Claiming Agency in Desire

Sexuality and gender are perhaps two of the most socially constructed notions. Heteronormativity is rampant and deeply engraved in our society, and frankly seeped into every dimension of our lives, including relationships, job places, classrooms, education, coffee talks, families, politics, and prominently bedrooms. The heteronormative society puts women on the defense when it comes to sex and relationships. Women have something to lose, while males conquer their bodies. Yet females have desires, and the taboo-like lust is to be stripped away of what women need to protect — the female sexual dignity and purity. The more women “open their legs while they refuse to open their legs,” the more their desire is met. In such a sexist society, how can we claim agency over our own sexual desire? How do we know what we feel is what we feel, and what we desire is what we desire? 

The truth is, I sort of hate it. The notion that I need to justify my pleasure, and my desire. Whether I am a female who gets aroused by some romantic erotica in a missionary position or gets completely turned on by some hardcore gang-rape BDSM scenarios — I don’t desire to make a point. My desire and my pleasure is not to challenge heteronormativity, nor is it to comply with it.

But inevitably, desire claims. Desire that deviates from the expectation and the norm claims louder than any other. The slut-shaming trend is a big part of it. People shame any sexual females and label them “sluts” because sexual drive should only be prominent in heterosexual male population. Thus, by being sexual and “promiscuous” by their standards, that desire claims an antithesis to the social norm, whether the woman wants it to be or not.

Yet having a claim and being associated with a claim do not take away agency. As long as I know that it is my desire, not for the intention of proving something to the big wall of society, it does not matter if it stands for something greater than what I want in bed. My desire may have political volume, but it does not have to have the intention to be political. That’s how we know we have agency in a society where female agency is constantly muted.