In William Sanders’ short story “Tenbears and the Bruja,”1 a copulating man and woman magically change shape, from human to mountain lions, to mare and stallion, to timber wolves, to “snow white buffalo coupling in the moonlight.” All of the animals engage in the act violently–for example “the mountain lionness, twisting and squalling beneath him, her tail curving and jerking to one side, while he dug at the ground with his hind paws and his own tail thrashed in time with the violent jabs of his short barbed penis.”
Reading this, I’m turned on and turned off at the same time, horrified. I learn that male cats do in fact have barbed penises; ripping the vagina when those barbs are pulled out.
The buffalo “hooves tore and pounded the earth; their bellowing could have been heard halfway to Mexico. Nothing like it had been seen in these parts since the last time the big ice came south. Even the tortoises woke up and waddled out to watch.”
The energy, the hard pounding energy, the overwhelming energy… Sanders evokes exquisitely the essence of f—ing.
For most of my life, this was my main experience of sex. Of “making love.” I casually used the word “f–k” as a generic description of the act. Gentleness was reserved for foreplay; when the main act began, I expected to be pounded. I also expected to have the right to draw the line if it became a problem, but I assumed that sex meant f—ing. The whole culture said so. And I enjoyed the high energy, the deep penetration, the feeling of being overwhelmed.
I’m pretty tired of it now. When it seems Jesse needs it, I breathe into it and concentrate on the energy we are building between us, I make my heart an altar, my body an altar; I direct the energy to our enlightenment. Transmuting the energy like this gets me high.
But it’s not the act I’d choose. What is? I hardly know. One time recently, when we were playing together on the bed, both of us with our fingers doing nice things to me, I came so gently, so softly, it was like a warm wave washing over me. It didn’t wipe me out, it just filled my body with happiness. I can’t remember feeling that way ever before. How did it happen? I don’t know. I don’t remember.
I still feel drawn to the hard energy… and repelled at the same time.
I remember one thing about the gentle wave orgasm: I did not use my habitual fantasy of being overwhelmed. Perhaps I didn’t need to; perhaps I wasn’t trying to force myself to come. Yes, I remember it sort of snuck up on me, surprised me. Perhaps I hadn’t even indulged in sexplay for quite a while, perhaps my sexual energy had built up. My memory is foggy, but I do intend to do more of following my body’s inclination. Not trying to make myself come.
What about making myself have sex? Deciding to indulge in some form of physical intimacy for the benefit of the relationship, even though I don’t feel horny? I think there’s still an argument for this; I know I avoid intimacy out of a bad habit of fear, I think choosing to act in the opposite direction from that fear is good. But it’s a fine line between that and the duty f–k.
1 Sanders, 2002