Not your fetish

Trigger warning: sexual harassment.

I’m pansexual. And because I’m pansexual, and because I’ve met a few women in my life that I turn on as much as they turn me on, I’ve slept with women.

This is a fact that is received enthusiastically by a lot of straight men. And by enthusiastically, I mean creepily.

Let me illustrate.

One evening, I was walking home from the grocery when a man decided to try to pick me up. But like, when I say he tried to pick me up, I mean he wouldn’t take no for an answer and followed me halfway home even after I’d asked him to leave me alone multiple times, which really creeped me out. And during this process, because I was scared and totally froze, I resorted to something I’m not proud of: I told him I was a lesbian.

Disgustingly, this actually renewed his vigour and he doubled his efforts. Now, a simple no should have been enough for him to leave me alone, let alone the declaration that he doesn’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell to sleep with me. It actually made it more worthwhile for him to harass me when he realized I liked women, even though it also meant that I definitely didn’t like him that way. But then, what I wanted didn’t matter to this guy, or else he wouldn’t have been following me home.

This is not the only time something like this has happened.

I used to live with a guy, who we’ll call Mark. Mark was a friend of one of these girls that turned me on, who I hardly knew. I was considering asking her out, so I went to him, and I said, “What’s she like? If you were me, would you date her?” He told me he wouldn’t, and I asked why. He told me he didn’t like fat girls (she was one). I rolled my eyes and told him that was clearly not an issue for me, and we went about our day, I with this new-found information that Mark would never consider having sex with me, not because he was married and I wasn’t into him anyway, but because I was too fat for him.

But the funny thing is, one day I went to him, and I had just started dating a girl. He asked what was new, and I told him, “Well, it worked out between [her name] and me after all. We’re going steady.” He told me to hold on a second, closed his eyes, smiled broadly after a second, and then opened his eyes and thanked me for the visual. In other words, he made it clear to me that before we continued the conversation, he had to stop and picture me having sex with my girlfriend first…even though we’d already established that he doesn’t like fat girls and would never have sex with me. Which, as scary as this is, kind of makes the guy who followed me home from the grocery a little less of an asshole by one standard, because at least he kind of wanted to have sex with me before he knew I was into girls. (Though obviously, following me halfway home and nearly giving me a heart attack does put him way further down on the general being-a-decent-human scale.)

These are two examples of many that are representative of the way that most straight men perceive my sexuality. Something about my sexuality isn’t quite real, complete, legitimate. Something about it is only there to play to their fantasies. Something about it makes me into an object just because I like women (among other people). Something about it puts me in a position where what I want just doesn’t matter, because now they’re mentally implicating themselves in my sex life without my consent.

But here’s the thing: I’m not an object. I’m not fucking a girl so that you can fantasize about it. I’m not fucking a girl because you want to believe that in a scenario starring two women, you could still be the centre of attention. I’m fucking a girl because she and I turn each other on, and we want to do it, and that’s our prerogative, and no, you do not get to watch or participate or make this about you.

I know the internet is a cesspool of creepy, incompassionate, better-than-thou assholes, but I came across this thing the other day that really solidified this realization for me. I came across one of those crowd-sourced question-and-answer sites (you know the ones I mean) where someone had asked, “What does pansexual mean?” The majority of the answers fell into one of two categories, being people who know how to use Google and people who thought it was productive to answer by saying they didn’t know what the answer was. But one of the answers (with 34 upvotes) didn’t fall into either. It read: “Someone who’s unbelievably easy.”

In my experience, this is how people see my sexuality. They see it in relation to how likely it is that I’ll play to their fantasies. But it’s not OK. It’s not OK to pass judgement on someone else’s sexuality just because it makes you feel better to think that maybe they’d fuck you, and with a friend, no less…

If that’s the endgame, I’m afraid you’re going to be sorely disappointed, because I don’t consent to that. Treat me like a piece of meat and you’re the last person I’m going to have sex with. And since that’s the case, how about we just drop it, already? You’re making me uncomfortable and not even getting any closer to acting out your fantasy, so this isn’t even a win-lose situation.

I’m going to have awesome sex with awesome people simply because I (and they) want to have sex, and completely independently of whether or not a third party finds either of us fuckable. I am not an object, and my sexuality is not about anyone except me and whoever I’m having sex with at the time. If you think you get to vicariously experience someone else’s sex life as your own personal fantasy, kindly stay the hell away from me.

My sexuality is legitimate and complete and private. You may not know that, but I do.

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About Lia

Lia is a fat-positive social justice activist who's got a particular penchant for tough gender issues. She's a passionate vegan cook, dabbling crafter and avid gardener, and spends as much time as she can with good people in cafés, talking body and gender politics.

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