Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sex, Gender, & Monogamy Ramblings

In the days following Trump's victory I must have written "I'm a straight cis married white woman, I'll be fine, but we need to stand up for our vulnerable neighbors" dozens of times on social media. Well... I decided it's time to share that as it turns out, that's not entirely the case...

I had decided to not talk about it because it didn't feel important to how I interact with people; because it had been my impression that gender and sexuality are generally more fluid than we like to admit so, to me, labels feel arbitrary; and because I'm married to a man that I'm super obsessed with and people would see me as all of the above anyway so... why complicate that?

Well, get comfy cause it's complicated story time.

When Eric was getting to know me as a single person (I was married to his drummer when we met) I was sexually non monogamous with a very strong aversion to romantic relationships. We don't say nice things about women like that: she has low self esteem, assume a history of abuse; daddy issues; looking for validation, generally damaged. None of that really applied to me, I just find relationships to be really difficult and sex and love are fully separate to me. I loved not knowing who I'd meet when I went out, I didn't want to exchange numbers, or have breakfast... When my girlfriends would lament over guys not calling, I identified with the guy, and was usually annoyed with my friends for being so needy or not honoring "no strings." Needless to say fostering close female friendships was... difficult...

So, monogamy. Human beings are not naturally monogamous, 80% of early populations were not, and I definitely didn't get those genes bred out of my line. I'm a more extroverted processor and in the past I have wanted to talk about monogamy being challenging, but I've usually been met with

Experts think we likely became monogamous because children are very vulnerable and needy and getting them to adulthood is a long, difficult task and we eventually figured out that there were a lot of benefits to two parents raising the young. Some animals practice this social monogamy, but are not sexually monogamous, like 90% of birds to name one. Our culture is open to admitting that marriage is hard, but we still make monogamy a moral issue instead of an evolutionary one.... but some of us have more or less of our ancestor's non monogamous traits and that's something to be aware of:
"While researching consensual non-monogamy, I found that many (or maybe even most) people seem to want to be able to have multiple lovers themselves, and want those lovers to be monogamous with them. Basically, it seems more natural for humans to want a personal harem, so each of us get to enjoy sexual variety, but insist on sexual exclusivity for our lovers, so we don't have to deal with jealousy." Hopes&Fears
I am not, by the way, polyamorous. Fostering intimate relationships with more than one lover is my nightmare. My abilities with one are shaky, and probably successful mostly because of my partner. However, even though Eric knew who he was marrying (he'd say he maybe knew too much), deep down he thought he'd cure me of it. He didn't like to talk about it for a long time (like 9 of the 10 years we've been together), and couldn't relate at all because he is fully the opposite of me, the most socially/sexually monogamous human I've ever met. And I knew that about him too. I also knew I wanted babies, lots of them. I knew I wanted a partner to raise these little people with. I knew that for as much as I enjoyed going out and hooking up, it did take a lot of time, energy, and didn't contribute to my life goals. I was/am fully obsessed with Eric and chose monogamy to be with him, when people post on social media about how they are so into their partners it kinda makes me roll my eyes but he really is the only person that can handle me and totally is perfect for me emotionally, spiritually, and physically... but that doesn't change my natural inclinations and sometimes I want to talk about this journey, the successes, challenges... but when I talk to other women... we are just nowhere near on the same page most of the time.

So... this leads me to gender. As the public has become more aware of the struggle for trans rights an the differences between gender identification, presentation, sexual preference... etc... I've been apart of more conversations trying to help people in my network of family/friends to understand those differences. I hoped to be a good ally to people I cared about.

Well, one day, after another conversation about what being trans means, I could not stop asking myself what feeling male or female even was. I don't feel like I'm in the wrong body, that's why when I learned what cis and trans meant I was like... cool, check cis... but this other question of FEELING and identifying with a gender was haunting me. So I was like... ok I'll just google: what does it mean to feel like you are a woman... or a man. Ok, nothing helpful. I'll look up what are considered the traits of each gender. I already have known that I am far more masculine in how I interact with people and in many other areas of my existence. When I became a birth professional, and especially when I started serving on all female Boards, it really became apparent. I ended up reading articles about how women behave in board meetings, and had to abandon my natural, very masculine behaviors to try to accommodate and mirror the more feminine communication styles of my colleagues.

In my research I read about nonbinary people and genderqueer, people who are gender fluid... I read about all the labels... and was so afraid of the labels... I didn't want to talk about identity and then have people be like "well you don't look ______" or have people in the LGBTQIA be like "yeah... you are doing that wrong." Being in a really amazing monogamous relationship with a man has made discussing sexual preference feel pointless, and of course very sensitive because the truth is I don't have a strong preference towards only men or women, which I feel like would cause people (including Eric) to worry about the stability of our relationship. All directions were landmine laden, and still feel that way.

Relationships are work... and being in one with me, whether romantic or platonic, definitely is. The last couple years I have had to use every ounce of my relationship fostering abilities in my professional life, leaving little energy to work on my relationship at home. Eric and I cannot hang out too much. We love being together, and are never get sick of each other. He is for sure my best friend. But we still need to communicate our needs and accommodate and care for one another and I had no energy for it. I zoned out and shut down a lot. One day not that long ago I was pretty sure we would be filing for divorce that Monday and raising our little ones together in a platonic relationship. The sadness of that day was suffocating... but it didn't go that way...

Eric and I share everything, I'm not a secretive person anyway, but I didn't want Eric to feel scared or threatened in our relationship so I didn't share the above regarding gender and not feeling like I really felt male or female and how and why relationships are hard for me... then I finally just cracked open... and he said it all made so much sense. Heart eyes emoji everyone. I was shocked, and grateful. Since then, we have found this amazing place where we aren't trying to put each other in boxes and assign roles that don't feel right, and I am being aware of how much energy I give to my friends, clients, colleagues, and my work. Nothing outwardly has changed, I'm happy with my body, comfortable with my pronouns, still honoring the decision I made to choose monogamy and I'll never ask Eric do something he is uncomfortable with.

The moral of the story is that relationships, sexuality, gender are all super complicated, even when everything appears to not be. I suppose this would all make me a queer person, but the many articles I've read outlining who is and is not allowed to use which terms honestly makes me very hesitant to share that super openly. I have a lot of LGBTQ friends but never felt compelled to share because I didn't know exactly where I was at. I've been sitting on this for a really long time. I started blogging to share the deep dark things that make people feel alone, so that they could see that I share those feelings, and they aren't alone. So... I'm sharing this now, I hope it made a little sense.