Fluid sexuality and Olympic eye-candy

Just to be clear, I do hate the focus on tits and ass at the Olympics. I think it’s incredibly demeaning that women are required to wear smaller and more revealing uniforms then the men on almost every event. Also, it doesn’t help that shitbags like Simon Barnes, without a shred of irony, are upset that the women’s swimming uniforms compress their breasts so he can’t ogle them at the same time he feels threatened enough by the male synchro divers to remark, “it all looks like a wonderfully elegant gay suicide pact.”

In short, he finds the lack of female breasts to drool over insulting at the same time that he feels that the perceived sexuality of the male divers (who must be gay, because semi-naked men are obscene and catering to other men by default, not women or, shockingly, no one) is worthy of denigration.

Nevertheless, I have to admit that the endless parade of shirtless male swimmers and scantily-clad sweaty and toned female volleyball players is enormously titillating. The athleticism and sportsmanship is way more attractive than any mock coquettishness in a sleazy pornographic film.

I’m fairly aware that half the reason the women volleyball players are supposed to wear as little as possible is for ratings. But, God help me, it’s working. I usually like watching gymnastics more than volleyball, but I simply cannot turn away from Misty May and Kerri Walsh’s beautiful and awe-inspiring sportsmanship. I’m also incredibly disappointed by the lack of coverage on female soccer, which is also one of my favorite events.

My relationship, thus, with the Beijing Olympics is complicated. I absolutely adore that I get to watch women’s sports get the air time they deserve. I hate, however, how their athleticism is coming in second to their sex appeal. It’s incredibly insulting. Even watching the games with my mother was a test of patience. For every female athlete, she criticized their bodies and outfits endlessly. Remarks on the men would only be heard if they were very far from the socially attractive norm. It was also frustrating to be able to express how much I really enjoy the chests of the male swimmers, yet stay quiet about the female swimmers’ lovely biceps and the long legs of the female volleyball players lest my mother figure out how not-so-straight I am.

It’s also strange, however, that my sexuality is so influenced by what I see. Because the female athletes are so drool-worthy, I feel a lot less bisexual than normal, and a hell of a lot more gay. Every time a friend would say, “oh nom nom, Phelp’s chest”, I would like to reply, “but check out the legs and power of Alicia Sacramone!”

I surmise that at some later point in time, I’ll be less attracted to women and more attracted to men. Then it’ll swing back again.

I just tire of the labels of gay, straight, bisexual. They’re so concrete and rigid, and so not me. There are days all the time where I am totally uninterested in men, and the next week I’ll be totally uninterested in women. Then, probably influenced by monthly fluctuations of sex hormones, I’ll want to jump almost everything that moves or I’ll be so completely uninterested in sex that I might as well be a robot.

Sexuality is not as concrete as some would like to believe. I have talked to many people who agree that their preferences change wildly over the course of their lives, hell, sometimes over the course of a day. It’s great that some people know instinctively what they like, and never waver. I’m not one of those people, however, and I tire of being in this bizarre limbo where I am unable to identify with anyone. In a culture that places a lot of emphasis on self-determination and individuality, I feel that being so fluid about things so intrinsic to most identities, like sexuality, places me on the fringes of society whereby I am labeled a freak, or “confused”. I’m not confused, I’m just not definable by outdated and rigid labels. Some people always like pepperoni pizza. Some people want it one day, and the next day, they’ll want mushrooms instead. To go with the metaphor, I usually want pizza, but I’m not sure what I want with it until I’m hungry.

I don’t like that so much of our cultural identity is established by sexuality. Gay people act in this way, and straight people act in the other way. At least, that’s the dominate narrative. I feel uncomfortable pretending to be straight, but I feel equally uncomfortable in gay bars and the like whereby some might accuse me of being “confused”, or “fake”. We are so wrapped up in labels that the mere notion of a person that not only cannot be defined by labels, but wants to destroy them, is extremely threatening to some. I don’t feel that my fluid sexuality makes me wrong, or different, or a freak. I’m just me. Ideally, I would like my sexuality to be as noteworthy of what I like on my pizza to everyone, not just the straight community. It’s so incredibly ironic that I feel ostracized by the gay community, isn’t it?

I understand the need to develop a separate cultural identity for homosexuals, transsexuals, and other “non-straight” folks. So much of the dominate definition of humanity or gender are inextricable from heterosexuality so that anyone that isn’t heterosexual feels like everything about them is different, because, according to the typical definition of average, everything is. But that results in this separatism that traps me, and others that are fluid, in a limbo of uncertainty. I can’t join the dominate class because I’m not always straight. I can’t join the repressed class because I’m not always gay. I have one foot in both camps, and my heart in neither.

I feel, deep down, that the only way to solve this is to destroy gender norms, sexuality norms, and labels that inflate something as meaningless as preferences to the core of someone’s identity. If I had a choice, I’d just be Jenn. But I don’t, and so I am labeled a freak and stay in a dark corner, where I hope nobody will bother to look too closely.

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Posted on August 16, 2008, in Babies and Boners, Feminism, Gay Rights, Porn Nation, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Jenn, I believe that people create these labels (which are impossibly constricting) and subcultures in order to have some defined “rules” to go by (which, of course, change over the years, as socially created things tend to do!) which reassure them that they belong. The only problem is, OF COURSE, many people just can’t lie to themselves that they fit like a square peg in a square hole, no matter how they would like to. I do believe young people like you are beginning to see beyond all this (I read a lot of blogs) and you are right, right, right to resist the norms and labels. You’re not the only one, by far. BE YOURSELF and keep your chin up and consciously try to take pride in being UNIQUE; it took me decades, but in my mid-50’s I really am non-caring about “how I should be” and people seem to react radically better to and around me than they ever did when I cared. I gather from your blog that you’re brilliant and caring, and no one is entitled to limit you.

  2. Ah, thanks Level Best!

    Labels, really, don’t bother me. It’s the rules that some feel must accompany them that are irritating.

    Also, thanks for your perspective! I look forward to, hopefully, hearing a lot more from someone with a lot more life experience under their belt than the average blogger.

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