Sex, socialism and sanity without safewords
Apparently, a smugsexual is someone who is unbearably smug about sex and has magically shagged away their privilege and ended up on the margins of society. The word was coined by the anonymous blogger at Glosswatch.com who went on to explain their position in a lengthy blog post that is barely readable because of the opaque language and the constant assumptions that the reader must know who is being alluded to or which twitterspat is being referenced.There’s also an assumption that the reader knows a considerable amount about the current debates in feminism. The result is only just comprehensible.
I’m not a feminist. This blog may not be suitable for work, for those under the age of consent, or for those who like to judge the sexual tastes and practices of others. That’s just the way it is – I cannot explain my reaction to the invention of smugsexuality without talking about sex.
Smugness is a subjective concept. If you are going to decide I have excessive pride in something I have done, you are stating, explicitly, that you are the appropriate person to judge how much pride I should have. As someone once said, judge not lest you be judged.
There’s a good old joke, about a bloke called Dai who lived in the small Welsh village of Aberflyarff. He was prone to leaning on the bar of his local, and bemoaning the fact that he made a cot for every baby born in he village, but no-one called him Dai the carpenter. He held up the roof of the colliery when pit props failed, but no-one called him Dai the rescuer. You probably know the punchline – the bit about him putting his glass down, looking round and saying ‘…but you shag one sheep.’
You don’t shag away your privilege. Other people take away your privilege, your rights or your voice because they don’t approve of who or how you shag. It’s an age old meme in terms of sexuality that my choices are natural, and an expression of my inner nature, whereas other people’s are an evil perversion that should be deprecated, and the anonymous blogger appears to have taken it on board as if it were a principle rather than a prejudice.
My experience is only anecdotal, but it’s all I have, because, were I to be open about my sexuality, I fear I would not be as able to live my life as I am while I pass as straight. I don’t get the opportunity to talk freely about my sexuality except on line where being able to pass as straight is less of an advantage.
Being able to pass as straight is a boon, but it can have hilarious consequences. Once, when cottaging, a young man told me he hadn’t responded to me immediately because, in my work suit I looked so straight he assumed I was an undercover policeman. I made a joke about being exactly that, but since he was so irresistible I had decided to ignore my duty and just shag him. He loved the idea, and as I did just that, bending him over the toilet pan and buggering him, he carried on embroidering the fantasy. We parted quite happily. The punchline, if there is one, was that when I told the tale to some gay friends they rolled their eyes, and told me that fantasizing about being shagged by a ‘pig’ was beyond the pale.
Even those who are the subject of discrimination themselves can discriminate, or import into their way of living the self same normative practices they rail against. Gay men will disparage other gay men for being too promiscuous, for liking BDSM, or one hundred other things. People like the anonymous blogger at Glosswatch will dismiss others as being too proud, or too sexually active, or accuse them of lowering the tone or betraying the cause. In the process she has betrayed the reality; she’s not opposed to discrimination, just discrimination that touches on her.
Now, for those of us who don’t share the anonymous blogger’s tastes or preferences, that’s got to be troubling.
The internet provides me with space to talk about sex. Not just showing off, but making sense of what I do. If I’m to be silenced, because a feminist thinks I’m being smug, it will make my life harder. Some of the stuff I talk about is pretty important to me. If, like me, you’re capable of inflicting pain as part of sex, being able to talk to others about what that means, and how you make sure that what you’re doing is about libido and not some unacknowledged anger that might make me a danger to anyone who allows me into their sex life, is pretty damned important.
Want another example? Some time ago I had sex with someone who put very few pre-conditions on what kind of sex we would have, so long as she could call me daddy during the act. The tone police might not like that, but for me, understanding what it meant, and what my agreeing meant about me, needs the kind of conversation you can’t have while you’re holding your nose and looking the other way.
So am I a smugsexual? No. My pride and pleasure in being able to talk about my sexuality isn’t something that I will allow to be censored by others. I know some feminists will object to that. That isn’t the most compelling problem I have.