Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

All that sheltering emptiness

Filed By Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore | June 24, 2008 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: feminism, gay sex, lotion, New York, objectification, rape, sex work, sexual pleasure

I always liked hotel lobbies, the chandeliers and so much ceiling I'd yawn like I was oblivious, really I was trying not to go in the wrong direction. If I made a mistake then the key was to act like it was the funniest thing, oh I'm so relaxed! I developed fantasies about what the receptionist did and did not know, fantasies that might involve mischief if our eyes met in a certain way -- I wanted something like understanding, I'm not sure I would have called it that.

This particular hotel was the Hyatt or one of those chains, right on Central Park and the lobby wasn't on the ground level -- more exclusive that way, the place was fancier than I'd expected. The mirrors sparkled and everything looked freshly-designed -- camel, auburn, amber -- a little different from the standard beige. I imagined the views were spectacular since the hotel was right on Central Park but tricks always have their curtains drawn, they don't want anyone to see anything not even the trees. This guy had the features of someone very popular in the '80s, swept-back hair and still a walled muscularity, disdain in his eyes he wanted to give me a massage, sure. He rubbed the hotel lotion into my back, something awful and floral-scented -- strong hands I always needed a massage.

Of course then he was grinding on top of me, dick teasing my asshole -- this was no surprise. Then his dick slid in, so easy and dangerous this was also familiar. I allowed a few thrusts so I could relax, then I said oh I need you to put on a condom. I was thinking about the lotion, what good would the condom do with lotion -- maybe I should get a washcloth. His dick remained in my ass, so different when it slides in smoothly like foreplay instead of that desperation, push push push. I started to push myself upright, he was heavy on top of me, still thrusting as I struggled to get onto my knees I'll admit it was hot then he slammed me down on the bed. Oh. This is what's happening: his weight on my back he's holding me down I'm not sure I can get him off me.

I assessed the situation -- maybe I was distant, I mean I thought about screaming but what would that do -- hotel security, they have ways of dealing with situations but nothing that would help me. Maybe no one would arrive at all, bruises or blood and more rage directed my way. At least I wasn't in pain, my asshole was relaxed I was still hard he was fucking me faster I didn't want him to come in my ass, that was the important thing. Come on my face, I said -- pull out and come on my face, I want your come on my face I want to eat your come. I wasn't sure if he was listening but then he did pull out and I rolled onto my back, he straddled me with shit on his dick in my face, jerking fast and moaning I could feel his come in between my chin and neck I closed my eyes.

The bathroom was always where I'd go to breathe; in the shower I was shaking, soft towel, just hurry up I need cocktails. Studying myself in the mirror before opening the door, do my eyes look okay? Back to the trick, he had his clothes on he wasn't smiling or frowning I wondered how often he did this. He handed me 250 in three crisp bills, I smiled and said thanks, I was glad for the money I wanted to think it was worth it.

Back into the elevator, it opened automatically at the lobby so the staff could pretend not to stare in, then downstairs to the ground level past those spotless mirrors, glass doors and then I was outside. Walking fast through the wind like everything and nothing mattered I wanted safety; I hailed a cab.

If I say that cocktails cleared my head, then you know that all my analysis failed me: I didn't want to use the word rape. I didn't tell anyone, I felt stupid; I thought it was my fault. Yes, there was force; no, he didn't pull out when I asked him to -- but otherwise how was this trick different from every other guy who just slid it in? Every guy who assumed that if his dick was near my asshole and I was enjoying the proximity, that gentle tease, the security of arousal -- then forget about words, my consent had arrived. Consent to get fucked. Consent to get fucked without a condom.

New York is a lonely place, it was a lonely place for me eight years ago. I felt stupid because I couldn't use language to help -- I was nervous that my friends would think I was someone to worry about. I thought maybe this was a trauma to push aside, with bigger issues in the picture, from a childhood of my father splitting me open to the overwhelm of the everyday. If consent was already assumed in the public sexual cultures where I searched for beauty amid the ruthlessness of objectification without appreciation, then what about the rooms where I swallowed cock for cash? I didn't want to call it rape because it felt so commonplace. Except for the shaking afterwards.
(This is my column in the current issue of make/shift)

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That was rape, Mattilda.

And I totally understand what you're saying about people putting their dicks up to an asshole and thinking that means consent. I just don't think that that's something that's talked about all too much among gay men and they think it's OK. It's not. There's a line there.