This morning, in the subway station, there was a man yelling at everybody. He looked middle-aged, not in any way unkempt, except that the windchill was around 10 degrees Farenheit and he was in a sweater with no jacket. He had a graying beard. He was taking up as much space as he could at the middle of the three turnstyles when I approached them. He was turning slowly from side to side while patting his pockets for a MetroCard, swearing at everyone who looked at him. Since it was so cold up on the platform, a large number of people had gathered inside the station to wait for the trains… so there were a lot of people to swear at.
I really didn’t want to get too close and avoid raising his ire, but I had to get through the turnstyles. As I neared, he turned in my direction. “Suck my dick!” he shouted, not exactly at me, but in my general direction, as I swiped my card right next to him. “Suck! My! Motherfucking! DICK!” he screamed as the card didn’t work and I re-swiped.
“Yeah, that sounds lovely,” I muttered under my breath as I got through the turnstyle. I’d have loved to huddle in the warmth of the station down below, but the thought of being in the small building with that man was pretty unappealing, so I went up the steps to the freezing platform. He hadn’t smelled like alcohol, so I didn’t think he was in a drunken rage. He seemed relatively coherent, just incredibly angry. I guess it could have been a meth fit, perhaps, or one of the all-too-frequent cases of untreated schizophrenia on sees on the streets of New York City.
Whatever the case, he was in quite a mood. He emerged a few minutes later on the other side of the tracks, yelling at everyone near him. At one point I saw him fling off both of his gloves to gleefully show everyone on my side two middle fingers. Shortly thereafter he disappeared, only to show back up on my platform, where he continued berating people and telling everyone to “suck his dick.”
There was obviously a lot more going on here than sexist comments, but I’m going to hone in on those comments for a moment. This situation was clearly one in which the words coming out of this guy’s mouth weren’t attributable to any sort of higher reasoning. And in situations like that, which one does tend to encounter frequently in New York, I am often struck by the oddness of the words that come out. In so many cases I’ve witnessed, men tell crowds of onlookers, or one person in particular who has pissed them off, to suck their dicks. It’s so often uttered in moments of aggression and rage. It’s spat at people with contempt and hatred. It’s hissed out as a command meant to demean and disempower the listener. It’s a power thing. Somehow, the world we live in has gotten it into people’s heads that having someone perform oral sex on your is getting on up on that person. That receiving head is tantamount to destroying that person’s ego. To winning, but not in a happy, “everybody-wins” of way. It’s more of an “I-win-you-lose,” “you’re-pathetic” way. I find this profoundly…weird. And sad.
I’ll put aside, for the moment, my desire to linger on the weirdly oft-overlooked truth that the person with their mouth near genitals is by virtue of their teeth always the one with more practical power than the other (ahem: biting down). I understand that there is a lot more socio-historical background to it than that: sex has been an issue of power for so long for so many humans that it expresses itself through aggression, possessiveness, entitlement, and the like. There’s a good and ongoing case to be made that sex is inherently a power exchange, and that male and female sexualities exist on a spectrum of more- to less-aggressive. I get that sex can be aggressive.
But what I don’t get is how one can think of getting a blowjob as an insult to the person giving it. Like, really, think about it. How does that make sense? (Again, I realize that the man I mentioned above was not thinking about it at the time–I’m just talking about my personal views on this.) Personally, if someone is going to go down on me, I really prefer that person to want to do it. The idea that someone might do it because I made them against their will is repugnant to me. Maybe it stems from being female and thus having all the terror about whether or not my vulva is ok that our culture tends to imbue, but I’d really prefer to think that someone with their face down there is enjoying the experience. Forcing my crotch onto somebody’s face when they didn’t like it would make me feel really bad about not only what I was doing, but about what I had to offer down there. Like, do they not like it because I’m gross somehow? And if I am gross, why would I want to make somebody do that to it? That would make me feel shitty.
So how come men say this without batting an eye? Like, as if giving them head were either the grossest thing we could ever possibly do and therefore if we do it we’ve lost some battle of wills? What does that say about the male psyche regarding their crotches? Do guys who say it that way think their dicks are totally nasty? That’s really sad. It’s an important part of your body and who you are–you should love it.
But that isn’t to say that you should love it so much that you think–and here’s the other side of the coin–that it’s so great that people should feel like they won the lottery if they get to suck it. I’m bout to lay down some realness, here, peeps: your personal genitals are very important to you, but to the rest of the world at the train station, they are not as important. It’s not that we hate them or something, we just don’t need to think about them any more than we do anything else. So if you want us all to quake in our boots at the idea of you taking them out of your pants so we can service them… well, get over yourself. You’re not that amazing.
I guess what I’m saying is that the casual tossing about of the imperative to suck people’s dicks confuses me. Am I to take it as an indication that you think your dick is horrible, or worthy of my adulation? Why do you want me to do this, exactly? Is it just an expression of anti-The-Man sentiment? Would getting The Man to suck it for you make you feel like you’d triumphed? I guess I can see how that would work, but–some more realness here–I’m not The Man. I’m just trying to get on the subway.
Sometimes I want to respond directly to dudes who are yelling about sucking their dicks in public. I want to tell them, just as loudly, to eat my pussy. Or suck my clit. Just to see what kind of reaction I’d get. Generally speaking, however, most of the time when this happens in public, the man in question is so agitated that challenging him would present a very real risk to my personal safety, and that of the people around me. So I keep my mouth shut. But I wonder, if at some point the opportunity presented itself, and I turned the epithet around on a guy who was aggressively harassing me, how it would be taken. Would he see it as the threat that his version of it is when it’s said to me? I doubt it. Would it be laughable? Maybe. Would it be taken seriously? Hm. But the thing is, I don’t think I’d ever want to say that to somebody, because it would put me in the position of looking like I want to enforce oral sex on someone who doesn’t want to do it. Like my clit is a weapon. Well it’s not a weapon. It’s awesome, true. And it probably could destroy worlds if it wanted to. But it doesn’t want to destroy worlds. It wants to feel good and have fun with people who want to have fun with it. You know, consensually.
Anyway, I hope that the man this morning got somewhere safe and warm, and has calmed down. I hope he got some sleep. I hope he feels really bad for screaming at all those people this morning. And I really hope he thinks about the things he said and how weird they were. But I bet he won’t, because, sadly… they’re not weird at all.