On Pegging 2

by Jason Stotts

[Note: this is a repost of an essay that originally appeared Dec. 23, 2009 on the old Erosophia.  I am reposting it in anticipation of a new, longer, essay on Pegging that I will be putting up soon.]

In “On Pegging” I wanted to examine the activity of pegging by itself.  Consequently, I said that: “The point of pegging, then, is to stimulate a man’s prostate in order to give him intense orgasms.”  I did this in order to provide an analysis of pegging stripped of the commonly attendant “gender play” that frequently goes with it and show that there is no necessary connection between pegging and gender play.  On this point, I think I succeeded.  Now, however, I want to reintroduce gender play into the discussion and analysis of pegging.  It is certainly true that pegging can provide a great avenue for gender play and some people only do it for this reason.

Pegging Qua Gender Play

The primary difference between pegging itself, as we discussed in the last essay, and pegging as gender play, is how the partners handle it.  That is, a couple could choose to engage in pegging in a way that challenges gender conceptions and roles, or not.  This can be done from the way the partners approach each other, from the way they talk to each other, or just their beliefs about the nature of pegging itself (if they think that pegging is necessarily about role reversal).  For example, if the female partner uses the words and phrases that are usually used to describe her in a sexual situation on her partner, this will challenge the gender roles: if her partner frequently tells her to “take my cock” and she uses the same phrase on him, then this will challenge both their genders in their minds as they are used to having that phrase be something that is said by a male to a female and now this is being inverted.  Gender play can be very important in our sexual development as it helps us to understand not only masculinity and femininity, but also our own sexual desires and pleasure.

There are two primary kinds of gender play.  The first is role reversal, where one accepts the boundaries of one’s own sexual essence, while still wanting to experience some aspect of the other sexual essence.  Consequently, one assumes the role of the other sexual essence in order to fulfill one’s desires.  The second is challenging the boundaries of the sexual essences.  This means that one desires some aspect of what he currently considers in the province of the other sexual essence, but instead of reversing roles in order to satisfy his desire, he challenges his current conception of his gender role and attempts to expand it to include the aspect that he desires.

Role Reversal

In pegging, the penetrative partner is necessarily inverted: the female partner is penetrating the male partner with a strap-on.  However, this does not mean that there is role reversal taking place, unless one’s conception of masculinity and femininity are rigidly and restrictively defined.  If one thinks that enjoyment of anal stimulation is outside the boundary of masculinity and is entirely in the province of the feminine, then a man enjoying anal stimulation is engaging in a feminine activity: they have reversed roles.  However, this is dependent on how you define the boundaries of masculinity and femininity.  Most people’s conceptions of their sexual essences are very culturally influenced.  Realistically, most people have never thought about what it means to be masculine or feminine and to the extent they can even articulate their thoughts on the matter, they will adhere to the traditional conception of their culture as this is all they know of the sexual essences.

This failure to form independent conceptions of the sexual essences, leads one to have restrictive and rigid conceptions of the boundaries of the sexual essences.  In fact, because one has never thought about the boundaries of the sexual essences, one cannot challenge these boundaries.  Consequently, if one wants to experience a particular activity or manner of behavior that one considers to be of the other sexual essence, one has no option but to assume the other essence in order to experience the thing that one wants.  If, for example, a woman thinks that only men can be sexually aggressive and, yet, she desires to be sexually aggressive, then she will have to assume a male sexual essence in order to be sexually aggressive.  Since her conception of the sexual essences is rigid, restrictive, and unarticulated, she has no choice but to engage in role reversal in order to have the experience she desires.  To the extent to which she fails to think about the nature of femininity, is the extent to which she will feel trapped inside her conception of femininity and desire to reverse roles in order to experience more of her sexuality.  Were she to consciously think about her conceptions of the sexual essences, then she could attempt to test the boundaries of it and challenge its restrictiveness.

On the other hand, some people gain a perverse pleasure from role reversal and do not want to challenge their rigid and restrictive conceptions of the sexual essences.  For example, if you’re a man that’s convinced that men should never be penetrated, that only homosexual men could want to be penetrated, then you might want to act feminine in order to not “be gay.”  This fear of being gay, or of having a “gay pleasure,” leads to you more strongly embrace the rigid categories in order to utilize acting feminine as a way around having to think about yourself as gay.  After all, it’s perfectly within the realm of the feminine to be penetrated and as long as you are acting feminine, then you’re not gay.  This line of reasoning is, of course, completely absurd.  However, it is a logical consequence of a cultural conception of masculinity that completely excludes any sort of anal pleasure, branding it all as homosexual.  The solution is obviously to challenge the prevailing ideas about what masculinity is and is not, but if your conception of this is inarticulate, then you will not be able to challenge it.

Challenging Boundaries

In order to test the boundaries of the sexual essences, one must first attempt to consciously understand the sexual essences: one must be able to articulate one’s conceptions of the sexual essences.  Once one is able to articulate his conception of the sexual essences, then he will be able to identify the boundaries of the sexual essences.  This step is crucial as until one can understand the boundaries of the sexual essences, one is trapped inside his conception of his sexual essence.  This ability to articulate one’s conception of the sexual essences involves much introspection and thinking about not only what one thinks that the sexual essences are, but also about what one thinks that the sexual essences should be. This articulation of the sexual essences is the first step away from restrictive and rigid conceptions of the sexual essences.  Until we can consciously examine our conceptions of the sexual essences, we cannot challenge them.

Testing the boundaries of the sexual essences is much like the case of role reversal, where one has a desire for an action or activity that one thinks is characteristic of the other sexual essence.  However, instead of being locked in a rigid and restrictive conception of one’s sexual essence, one now has a conscious grasp on it and is able to examine it.  This leads one to ask why certain actions or activities are only for one of the sexual essences and not for the other.  Consequently, instead of reversing roles in order to fulfill one’s desires, one challenges the boundaries of one’s own sexual essences to see if they are able to include the thing that one desires.  For example, if a man wants to be sexually passive in a sexual encounter and is unwilling or unable to challenge the boundaries of the sexual essences, then he will have to assume the feminine sexual essence and reverse roles.  However, if he is able to challenge the boundaries of the sexual essences, then he can try being sexually passive while still retaining his masculinity.  This could be done by finding a partner who enjoys being dominant or a partner who is willing to change roles with him and be sexually active sometimes and passive others.  This means that he could still be masculine, that is experience himself as an embodied sexual man, while being passive in a sexual situation.

Once we begin the process of testing the boundaries of our sexual essences, we are better able to examine the boundaries of our own personal sexual desires.  Whereas formerly we might have thought that a particular action or activity was closed off to us, or at least without assuming the other sexual essence through role reversal, we are now free to explore what we actually want through exploring the boundaries of our sexual essence.

Boundaries Redefined

In “On Pegging,” I noted that our cultural conception of masculinity is based on domination of the feminine, while our conception of femininity is based on submission to the masculine.  Furthermore, I noted that it makes more sense to understand masculinity as rooted in the unique experience of being an embodied man in a sexual situation and to understand femininity as rooted in the unique experience of being an embodied woman in a sexual situation.  In order to understand how these two different ideas of the sexual essences interact, we have to understand that our experience of our sexual essence is structured by our cultural conceptions of our sexual essences.  These structures create boundaries for our sexual essences, based on the cultural conceptions.  Thus, if we allow our personal conception of our sexual essence to be structured by the cultural conception of it, then we will find boundaries on our sexuality corresponding to the cultural conceptions.  To be somewhat more concrete, if I allow my conception of my masculinity to be structured by the cultural conceptions, then I will not simply experience my masculinity as being an embodied male in a sexual context, but rather experience it as structured through the idea of domination, and bounded by the idea of appropriateness for domination.

Pegging, when used as a form of gender play, is great for helping us to challenge these boundaries in our conceptions of the nature of masculinity and femininity.  A woman who does not engage in role reversal when she engages in pegging, necessarily challenges her conception of femininity as submission to the masculine, if she still maintains such a view, since the idea of submission and penetrating her male partner with a strap-on are completely incompatible.  Now, one might think that a woman would not necessarily understand that this challenges her rigid conception of her femininity, but she would be unable not to understand this.  We all, to the extent that we have thought about it, understand masculinity and femininity to be sexual concepts.  It is impossible to think of a woman, who is engaging in pegging without engaging in role reversal, who understands that she is in a sexual situation, who is doing something that is blatantly contradictory to the cultural conception of her sexual essence, and to think that this would not challenge her idea of her femininity.  The only way that it could not is if she were to purposefully evade all knowledge of what she is doing, but that does not seem possible to maintain: especially while one is doing it.

Obviously, the biggest challenge from pegging is to a man’s conception of his masculinity: it is difficult to combine the ideas of being anally penetrated by a woman with a strap-on with the idea of concurrently dominating her.  As we noted earlier, the only way around this is to think that this means that the man is acting feminine (role reversal) or to challenge how he thinks of masculinity in order to accommodate anal pleasure.  If he does not engage in role reversal, then he will experience pegging as a challenge to his masculinity, as long as he maintains the rigid and narrow conception of it.  However, if he were to challenge his conception of his masculinity, then he will be able to accommodate anal pleasure into his conception of masculinity.  It is simply impossible to try to combine the ideas of masculinity as domination and being anally penetrated together.  The man who engages in pegging, without engaging in role reversal, will necessarily come to redefine his idea of masculinity.

Pegging as Perversion

Unfortunately, some men are so afraid of being considered gay, that they cannot accept the possibility of anal pleasure as part of masculinity.  These men, as I noted earlier, cling to their rigid and narrow conceptions of the sexual essences, instead of trying to think about them openly or challenge them.  Consequently, they take refuge in role reversal for psychologically unhealthy reasons: to escape from the contradiction between their desire for pegging and their conception of masculinity as domination and to escape their responsibility to think about it.  They shield themselves in role reversal in order to enjoy anal pleasures without the fear of being gay.

However, this is even more inane than it appears prima facie.  The strongest and most cogent denouncements of homosexuality come from arguments about the nature of masculinity and femininity and how homosexuality is a perversion of one’s natural sexual essence.  This is obviously based on the idea that the natural ordering is between the masculine and the feminine, since the nature of the masculine is to dominate the feminine and the nature of the feminine is to submit to the masculine.  So, the denouncement is contingent upon the conception of the sexual essences that would be challenged by openly thinking about the sexual essences.  Thus, the more he hides in role reversal from his fear of homosexuality, the more he is bound into the conception of the sexual essences that creates his fear in the first place!  There is, in fact, nothing unnatural about homosexuality and this is obvious once we abandon the impoverished conceptions of the sexual essences that are so culturally prominent.

However, while pegging used for role reversal is perverse if one is using it to evade the responsibility of thought, pegging as role reversal is not necessarily perverse.  If a man wanted to assume the role of the woman, or a woman wanted to assume the role of the man, so that they could experience a little of what it was like to be the other sex in order to better understand their partner, or even the other sex in general, this would be legitimate.  The perversity of using pegging as role reversal comes from trying to escape the responsibility of thought and from this being a denial of reality.  In cases where pegging as role reversal do not involve evasion, they are not perverse.

Stages of Gender Play

From the way I have presented pegging as a form of gender play, it may seem that I am advocating the position that pegging as gender play goes through a definite series of discrete steps as a person begins pegging and gradually changes how they think about the sexual essences.  To some extent I am putting forth this position, however I am not strictly advocating that this process is necessary.  Indeed, a person may have been very conscientious and have introspected carefully throughout his life so that he never held an inarticulate view of the sexual essences.  This person will obviously not proceed through the process, as he will never be at step one (he might have progressed to a proper conception of the sexual essences before he ever tried pegging).

In general, though, I do think that this is the way that most people will progress through their conception of their sexual essence as they utilize pegging as a form of gender play.  They begin with an inarticulate conception of the nature of the sexual essences and they are slowly forced to consider the nature of these as they being pegging.  The only exception to this, as I noted earlier, is the perverse case of pegging that is born of the fear of homosexuality.

Conclusions

So, as we have seen, pegging is not just about prostate pleasure for men.  While pegging as a form of gender play can be perverse, it can also help us to come to understand ourselves and our sexuality better.  Through pegging, people can challenge their inarticulate ideas about the sexual essences and come to have clearer conceptions of these that are devoid of metaphysically dubious baggage.  Pegging can help us to understand our sexuality at the most basic of levels and help us to realize our sexual desires authentically.

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2 Responses to “On Pegging 2”


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