HOW TO BE A HETEROSEXUAL
1. Be afraid
Fear is the first thing. If you have only been romantically involved with women for a decade or two, you may have forgotten about this requirement. You never forgot to be afraid of men, of course, but you may not remember that mixture of desire and flat out terror that shapes every new interaction with a man you are thinking of sleeping with. It starts with the simple things. Be afraid to eat too much. Be afraid to laugh too loudly. Be afraid to have that third glass of wine. Then be afraid of rape, of stalking, of him secretly recording you having sex with him and then posting it on YouTube. Be afraid of strangulation and decapitation, be afraid of the possibility that he will pin you down and shove his hard cock down your throat until you gag, and then what will you do?
Be afraid of the condom breaking, of him not wanting to use condoms, of you not wanting to ask him to use condoms. Be afraid of pregnancy and AIDS and gonorrhea and herpes.
And then, on a Friday night after the hockey game, when he is in your living room tapping his long, pretty fingers on your coffee table, his black Chuck Taylor high tops at the door, smiling and looking impossibly cute and earnest, run your fingers through his hair and kiss his ski-jump cheekbones. Ask him about that painting he just finished, tell him about the book you are reading. Forget for a moment that you are supposed to be afraid.
2. Remember that this is performance
You might think that you are having sex because you like having sex, because it feels good, because of that itch of desire that follows you around all day, demanding you pay attention to it, because you like having orgasms, because you are a human being.
But you would only be partially right. No matter how you turn it, you are always part conquest. After those first moments of mouths colliding and his strong hands on your soft skin, your body takes on a life of its own. Your voice will become the voice of some other woman, of everywoman, all breathy yeses and oh gods and other unearned hyperbole to stroke his ego and to assure him that he is making you multiorgasmic, which he almost certainly will not. Remember that Judith Butler says that gender performance is the stylish repetition of actions.
You will act out the sexual script to perfection even though you have not performed it since the nineties. How it all comes back so easily: where to put your mouth, when to use your hand, how to make sure that what you are doing will please him.
3. Competition is not optional
You may see other women as potential or actual friends, as kindred spirits, perhaps even as sisters. But other women are your competition, even if you are not competing.
Being the winner is important, especially if you have chosen to sleep with another woman's husband. That woman is now a constant invisible presence in your life, the angel of the house. That makes you the devil.
Once you tap into all of that unfulfilled male desire, you will see your usefulness as an unmarried woman who does not want a husband, not one of your own, anyway. You won't flinch when one man tells you that he wants you to pretend you're his mother, or when another asks you to let him choke you, just lightly, with a safe word, of course. You might see this as the ace up your sleeve, your willingness to do these things or at least your willingness to consider doing these things, to become a living repository for male sexual fantasy. You might feel proud of yourself for being this kind of woman, this cool girl, until you remember Gone Girl, and recall how much you hated Gone Girl and that you told everyone Gillian Flynn was a bad writer. That was three years ago. It was so easy to dismiss then.
Let your knee touch his underneath the table. Don't ask him about his wife. Listen to the way the ice cubes clink in your glass of bourbon and ginger beer at 5:30pm on a Thursday. Wonder briefly if she will smell your perfume on his body when she sniffs the air around him when he goes home. Wonder how that will make her feel.
You never competed for boys when you were younger, and it was only the girls who broke your heart. But things are different now. Once you told your straight married friends about your indiscretions, don't think they don't hold their husbands a little closer when they see you coming. You, with your foul mouth and curtain of hair and too much body and indulgence in bourbon and lack of shame about saying “clitoral orgasm” in mixed company. You are all threat now.
Somebody should have warned you.
Jill Moffett is a writer and editor, with a PhD in Women's Studies, which she teaches at Durham Technical Community College. Her work has been published in Bitch Magazine, Africa Health, The Manifest Station, Girl With Pen and Concordia University Magazine