So, what is sex and gender and about, really, when you get right down to it?
There is an interesting discussion happening on the Reddit Sex group, in which responders are shown a picture and asked to choose between two different hypothetical partners; one being A) a masculine looking pre-op FtM (Buck Angel, for anyone interested), and the other being B) a feminine looking pre-op MtF (which has been identified as Camila Rodrigues). The purpose of this question is to, essentially, screw with your mind as you try to reconcile the differences between them; that is, do you want the pussy or the penis, depending upon the rest of the, er, package?
The Reddit members tended to be straight males, and overwhelmingly picked B, the MtF. A handful, of self-identified gay men not unsurprisingly picked A. More interestingly, a smattering of straight women also responded, most picking B, as well.
Imagine an alien sociologist, his early research spent studying our broadcast media, being confused by the answers; after all, aren’t men supposed to be typically thinking with their dicks? That means the straight guys should have preferred A, since it was the only body with a vagina. Here’s one take on it by one of the very few men who picked A:
Straight male here and I choose A. I like vagina so much that I won’t mind the masculine frame. Plus it all feels similar in the dark right?
However, a small number of others waffled the question like this:
Straight Male: A with a paper bag over his head and from behind. B with no paper bag but from behind.
Apparently, something else is happening here that’s not as obvious to someone unfamiliar with Western culture. Since I also would have picked, B, in the absence of any in-depth discussion on the group, I’m going to offer up the non-obvious hypothesis that for most people, sexual preference is not a specifically genital-oriented function; rather, the more important (although less overt) factors are cultural instead of physiological. Cultural, in the sense that although we associate women with vaginas, it’s also important — perhaps even more important — to associate women with other variables such as smooth skin (vis a vis razor stubble and facial hair), softer, rounder features, and less muscle definition.
One respondent summed up my own feelings perfectly:
Straight guy here and I would go for B. I’d have a problem going to town on a guy with a pussy who looks more manly than I do.
I’m going to suggest that these additional characteristics aren’t obvious (or at least, as obvious); however, they are likely overshadowed because normally we don’t expect women to be anything else. In fact, women who are not “womanly” (nicely styled hair, svelte shape, welcoming attitude, etc.) are often assumed to be lesbians. For that matter, mannish (fsv of “mannish”) women are not even “proper” lesbians, but “dykes”. There’s simply no other conception of “people with vaginas” except attractive straight women, attractive lesbians, and dykes. This is probably one of the reasons that “she-males”, that is, MtF pre-op women, are a somewhat popular sub-genre of porn, while FtM porn (hell, we don’t even have a cute moniker for them) barely ranks; even with a penis, they (she-males) at least have the overall appearance of a sexually available woman.
This is why the picture and question are so fascinating — it underlines our cultural paradigms of what straight male sexuality should find desirable.
And interesting, too, is that the straight men who picked B but who also qualified their choice in some way usually did so with respect to penetrative intercourse. I suppose that I could tie this into a chastity-related post by talking about how more open men become to exploring alternative sexualities once their tonker is locked up. And while it’s true that without having your penis driving the bus you do tend to perceive sex differently, this isn’t really analogous.
The point of this set of pictures is that there is something going on underneath our cultural conception of sexuality that bypasses genitalia entirely; something that has less to do with penetration, and is more about our unspoken expectations of masculinity and femininity.