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English 212
2002 First Paper
On Serendip

"Thinking Sex: Sub-Groups"

Chelsea Phillips

My working definition of my own sexuality is somewhere between "Oh, yes!" and "Oh, no!" I know that's a really narrow category...but the bridge between reality and imagination is sometimes a long one. Sexual experience itself is a pretty broad topic. Depending on what you're feeling for the person you're with, something as non-physical as a conversation, or simply holding hands can be sexual, simply because it is communication. Sex isn't something that needs to be hot and heavy to be enjoyed either and, often, human contact is really what it's about. Thinking about sex, and reading the article by Delany has put the concept of fetishes into my head.
Fetishes in general are an interesting topic, especially because, as Delany pointed out, people don't really think of themselves as having fetishes, they think of having "quirks" or just "preferences". Putting the word "fetish" to it makes it sound dirty and has connotations of psychological disturbance. However, I think it's an accurate and appropriate term for a sub-group that I identify with, and would argue that these fetishes are completely natural. Fetishes are something that most people have in common, though the range is astounding (narrow hips, no hair and big ears to burly, hairy singers), even for the small group in which I've put myself.
The definition of "sex" is definitely a broad one in our group. "Sex" more often refers to our reaction to someone or something than an actual sexual act- think Coffee Talk (Joey's voice is like a stick of buttah!). Since everything, then, is essentially sex, communication is uninhibited by rigid definitions or confines. It also means that we talk about sex purely for the joy of talking about it and as a way to connect through common experiences or feelings, not in a competitive or judgmental sense. Communication in our group is a good balance between perfect understanding that requires no complete sentences, and in-depth discussions about our sex drives and how they affect us daily.
It's interesting that I've never really wondered why I find what I find attractive until now. My biggest fetishes are eyes and voices, a fact I've been perfectly aware of since age 10, but they never had conscious logic to them. There has always been something about a guy with warm eyes and a nice voice that just makes me weak in the knees. I once knew a man whose eyes looked like melted chocolate, and when he smiled they lit up like the sun, and I could never trust myself standing up around him. When I talk to people about this, I get an overwhelmingly sympathetic response, probably because there's something in that old "windows to the soul" adage.
Voices are an interesting thing; like eyes they are a form of communication, but stimulate a different sensory response. I happen to like deep voices, a lot. The low pitch that rumbles around inside your stomach and really makes you feel what the other person is saying is incredibly sexual to me, no matter what the person is actually saying. Junior year a friend did an internship with a Biogenetics professor at one of the local colleges. Not only was he from England, but he had the deepest voice I've ever heard in my life- we used to call his office to listen to his voice message when we knew he was in class. "After the beep" has never been sexier.
The layering that goes on in communication is amazing. Perhaps that's why I identify so strongly with this group- there are no layers, everything is raw. Of course, that's also the thing that makes eyes so incredibly sexual, because they are harder to control than voices, entire volumes are spoken between people quietly discussing the weather, whether they mean to or not. The same goes for physical contact, not the rough-and-tumble sex that we associate with that term, but the small things.
I like to be held. I want someone who can support me when everything is falling apart, to laugh with me when I'm happy, to make me laugh when I'm sad, to let me go when I need to be alone, and whose arms I can come home to every night. Being held is an entirely different form of communication, and one that exists in many levels and many kinds of relationships. It exists within the fetish group I put myself into, and it's something we all crave from somewhere beyond a sexual standpoint.
All of these ways of communicating affection, physical and non-physical, seem so much more rich and varied than just plain words, so why do we still use them? There must be some biological drive that makes us talk to each other, it must be important in some way. Otherwise, I'd have no trouble keeping things from my best friend, and my other friends, and the people I sit next to in class, and that person on the bus who looked like a good listener... The point is, communication is not limited to words in this group (and there is no outside), we all express ourselves at some point or another through hugs, kisses, holding hands, gazing into each other's eyes, dancing- and it's all naturally sexual without being the act of sex itself. It is sex at its best: natural, uninhibited contact with other people.

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