There are many odd nuances to my body dysmorphic disorder. One of them is: If you are my friend, my partner, my lover, some person on the street, and you tell me I am beautiful, I will think you are a liar. If you compliment my face, my eyes, my body, I will think you are just trying to make me feel good about myself out of pity, and I will not appreciate it, and resent you. But if you ever fuck me and tell me what an awesome lay I am, I will be like HELL YEAH I AM, MOTHERFUCKER.
For some reason, my BDD only applies to my physical body, the aesthetic still-life aspects of it, but it does not apply to anything it can do. I will be super uncomfortable with you and self-conscious and feeling hideous and grotesque up to the point where we both have our clothes off in bed, but the second we begin to interact in any physical, sexual way, all of that dissipates, it completely falls away, and I am the most confident, sexy, erotic thing on earth. It's a bizarre, immediate switch for me. I am really comfortable with anything and everything having to do with sex. It's when my clothes are on that I have a problem.
I can't really tell where that weird fissure comes from. It may exist partly because I grew up hearing my mother pick on my body, not my sexual abilities, and the dominant culture tries to police my appearance more so than it nags me and sends me negative messages about my competence in the bedroom. The predominate way I've gotten feedback about myself as a lover is from other lovers, and if I have a skill in life, it might be in picking really wonderful lovers.
And it may partly be that the BDD is reinforced by the disassociative disorder I have from being raped. But rape is not sex. It is the farthest thing ever from sex. I don't connect them in my head at all (I know other women who have been raped who don't, either, which is why we go back to having sex after being raped and then think there must be something wrong with us, not fitting the dominant narrative of what rape survival is supposed to be). When I am having sex, I am very much in my body. I am not disassociating at all. Sex is what is best at bringing me back into my body; well, ok, that and cutting. And (surprise!) I prefer the sex.
But there have been some confounding factors to me using sex to be present in my body lately. The first one? FUCKING LAW SCHOOL. Seriously, gentle Readers, there is no greater homicidal maniac to murder your libido than having to be in your fucking head all. the fucking. time. Like, you just live there, in your brain pan, and you work all the time, and you just kinda forget that you have a body. Or that you are a sexual creature. After a while, I can't feel anything. I've asked people I love and trust to flirt with me, touch me, turn me on, fuck me, because I have so completely turned off due to the head-y-ness and stress and pressure and general intellectual all-consuming bullshit that is law school.
The second thing is my rapebrain. Which doesn't really have a problem with sex. But it has a huge thing with control: control over who touches me, who has access to me, who can even see me as a sexual being. And a little over 6 months ago, I shut down any access anyone had to my body. Even people who wanted hugs would have to ask me (and I usually said no). There was to be no touching without express permission. And that was really great and important and helpful to me for a while. But that's becoming less important to me now. I am starting to feel like maybe I don't need to control all access to my body. Or, ok, I still don't like the idea of casual touch. But maybe if I want to have sex again? With the right person? And we walk through all my control stuff slowly? I can really, really see that again now.
Especially, because have you seen the Lady Gaga "Alejandro" video in the last post? Holy shit, is that video sexy.
There is a lot to be said about the gender politics of the video, and how the men are basically doing all these "female" moves and actions and taking on all these female roles that are normally reserved for women in music videos. And that's all really cool, and frankly kind of hot, that role reversal. But then there is Lady Gaga. With her leather strips to tie folks up. And being aggressive and kinky and sexual and dominant. Which I find incredibly erotic, that woman-taking-prisoners attitude when it comes to sex.
But what makes it so much sexier, for me, is the group of men kind of throwing Gaga around at the end. Why? Because it's not at all threatening - I mean, after all, these dudes were just wearing heels and writhing like women, so I think they are coded as less menacing and violent already (also, the homoeroticism previously to the final scene doesn't hurt). And there is no imbalanced power dynamic; these are all these guys she just lorded over in a previous scene now ravishing her. It's clearly consensual. She is at no one's mercy. It's the poorly named "rape fantasy" to a "t".
I mean, right? And I find it an incredible turn-on, to be submissive. I've talked about that here before. Lady Gaga manages to be both dominant AND submissive, switching from one to the other, with a little kink involved, in the span of this video. Not only can she be aggressive and dominant and sexually controlling, which I love seeing women be and sometimes like being myself, but she can turn around and have all these men use her body and toss her around. But the tossing is not tossing in any at-their-mercy way. All these men are playing at "control," but it's still all about Gaga. She's at the center, all the men reach out to touch her, and then cover her, when she looks from upside down at the camera. This is about her pleasure. This isn't "gang rape"; this is my fucking fantasy.
I watched this video a couple times today, trying to think about what I wanted to say about it (did I want to write about the portrayal of violence in Latin America - and was it a bad, callous thing to co-opt it or could Gaga be saying something smart about it? Should I just see if I can name all the video's influences? Did I want to go back to Madonna's and Annie Lenox's old videos and talk about them vs. Alejandro?). Yet every time I watched it, I just couldn't get over the sexiness. I couldn't stop staring (maybe a little open-mouthed!) at the most sexual scenes. It was ridiculously erotic, and I was having a hard time focusing on anything else.
This video was the first thing that made me feel really sexual, or make me want sex, since the rapebrain took over all those months ago.
So, we can say a lot of things about Lady Gaga, but I will leave them to other folks to say. Mostly, all I have is thanks for her right now. Because holy shit, Readers, is that video hot.