Category Archives: sexuality

Dead Sexy

 

I finished this back in 2009, but it never seemed like the right time to publish it.  A couple of days ago, at the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies “Aspects of Consciousness” conference, I heard Miles Edward Allen give a presentation on sex in the afterlife (to the extent that we know anything about that).  His attitude is that we need to stop stopping ourselves from talking about sex.  I can’t argue with that.  I guess now it’s time.  Everyone quoted or mentioned here gave consent for me to write about them publicly, so I’ll give myself permission too:

“It happened in the late 1970s. At the time I had the flu and was running a fever. I was in bed for about three days. And one night I just woke up realizing that I was orgasming. My boyfriend was asleep next to me and wasn’t touching me, but I felt like a person was on top of me, like I could feel the weight of a person, even though there was no one there. I thought I had been having a dream about making love, but when I woke up it was continuing and it wasn’t a dream.”

Catherine’s story reminds us that contacts with the unseen worlds can take on a vividly, even disconcertingly, physical quality. It’s not particularly unusual for frankly sexual events to occur, and often they are indefinable and unclear in nature. For example, one woman told me about being slowly kissed all the way down her spine, one vertebra at a time, by someone unknown and invisible. We may not know who we are with, or why.

Catherine’s account also illustrates the slippery way that spirit experiences can intertwine with apparent past-life memories, raising questions, or maybe providing answers, about our own identities:
“I had the sense that it was a man, and that I wasn’t exactly myself. I felt that my name was Frieda. I don’t know if the other person or being had a name, I don’t remember. It seemed like we were Nordic somehow; it’s pretty vague. It happened more than once. I thought it was mildly interesting, but I didn’t have any interest in encouraging it. I told my boyfriend about it, and other people that I was living with, but we didn’t really dwell on it.

“We had just moved into a very, very old log cabin out in the country, that had been hand-built a very long time ago. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it.

“I was in a mask-making phase from about 1995 through 1997, and one of the masks I made I named Frieda. I’m only now making the connection—I didn’t think about this at the time. I would make a plaster of Paris mask by having a friend lay the strips of gauze on my face, and then I would go into a meditative space and ‘let the mask paint itself,’ so that I never knew what the finished project would be. Sometimes I would glue things on the mask. Each mask was a healing experience, would heal some part of my life or some episode; sometimes I wasn’t sure just what it was, but it felt healing. One of my favorites, if not my very favorite, was the one I called Frieda. It was a very strong, protective female spirit. I told my husband, ‘This is Frieda. She’s the guardian of children and small animals.’ It just came out of my mouth. Whether I just made that up because it seemed to fit the mask or not, I have no idea.

“I was so moved by the Frieda mask that I made a cast of my torso to go with it, sort of like a shield. I wanted to make it more of a person, sort of fill it in.”

 

A Reiki student of mine, now someone I respect as a colleague in healing, reported a clear encounter with her deceased boyfriend. She described this to me after a Reiki class with another teacher, who had told her that she had a ghost on her left shoulder. The student, Patrice, took exception to this. She told me that not only did she not believe there was anything around her left shoulder, she was perfectly capable of perceiving such things for herself, and had done so many times before.

“In fact,” she said, in a conspiratorial tone, “I knew when my ex-boyfriend was dead because he showed up in my room and was trying to have sex with me.”

“Well, that’s not necessarily such a bad thing….” I replied, hesitantly.

“But he was DEAD!” she cried, sounding truly horrified. She explained that she had reacted by immediately and firmly telling him to hit the road. She didn’t have any trouble getting rid of him.

Oh, well, he was her ex. She wouldn’t have wanted him around if he had shown up in the flesh, either. But I was amused to hear that the fact that he was dead made such a difference. I guess I’m used to thinking of “dead” as not necessarily one of a person’s more socially important characteristics.

 

And I have a much more positive feeling about my own deceased ex.

One night in February 1993, as I was lying in bed, ready to go to sleep, I had an impression of a hand stretching toward me out of the darkness, and I reached out to take it. I didn’t know what I was inviting. The experience began with an intense, electric tingling at the base of my spine, and, well, it went on from there. It was as completely pleasurable as anything I’ve done with a physical person, and I welcomed the pleasure at first without reservation. But when I came back to my senses a bit—to find my invisible companion still at work—fear took over. (It didn’t help that my husband was sleeping no more than two inches away.) “Please,” I thought, “I’m not ready for this, please stop!” But it didn’t stop, not for quite a while. Eventually I slept.

I woke up with a case of the willies, thinking about demonic possession, incubi, and so forth. I felt vaguely violated, even though I had, at least at first, invited the experience. I knew that I had been perfectly lucid and had not been dreaming or hallucinating, that in fact I hadn’t even been sleepy when it began. It had been so real. I felt that I had been unfaithful to my husband!

Or had I? I wondered if Bob might have been dreaming about me or something, but he said he didn’t think so. “Well,” I whispered darkly, “something touched me last night.” I decided not to go into any more detail than that! Bob reacted with a total lack of surprise, as if he had known all about it. “You weren’t hurt in any way, so why worry?” was all he said. I felt a little better after mentioning it to him, though it seemed odd that he was so nonchalant.

Still, I was distinctly uneasy. I called my Reiki teacher; I thought she might either have had such an experience or known someone who did. I gave her a short summary of what had been going on with my spirit contacts. I had a lot of trouble getting around to telling Elizabeth about the racier aspects of my experience, but she understood where I was heading and was able to get it out of me. “Well, you know,” she said, “it is creative energy.”

I’ve already told you that soon after Fryderyk first came to me, he began to approach me in a clearly erotic manner. It’s so hard to decide what, how much, I should say about this. I want to tell the truth. I think it’s important to tell this in some detail, because I am trying to get at the clearest possible picture of what spirits (we, I mean) are capable of. However, while prudishness is not a habit of mine, I don’t want to be any more indelicate than absolutely necessary. In saying this, I have in mind my lover’s very private and reticent nature during his Earth life; surely, I think, he would prefer not to have his most intimate secrets and activities broadcast—although, during that life, come to think of it, they were.

I also want to avoid unnecessary disrespect toward my husband, who has already put up with more than I think should be expected of him. No matter how I present it, this puts Bob in an unavoidably awkward position. He knows everything, and he accepts it all. But if I had a “real,” completely physical, male human lover, I expect that he would not show the same degree of tolerance. (And is there really a difference?) Above all, I would never want my husband, that noble being, to be seen as laughable or ridiculous.

On top of all that, I find that I’m rather nervous to write about this because out of all the crazy-sounding things I am describing to you, this may be the craziest. But it’s time to take the bull by the horns, or some other part of its anatomy.

I keep asking why a ghost, or whatever we want to call him, has any interest in sex whatsoever. His interest seems most enthusiastic, and it doesn’t necessarily correspond with the timing of my own. Sometimes he comes to me at the most inconvenient moments imaginable, when I can’t go along with what he suggests. Some other times I long for him but can’t find him no matter how hard I try, or if he is with me, nothing erotic occurs despite my suggestions or even pleadings. I get the impression that it is only at special times that the worlds are aligned in such a way that he can get this kind of connection with me. At some of those times, he seems almost to materialize.

Naturally, a lot is missing from this experience, but the part you are probably thinking of does not seem to be missing. I can’t easily kiss him, hold him in my arms, do anything to any specific area of his (non)body, because I usually can’t see him and don’t quite know where his body is, except in a very general way. But when I feel distinct thrusting, as often happens, I at least know where that one part of him seems to be.

Sometimes I only feel tingling and buzzing around my root chakra; sometimes, very rarely, there is clearly and incontrovertibly a man in my bed, impossible to ignore. There can be any degree of physicality or solidity from a feathery breath to a weight that presses decidedly on my bed and on my flesh, though it is a light weight indeed. On occasion I feel him sit down next to me, seeming to depress the mattress ever so slightly, then stretch out and lie close beside me or just above me. At such a time I’m likely to feel that slight weight settle onto my hips, and I know that he is about to enter my body.

I have proven to myself that I cannot produce these effects on my own, through imagination or any other means. If I could, I surely would, because I enjoy the experience so very much.

But again, why would he want this? Why should someone without a body desire this most physical of acts? It’s clear that libido is extremely variable, that it can change dramatically with shifts in hormone levels and other vagaries of the body. I remember, for example, that for a while during my pregnancy I had no interest at all, and then, when I started lactating, that interest came roaring back despite the fact that I had a huge incision in my belly and a newborn to keep me occupied. None of those changes had anything to do with my relationship with my husband or any other “real” factors in my life; they were no more than shifts in my internal weather, of no ultimate importance. And now, in my journey through perimenopause, I notice wild ups and downs as well. All these things are purely, totally of the body.

I wonder sometimes if he does it only for my sake, because he wants to please me. Or perhaps it’s because this is one of the few ways he can communicate with me. Maybe it’s even just to show that he can. It’s probably quite a technical feat. Some biographers have made snide comments about his ability as a lover—something they could have no real knowledge of—and it may amuse him to prove them wrong. But I think the most likely explanation is that he feels this need because during his Earth life he was largely deprived of sexual expression. At times I have come into contact with aspects of him that feel profoundly painful to me, connected to his sexuality and the frustration and difficulty he experienced.

I don’t know what, if anything, Mme Potocka may have contributed to that frustration. I find it hard to imagine her refusing him, given her own overheated nature. I do know that the first time he came to me in that way, the night I described above, there was an edge of anger, as if he was looking for some sort of revenge. It was a feeling of, “Aha! Now I’ve got you!” I’ve never been sure what to make of it. I was uncomfortable about it for a long time, for years in fact. It’s not that there was any violence or anything remotely like it. He was perfectly, wondrously gentle—but utterly relentless. I didn’t understand what was going on, and I didn’t even know for sure who was with me or why. I was thoroughly enjoying the experience anyway, but after a while I started to get nervous. I asked him to stop, and he wouldn’t stop. In fact, he kept going for so long that I eventually drifted off to sleep for a little while. It’s very odd to remember that now. It seems like I should have been more frightened than I was, if anything. I guess I was pretty sure who he was, and somehow it seemed natural to relate to him that way, though I had no clue why that should be the case. But I still thought that he should stop when I insisted on it. It’s possible that he didn’t understand, but based on the rest of our communications, that seems unlikely.

There have only been two instances when this kind of experience went on for any substantial length of time, and I’ve just described the first. The second time, years later, I lay there on my stomach, utterly blissed out, for so long that I pushed my jaw out of place and needed to see the chiropractor the next day. That is the only harm I have ever suffered, to the best of my knowledge.

Most of the time, in the first few years, the feeling was somewhere between making love and being struck by lightning. There was great intensity, but it was over within a few seconds. (Some of you ladies are no doubt thinking that this sounds like your normal, everyday experience….) It could be tremendously satisfying on every level, or it could leave me high and dry, having just started to get interested. I had no control over any of that.

As I said, the timing was often quite inconvenient, as well. Most often he would come to me when I was settling down to sleep, and that was fine, but he also showed up at random times when I was not at all available. It took me years to realize that I could say no. This is truly strange, because I’m an assertive person, and I don’t take well to being coerced in any way. I suppose I didn’t want to refuse him because these episodes were rare and I didn’t know when there might be another opportunity. And he wasn’t causing me any serious problem, usually quite the contrary. I was a little bugged, though, and I thought that it would be nicer if he could approach me a bit more gradually and slowly and give me some warning. Eventually I got smart enough to simply tell him that. Ever since, he has asked first. There is a sort of little tap on my aura, and I either tell him to go ahead or let him know that I’m in the middle of something and can’t be with him right then.

Months can go by between these escapades, even as much as a year. Then there are stretches of a few days at a time where he approaches me over and over. During March 1998, the month in which he was almost constantly with me, so much as almost to make a pain of himself, I started to get used to the idea of having a second, steady lover. I started to think, why not? He was around so often that I began to rely on him and expect him to please me, which turned out to be a mistake. (I suppose that would also be a mistake with a “real” lover.) I think I gave the poor creature a case of performance anxiety, and I myself started to feel disappointed sometimes instead of elated and full of love. It was not fair or realistic to expect him to fulfill that role for me.

And again, there was the guilt. It has waxed and waned over the years. At the times when he and I have achieved a more nearly physical connection, I have tended to feel worse about it, more like I was truly cheating on my husband. I have often felt more comfortable with receiving only a little tingle or two, just enough that I know he’s there and still interested. I’ve tried to discuss this with him, but I’m not clear about his point of view. More recently I’ve decided that I just don’t care, it’s not worth feeling guilty about this, and I want everything that I can get, or everything he wants to give me.

Although I do worry, my extracurricular activities have had mostly positive effects on my marriage. My body has become more responsive, and my heart infinitely more open. I have become more appreciative of men as a species, and I have come to see my husband, with his solidly molecular but transient, fragile human body, as more and more precious. I take nothing for granted. I understand that we can never be truly lost to each other, but I also see more clearly the vastness in which we travel and can appear to be separated.

Technically, it’s been good for us too. When I observe Fryderyk doing something interesting, I figure I can learn to do it too (well, except for that pianist-composer business). I’ve experimented and tried to understand how he gets the effects that he does, and sometimes I’ve come up with surprising new tricks. When this all started, Bob and I were not new to the idea of relating to each other on a purely energetic basis, but seeing that more was possible, we expanded our perceptions and our skills. Our interactions gained a depth and profundity that we would perhaps not have developed otherwise.

Knowing how I can create a particular effect myself doesn’t mean that I am sure how Fryderyk is doing it, though. When I feel that slight weight against my body, I’m reasonably sure that he is “lying” there with me, but at other times, from his point of view, he might be standing somewhere across the room or not even in the same world with me. I don’t know. Although there have been a few times when I had a vague visual impression of him, and once, just once so far, I saw his face, most of the time I perceive him only as a mass of Qi, an area of warmth, where the air is “thicker.”

Once I asked him how he sees me, that is, does he perceive me as a solid human being, seeing my body more or less as I do, or does he perceive only a mass of energy, more or less as I usually perceive him? He was able to give one of the clearest and cleverest answers I have ever received from him. First he lit up the entire surface of my body—yes, he does see me as a human form. Then he lit up my aura all over, out to a few inches from the surface—yes, he sees me as a glowing energy field too.

There was one time, only once, that he really seemed to pay attention to my body in and of itself, not just my energetic structure. It was late at night. I had just gotten out of the bathtub, and I did something I don’t normally do. I felt too tired even to look for my nightgown, and I flopped down on my back, quite uncovered, on my bed, to rest a little before making that supreme effort. Immediately he was there with me. Most often it happens that when he comes to me in the mood for this sort of thing, it’s bedtime, and I am settled down cozily wrapped in nightgown and blankets, feeling warm and safe. I felt weirdly vulnerable being naked with him—how odd! But perhaps that made things a little easier for him. That one and only time, some pleasant attention was paid to specific spots on my skin.

And once, something incredible happened to my lips. It was like being kissed by an aurora; beautiful lights in blues, purples, and greens, with an electric glow, played about my mouth. The pleasure was exquisite, delicate, and yet so powerful, as is true of so much that he does. This was many years ago, and nothing like it has ever happened again. But kissing has never been the same for me since. My lips seemed to wake up and perceive everything differently, to blossom into intense sensitivity. Another wonderful gift—and one I can share with my husband, too.

I have done my best to find out what Fryderyk gets out of all this, but there is little I can report. During one of the rare moments that I’ve been able to have a verbal exchange with him, I told him that I wanted very much to give him pleasure, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it because, among other things, I couldn’t perceive the structure of his “body.” “It doesn’t matter,” was the reply. “I feel pleasure with my whole being.”

Some of my psychic friends have expressed doubts about whether it is all right for an erotic relationship to go on between the worlds. Early on, they were concerned that Fryderyk was some sort of lower spirit that was taking advantage of me. Like an incubus—whatever that really is. Having gotten to know him well, Mendy Lou has concluded that everything is fine. However, despite her own experiences, the woman I referred to as Catherine still believes that something is terribly wrong, that Fryderyk must be evil or twisted. I think, or at least would like to think, that her discomfort is mainly an expression of our society’s overall attitude toward sexuality. Sex is seen as low and distasteful, whereas spirits are supposed to be more advanced and high-minded, so in that view the two cannot possibly go together. I see lovemaking as one of the highest functions of human beings, so to me there is no such conflict.

Or I am making excuses for my lover and for myself.

This issue comes up in Rosemary Brown’s writings. Liszt expresses the opinion that once the body has fallen away, its physical needs do as well, and that includes sexuality. I can only say that he appears to be incorrect. He must be telling it as it is in his experience, though. Oh, well, Liszt got plenty of lovin’ while he was on the planet, and perhaps it’s just that he himself no longer feels the need for more, not that this is true of everyone. And after all, he did become a priest in the latter part of his life.

Despite my comments about hormones, I myself no longer see sexuality as primarily physical, and haven’t for years. Perhaps as I get older this will be even more the case. And as I get older, if my erotic connection with Fryderyk should persist, I suppose we will look sillier and sillier together—that is, if anyone who can actually see both of us happens to look. He appears to be perennially somewhere in his late twenties, and here I am, already old enough to have a son that age. Despite the fact that we must both be well into our hundreds, or even thousands, this thought gives me a little distress!

And then there is the inescapable thought that perhaps he doesn’t want to be with me at all, he wants to be with Delfina, and I’m no more than the closest available substitute. I’ve tried to remind him that I’m not her, can’t be her, can’t substitute for the one he knew and loved then. This issue comes into the brightest focus when he puts himself in the role of lover. But perhaps the totality of our relationship is far beyond the temporary forms of either Delfina or me—or him—and it’s not even meaningful to worry about this.

 

In the case of my interactions with Fryderyk, I’m completely certain that there is an independent, actual living being visiting me. However, it’s entirely possible that sometimes we are projecting the apparent entities ourselves, even in frankly sexual situations. Here, Patrick tells of an encounter that is not quite like anything else I’ve heard of. He also offers some potential insights into the reasons why such experiences may occur:
“The first experience happened while I was in college for my second degree, about 11 years ago. At the time I was exploring various forms of inner work. I practiced Daoist yoga techniques of sexual energy transmutation, in effect learning how to take the energy that would go into ejaculation and reverse it, direct it up your spine and disperse it through the energy field. I was also exploring techniques for out-of-body experiences, including how to form a double of yourself out of your own essence. At the same time, I was doing Toltec recapitulation and emotional clearing techniques. So I was doing various things to shake up the status quo of my interior language.

“I had resolved as much as possible not to have intimate relationships during school, because it was such an intense program and there just wasn’t time for that. So I was cultivating this sexual energy practice while not having any intimate relationships, and I thought I should have some kind of context, some way to relate to a female presence. And in one of the books on astral projection it said how you could have an astral relationship with someone else who is also astrally projecting.

“This was the most intense experience. I wasn’t trying to bring it about; it just occurred as a result of doing all these things. I was sitting on my bed one night, I think I was meditating or maybe just sitting quietly, and one by one I was visited by four different female presences. It was interesting, first, because there were four of them—I mean, one’s enough! They were from different cultures, which also was an interesting effect, because if I fantasize it’s generally about white women. [Patrick is white.] So that was something of a confirmation that this at least wasn’t being formulated by my conscious mind. One by one they sat in my lap, and we basically had energetic sex, and I felt like I do when I hold my ejaculation and have an energetic orgasm. I didn’t know them from anywhere. They were just beautiful women. I could see them in a ‘mind’s eye’ kind of way.

“I never had another experience quite like that one, that had that quality of spontaneity and that sort of unfamiliarity with what appeared. I didn’t intentionally try to make anything like that happen again; for one thing, it didn’t have anything to do with intention in the first place.

“It was a very positive experience, a very whole-making experience, rather than, ‘Oh no, I’d better watch out.’ I didn’t have to be on my guard or anything. One way among many of thinking of it is that I was doing so much work—I mean when you’re doing all that sexual energy work without a partner it can get real intense. I wasn’t real good at dispersing the energy so that it didn’t become a source of rage or a headache or something like that. It wasn’t till I started doing Cheyenne’s work [Cheyenne Maloney’s work with the Assemblage Point] that I was able to really disperse sexual energy in a way that was seamless for me. So here’s all this intense sexual energy rising with no female energy to interact with. Perhaps that whole experience was magnetized by the fact that that there was all this polarized male sexual energy without a feminine, balancing aspect.

“I would say that my relationship to my sexuality, shame, and guilt has changed enormously in the last five years. It’s the kind of thing where you think that something is behind you and you’ve had some kind of resolution, but you’ve just taken the lid off of something that has an even deeper layer under it. It’s an ongoing process. About five years ago, I finally realized the energetic experience of what guilt and shame is—I could finally feel the vibration of it and not just the emotional ramifications. Once I was able to feel that vibration, I was able to consciously modify my responses to guilt and shame in sexuality. For example, I would sit down with a pornographic movie and watch that energetic start to occur, the shame of watching pornography, and I would catch it and bring it into my heart, so it wasn’t something separate for me anymore. Which is my perception of what guilt and shame does, that it slices the experience in half, so that I’m over here and the experience is over there and we’re not one. So that I can’t have the experience without having the accompanying ‘I’m a bad person’ thing.

“My perception is that the shadow side of our culture’s sexuality is vast. The way our culture makes a pretense of being open-minded and at the same time clamps down with oppressive beliefs and institutions—that perceived open-mindedness is just a sham. I had to start to see how my own relationship to sexuality was a reflection of my culture as well.

“Recently, there was one thing that was recurrent and very powerful. As I started allowing more fluidity between what I previously thought was spiritual work and what I thought was profane or purely for physical gratification, as I started to allow those to overlap in my meditation, I started having this recurring fantasy of having sex with a Catholic nun. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through high school, and there was one particular nun who was my music teacher. She was the only nun I can ever remember thinking was an attractive woman. So I would sit down to meditate and without consciously trying to, I would find myself in this fantasy. It literally had a life of its own. It would just surface in the meditation. And once more it became a source of channeling sexual energy during the meditation. So my meditations became, and still pretty much are, about cultivating and dispersing sexual energy through the energy field. But the fact that this fantasy kept recurring was kind of like someone knocking on the door and saying, ‘Will you open the fucking door?’ I knew I had to act this out in my life, and I did (not with a real nun!), and I haven’t had this enter my meditation again.

“At the risk of trying to interpret the experience, I’ll say this: I believe that there are aspects of oneself that are repressed, and when allowed to rise into consciousness, some need to be experienced viscerally, others can be experienced in fantasy or just as a mental concept, intellectualized. This one was not going to leave me alone until I experienced it physically, that was clear.

“It had a fantasy type of context, and yet it felt like it had its own agenda. Again, it felt like an aspect of me doing its darndest to make me recognize it. Once this started to surface in the meditation, I would just go with it, because I felt that not doing that would be just another way of keeping separate. What would be the point of that, especially in meditation? It seemed like another way for the self to become whole, and so I just feel that it was a natural surfacing of material that came out of letting go of shame and guilt. I mean, I probably would have tried mightily to suppress it if I had still been in that state of ‘oh my God this is bad.’ I would have used a great deal of energy to keep it out of the meditation.

“I haven’t had an experience yet that I thought was something other than an aspect of me or the ‘greater me.’ So whether these beings had their own objective existence, I don’t know. That is a total mystery to me, because the more I am, I hope, waking up a little bit, the more I see that we are these incredibly vast presences. And what we can hold and create— I mean, even just the tip of the iceberg is vast.”

But shame and guilt certainly do tend to show up in this context. Here is an anecdote from Rob, a married man who is crazy about his wife: “I was—I believe—astroplaning (which I am not good at and maybe have experienced what I think is less than a handful of times)—and met what I would consider a more feminine spirit. Sex WAS the issue.  I then recall saying to the entity, ‘But I am married.’  The session abruptly ended and I awakened very EXCITED and yet quite upset with myself—since I could have had a ‘good time’ without all the baggage of an affair.  Never had that experience again. Told my wife about the experience— she was smiling.  I told her that I am even faithful in an area where I don’t need to be!”

It’s not necessary to give up your physical body, or your partner’s, to experience an ecstatic energetic blending. We are quite capable of this in our present forms. In fact, I think this is one of the most accessible ways to experience ourselves as the unlimited spiritual beings we truly are. Two people who love each other can merge energetically to any degree they wish, either erotically or not, and I highly recommend it! You are sure to deepen your relationship and appreciate each other all the more.

So many changes, including menopause, have gone through since I wrote that, and my perspective is somewhat different.  But the eternal is still the eternal– and that includes us, no matter how much transformation we experience.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under channeling, past lives, psychology, sexuality, spirit communication, spirituality

Another Human Being’s Identity Is Not Yours to Dictate

(Rant Advisory! I am as upset about this as if it pertained to my own child, or to me.)

So very often I am reminded of the old song that goes “None of us are free if one of us is chained.” It adds, “And if we don’t say it’s wrong then that says it’s right.”

Sometimes the chains are kept locked by those who think of themselves as far beyond bigotry or intolerance.

In the past week I have encountered two attacks against transgender people that appeared on the surface to have some higher intention. Both were warmed-over versions of old arguments.  One came in the form of a supposedly spiritual look at gender identity through the lens of reincarnation, and the other purported to be a principled defense of the rights of women by a feminist group.

GIVE. ME. A. BREAK.

I could call out the “spiritual” thinker by name, but I’m not going to, because his presentation is not just his own but represents a turn of thought that is all too common. It’s been used against gay people, too. The idea is that if you are not comfortable twisting yourself to fit into a gender-binary, heteronormative life, it’s because you were a different gender in a previous life, and either through confusion or through willful stubbornness, you are still clinging to identification with that gender. If you persist, you are stupid and bad. You should just get over it and move on, and then you’ll be fine.

This is the exact same paternalistic crap promulgated by religious groups who insist that God made you either male or female and that’s that. God doesn’t make mistakes, and so if you don’t feel right in your body, you are going against God, and therefore you are sinful and bad.

I’ll get to the so-called feminists later. First, I want to take a look at exactly what God/nature/biology did make. Because we do have some actual facts to work with.

While it would be nice to have human reproductive biology all wrapped up in a neat, understandable package, the more we learn, the more we see that things are complex and fuzzy. “Male” and “female” are not definite categories with hard edges. I’m sorry if someone dislikes this, but it’s reality. Some easily accessible sources of information follow.

http://www.isna.org/faq/ten_myths/rare
According to this, about 1 in 2000 humans are intersex. Another source estimated 1.7% of births. That’s a lot of people. Some may never realize they are anything but typical male or female, or may only find out late in life. One person I’ve read about was a seemingly ordinary middle-aged man with a bunch of kids, who had an abdominal surgery and was found to have a uterus in addition to his full set of male reproductive parts.

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001669.htm
There are a variety of possible intersex conditions, with varying appearances and health considerations, briefly summarized in this article.

If that’s not enough, take a look at the fascinating case of the guevedoces. A few weeks ago I learned about them in an excellent PBS program, Nine Months that Made You. In the Dominican Republic, about one in 90 boys have this condition, which has also been found in Papua New Guinea. They have XY genotypes like “regular” boys, but they lack an enzyme that is needed to develop male genitalia in the womb, so their parents think they are girls and raise them that way. At puberty, they have the usual surge in testosterone and become obviously male all of a sudden. Of course, they were biologically male all along.
http://www.pbs.org/show/9-months-made-you/
http://www.newsweek.com/rare-condition-causes-girls-become-boys-puberty-374934

So are we clear now that external genital configuration does not equal gender? Likely we’re not clear at all and I’m still going to get a big argument from those who insist on a binary world, but in that case, they’re going to have to register their objections with God, because this is the way nature is put together. A religious and/or spiritual viewpoint, it seems to me, would have to say that there must be a good reason for things to be this way. A purely materialist viewpoint would say the same— that nature has shaped human bodies and brains in a dazzlingly diverse variety because it’s been helpful to our survival.

Some might then point out that transgender people are not the same as intersex people, and that most probably have clear male or female genotypes or phenotypes. But there appear to be differences from cisgender folk in those cases too, albeit subtler ones. As far as we can tell, transgender people have brains that function more like the gender they say they are rather than the one indicated by their genital apparatus— though this too is complex and a bit fuzzy.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-something-unique-about-the-transgender-brain/

Here is a link to another useful PBS program.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/growing-up-trans/
What struck me most about it was that the kids decidedly look like the gender they say they are. That’s not a hard scientific fact, but to me, it reinforces the concept that there is a physical basis for being transgender.

I don’t pretend to understand much about these aspects of our biology, nor how they fit with how we become who we become when we enter a new life on this planet, or what choices we have or don’t have about our embodiment. My conjecture is that gender exists as a spectrum so that we can experience every permutation of it, but that’s not fact. What I know for sure is that it makes no sense to tell others how they feel inside themselves— either how they do feel or how they should feel. It’s illogical and it’s just plain mean. And when it’s coupled with a holier-than-thou or more-enlightened-than-thou message, it’s positively sickening.

Now, to the lawsuit filed by the Women’s Liberation Front, or WoLF. It’s the bathroom thing again, same as the extreme right’s fearmongering, strangely enough. They are insisting that “men” in women’s restrooms are a threat to women’s safety. I’m not going to rehash the reasons why trans women are no threat to cis women in this context (or anywhere else, really). You can find those all over. I’m only going to point out that trans women are not men. In their brains, the part of the human body that matters most, they are women. So denying ordinary human rights to those women cannot be feminism. Not in any way I can recognize it.

The latest post on WoLF’s Facebook page, in reference to the rule allowing kids to use school facilities consistent with their gender, states: “Girls’ rights to personal privacy and freedom from male sexual harassment, forced exposure to male nudity, and voyeurism have been eliminated with the stroke of a pen.” This makes my stomach churn. I am of course not a trans girl trying to navigate high school (which is hard enough for the rest of us), but reading this, I can viscerally relate to what they experience. It is terrifying. To be just a kid and know that others assume you are a sexual predator, when all you want to do is attend PE class and not get beaten up… to be hated and censured by “righteous” people one has never met… it boggles the mind and even more the heart. Imagine being, say, a second grader, too young even to have a concept of voyeurism or anything like it, having no idea why people are saying these terrible things about you.

(Please note that I don’t mean to ignore trans boys.  It’s just that WoLF seems to be targeting trans girls and women specifically.)

WoLF’s lawsuit clearly contradicts two of their main stated goals, and they seem to have no clue that this is the case. The home page of their website says: “WoLF is a radical feminist organization dedicated to the total liberation of women. We fight to end male violence, regain reproductive sovereignty, and ultimately dismantle the gender-caste system.” The total liberation of women has to include ALL women, not just the ones who look a certain way. Dismantling the gender-caste system (a laudable goal) has to mean completely dismantling, so that no gender is discriminated against.

Why should we settle for anything less?

 

It’s a great song:
http://www.altheaknight.com/None-of-us-is-free-if-one-of-us-is-chained
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JC2mmeA9CA8

7 Comments

Filed under health and healing, human rights, nature, politics, sexuality

Wibbly-Wobbly Sexy-Wexy

don't existA few months ago I wrote a post entitled “Identity and the True Self,” in which I alluded to the concept that none of us truly exists.  The “not existing” referred to in this meme is something else– it’s a deliberate attempt to erase or marginalize someone, in this case someone who identifies as bisexual and thereby makes someone else uncomfortable.

I was halfway through another planned post about being treated as if I don’t exist because my entire profession is considered by some to be nonexistent, to deal in the unreal.  Then it came to my attention that this is Bisexual Awareness Week, and that today, September 23, is “Celebrate Bisexuality Day (often abbreviated CBD), an international awareness day that is also referred to as Bi Visibility Day and Bisexual Pride Day. Three bisexual advocates– Wendy Curry, Michael Page and Gigi Raven Wilbur– conceived of the event as a way to combat bisexual invisibility. CBD, which began in 1999, is celebrated with events around the world celebrating bisexual culture, community and history. In 2013, the White House held its first bisexual community issues roundtable on Celebrate Bisexuality Day.”  http://www.bisexualweek.com/about/

We have a day?  We have a whole week?  We have White House roundtables?  How did I not know this?  Until last year, I didn’t know we had a flag, either.  (It’s what you see behind the words in the meme above.)  I’m honestly not sure why none of this came to my attention, especially since I’m very much interested in gender politics and I follow gay and transgender rights issues assiduously.  Is my ignorance simply my own, or could it be in part a measure of that erasure and invisibility?

What also had not come to my attention until the past year or so was the fact that people who identify as bisexual are often seen as untrustworthy, disease-ridden, greedy, sexually voracious, shallow, unable to commit, confused, actually gay but afraid to say so, actually straight but looking for attention, and/or basically lying cheating creeps.  In addition to not really existing, that is.  We sure have a lot of awful qualities considering that we’re not supposed to exist.

I must admit that I’ve lead a rather sheltered life in some ways.  I’ve been with my husband for 36 years, since I was 19.  I never really was part of the dating market and I am blissfully ignorant of its workings.  I have not been much pursued by members of any gender, and those I would have liked to pursue have tended to run the other way.  So I can’t claim to have a complete picture of what’s going on out there.

I’ve also been extremely lucky in not being given much guff about my 360-degree sexual orientation.  Some guff, but relatively little.  As a teenager, I knew other people who had attractions to both males and females, so I felt, if not normal, not too terribly outré.  My husband has always been fine with me being me.  I haven’t remotely experienced the oppression that a great many people have.  (There was that one woman I had a youthful crush on for years, who, when I told her how I felt, looked at me as if I’d crawled out from under a rock and refused to ever speak to me again.  That was the worst of it.)  The straight world has been pretty gentle to me for the most part.  The gay world has been too, in terms of my interactions with individuals.  I didn’t know that there was a deep prejudice about people like me.  Here’s someone’s take on it, which may or may not reflect what any specific person thinks:

oppressed

Well.  Perhaps people would have had more of a problem with me if I were trying to date them?  Then I’d be rejected by all sides?  I decided to ask some trusted gay friends for their point of view and what they were hearing out in the world.  I’m not going to quote them directly, because I want to preserve their privacy, but what I was told was eye-opening, to say the least.  In one case it was positively vicious.  Even the more compassionate statements concerned why the person would never want to get into a relationship with a bisexual.  I was taken aback.  No wonder a lot of people like me want to use some other label.

If it’s necessary to use a label at all, that is.  I hear that the young whippersnappers increasingly are saying what I’ve always said, that they are interested in the person, not the plumbing, that sexuality is fluid, and that labels are too limiting and they don’t want them.  Maybe at some point all of this distinction-making will seem quaint and outdated, and people will just be who they are and feel how they feel.  That day isn’t quite here yet, but there’s hope.

I do “pass” and that has probably been a benefit to me– a degree of “bisexual privilege” for real.  I’m not trying to pass, though, and don’t particularly want to.  I’m still using the old-school label bisexual, understanding its limits*, because it is what I’ve always called myself, what I’ve known myself to be ever since I was aware of having any sexuality at all.  But now I’m beginning to think of myself as:

wibbly-wobbly

*“Pansexual” might be better but doesn’t feel quite right.  And I haven’t come up with a word for someone who is in love with a person who has been dead since 1849, or who is almost exclusively attracted to musicians, or who thinks pianos are a turn-on.  “Sapiosexual” is a great word and fits me well– someone who is attracted to intelligence.  Mary Oishi expanded this to “sapiocardiosexual”– attracted to a fine brain and a good heart.  Far more important than the organs lower down.


Whovians may very well have a word for those of us who think the Tenth Doctor was seriously hot.  He’s the one who explained that time is not linear, but instead is more like “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.” 

3 Comments

Filed under human rights, politics, sexuality