One day, when I was 13, my mother and I went to the mall to look for new school clothes. We saw an ice cream stand and ordered some dessert. I remember eating a frozen banana dipped in chocolate but it was so cold it hurt my teeth. So instead of eating it, I began licking it. Unaware that I was attracting the male gaze, my mother commented on the fact that the frozen banana dessert was not a good choice to eat in such a public place. I became embarrassed that I unwittingly caused a scene and we moved to a less populated part of the mall. Looking back, I wondered what would have happened if I would have looked any of those guys in the eyes while eating my banana? Would they have read it as defiance? Sad loss of innocence? An uncontrollable child? A hot sexy girl encouraging a sexual encounter?
Today this resonates. Or maybe it has always, will always resonate, but today simply happens to be the first time I’ve seen this.
I have my own childhood/adolescence memories attached to the described scenario as well. Being confused when my mother told me the way I ate freezies wasn’t appropriate. Being confused when M told me I drink from water bottles “sexually”. Being confused when I could feel people watching me in public, but not knowing why.
As an young adult, I’ve finally clued into what is going on, I went from confusion to embarrassment. As though I was doing something wrong; something I ate, or drank, or the way I walked, or danced, or did yoga put me on sexual display while I was just busy living my life – and apparently it was me who was supposed to be embarrassed about it; not the people who couldn’t separate a female doing every day, ordinary stuff from a come-on. As you can probably tell, I’m not so embarrassed by this now – just annoyed.
That annoyance carries with me into the world of kink; though with added power dynamics, some of the embarrassment comes back as well. It angers me because it non-consenually sexualizes and objectifies me – like everything I do is for your entertainment. Trust me – it isn’t. I feel stripped of my ownership of my world, my expressions – and sometimes I do feel the attitude invoked by this gaze – let’s call it dominant gaze since I’ve gotten this from both sexes – is a contributing factor to D-types pushing those gray area boundaries. They may not completely cross the ‘community standards’ line, but they make you feel uncomfortable, perhaps embarrassed or awkward. Which, while that can be extremely hot when you want it, it’s extremely off-putting when you don’t.
The worst part is, I can’t even claim that I’m innocent of this act as well; I sexualize, fetishize, and objectify people often, on everything from race to footwear, to scent. So am I evening the playing field, or contributing to the problem?
Confusing little word of gray we play in.