Hard on the Heart & Soft to the Touch

Hi Darling Ones,

A few years ago I read Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts. I can’t remember the full context of the essay anymore, but at one point Nelson is writing about “The Shining” and how the woman Jack Nicholson is embracing goes from pretty young thing to putrid old crone in an instant. She says of the nameless character, “She did not get the memo about being beyond wanting or wanted.”

That line has been a thorn in my heart since I read it.

Being a fat heterosexual woman my entire life, I’ve always believed my desire is nothing but a punchline. I grew up in the era of Porky’s and Last American Virgin and all the other sex romp comedy movies of the 80s where the worst thing that could happen to a man is a fat woman wanting to have sex with him.

So I got the memo pretty early that I would be beyond wanted. Only, the memo was a lie. In fact, it was so false I struggled for a long time trying go discern which men wanted to have sex with me, Jodi of the infinite musical opinions and sarcasm and those who wanted to have sex with a 6’5″ woman and/or a fat woman regardless of her musical taste or keen intellect.

Who am I kidding, I still struggle with this. Being a fetish object is difficult and it does a real number on a sexuality I never exactly feel comfortable claiming. Trying to factor in my own desire only made a complicated situation more convoluted. It took me far too much time to realize even though I was a fat, freakishly tall woman I did not have to have sex with a man just because he wanted to.

Maybe all fat women feel this way. I hope not, but the “oh he’s nice enough to want to fuck me, a hideous beast, I suppose I should let him” is a real thing. It does not make for good sex or good sex partners. Do not recommend.

Now, I’m fucking fifty and I should have for sure gotten that memo about being both beyond wanting and wanted by now. But here’s the thing, I still want. I want a lot. I want all the damn time and now that desire feels like a double punchline — fat and old and wanting to have sex with men. The horror.

Writing about sex, sexuality, and desire is tough. I was gonna say especially on the Internet, but I’m sure no matter which venue a woman chooses to share this side of herself she has the same anxieties about it that I do. People will think I’m only doing it for attention (because attention is a bad thing). People will think I’m using my sexuality for nefarious reasons. People will think I’m only looking to get laid (which again, is a bad thing?). People will forget that I’m intellectual and funny and sarcastic and not just a sex object.

I’ve had all this rattling around inside of me for ages, probably since I read that Nelson book. However, the pressure of it has been building up the closer my 50th got and now it’s exploded.

Amanda Shires’ new song “Hawk for the Dove” lit the fuse. On Instagram she talked about how we don’t age out of certain feelings after age 25 (eye roll) or 30 (double eyeroll with gag face).

You can tell turning forty has made Shires feel some kind of way and because I’ve just turned fifty I feel that kind of way too. Also being fifty I want to shout at her that forty is still so young! Which is exactly what one of the Tea Ladies said to me when I was carping about fifty being so old.

So that’s what’s been on my mind. This post is brought to you by a Shires’ livestream I watched this afternoon, which finally kicked me into gear and the book The Thorn Birds that I read this weekend which I thought was gonna be hot and sexy and was instead Catholic and kinda boring.

Not beyond desire yet,

P.S. I’ve been wanting to use that The Hold Steady lyric as a headline for two weeks now.

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