I hope it’s true for you that you have had at least one or two splendid, marvelous lovers from whom you’ve learned much of the good stuff you know about sex. Could be they taught you about anatomy (yours and theirs) pleasure (yours and theirs) or predilections. Or a plethora of other superb sexual things you now know because of this person. Think for a minute about who that person is for you, and what juicy, resplendent tricks you know because of them.
When I think back over my life, there are three lovers who stand out. In memory, they are surrounded by a golden aura of bliss, but in actuality something about their body, energy and feel happened to correspond to what I respond to most.
This morning, I was lying in bed with #3, and I was thinking about all of the things I’ve learned from him. (This isn’t gonna be an overshare, I promise, so stick with me.) The thing that I’ve learned most from him is that my genitals don’t equal my gender. Ok, I live in San Francisco so DUH but hold on.
WARNING: WORD GEEKERY NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS
If you are unfamiliar with etymology, words transition and evolve through languages. Often beginning with Greek, moving to a Latin root, then passing through Old French or Old or Middle English to arrive at a current spelling and meaning.
The word “genitals” and the word “gender” originate from the same Latin root: “genus,” which can mean ‘descent, family, type, race, stock, kin.’ Both ‘genital’ and ‘gender’ began in the Greek with the flavor of generate, create, and family lineage. Both moved through the Latin, and branched around the 12th century with the French picking up “Gender” c.1300, “kind, sort, class,” and the word genital emerging from the Latin.
Beginning 15th century, “gender” was used in English in the male/female sense, and mid-15th century genital was used as a noun meaning ‘sex organ.’ Fast forward five hundred years to the early 20th century, when the word ‘sex’ took on erotic qualities. Gender came to be the common word used for “sex of a human being,” often in feminist writing with reference to social attributes as much as biological qualities. Thanks for indulging my research-word geek-historical context seeking self.
NOW BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING
Using the word “genitals” to describe the sex organs between my legs delights me. Without the qualifiers of “female” or “male” genitalia, all I’ve got is genitals! It’s what my lover has, and it’s what you’ve got. Genitals. If we strip gender away from genitals, suddenly there are many more possibilities to interpret each other’s and our own sexual organs. Suddenly, my gender (outward presentation, how I interface with the world) can influence the ways I engage with my genitals.
In the case of my lover, he genders (verb) in the world as male. I can use the way he genders as I interpret and engage with his genitals. (Instead of the reverse, where I look to see what’s between his legs, make a judgment and then apply a gender to him which may be inaccurate.)
Gender is often more mutable than physical body parts which can require hormones or surgery to change. People who identify as ‘genderqueer,’ play with gender and feel a spaciousness when it comes to defining their internal experience of gender. Instead of having to ‘choose’ just one gender, we move along a gender spectrum with a degree of fluidity about our identity.
Imagine when you were a child, you were told you could only choose one favorite color, blue or red. And you decided that you just wouldn’t decide! Instead you moved between loving blue and all its shades, loving red and its hues and all the variations in between. And if someone looked at you and said “That child is a blue-lover” you could agree. And if someone looked at you and said “You must love red best” you could agree. And inside, all the while, you dance and move and play with those colors, and all the other colors as well. That’s kinda like being genderqueer.
Playing with gender can give one many options when it comes to happy genital time, aka sex. Sometimes I fuck, sometimes I get fucked. Sometimes I’m a damsel in distress being ravished by a handsome stranger, and sometimes I’m the handsome stranger doing the ravishing. It’s not my genitals that wear a pompadour, sport the rock-a-billy, don the thick gold chain and cruise the strip in my cherry ride. That’s my gender. But I’ll tell you what: my package sure does love to come along for the ride!
My.genitals.do.not.construct.my. gender. Get it?
I’m grateful to my sweetie for all that he’s taught me about genitals and gender and many other pleasurable and satisfying things, which I may share with you at a later point. I’m grateful for my own explorations with gender, and all of the fun I’m having along the way. Now that we’ve got your pink bits sorted out from your gender, go ahead and write that fantabulous lover of yours an email and let them know you’re grateful for their teaching. And let me know what they say!