Anti-Patriarchal Sexting: A Reflection
The internet has had a profound impact on my life, relationships, and (of course) my performance of masculinity. I had access to two things. AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) & Porn.
AIM is where I spent a lot of time learning how to write in ways that were compelling. I spent a lot of time reading how other men wrote about themselves and how women wrote about themselves and how people outside of the binaries coded their identities. I learned how to court girls/women with my words and only my words. I learned how to write tactfully - understanding tone and diction. Later it would help with the construction of professional e-mails, newsletters for jobs I've had, poems to get my undergraduate degree and publish books, maybe even these blogs, who knows?
Porn gave me tools necessary to be an erotic writer. Porn is ironic this way because we know it isn't pleasurable for the people acting - they are actors - but we have scenes and images that are pleasurable to watch, and more importantly for me at the time, to recreate in my writing. It was a nice exercise of erotic poetry and hypersexual dialogue, whenever I would engage in cybersex. One day, my circa 13 year-old-self told a girl- who I'd been friends with, had actually talked to over the phone, seen naked (over the internet), had grown feelings for - that I would make her my b*. She stopped answering and we never spoke again. Anyone who knows me knows that I despise that word now and this is just one reason.
We are now in a world where it is expected that you have a cellular device, stronger than most of our first home computers, attached to your hip. With phones becoming a part of our daily life, what we knew as instant messaging (AIM, Yahoo Instant Messaging, MSN Instant Messaging, etc.) has become text messaging or texting.
Just as my generation were the young pioneers of internet acronyms such as LOL and strictly online porn companies like BangBus, we also broke ground with cyber sex - and arguably found ourselves trying to emulate porn in our online chatboxes.
Here we are today with all of these options: phone-sex, AIM and Yahoo IM-sex, and now text-sex or sexting. All of this is influenced by internet porn as it is most accessible and often times easy to stumble upon by mistake. Porn is troublesome because most times it isn't real and it's deep patriarchal roots influence the ways we imagine sex.
The experience that I share earlier had a dual-influence. On one hand, I was influenced by the extreme violence inflicted on women in porn that I'd consumed - in this case verbal abuse. On the other hand, I was guided by girls who told me throughout my entire life that I wasn't bad, tough, mean, rough, scary, enough to be with them or to sexually entice them. I had been coached before by girls to be more aggressive and this was my first (and essentially my last) attempt at being a hyperaggressive cybersexer. It isn't enough to say aggression though, right? To do what I did is more than being aggressive. It is disrespectful, degrading, demoralizing, misogynistic, and probably a few more horrible things. I remember hesitating but I followed through. What is that force? It seems to me that it is our intoxication with traditional masculine values, norms, and expectations. Here are three things I'm doing (not saying you should, just saying I do):
FILTER PORN CONSUMPTION: I worked very hard to filter my consumption of porn, not completely abstain - that is unrealistic for me and many people that I know. As I said earlier, all you have to do is care about a woman and you wouldn't ever want her to be in porn. We know porn is extremely patriarchal and has a lot of negative influence. Filter it!
HUMANIZE EVERYBODY: I work hard to see myself as human just as much as the person on the other end of that electronic device is. Neither of us should be seen as opportunities to cum. Sexting can become very manipulative, very fast. I prefer nudes with faces, save voice recordings and videos - anything to humanize. This includes stripping derogatory terms from my vocabulary.
SHARE PUBLICLY: In the same way that physically releasing chemicals from our body must happen through our skin and other places, I'm making the case that detoxing traditional masculinities can look like public sharing - a similar type of release.
I choose to be anti-patriarchal through vulnerability. I choose to be vulnerable through honesty. I choose to be honest through experiencing pain that heals. I choose to experience pain that heals publicly, so that my support system can love me back to a humane existence, where I can live as a heterosexual man detoxed from traditional masculine values, norms, and expectations.