Wednesday, 27 February 2013

It's all about the mutual

There are many theories about what attracts one person to someone else.  Most seem like absolute nonsense to me, not only because those in the msm at least tend to be pushing very traditional lines of masculinity and femininity and compulsory heterosexuality.

But even more progressive explorations of attraction tend to leave out something that's kinda key in my experience.  Mutuality, that hint of possibility, which means I notice someone in a completely different way.

How does interaction move to attraction?  There are probably about as many answers as there are people, and for me at least it's been different with different attractions.  The one thing the different people I've been attracted to have all had in common - they were all open to the possibility of sexual relationships with women.

I have never been attracted to anyone, genderqueer, trans or cis, who is not attracted to women.

I've been attracted to all genders more masculine identified than I am, and more feminine identified.  Femme queer women?  Potentially sexy as hell.  Masculine queer women?  Often delicious.  Others who are attracted to women?  Love watching them play with gender expression.

I don't mean I cannot admire someone's brain, body or sense of fun if they are not into women.  I just mean that true sexual or romantic attraction for me doesn't happen without the hint of mutual possibility, as well as the other things I find appealing.  Compassion.  Analytical ability.  Fierce commitment to justice and fairness.  Playfulness.  Honesty.  Sense of humour and delight.  Smiling eyes.    Physical competence, whether it's in sewing, cooking or climbing a tree.  Joy in breaking rules.

What this means in practise is that for me, when a straight woman flirts to see if she can get a reaction, I find it tedious, both homophobic and biphobic.  I'm not talking about people exploring the fluidity of desire, stepping outside monosexual constructs into something new.  But for me the sexiness in connecting with other women is about knowing the flow of desire is multi-faceted, rich, imaginative and playful.  I want to know they want me, and I want them to know how much I want them.

Mutuality.  Similarly, when my mother told me once, with longing, that Richard Gere perhaps being queer was "a waste", I asked if she would really find it sexy sleeping with someone who was actually wishing she was a man.  Who didn't want her body, the mysteries of her pleasure.  It was a somewhat stilted conversation.

Why don't we talk about mutuality as part of desire and attraction?  It's scary, right, leaping into desire being a relational process rather than something which simply objectifies someone else.  It doesn't fit the way we treat bodies in pop culture, the media, the internet.  It asks - I think - slightly harder questions of us.  For me it just speaks to how the whole process works in a way which is much more true to my experience.


K said...

Discovery of mutual attraction is the best bit! *tingles* = *wide smiles*

Scorpio said...

The word 'mutuality' may not be used but I think the idea that somebody might be attracted to you is attractive is not actually as out-there as you seem to think it is. Men lusting for lesbians or women crushing on gay men are generally mentioned as exceptions, not rules.

LudditeJourno said...

Scorpio - not sure about that actually. I'm sure I'm far from alone in having many experiences of men telling me or my friends that we must be lesbian when we prefer not to interact/respond to overtures of sexual interest from them. I don't think mutuality is required in all kinds of scenarios where "attraction" is supposed to be happening.
And what about narratives which are constructed as romantic when one person pursues another who shows no interest or actively discourages that interest? Pretty common fodder in the mainstream media. It's not *just* about sexuality, though I appreciate that's been my focus here.

Scorpio said...

Luddite, I'm sure you're not alone and I'm sorry you had to go through that. But, is it relevant to what we're talking about? A man assuming a woman who isn't attracted to him is making an assumption, but it isn't an assumption that has anything to do with mutuality. The men actually seem to believe in mutuality even more strongly than you do - you are saying that mutuality is a necessary condition but not enough in itself. These men clearly think that mutuality is a sufficient condition - they are attracted to you, thus vice versa should be true. (The opposite is also seen when men call another man gay because he rejects a woman, or when a male rape victim is disbelieved because why would a man ever turn down sex with a woman?) So what you actually have there is not an argument that the consensus doesn't value mutuality, but if anything, an argument that it overvalues it.

The mainstream media narratives are usually built on the idea that the other person actually is interested, but is just too shy to say so, and that the other person somehow "knows" it. So, it's still promoting the idea of 'mutality'. Were it's problematic is the idea that 'mutuality' is something that isn't always obvious and explicit.

Ultimately I think if you surveyed people and asked them "Does somebody being attracted to you, make them more attractive to you?" most would probably answer with a 'yes'.