I’ll measure time
I’ll measure height
Good Lord I’m big
I’m heading on
Got my leather boots on – PJ Harvey, Man-size
Are wet dreams common? For whom? I haven’t heard much talk about them lately. I have had one. It visited me when I was around sixteen. It was a ‘point-of-view’ production. I was driving an old muscle car with black leather bucket seats and a long-handled gear shift. I was alone, driving fast. I especially remember the sky as a hi-def, David Lynch dream sequence kind of hot orange. There were mountains on both sides and I was approaching a narrow, flat bridge across an impossibly wide and deep gorge. I felt rising pleasure and excitement. I looked down and noticed my big, hard cock in my own left hand. The mountains receded from around me as I drove faster onto the bridge. I watched myself stroke myself faster as I drove faster, not looking up at the road. As I was about to cum, the car/I veered sharply to the left, quickly breaking through the low guard rail and into mid-air. I never saw the bottom and I didn’t fall for long. I woke up sweating and panting with throbbing clit.
I am not someone who remembers my dreams often, nor even many singular waking events in my life, but this was an omen with no intention of being forgotten. The uncanny physicality of the actual dream and of me and of the darkness of my bedroom continues to stick to me, though it’s been almost thirty years (or more, my age is the most arbitrary part of this narrative). I immediately thought I had just witnessed how I died in a past life. This is hilarious, if true, that there may be some part of my eternal soul that is so fascinated with my own penis and touching it and admiring it that it not only caused my death at least once, but that this self-destructive compulsion follows me into every incarnation. I am still a little cockcentric, though I do not possess one in this lifetime.
Occasionally, I pull out this wet dream to help me think critically about gender. I think it is a versatile metaphor for gender experience. Had I been born with a penis, I imagine that I would have been experienced this dream as fairly unremarkable. Having a penis and dreaming about touching it probably doesn’t stimulate much analysis of the link between masculinity and a cock in cis-men. I have had sex in other dreams with my own body, but never resulting in spontaneous orgasm. I don’t recall ever having another dream where I so viscerally embodied an alternate flesh. It felt real. This sensation of ‘realness’ and its fickle presence is a bit of what I believe gender performance desires. It was probably the most experiential moment of maleness in my life, but much of the time, I don’t even know if ‘male’ is what I have wanted to achieve.
This vivid dream, an altered state of consciousness is not completely unlike the daily involuntary masculinity I perform. My masculinity perpetually defies the fact of my body. When I am alone, I must touch my female genitals to masturbate, though I may be fantasizing about having an erect penis and putting it where I imagine it would feel good to my phantom limb. When I am not alone, my gender performance, to the extent that it is successful and fulfilling for myself and others, must necessarily be collaborative. When I put my silicon penis on and have sex with my girlfriend, we must both suspend disbelief to achieve the desired intimacy. It is infinitely hotter to tell someone to suck your cock, than to suck your strapon. I cannot feel my penis inside her, but the illusion helps me orgasm nonetheless. Practically speaking, it might seem more desirable to have her go down on the anatomy I do have, but the reaffirmation of my masculine identity is just as important, if not more, than an orgasm. This is why stone butches exist. At least they used to.
When surrounded by other urban queers, being a masculine woman is an intelligible identity, easily integrated into social discourse, verbal and non-verbal. When in normative surroundings, the dominant paradigm polices and excludes and mocks the masculine woman. Cis-gendered, heteronormative people sometimes don’t like to play dress up with you and your arduously crafted gender identity. Suddenly, the recollection that your masculinity is a dirty adolescent dream you once had hits you like shame pie in your girl face. In the life of a young butch, those moments of cognitive dissonance assemble to form a relentless clown parade of humiliation. Oh, young butches, I just want to send you all to Pippi Longstocking Island with horses, and femmes, and proud moms who never want you to wear a dress, and dads you can beat at basketball.
At forty-one, I made the decision to transition. Into what, is unclear to me, possibly because I am one of those people who uncritically link maleness with penises. But, I love taking testosterone. Adult puberty is so much more fun than menopause. One of the multitude of benefits that I perceive for my life is simply the public plausibility of my act. It is exhausting to be a constant subject of internal conflict for others.
Once I had a dream that I was a man. I came all over myself, then I died. The body that bares the life that I have had deserves the entitlements it has earned and the pleasures it can experience.
Silence my lady head
Get girl out of my head
Douse hair with gasoline
Set it light and set it free, PJ Harvey, Man-size
Suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief is a term coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a “human interest and a semblance of truth” into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative.