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I thought I didn't like sex, but really, I just didn't like feeling like shit afterwards.

This essay discusses coercive and violating forms of sex in detail. I tried to enjoy sex with men—cis and otherwise—for several years before I began seriously questioning my sexuality and gender. I hated a lot of things about sex with men, the things surrounding it, and the language used to describe it, but I tolerated the things that I didn't like about it so I could enjoy the few things that I did like, and later I learned that I could get those things elsewhere and in more healthy ways. Finally, I came to the realization that I just didn't like the kind of sex that I’d been having, the only kind that I had ever experienced, since the very first guy I ever had sex with coerced me into it. The kind of sex that I was conditioned to believe was normal, that I was expected to accept as standard, natural, and unchanging, as something not shaped by environmental and social factors, and gender cultivation. I know now that I could enjoy sex with men more if they were at all interested in making it comfortable for the people they fuck. Instead, they seem to get off on making the experience uncomfortable and painful for their partners, regardless of whether or not that's what we want. I'm not talking about BDSM, kink, power play, power exchange, or the things related to them. These are all valid forms of sexual expression and engagement, and can absolutely be fulfilling and rewarding when all people involved are consenting to all agreed upon aspects, communicate desires and boundaries effectively, and commit to practicing these forms of sex ethically. This is about men who are interested in nothing more than reproducing the things that they see in pornography or hear in mundane social conversations and colloquialisms about sex, because they think this is all that sex is and should be. This is about men who are never interested in talking to me about what I want or need from sex. Men whose idea of sex is nothing more than a sum of various fantasies produced by a paternal and misogynistic society which amount to degradation and subjugation that I am expected to accept as not only normal, but necessary parts of sex with them. A normalcy in which I am supposed to accept being in agonizing positions, and subject to being tossed around and repositioned at their will, regardless of how I feel, because they believe that's how sex is “supposed” to look. A normalcy in which the prospect of making me orgasm is always about their ego and never about my ecstasy. And they push harder against me or pull me back to them when I adjust or pull away because something feels uncomfortable or painful or overwhelming. And they say, “Come back here” and “Stop running” and “Don't fucking move” because I'm not allowed to react to what's happening instinctively, because they don't care that this position hurts me. In fact, it's supposed to hurt me, and I'm supposed to just stay here and take it, because that's what they really get off on. They've been conditioned to be aroused by women in pain. Because it makes them feel good about the size of their dick or the stroke of their strap-on. Because they think that fucking hard and rough without nuance or sensitivity constitutes good sex.
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Religion is not infallible, and it continually creates space for its leaders to abuse the power that religious interpretations unquestioningly afford them.

[TW/CW: This essay contains discussion of sexual violence, including molestation.] My mom once scolded me for swatting the pastor’s wife’s hand away from my head. She had been intrigued by my intricate braids and lifted her hand to touch them. As she began running her fingers along the length of my hair, I cringed. I don't like to be touched, and this has been true about me for as long as I can remember. I especially don't like to be touched without warning, without my consent, and this is reasonable. My body has an involuntary response to it, like a jolt shooting through me. My cheeks get hot and the skin on my neck begins to crawl. I did not want to be touched by the pastor's wife in that moment, so I used my body to push hers away. I didn't understand the look that came over my mom's face; or rather, I understood what it was, but not why it was there. She was horrified and I was confused. “Don't do that,” she whispered to me through tight lips after when we were no longer in earshot. “It's rude.” I couldn’t have been more than twelve or thirteen. A few years before that, one of my uncles made me stand in front of him in his house and repeat the words, “Jesus is my boyfriend.” This was his way of telling me that I was not allowed to have a boyfriend and he tried to use the name of Jesus and the weight that it carried to scare me into staying “pure.” God and Jesus were the only male figures I was allowed to be intimate with. Believe me, I know how fucking weird this sounds. Even hearing it as a child, I was put off by it. This was a conversation that he had initiated and engaged me in, even though I had expressed absolutely no desire to have a boyfriend, or girlfriend for that matter. When I graduated college, I moved back in with my mom for a while. At this point, I had already left the church and denounced religion, but I didn't have the confidence to tell her. And so, I went to church with her. One Sunday afternoon, she came to me speaking in a hushed tone. The pastor’s wife had told her that they had planned to give me a graduation gift in front of the congregation that day, but they simply could not bring themselves to honor me and my accomplishments because they disapproved of the shirt I was wearing, i.e. my breasts made them uncomfortable.
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