Desire or Desire for Desire?

Ahhhhhh, lust, desire, down-low tickles… that all knowing realisation that our nether regions have minds of their own, or at least that they would like to. As a lesbian woman I’m often asked how/why I knew I was gay and the answer is pretty simple. Girls make me wet, boys don’t. Which is a nice simple delineation: on one side is no thanks and on the other yes please! BUT! is desire and lust always that simple?

We all know that human sexual relationships are complex and complicated. And we know that some of the various things which impact on these relationships are societal pressure, friends/family expectations, religious views, personal values, personality compatibility, background and experience, long term plans etc etc the list can go on and on. But is lust and desire so complex? Do we have the same level of complexity going on when it comes to the people our genitals want to play with?

Sex and sexuality is so intrinsically complicated by values and society that I’m not sure that we can ever really pull apart fiction from fantasy. But my point here is to question whether lust is or isn’t influenced by society and individual values in the way that relationships are.

My reference point is personal, but I’m trying to keep my friends and aquaintances out of my writing as much as possible. So if I was going to choose a generalist theme I think looking to Kinsey and his research into sex and sexuality would be a good start. A key element of Kinsey’s work is the assumption that what we dream and fantasize about isn’t necessarily what we masturbate to and what we masturbate to isn’t necessarily what we act upon with others. Kinsey was at pains to separate out private sexual desire from behaviour and is my constant reference point when it comes to crude debates about bisexuality.

Divert: too often ignorant debates about bisexuality goes something along the lines of

“make a decision already, you’re either gay or you’re straight!”

These comments always strike me as inherently homophobic in that “it’s a bit close to home” way. Like, the person saying it is trying to hide the fact that he’s been having wet dreams about someone of the same sex and is determined that it’s just an aberration. If we align ourselves with Kinsey’s way of thinking some form of bisexuality is actually far more commonplace than the easily defined polar regions of Gay or Straight. If I had a dollar for every time a lady has told me I was the only woman for her… if only she was a lesbian… I’d probably be able to buy myself a coffee, and maybe a muffin… but you get my drift.

Anyway, back to the point. Desire, social or biological?

What is more flattering, more inspiring, more sexy, than someone who’s lusting after us? Is the drive to be desired in and of itself enough to get our juices flowing, so to speak? I have a friend who has huge distain for the “I was so drunk, I didn’t know what I was doing/saying” excuse. In many ways I agree with him, it is lame, but part of me thinks that the phenomenon of beer goggles has less to do with failing to see the attraction/lack of attraction of your partner and more to do with lessened fear of social consequences. I personally have a huge massive paranoid fear of people talking about what I’m up to sexually. Such a huge fear that I will avoid/stop/prevent things happening with people I really fancy, just because they’re friends with my friends and things might get talked about. That fear stops me from acting on desire that exists.

On the other hand, someone that I find only moderately attractive on a daily basis can suddenly become massively, super attractive if they show interest in me….

Which brings me to the title of this article. Desire or Desire for Desire? How much of the desire and lust we feel is spontaneous, unexplainable bodily functions and how much of it is a response to a human social need for sex and intimacy resulting in a lot more “what I can get” than “what I really want”? We all have standards, ideals and criteria, but how many of us abide by them and in the end should we?

Image taken from Felix_Nine‘s photostream on Flickr under Creative Commons Licence

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About MsElouise

MsElouise is a community programs worker and feminist from Melbourne Australia. She likes to travel, write, rant and make people feel uncomfortable about their assumptions. She hopes to one day be remembered for changing the world just a little bit. Right now she does this by proving that teenage girls are a higher order of beings.

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