You know something I've never been really able to do? See myself sexually. I'm going to get a little personal here, otherwise known as vulnerable, so bear with me.
Do I have a sexuality? Obviously I do. I'm human, after all, and I'm not in that tiny minority of people known as asexuals (Don't understand them, but generally wish them well in life). No, what I mean is I don't usually believe that upon meeting a man that he will see me sexually. I never have, not even on a date.
I just don't put it out there. Frankly, I don't know how. It's just as well now. I mean, I'm married. I definitely shouldn't be putting it out there to other men in any serious way. It's unnecessary and/or inappropriate. But I've been mulling a few things over in my mind, just how I've related to men, and how men have related to me over my life.
I don't flirt, never really have. And by never, I mean never, at least not well. I just didn't know how and, again, didn't see myself as a possible object of desire. I was an artist, I was female, I was short, I was a little odd, and that was that. I liked to wear flat shoes. I enjoyed chin-length hair that I didn't have to style. I wore no makeup. My Catholic schoolgirl's uniform included loose-fitting grey pants and my brother's old button-up shirts, obscuring my figure in every way. I enjoyed sweatshirts, plaid pants and nothing flashy.
I called boys out on their shit. I didn't laugh unless I really thought they were funny, which was infrequent. More than one person thought I was a lesbian, something which was inoffensive to me, just simply inaccurate. I harboured crushes deep in my heart and nurtured them quietly. Actually, when faced with a boy I liked, I once quite literally ran away from him. Looking back, my goodness what a rude and strange thing to do. But it was typical of the way I saw myself.
How I got there, I could guess. I do know starting in elementary school, the idea of "going out" with me was thrown around like a joke. I remember a boy rubbing a windowpane and pretending it was me, in reference to my small breasts. I was called a duck because I walk like one. This is true, I do. And ducks aren't sexy. No one wants to, pardon the silliness, fuck a duck.
In high school a few boys asked me out and then immediately laughed at me. I heard in my first year of high school that one or another guys liked me, and it made me deeply uncomfortable. I was not raised to believe I was pretty, or ugly, and that sort of attention was seriously unnerving, even in small amounts. Also I had to consider it was fake interest and more about humiliating me some more.
One boy in grade 10 sexually harassed me in my science class. I remember getting anxiety before going to class. At the height of his performance he told me he wanted to "rape me and thump me hard," pumping his hand against my chair, saying, "thump, thump, thump." I had no idea what to make of this. But I think it's worth noting in relation to this post, that my thoughts were not that he was sexually attracted to me and selfishly vulgar about it, but instead that he hated me and was trying to make me upset.
I went on dates in my 20s and led with my personality, not looks, not sex, nothing like that. I had no idea how to do that. I'd wear jeans (These were my pre-dress days), a sweater or T-shirt, a bit of powder on my face, and I'd brush my hair. I may or may not have worn perfume.
And the guys I went on dates with in this era of time, all save one (who was way too aggressive and freaked me out) didn't touch me. They asked me out on a second, third, fourth date. But they didn't really touch me. Not really. Perhaps I didn't look like I welcomed it. But then why would they keep asking me out? Don't know. But at the time I didn't think too much about it beyond, "Hey, I'm kinda funny, so why wouldn't they want to hang out?" I didn't think these dates were all that sexually motivated. Sounds silly, but that's how I felt.
If a man wanted to catch up with me, get me a cup of coffee, I thought it was a genuine offer of friendship and nothing more. Now I look back and realize I was incorrect, but it didn't occur to me at the time that said man would be viewing me with sexual interest. Actually, I think because I didn't see myself that way, I couldn't imagine anyone else seeing me like that either.
I don't think I exude sexuality. I don't think I even sprinkle or waft it. Rather, I think it's like a helium balloon for me, something I have on me, but which is far removed from my person, hovering around, loosely associated with my body.
I've never thought I was ugly. But any time I've felt pretty, it's not translated into feeling or believing I'm sexually appealing, only aesthetically pleasing. Something inside of me has never clicked in that way. I don't know what this has meant for me as a woman in my life. It's not prevented me from finding love. In fact, when it came to love or dating I generally was able to get dates, second dates and find long-term relationships prior to getting married. But I do think this non-sexual view of myself prevented me from having some fun. I didn't flirt. I didn't play the game. I didn't let loose.
It's not been a linear journey. I've considered my body in many ways, in varying degrees. I've posed nude for art classes (Non-sexual). I've taken naked pictures for a boyfriend (Sexual). I slept over at a man's home who I barely knew with no intentions towards him (Non-sexual-- and nothing did happen). I initiated my relationship with the Dude, which was sexual (Or rather I tried to and had no idea how and he wound up making the first, second and third move-- so Non-sexual).
It's only lately that I've started seeing myself differently. It's been a subtle shift in personal perception, realizing that men might look at me in a sexual way, which is funny because in a handful of years my most attractive days should be behind me. To realize this now is kind of oddly amusing. Also, being of interest to other men is less important to me now.
But I don't think I want to be this way anymore, this person who shies away from the sexual side of herself and gets all cerebral about it. If only for my own personal joy, while I'm still young, before I become pregnant, I'm going to make a more concentrated effort to see myself as beautiful and an object of desire. I'm glad I haven't devoted my energy in this way all my life. I know who I am and what I'm about. But avoidance of this side of me hasn't been fully amazing either. Something's been missing. A certain enjoyment of being a cute girl has been passing me by.
Perhaps when I started growing out my hair and building wardrobe made up entirely of dresses has been me moving in this direction, the feminine side of me aching to be seen, to be really seen without being shy or embarrassed. I'm not sure. But I'm going to do my best to re-evaluate the way I see myself. I don't just want to feel cute. I want to feel attractive.
And wouldn't you know it, this is the first blog post I've ever labelled with "sexuality" in the three years I've been writing.