the signals, the gonads produce hormones that stimulate libido and the growth, function, and transformation of the brain, bones, muscle, blood, skin, hair, breasts, and sex organs. Physical growth—height and weight—accelerates in the first half of puberty and is completed when an adult body has been developed.
Notable among the morphologic changes in size, shape, composition, and functioning of the pubertal body, is the development of secondary sex characteristics, the “filling in” of the child’s body[…]. Derived from the Latin puberatum (age of maturity), the word puberty describes the physical changes to sexual maturation, not the psychosocial and cultural maturation denoted by the term adolescent development in Western culture, wherein adolescence is the period of mental transition from childhood to adulthood, which overlaps much of the body’s period of puberty.
I like the connotation of ‘puberatum’.
Macrophilia 200 Series
- Giants in Popular Media
- Female Socialization, Male Gaze, and Paraphilia
- Asexuality, Paraphilia, and Identity
- On “Reverse Pedophilia”, GT vs SW, and Other Tangents
204: Asexuality, Paraphilia, and Identity
The intersection of asexuality and paraphilia is a tricky one, and they’re not things that most folks, aces and paraphiles alike, can even imagine come close to intersecting. It’s a difficult to explain, there’s been no organized effort to discuss the subject among other aces, let alone any academic inquiry (despite a strong tradition of studying us like animals within sexual psychology and the related fields).
This is going to be my official proposal for the introduction of paraphilic attraction to the attractions model as most commonly understood among GSRM circles.
WHY: This isn’t relevant to just me, or to just aces. Many fetishists (of the banal and inoffensive variety) are strongly attracted to traits, actions, scenarios, objects, and sensations that are otherwise inexplicable and cannot easily be reduced to a simple preference in aesthetics, just as gender cannot easily be reduced to the ownership of/desire to have certain body parts. It is informed by romantic, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, sexual and sensual orientations, but is not them. It’s another piece to the puzzle that I feel the current model lacks and which proved to be a hurdle over the course of my own self-discovery. I imagine that introducing this term might help others who struggle with their conception of and relationship with intimacy, sexuality, and/or asexuality because of incongruities with their own lived experience with the accepted definitions.
HOW paraphilic attraction works: To speak in terms of fire-fighting, an attraction can be both an accelerant or a fuel, depending on how they mix with the others. Paraphilic attraction functions in the same way. A foot fetishist experiences paraphilic attraction to an object, which may or may not also mean sexual attraction. A physical masochist is primarily attracted to the sensation of pain, with less importance given to who is inflicting it, and may or may not be sexually stimulating to them on its own. But they are also usually capable of augmenting other kinds of relationships and orientations. Someone who enjoys seeing people wearing latex will probably be even more fulfilled if their partner (someone who they experience other kinds of attractions toward) is interested in wearing it. Someone who enjoys orgasms will enjoy them all the more if the orgasm is achieved with the inclusion of their fetish focus. Aaand so on.
A FETISH FOR SEX?
This is an idea that I saw get alluded to on a few occasions back when I still made use of the AVEN forums: having a fetish for the sex act itself. As in, the sensations aren’t pleasurable enough on their own to merit pursuing, you don’t experience sexual attraction, but you’re still having sex for more than just pleasing your partner. It’s still enjoyable in a both cerebral and primal sort of way despite the feeling of being disinterested in the actions being performed in and of themselves.
A lot of aces still watch, read, write, and draw porn. According to an AVEN poll, ~53% of aces still watch porn at least sometimes. And according to this poll, ~30% of aces who have and enjoy sex like it for reasons that don’t include pleasure or partner satisfaction. (The “other” option for question #8 might be inflated because the poll was unclear, however.)
I think I can say that I’ve got a sex fetish. I don’t have sex just because my husband wants to. I don’t have it because a libidinous itch needs to be scratched. (Not the world’s biggest fan of orgasms; I can take em or leave em for the most part.) Sex is fun, and I’m drawn to it for reasons that are mostly as inexplicable as my attraction to dudes of impossible proportions. It’s a completely cerebral relationship that I have with it, and like with everything else about the way I do intimacy, it probably comes down to abstracted and symbolic violence for me – mememto mori – and reinforcing feelings of ownership. It can be appealing along other axes of attraction as well; aesthetic, romantic, whatever.
It’s probably useful for me to define “sex” here also, since it’s so… meaningless in discussions like these. And especially since I don’t believe that sex is even remotely the only way for bodies to engage in physical intimacy of the ecstatic variety. So I guess in this context, “sex” is going to refer to oral, anal, or vaginal penetration and/or actions that result in erotic pleasure that are at least intended to build toward orgasm. That’s not exactly the definition that I use in my own personal relations, but it’s useful enough I think.
PARAPHILIA WITHOUT LIBIDO
Do you feel the urge to masturbate whenever you see someone pretty walk down the street? When you get a hug from a friend? When your crush tells you about their day? No? Well, if those kinds of attractions can exist independently from sex drive, then so can paraphilic attraction. Not all pleasure is erotic pleasure – things can be pleasurable to the touch, to the ears, to the tastebuds, and even to the brain. Wikipedia describes pleasure like so:
Pleasure describes the broad class of mental states that humans and other animals experience as positive, enjoyable, or worth seeking. It includes more specific mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment,ecstasy, and euphoria. The early psychological account of pleasure, the pleasure principle, describes it as a positive feedback mechanism, motivating the organism to recreate in the future the situation which it has just found pleasurable and to avoid situations that have caused pain in the past.
Duh, right? Of course, laid out like that it’s obvious – yet how often in our casual interactions do we equate all forms of pleasure with sex and eroticism? The Asexuals Involved in BDSM blog has recently wrapped up a week of guest posts about what being ace and/or non-libidinous is like, and I highly recommend it for folks having a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that paraphilia does not preclude libido or sexuality.
BUT WHAT DOES THIS ALL HAVE TO DO WITH MACROPHILIA
Well, it should come as no surprise to you, having read all of the essay up until now, that the fantasy of being in the presence of giants or tiny people need not be sexual in order to be thrilling in a deeply-felt way. Just as children can form obsessions that end up becoming foundational to their identity as developing human beings, sometimes these obsessions carry over into adulthood and continue to produce that same awe-inspired fascination. Being exposed to the focus of the paraphilia produces a knee-jerk reaction the same as being addressed by name.
Which brings me to…
PARAPHILIA AS IDENTITY
If concepts like “homemaker” or “bread-winner” or “husband” or “wife” are sources of very real identity for people who participate in the wider Western overculture, then concepts like “giant” and “tiny” accomplish the very same for those of us within the comparatively small, sub- sub- sub-culture of macrophilia.
To use myself as an example, imprinting happened around 5 or 6 years of age: I caught a vintage Disney short, The Brave Little Tailor, on TV, and unknown to me, a switch went off. Movies like Thumbelina and Fern Gully fast become favorites, but the identity forming in my psyche didn’t become apparent until I started having major growth spurts. Being able to reach things on high shelves seemed distantly unsettling; I felt a sense of loss when my parents and other family members couldn’t pick me up anymore; rooms and furniture I once remembered as being enormous eventually grew smaller and plainer; and as soon as I started to outgrow my twin bed, I knew I’d lost something very important to me and was never going to get it back, even though I didn’t really know what that something was.
For me, approaching puberty didn’t just mean slowly developing secondary sex characteristics and the onset of menstruation (none of which I was thrilled about either), but in a way, I was also undergoing a “slow growth” transformation not unlike what can be found in growth process fetish material. Do a google search for “slow growth GTS” and you’ll know what I mean. They key here, though, is the feeling of growing past what was reasonable and normal to me, resulting in a feeling of “overcompleteness” once I was done, which is how sufferers of Body Integrity Identity Disorder/xenomelia explain their feelings of not needing a full set of limbs. Needless to say, I feel that those of us who “identify” with a smaller size might fall under the BIID umbrella.
Having a fetish identity need not always translate into body issues, though. As identities of every sort are socially constructed (from orientation, to gender, to race, etc.), it’s important to remember that an identity simply functions to situate you in relation to others. To use myself as an example again, I feel that “small and cute” more adequately conveys my gender and orientations than almost any other label available to me, and I have never been able to put into words how this is. (I have tried, though.) In terms of the kink and leather community, the fetish identity often functions to fix one’s place along a constructed hierarchy; usually this translates to an hierarchy of two partners, but sometimes it can be successfully situated within larger groups, whether temporarily during events, or more permanently, like within a leather household.
Next up, the last piece of the essay: “Reverse Pedophilia”, GT vs. SW, Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, and a few other things.
(Wow, I’m actually going to finish this, it looks like. Neat.)
This is a post that my husband wrote this week in response to a few different things that I’ve written recently. He specifically wanted something to respond to, so I sent him some things that are on my mind these days, and it’s been really great to be talking with him about these subjects and experiences this way. Hopefully I’ll get a few more of these from him in the future!
Long-distance relationships are easy. Long-distance sex lives; not as much? That said, I credit the situation my spouse and I share for keeping “things” more interesting than what seems to await the archetypical long-term relationship sex-wise.
Since even before we were an item, she literally made me aware of numerous kinks and fetishes I never even thought existed. Hell, if I recall, within the first week of us chatting online she linked me to a full documentary about a couple of dudes who get off on cars. Literally. Then they go on a road trip together. The one guy cheated on his own car with some random stranger’s car. Never before had I ever felt violated on behalf of an inanimate object.
It went on from there. I had been living a primarily sheltered internet life at that point, as I’d only recently returned to using the internet regularly after an amount of years that pre-dated things like Youtube and Encyclopedia Dramatica. Here was this person who was opening my eyes, and mind, to facets of sexulaity I’d never given much serious thought to. And this coming from a guy who was in a metal band for the majority of his 20s.
This all definitely fed the inevitable attraction that followed, and led to her eventual very reluctant (and seriously adorable) admission of her kinks. Now, I’ve always been entirely open-minded when it comes to fetishes and whatnot, and figured that pretty much everyone has one, but I was not at all prepared to the world I was about to go into.
I’m pretty sure the first one she shared was the macro deal, which didn’t strike me as terribly odd. Nor did the D/s, in spite of its considerable influences on overall lifestyle. Later the tough stuff came though, such as the gender realignment and declaration of asexuality. These are not particularly easy things to grapple with as a cishet dude in his 30s. Nor did I expect them to be dimensions I would see in my marriage.
But love is love and I find myself willing to explore a lot of things I never planned. The basic vanilla stuff that I always unconsciously assumed would be the bread and butter of any marriage I would be a part of is basically out the window. Funnily enough though, a lot of aspects of our individual sexualities find these amusing and cute ways of running into each other like tentacles flailing in the dark. (No, not that sort of tentacle action, but hey, if she digs it…)
Like a lot of cishet dudes in their 30s for example, I am a toy enthusiast. I have a disparate collection of figures and statues that run the gamut from Marilyn Manson action figures to vintage Muppet plushes. That mix has naturally included a fair bit of sexy-type figures of comic book and movie women, and before meeting my spouse I had never been specifically confronted by current mates about my interest in them. I once even dated a girl who had more figures of John Lennon alone than I had figures of females put together. But she clearly exhibited an insecurity towards sharing a home with plastic renderings of other women that either turned me on or entertained me somehow. And that’s totally understandable.
Now, having found out about this kink about being one of them feels both ironic and not at all surprising at the same time. And I gotta say, I love the idea of it so far. It comes across as something that can be a lot of fun for both of us, especially in conjunction with the pet play we’ve recently begun exploring. I’ve always been a sort of possessive type, and crossing these with D/s seems like it would put checks in a good amount of boxes, even in the absence of PIV. Also it makes me think of those “hot glue” vids and that’s funny as shit.
About the Dub-Con:
As my relationship with my spouse has led me to feminism, I admittedly recoiled in shock at the revelation shared about our first time. I was reassured after reading her post that it’s ok, and there were some specific kinks served directly by the circumstance. I only just recently learned about the term “dub-con”, but this sure seems like an example of it. None the less I’m extremely glad to receive the reassurance because this is certainly a completely different interpretation of how things went at the time than mine.
Knowing what she thinks of it now leaves me thinking a few different things. Like a new appreciation for the memory itself in light of how our relationship has evolved. And wishing I’d known more about how she was processing the experience at the time. Sexual communication is one of those things that seem simple and obvious that people will find their own special way to suck at.
But I think the most interesting thing here is that I have to admit that this information I’ve just received actually turns me on (only once the CON part was better emphasized). She got a kick out of feeling somewhat manipulated by me, and enjoyed not being a part of the decision-making process as it were.
Embracing more of a D/s lifestyle has been a long process for me, and I’ve always had a bit of a concern as to whether I had it in me, but this kind of stuff really makes me feel like there’s something truly rewarding to be had, and I’m completely certain I would be missing out on a lot of things if I were not married to the person that I am.
Macrophilia 200 Series
- Giants in Popular Media
- Female Socialization, Male Gaze, and Paraphilia
- Asexuality, Paraphilia, and Identity
- On “Reverse Pedophilia”, GT vs SW, and Other Writings
202: Giants in Popular Media
YER BASIC TROPES
I’m starting with this because tropes surrounding the way giants are treated by stories and the kinds of roles they have in them, as I’ve perceived, have generally stayed the same through the course of human storytelling history. Giants are typically bad news for humans as a race and either represent exaggerated qualities in ourselves that we hate and fear, or represent forces in the natural world which we have a tendency to both marvel at and regard with animalistic mistrust.
They’re not all bad news, though. They’re not all Surtrs and Galactuses, Goliaths and Banes. Sometimes the giant is a good guy, or at least a neutral party (I see this alignment generally paired with above-average intelligence). The good-guy giant is rarely ever the star of his* own show, and that’s because his size is a tool, first and foremost, either to be used by him, or by his allies. Being proud and content with his size is not often something that’s encouraged (possibly because of the fear that it draws too strong a link to the first variety of giant and therefore establishes such a character as fundamentally untrustworthy). And if it’s not, then the size is just never mentioned.
There are things you can’t fight – acts of God. You see a hurricane coming, you get out of the way. But when you’re in a Jaeger, you can finally fight the hurricane. You can win.
–Raleigh Becket, Pacific Rim
The third type, which isn’t really a type so much as its a variation on the above, is pretty much only found in a small subset of the mecha genre. (Or, interestingly, in the case of Shingeki no Kyojin, or Attack on Titan, which features a protagonist that has the ability to grow into a giant and fight other giants.) This type is characterized by its pure existence as a tool. The size and strength of “giantness” is a temporary status that normal-sized characters can put on like a pair of shoes–hence “piloting” rather than “becoming”–and use grudgingly, or more typically, with great, burdensome, hesitation. More on this in a minute.
*“His” because most giants are male, and the female ones are usually sexist “female empowerment” in a really concentrated form and pretty much deserve their own analysis
The Above Translated into TVTropes Links
- The Big Guy
- Gentle Giant
- Dumb Muscle
- Genius Bruiser
- Bigger is Better (not all are relevant, but it’s a good portal page)
GIANTS OF THE OLD WORLD
Or, “Giants and World Religions”. I don’t really want to get into the nitty-gritty of the function of giants in non-JCI religions, but I have to talk about them a little because religio-culture plays a pretty crucial role in how we perceive ourselves as humans to exist in contrast with the Other. The Other here can mean a lot of things: spirits, ancestors, demons, lesser gods, wights, and all manner of supernatural entities. Giants are present, though, in nearly all world religions. I’m not a scholar, just a hobbyist, but folks that like to study this stuff in greater detail and for stupider reasons (read: ancient astronaut theory) pretty much agree with the assessment.
Giants are present in just about every mythology out there, but the one that I’ve benefited from learning about most is Norse– mostly for accessibility reasons, but the themes found in those myth cycles are pretty relevant to many other myths about giants, even in places as disparate as Central America. The general theme here is that the world was/is populated with giants, and the gods must come down and slay them, or punish them, or round them up and put them somewhere else because the humans are coming home and they’re in our house. The giants here represent the forces of a world that is inhospitable to humankind, and the gods have to make sure their newest creation doesn’t get killed off (immediately). We see primordial giant-spirits of earthquakes being imprisoned inside of mountains, giant-spirits of chaos being battled nightly by the sun god/culture hero, giant-spirits of storms in a constant warring dance with a protector-god of humanity, and so on. Interestingly enough, many of the human-friendly gods are conceived of being human-sized when in their human forms. Many gods have explicit links to the old order, the old world populated by giants, titans, jotuns, what have you, and most of the time this is by blood relation, though sometimes, as in the case of Thor, by way of sexual relations: he fathers a child with the jotun/giantess Járnsaxa. Others, like ocean gods and spirits, can sometimes take the form of the ocean itself as well as appear in a smaller, human form. Generally, if a god has a large, scary aspect, their relationship with humankind is fraught with danger because that which they represent/rule over is inherently dangerous, but something we depend on to survive. There is trust there, but it is ever-cautious.
Anyways, the jist is this: inhuman size of the large kind carries with it an unconscious symbolism that entails a threat to the domestic and civil order of humankind. Whether that is natural destructive forces (storms, earthquakes), or animalistic behavior (stupidity, gluttony, violence), these older-than-dirt symbols pretty much form the foundation of every modern trope you’ll find regarding giants.
POP CULTURE GIANTS
Compared to small or shrunken characters whose existence is to subvert tropes about childishness and cuteness, to reinforce them, to provide an incomplete “human” to support another fully realized character, to highlight the power of ingenuity (if they’re tiny humans) or to illustrate pettiness on a mostly harmless scale, giants get the short end of the stick. They are subhuman in a way that small characters aren’t. At the very least, they aren’t permitted to embody a wide range of archetypes and personality types like other characters can, because that undermines their very reason to exist.
There are a few categories of giant that tend to show up a lot:
- The Evil Beefcake – This type seems mostly relegated to video game villainy, like Poseidon from the God of War series. A trite, but solid, symbol of physical violence.
- The Servitor – Typically this one is from myth and reimaginings of traditional stories. Frankenstein’s monster, the Colossus of Rhodes, etc. Existence is generally used to illustrate either the folly of humankind (in thinking they could create and control such a creature), or the power/benevolence of gods.
- The Brontosaurus – Big, strong, and wouldn’t hurt a fly, but not so smart. It’s purpose is to elicit sympathy in a way that the previous two cannot.
- The Jolly Giant Mascot – Okay, so there aren’t actually all that many here, but they’re all well-known: Jolly Green Giant, Paul Bunyon, and even the Michelin Man is on the rather tall side. There aren’t that many because corportate mascots are supposed to be fun and lovable, and giants usually aren’t.
- The Monster – Basically the most common type. Everything from the Minotaur to Kaiju to all those giant bug movies that were super popular in the 50’s and 60’s. They represent… monsters. The Natural World Gone Wild.
- The Racist Stereotype – Self-explanitory, hopefully.
- The Babe – Generally, a hot, white, skinny woman that’s sort of enjoying being so “””powerful””” but has to be coy about it so she doesn’t make the menfolk feel too inferior. Generally portrayed as just super-sized T&A. See Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, and, really, anything else in that vein. Everything to come after that pretty much copies it.
Out of all of these, the only male ones that are somewhat permitted to be conventionally attractive is The Evil Beefcake, and on the very rare occasion, The Servitor. The Babe, though? It is absolutely necessary that she’s conventionally attractive, and show-stoppingly so. Otherwise, just throw in a male giant instead.
I think it’s important to note which kinds of characters are “permitted” to be conventionally attractive and which ones aren’t. If we can divvy up the idea of “giantness” into the two categories of ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’, then a pattern emerges. Natural giants are, as you can expect, never permitted to be hot unless they are also evil, making them threatening to the viewer in a much more easily digestible way; a hot, smart, good giant guy, as I’ve found in my travels and my research, is a dangerous thing. And the way to handle that is to either bring them down several pegs (see below for how superhero giants are treated), or reassure the viewer that they’re going to be good and dead by the end of the story. A smart, hot, giant girl, as you can imagine, is usually sexually tamed to ease the primordial anxieties of the viewer. Female giants aren’t seen as so threatening (because either “””empowerment””” or there’s just always the understanding that she’s going to get saved or brought down at the hands of a man).
GIANTNESS AS TOOL
As I mentioned in the beginning of this section, the status of “giant” can be used by a character as a tool to Uncomfortably Do The Right Thing. To build on what I said above, this type is pretty exclusive to the ‘unnatural’ category; characters pilot anthropomorphic vehicles that are extensions of their body, characters who experience a lab experiment gone awry or an unusual natural disaster that gives them superpowers, etc. In other words, their ability to harness the power of immense size is not something they were born with, is not something that they are made to feel comfortable about, and is definitely something that they must keep carefully compartmentalized and away from the rest of their life (X-Men, obviously, handles these issues by its very nature). In order for us to be able to sympathize with them, their ability to change size must be a source of anxiety or a kind of disability, it must be an ability that they forever have reservations about using; in the case of a pilotable mecha, then the mech, no matter how attached the pilot is, must stay in its hangar when not being used to do the violence. It cannot be thought of anything but a death-dealing machine, even though the pilot may suffer an incredible loss should their mecha be taken away from them.
There’s a lot of Protestant-style guilt present in these themes and narratives, not at all dissimilar to the evangelical view of sex. You can have it, but don’t like it too much, and only do it when you have to.
CASE STUDY: HANK PYM
I have a pretty intense fascination with Hank Pym, and in no small part due to how he has been historically handled as both a character and a property, and what his relationship with partner Janet Van Dyne has been.
Now, understand that I haven’t read much of actual comics with Hank in them aside from The Ultimates, though I have watched and consider myself a big fan of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon that got 2 seasons and was cancelled to make room for something more congruent with the Avengers’ films and tie-ins. Most of my reading about Hank has been in secondary material like wikis and other write-ups, because the way he is perceived is actually more important than the details of how he’s written. To preface, though: everything that I’ve read and watched concerning the character of Hank, as a superhero who has the ability to shrink down into his Ant Man persona, or grow to the size of a house or a skyscraper in his Giant Man persona, has led me to believe that his very existence perplexes the creators who’ve been put to the task of writing him, and that there is something about his character that draws disproportionate ire from comic book fans.
First off, Hank is somewhat of an ass: abusive behavior has been written into his storylines on a few occasions, with Janet being the sole recipient of his anger. If you’re at all familiar with the character, odds are that the first thing that comes to mind is “wife-beater”, and little, if anything else. As you might expect, this is a reason that is cited by many who hate him. What interests me about this, though, is that many other male superheroes have been abusive toward their female partners throughout the history of comics, and done things far worse to them than backhand. Peter Parker, for instance, once decked Mary Jane while she was pregnant, sending her flying, and if you’ll skim the comments in the link, you’ll find that fans are happy to bend over backwards to explain why Peter’s violence is justified (or at least pitiable) and Hank’s is not. Also, let’s not forget how awful Bruce Banner’s alter-ego is–which, for the purposes of this section, is more useful than a character like Spiderman’s–and yet everybody still loves The Hulk. The Hulk has gotten two movies and played a huge role in Avengers. Hank,on the other hand… well, keep reading if you’re not familiar at all with what’s going on.
If you contrast Bruce Banner and Hank Pym, what do get? They’re both brilliant scientists. They both suffer from mental illness and are emotionally unstable. They can both become giants with superhuman strength. There is tremendous fallout in their personal lives due to their crime-fighting careers. And so on. What do they have that’s different, then? Really, symbolically different? Well, there’s two that I feel are thematically important here: 1. the crux of Banner’s story is that he changes when he gets mad, not when he wants to, which makes him very conflicted about his powers, and 2. he doesn’t get that tall. Like, in comic book land, normal people can conceivably be as big as him without having super-powers.
Why are these two things important? Take a look at this here list of the “top” 10 size-changing supes, which sums things up pretty nicely at the end, when it introduces Pym: “If you’ve noticed a running theme of “Size-Changing = Bad Luck” in this top ten…”
Interestingly, the Hulk isn’t on this list, likely because his size-changing abilities take a back-seat to the others. From reading that, you might think that it’s a deliberate distinction on the part of the writers’ zeitgeist, and I would too. Notice, though, how everyone on that list is able to change size at will. If we go back to the Old World section above, then it would’t be unreasonable to extrapolate that there is an inherent level of distrust of these characters for that very reason. Hulk, in spite of his murderous and destructive rampages (he did more damage with his own two hands than Hank ever deliberately did), is OK to like because Banner doesn’t like that side of himself; you can feel sympathy for him. He is reluctant to embrace the part of his identity that puts him on par with the old spirits of natural disasters.
All the characters on that list, though– all of them are sad, pathetic, run-down B-listers. (Yes, even though Janet was well-liked, she was essentially killed so that Hank could move on and try to reclaim his charm.) There’s really nothing else to it: something in the psyche of the writers and readers are preventing them from turning any of these superheroes into characters that are widely liked. Hank Pym is so reviled, and Marvel seemingly so ashamed to have him as a property, that he’s been basically written out of not just the Avengers movie’s origin story, but the upcoming Ultron storyline as well. For those of you don’t know how big of a deal this is, Ultron has had several incarnations in the Marvel universe, and in all of them Hank was Ultron’s inventor. And these weren’t just throwaway plotlines, either; Ultron was always a big deal when he showed up, he was always created by reasons that are very congruent with Hank’s character and hubris. And this is ignoring that Hank and Janet were founding members of the Avengers as well. But not anymore– Hank Pym has no presence in the new cartoon, he is no longer the creator of Ultron, he’s no longer even the alter-ego of the movie-verse Ant Man (whose mantle is being taken up by the far less contentious Scott Lang, who, according to recent news, conveniently gets the suit from an older Hank who may or may not play a major role in the universe beyond that): he’s been deliberately removed from the forefront of the Marvel film universe. Check this link for updates on the film as it progresses.
In conclusion, Hank Pym’s character is irreconcilable to most audiences, despite the fact that he shares many traits and similar histories to other, much more popular and beloved heroes. My theory is that most people, including Hank Pym’s writers, as well as those who’ve read the stories he was part of, cannot fully trust or sympathize with his character for nothing else than being able to grow to incredible proportions at will. That there is something inherently more inhuman to the state of “giantness” than, say, the ability to fly or turn invisible– this has been a cornerstone of human storytelling through the ages, and Hank Pym was never destined to be an exception.
WHY IS THIS EVEN THE PART 2
Because all this shit is important baggage that needs to be unpacked. I’m a paraphile, I like these things. If you’re a straight dude, you’re going to know why you like girls in pretty grueling detail. This is also important groundwork to build if I want to have any sort of deeper conversation about what it means to be into giants as a feminist and as a queer person, just like how I need to know what it means to be a feminist and be into BDSM, or be an ace and be into the sex thing. Except, unlike those, there is nobody to cover this ground for me, there is nobody else I can look to to start the dialogue except me. This is my attempt to do that. I am attempting to reconcile, with words, what it’s like to be into giant dudes and exist in the world that I do.
Next section gets into the nitty-gritty of this stuff, so stay tuned.
Alright, guys. This is based off a thing I wrote about 3 years ago when I was trying to learn everything I possibly could about macrophilia. What happened was that I found out that googling “macrophilia” gave you a link to an essay near the top of the first page (Possibly the first result? I don’t remember now.) that was written by a male giantess fetishist. It was long, well-articulated, and intelligent… except for one small thing: it made the all-too-common assumption that all macrophiles were male, and that “macrophilia” was completely interchangeable with “giantess fetish”. So I wrote to the author about it. We went back and forth on the subject for some time, becoming something resembling acquaintances. But over the course of that correspondence he did concede to being biased, and wound up giving his essay a large overhaul that made it more inclusive. The essay can be found here: Macrophilia 101. It’s not required reading, especially if you’re a regular to this blog, but if for some reason everything you’ve learned about sex and sexuality has been from Everybody Loves Raymond reruns, then you might benefit from reading that first.
In the meantime, I wrote the original draft of this as a response. I’ve chipped away at it every once in a while since then in an attempt to update it, toyed with the idea of turning it into a short memoir a la Sex, Drugs, and Coco Puffs, but I’m now pretty content to just finish the damn thing, put it somewhere findable, and move on for good.
Macrophilia 200 Series
- Giants in Popular Media
- Female Socialization. Male Gaze, and Paraphilia
- Asexuality, Paraphilia, and Identity
- On “Reverse Pedophilia”, GT vs SW, and Other Writings
WHAT IS MACROPHILIA?
Macrophilia is one of those things that, like zarfs1, people are readily familiar with before they’re even aware it has a name or a history.
I’m actually going to remove the “-philia” portion of the fetish name, so that we’re left with something resembling the name of a genre that isn’t purely sexual: macro. For all intents and purposes, macro (and its lesser-used sibling, micro) is older than dirt, and it is more of a genre, a set of symbols, than it is a purely sex-fueled obsession. For as long as humans have been around to wonder and fantasize about things, there has been someone who’s had a fascination with the idea of big people and little people.
As a fetish, it’s basically an attraction to things much larger than yourself. The size ratio is completely dependent on the individual in question, but it seems to be widely accepted that just being attracted to tall people doesn’t quite cut it. The ratio must be unnatural for it to count.
And really, that’s about it. There are as many different flavors of macrophilia as there are macrophiles, and the only thing that any of us have in common is that our fantasies involve weird size differences.
No really, that’s it. Well, in a sweeping generalization kind of way.
I guess to simplify the equation even further, I could say that macrophilia is just another flavor of control dynamics. Even at it’s most asexual and non-threatening, macro is a metaphor, a convoluted symbol, for something else. Some folks would argue that it’s similar to the gay porn defense: “two girls/cocks are better than one!” More is better! A cock the size of a limo is better than a realistic one, even at the cost of being able to achieve anything remotely resembling “natural” sex. To me, though, that’s still a pretty obvious power imbalance.
Power exchanges manifest themselves in many ways. You’ll find ones like, “Take my money”, or “Pee on me”, or “Make me fix dinner in handcuffs”. Macro is the mostly same thing, except it’s “I want to be smaller than you”. The main difference lies in the very thing that makes it impossible to realize: much of the appeal lies in it not often being conditional. Aside from shrink and growth fantasies, which are more about the process than the end result of size disparity, the smaller partner can’t just go “Okay, this isn’t working out. It’d like for you to not be a giant anymore.” There is no not being a giant for a giant. It is an ever-present and unconditional part of the deal. To equate it with a BDSM dynamic, it might be similar to a dyed-in-the-wool master and slave relationship. (Which is pretty funny, actually, considering that I find the BDSM usage of the term “slave” to be extremely obnoxious and wish they’d call themselves something else. But that’s neither here nor there.) As some of the slaviest of slaves will tell you, everything revolves around the will of their master, no matter what it is. That’s just the nature of the relationship, and they can’t even conceive of it being any other way.
Deep down, that’s similar to something that someone like me might ultimately crave, except replace “will” with “size”, and “master” with “giant”. The thing about slavery is that it’s really just a lifestyle paraphilia, if we’re going to assume that a (real) paraphilia not just makes up the foundation for a person’s sexuality, but is also a considerable part of their personality and behavior as well. So by that logic, I would say that there are macrophiles out there who fantasize about having relationships with a difference of size serving as part of the foundation, just as slaves desire ownership to serve as part of the foundation for their relationships. (Most folks will, of course, wish for love to serve as most, if not all, of the basis for any of their intimate and long-term relationships, but there are always exceptions.) I know I’ve fantasized about just being in a world where giants exist, or are integrated members of society, and so on. That scenario fulfills some desire inside of me to feel smaller.
Peruse any kind of medical or scientific literature, and you’ll see that fetishes are almost always described as a sexual fixation on an object or body part. I must disagree with this definition. Where does that leave the macrophile? Moreover, where does that leave the pain slut, the service sub, or the sadist? Or the asexual fetishist, especially? Aside from the common theme of power exchange, another thing that makes them all alike is the fact that the fetishism is often tied to the action and situation. So, I like to call macrophilia a situational fetish: one that is determined by the instance of being (rather, fantasizing about being) in the presence of someone very large, or that very large person being in an environment that’s too small for them, et cetera. Giants can’t exist in a vacuum; without being contrasted with the size of something else recognizable to the fetishist, their giantness theoretically can’t exist. A slime girl doesn’t need to be situated next to a normal human girl for you to know that the slime girl is made of slime, for instance. The giant must have context.
I’m going to get into this more in a later section, though. Especially the asexual part.
Those are the basics, though there’s still sizable chunks of fetish, aspects of it, that are pretty important; vital, even, depending on who you ask: other kinks and fetishes that have become intertwined with the size-play scenario.
Oftentimes these involve acts of violence, and aggressive displays of power. Because the ever-present reinforcement of power-exchange through size disparity isn’t enough for most people, they need the extra oomph of that fear-inducing, blood-pumping interaction that usually entails torture, humiliation, and sometimes even death. I’ve become guilty of entertaining fantasies along these lines in recent years myself. Not to say that there’s anything shameful about it (I got no shame, and told my husband probably a year or two ago that I would have a new no-shame policy, where if someone asks, even a friend, I won’t lie or hide about my interests). It’s just that tastes do change.
BDSM practitioners will be readily familiar with the terms “torture” and “humiliation”. To enjoy them, you are generally held to be masochistic or sadistic to a certain extent, as many macrophiles seem to be. How someone big could torture or humiliate someone small should be pretty self-evident; humiliation could occur just by virtue of being so much smaller!
This is where you start to get into some of the associated fetishes, though. Scenarios involving human waste, bodily fluids, farting… being farted on is pretty gross and degrading, isn’t it? Well, that’s the point. Insertion seems to be similar to both bondage and vore: taking someone into a very tight and confining part of the body. They might struggle, they might suffocate, they might be crushed… hell, they might even enjoy themselves for a few brief moments.
Kink circles have their own version of human sex toy scenes. Like, for instance, a female submissive-type being forced to deep throat, or a male s-type being tied down, a dick sheath slapped on him, and his dominating partner riding away. Face-sitting is also pretty popular; kind of goes hand in hand with feelings of suffocation, being crushed, and used. I’ll talk more about crush later, though.
I’ve always associated size with power, in the same way that someone into BDSM might associate… I dunno, leather pants and combat boots with an m-dom. I grew up inclined to see people that way, and forced myself to unlearn it lest it put me in a bad situation. But I still allow myself to lapse back into that comfort zone during fantasy and sometimes while enjoying popular media stuff. (Size disparity in popular culture will come later.) Growing up, it was a comfort thing. Now, after 5 years of homing in on media that piques my interest in this department, it’s got a darker flavor to it. Giants are nothing but scary villains in grown-up media; they throw their weight around, know how to use their size to hurt and cripple. As it turns out, I really like variations on that cruelty and destruction. Surprising? Probably not.
WHAT DOES A MACROPHILE LOOK LIKE?
We can look like anybody. I could be your sister, your aunt, your best friend. Contrary to what Western media would have you believe, there are not two categories of fetishist: the ugly weirdo, and the lady-in-the-streets-freak-in-the-sheets vixen. Stereotypes, problematic narratives, and feminism and things are being saved for a later post.
What do we look like? Well, back when I was still a frequent poster at The Minimizer, I saw pictures of lots of other members. Granted, it was a site for microphiles (mostly men who were into doll-sized ladies, so material featuring giants was a bit scarce), but everyone looked -gasp- normal. Like, we could have a get-together in a public space and no one would be suspicious. Many of us were students, professionals, servicemen and women. Some of us were spouses and parents. We all came from different backgrounds, incomes, levels of ability, and were of many different ages and political views. We could be anywhere, we could be anyone. We are legion.
As for me, personally, I’m in my mid-20’s. I studied in New York City for 5 years, I came back and live with a family member in a temporary situation. I’m in a long-distance marriage. I’m $75k in debt from school, and I make enough money at my current job to pay my loans on my own. I love Ikea furniture. I collect and read books and other academic works on a choice few Mesoamerican cultures. I’m a foodie, craft beer, and bad movie aficionado. I’m 5’8” and 127lbs. I get diarrhea when I’m stressed out.
Like I said, we are legion.
1The little cardboard sleeves you get with cups of hot coffee
[March 2016 note: I’ve decided to keep this because I feel like it’s the beginning of some important work that needs to be done, even though I have a much more nuanced understanding of the concept of “privilege” than I did when writing it, and that I’m now critical of a lot of SJW-framed discourse and identity politics. I don’t think I would have written this now, but it’s still worth keeping and maybe someone else might pick up where this leaves off. ]
Are you from Tumblr? Kindly read this too then, please. I wrote it just for you. Because you’re just so awesome.
1. I don’t have to worry about my sexuality being described as dangerous, criminal, or linked to mental illness.
2. My sexuality isn’t thought of as something that needs fixing.
3. Generally speaking, Freudian psychology is considered to be an outdated model of analysis where my sexuality is concerned.
4. My idea of attractiveness won’t likely be written off as having originated from “mommy” or “daddy” issues.
5. If I fail at something, my sexual interests won’t be called into question.
6. I can be assured that virtually all media everywhere will cater to me and my model of sexuality.
7. If I have trouble with relationships, my sexuality probably won’t be called into question.
8. I am not likely at risk of losing friends or family members if I come out about my sexuality.
9. If I have personal shortcomings, it won’t be seen as a black mark against the community of people who share my sexual interests.
10. I am not at risk of losing my job or my children if others found out about my sexuality.
11. If I have personal troubles stemming from my sex life, I can be sure that there is a wide social safety net available to help me overcome my problems without pathologizing me.
12. Under most circumstances, expressing some enthusiasm about my sexuality won’t be seen as gratuitous, irritating, or inappropriate.
13. If I am socially awkward, my sexuality won’t be held accountable.
14. I have a much greater chance of finding porn and other erotic material that suits my needs.
15. I don’t have to worry about being dehumanized or Othered by media seeking to “educate” audiences about people like me.
16. I don’t have to worry about being depicted as a danger to partners or society on the rare occasions that I do get representation in popular media.
17. I am free to depict my sexuality and orientation through creative outlets without it being deemed weird, disgusting, or gratuitously self-indulgent, even if it isn’t explicit or graphic.
18. My sexuality won’t potentially force me to lead a double-life.
19. My sexuality probably won’t cause my tangentially related hobbies and interests to be the subject of ridicule.
20. I don’t have to worry about everything I do being viewed by others through the lens of my sexuality.
21. My sexuality probably won’t be seen as innately deceitful or sinister.
22. My sexuality is rarely, if ever, compared to addiction or substance abuse.
23. If my partner goes out of their way to sexually indulge me, I probably won’t be seen as selfish or insensitive to their preferences.
24. I don’t have to worry about being viewed as a “high maintenance” partner because of my sexuality.
25. I probably don’t have to think twice about telling a mental health practitioner about my sexuality, for fear of discrimination or pathologizing.
26. The chances of me struggling with feelings of loneliness or isolation due to my sexuality are slim.
27. I could probably go my entire life without fear of facing ridicule or harassment based on my sexuality.
28. Others probably don’t see my sexuality as something that I can willfully turn on and off, or that it’s “just a phase”.
29. Chances are, my sexuality isn’t something that is seen as being something I “subject” my normophilic partner to.
30. I can be certain that my sexuality won’t overshadow my accomplishments, and should I be out in the public sphere, I won’t be defined by it.
Okay, so that list is short. That’s because fetishists usually aren’t “out” and about, and we’re good at separating our personal lives with our public lives, so the instances of blatant privilege are few and far between and rather specific. Most of us are very, very good at passing as normophilic because we have to in order to survive. Some of these probably sound similar to the way LGBT* folks are treated by the mainstream culture, but that’s because I believe that kind backlash we’re getting is bigotry based on the idea that our sex lives are not in fact, capable of being normophilic. Normophilic is defined here as being whatever the wider culture defines it as, whether that “culture” is a radical feminist space, a strip club, a Presbyterian congregation, the entire western world, and so on.
I’d also like to add that I wrote this several years ago, before being in a position where I could address my asexuality as well, so it also makes the assumption that paraphilia is goes hand in hand with sexuality and libidinousness, when in fact it is a wholly separate thing (though often manifests through sexual outlets).
And finally, two disclaimers: 1. all of the above is assuming that you desire to engage in healthy, consensual practices, and 2. “sexuality” as I use it here refers to an individual’s set of preferences and practices that constitute the majority of what they would consider an ideal sex life, or simply the means by which they would prefer to engage in a/sexual intimate relations with themselves or others.
[March 2016: I no longer really identify as ace much, for the same reasons that I don’t identify as any particular gender – I’m no longer in the business of trying to predict or prescribe myself and my attractions (especially since they warrant so little action in the real world) and I’m trying to cut down on the amount of snappy jargon I use in favor of more long-winded descriptions of my lived experience. This post may or may not have been an attempt as “adding epicycles” to a broken framework. The term “asexuality” doesn’t serve me anymore (and the culture certainly never did) so I see no reason to keep using it. However, it seems like a few aces liked this post, so it’s staying. It’s funny – the jist of what I was trying to get at here, that “shit is complicated and socially constructed and cannot really be compartmentalized” needed to get away from the traditional framing of queer theory to really be actualized! ]
So to answer some of the questions put out by this month’s prompt before I get started:
Are you interested in such?
Yes! And I’m very passionate about and interested in the culture and narratives surrounding this rarely-visited corner of sexuality, so double yes.
Because, to put it simply, it feels good. In the body, in the mind, in the soul.
Do you think that being asexual makes it harder to express or fulfill such desires or not?
I’m going to hedge my bets on “yes”. For reasons I’ll go into below.
Do you think that such things are oversexualised or that there should be a wider acceptance of nonsexual kink or does that not trouble you? Relatedly, do you think there’s a lack of resources for asexuals interested in such or not?
Yes, yes, and yes. The thing that the aforelinkedto post that I was responding to made me realize was that indeed “instrumental sexuality” is a thing, and it did very much need a word to describe what that thing is. But it is not paraphilic sexuality. And people who practice in instrumental sexuality are practicing something that is immoral because it is, by definition, oblivious to the presence or lack thereof of consent. When we talk of “oversexualization”, we usually mean to approximate a concept that is better served by the term “instrumental sexuality”; that is, complete, and oftentimes self-righteous, objectification of others for personal (sexual) gain. Because, let’s face it: there is nothing inherently unethical about individual sex acts, and I’m sure most aces would agree with me. It is the lack of obvious consent, or that the consent was coerced in some way(given under threat of something), or contextual cues that hint to us, as viewers, that the consent was not important enough to depict is when things get iffy. It’s the wholly pervasive attitude of entitlement to sex and sexual imagery that I think is what aces find so extremely off-putting.
Do you think that an asexual experience of kink is fundamentally different from a sexual one, or not?
Of kink? No, not really. I don’t feel like my status as an asexual has hindered my ability to relate to others who share my paraphilia at all, and there are many kinksters/fetishists who are sexual but don’t participate in sexual play. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I take the position that “kink”, “fetish”, and “paraphilia” all mean very different things, and rarely do I use them interchangeably. (I go into it a bit… in, well, many of my posts because I’m a stickler about making use of a better vocabulary, but here and here are good reads for that.)
I’m going to start off by saying that… I have no idea what it’s like to be another ace doing their aceness. This is me and my relationship to sexuality.
Okay, so, for as long as I could remember I thought I was your average sexual cishetero girl. I can assuredly blame this on the fact that nowhere in any media I was exposed to was I ever presented with an alternative to this reality, aside from the vaguest notion of lesbianism. The fact was that it didn’t matter what I actually felt like, how strange it was to hear my friends talk about crushes and kissing, dating, the allure of a sexual relationship, it was that sexual, romantic, relationships were an eventuality for everyone, and that was that. No ifs ands or buts. Nevermind the fact that I was an adult before I realized that touching myself was something I could actually do (and then realized that it was something I didn’t have to do ever again), or that when I fantasized, it was of weird stuff that I’d never really heard anyone else talk about.
So I didn’t have any language with which to describe my thoughts and feelings. I had access to words like “sex”, “crush”, “make out”, “date”, and that was it. And for a kid growing up in an area where sex ed was minimal and the act itself described as being PIV intercourse when a man and a woman love each other, how else was I to conceive of my own wibbly-wobbly fascinations that just bordered on the sexual? Like, sometimes they involved penises? So clearly me thinking about penises meant I was thinking about sex and that I was a heterosexual girl that was desiring heterosexual sex with a boy. But what about the times that I thought about boys’ mouths (and being able to fit in them)? Well, boys kiss girls with their mouths, so obviously I was thinking about some form of making out. What of the times I thought about sitting on a boy’s shoulder, laughing and adventuring? Clearly, boys and girls only act like that when they’re dating, so I must have been imagining a date (for some reason, the dinner and movie slipped my mind, but it was still very much a date).
And all of these thoughts, of course, were, at their core, driven by an innate desire for me to have a penis in my vagina.
I went along with that. It served me well enough for many a year. Coupled with the cultural expectation that women/girls don’t make the first move ever, and that made such an unchecked belief even easier to internalize. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in sex, you see, it was that no boys were interested in me, duh! Nevermind the fact that I hated being asked out on the occasion that such a thing did happen, and could never imagine myself partnered up at all and would turn down each one. These were pesky details and/or behaviors I could chalk up to being an insecure teenager. (I would turn them down because I wasn’t good enough? Oh it makes so much sense now. Silly me, wanting the peen but being too scared to get it.)
College came around and I started actively trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. I was clued in when I became aware that I had a list of favorite tags on AdultFanfiction.net–that’s how oblivious I was used to being–with which I would find new porn to read and not feel any inclination to masturbate to. “Maledom” was #1, so I looked into it. Long story short… I consider myself a full-fledged BDSM kinkster. Shortly after that I found an author that was a prolific writer of size-difference sex and relationships, which led me to finding out that I was a macrophile all along. Several years later, and here I am.
So how was I able to go so long, and function as well as I did, without having any clue that I was asexual? The answer lies in what I’ve started calling “approximate sexuality” or “approximate sexual attraction”, a mechanism by which I could mistake the entirety of my paraphilia, various orientations (which are all andro-, by the way), and my intense fascination with tactile sensation for sexuality and want for sex. I am capable of feeling romantic attraction (which I have reason to believe is a secondary attraction), tactile attraction (as opposed to sensual, which seems more “huggy” and “cuddly” to me), and paraphilic attraction (or kink attraction, which I’m sure would be a better term for lots of folks). These attractions produce various desires: wanting to be emotionally intimate, wanting to be physically intimate, and wanting to enact/explore paraphilic themes therewith. Slap a fetish for male genitalia on top of it all, and what do you get? Something that looks freakishly like heteronormative sexuality. But this still isn’t heteronormative sexuality, not by a long shot: the uncanny valley is the extent of its mimicry, and I was acutely aware of this vague, weird, homunculus of a sexuality since before puberty and could never put my finger on why it felt so different.
Now I can’t help but begin to wonder how the myriad constellations of others’ expressions of asexuality and attractions can be lined up just so as to trick the eye into seeing something sexual where there is none? How often does this happen? How many people, unaware of their asexuality, continue to operate under the assumption that, well, they’ve gotta be sexual because X, Y, and Z? How many people are distraught, like I was (for a very short period of time, thank god) that they were broken because they’d kept trying to fit their square peg in the round hole instead of understanding that there was a whole world of square holes out there?
I have sex, and I enjoy it; I’m still ace. I practice BDSM, I indulge kinks and paraphilias; I’m still ace. Likewise, speaking French does not make me French. When I’m having sex for sex’s sake, I will always occupy that spot in the uncanny valley of being just fluent enough in this language of sexuality to get by. But if I have sex for another reason? A paraphilic, fetishistic, kink-tastic, reason? If sex is a means to a non-sexual end? Then that’s my native tongue, and I will sing it from the rooftops.
And I want it to be understood that I’m not using you when I have sex with you. I’m using the sex act itself as a proxy for something that I can’t conceivably get much of anyplace else, and the fact that you’re attractive, and funny, and enjoy my company, and find me hot just makes that experience worthwhile. So what if one person playing Frisbee finds in the game a zen moment while the other finds exhilaration? Who ever said they had to get exactly the same thing out of any given moment together? Sure, it’s a penis in my vagina, but it’s also so many other things. But at the same time, let’s just say that if I could get my paraphilic fulfillment in another way, and just as easy as I can currently get sex, I would be investigating it with my SO. (I have no idea what this alternative means would look like, so I can’t even begin to say anything for certain beyond that. Would it replace sex for me? I have no idea, but it would be a competitor I’m betting.)
I’ve been grappling with the idea of possibly having a sexuality despite being ace, and I think I can now safely say that I have a proxy sexuality (I use sex to accomplish nothing but a slew wholly different, non-sexual stuff), whereas before I knew that asexuality and the various attractions existed, it was approximate (my tendency to fantasize/desire non-sexual stuff was approximated by the mainstream model of sexuality out of necessity). But I’m a grown-up now, and thank god I’ve discovered that there are grown-up words for these things–if there aren’t, I make them up–and I’m not just restricted to those same four words that I used in gradeschool to describe me and my attractions/relationships. Sometimes you want fantastic accuracy with these sorts of things; after all, you can’t cut a diamond with a sledgehammer.
So I’m hoping that these words and concepts that I’ve kinda-sorta outlined here in passable detail help somebody. Maybe it’ll be a useful tool if someone is overwhelmed in trying to tease out the threads of their identity and attractions because it just seems so hopelessly complicated for some of us– and I’ll admit it, sometimes I envy the seeming simplicity of others’ asexuality. Or maybe they’ve figured it out already and can look at this and go “hey, that makes a lot of sense!”. Figuring out where we’ve been is a crucial part of figuring out where we are right now.
My parting words, I suppose, are this: Have whatever kind of sex you want, or don’t have any at all. Your fetish/kink is fine without sex, and your asexuality is fine without celibacy. So go git ’em.