I’ve been lying in bed, wedged uncomfortably between the dog and the baby and thinking about how being a wife and a mother is eroding my feminist ideals. It’s complicated, this process of personal empowerment. How do I get everything I need and still fulfill my role as caregiver and nurturer for my family? Surely I can be a powerful and sexually fulfilled woman while embracing my inner domestic goddess. I’m still practicing that balance.
Years ago I learned to “endure nothing” from a group of women exploring sacred sexuality. It was a brilliant concept for me because I came from a background of abuse. It meant I could say no. My body belonged to me and I was not to endure anything I didn’t like, even for a second. Amazing. Endure nothing. That meant that I should stop any activity that made me the slightest bit uneasy.
It turns out that enduring nothing isn’t so easy. I had to learn how to say no. Luckily I had some help from Harold and Melanie and some other fabulous people at a workshop 10 years ago. It takes some skill and practice to say no in a way that is firm and empowered, yet non-confrontational and considerate. Take it a step further and you can ask for what you do want. I actually got pretty good at it! But since then I’ve gone from enduring nothing to enduring sometimes because that is what needs to happen.
Like the discomfort of being awkwardly pinned between the dog and the baby. The dog is built like a fucking brick. I can’t move her easily. I could kick her off of the bed, but I want her here. The baby wakes up when I try to move so I’m waiting, somewhat painfully, for her to be more deeply asleep. I willingly endure for my children. My son bit my nipple while breast feeding when he was 9 months old. I endured excruciating pain every 3 hours or so while the wound opened every time he sucked until it healed 5 days later – but he breast fed until he was two!
Enduring starts to take on new meaning. I needed to be able to say no to anything initially in order to grasp the concept, but now I find that, like everything else, I am required to bring my brain along, be personally responsible. Yes, I want to act on situations where I’m starting to think that I really dislike something, but then there’s miles of grey area. What if the whole point is to be in a space where I dislike something?
Last night, Joel and I were messing around. He’s a sadist and gets off on inflicting pain, but I am not generally a masochist. I need to be pretty turned on before pain feels good. But I like to struggle, so we end up tussling a bit. He got me pinned face down with my arms pulled up behind me in the middle of my back. It was definitely not pleasant but I was having fun. If I had gotten scared or started to not want it any more I would have said something and Joel would have stopped utterly. I know because we’ve tried it a few times. So is this enduring?
How about when Joel held me pinned with one hand and the other hand tried to stroke my clitoris, but missed entirely? Should I have stopped him and pointed out where he ought to be? Maybe, but I was busy struggling so I was a moving target. I was annoyed that he wasn’t getting it, but I didn’t want to spoil the mood in order to get the clitoral stimulation. I knew that we would get around to it in earnest when I wasn’t bucking around. Is this enduring?
Then after we fucked, when I decided I wanted an orgasm and couldn’t make the vibrator work and wanted Joel to stick his fingers inside me and get off his fucking iphone – yep, I thought that was not a time to endure. I asked for what I wanted and got it right away, including the orgasm. I realized after that if I hadn’t asked I would have been resentful.
I think that’s my deciding factor of “endure nothing”. If I do nothing to change this situation, will I feel resentful later? If the answer is yes, then I must act. If the answer is no, well… I guess I’ll let sleeping dogs lie.