Body / Cock: The Body That is Not Personal

This is how I learn to live life with death as my equal

art by imp kerr

While there is still enough estrogen to bind onto membrane receptors in my medial prefrontal cortex, here is a memory encountered through hormones:

In 1999, I’m six, and I know about anthrax, AIDS, and cancer. Chemo drugs are being pumped out of my mother’s body because at this point they don’t know to try radiation first. The attending nurse comes in and reports that there is a 50% chance that breast cancer will be passed onto my brother and me. “Even him?” my dad asked about my brother. “Even him,” confirmed the nurse. Now they are looking at me. 

But I am looking at the brown and green sludge travel backwards through the IV. These days I wonder why my mother never got a double-mastectomy—but this is the woman who chose her American name Tiffany after the diamonds.

After my mother dies, I am the last of what she was, and this is how I learn to live life with death as my equal.

 
I am a dude who was born with a cunt and a conscience. To make things a little more complicated: I am a dude who was born into the hyper-sexualized body of a Vietnamese-American woman. 

The context of Vietnamese femininity opens up every part of my body to fetishization: my skin, eyes, fingers, feet exist to be jacked off or to be jacked off to. I could never understand how to be fe/male without being fucked in and out of it. I am contained by this body of erogenous zones––my bodycock

In the cephalic world––that is, the world that is related to the head––man’s most consistent reaction to the fact that we must die is to dream up new worlds to die into. For if life had no meaning, all would be chaos, and we would be destined for nothing more than a primordial soup made of shit, piss, and cum. The body is nothing but a nuisance, its physiological functions a daily reminder of this reality. So it must be forgotten. The cephalic world makes for its god the Cartesian man, a model of knowing where a self is constructed so that its own body may be left behind. 

For the bodies born under the sign of Descartes, gender operates on denying the existence of bodies. For example: a body is looked at and named female, binding the presentation of gender to strict binaries that don’t allow variations to be visible. And since in the Cartesian world, seeing is knowing, being visible means being possible. Meaning is constructed through terms which highlight the differences between the observer and the observed. I see this female body: it is not me. I am not female. All that can be knowable is difference.

In making a meaningful self, our own bodies are left behind. If I am not the body I have, if the body I have cannot be related back into the binary order and made meaningful and thus possible, the body I have is unknowable and impossible. To make this body meaningful, we must decapitate the Cartesian man in favor of a method of knowing that can affirm this impossible body. So, in exchange for a construction of bodies that relates a self to an other, let’s begin to think of our bodies through self-related differences: a method of knowing that holds the colon, a labyrinth of shit, as its authority rather than the mind.  

Remember that the body serves as a reminder that there may be no transcendence, only waste. The body is where reason comes undone. Where reason becomes shit. A method of knowing that puts this at its center cannot create meaning, nor selves that are abstracted from the body. If the Other is the site of Cartesian knowledge, our own bodies are the site of self-related knowledge. It can be understood through things like: déjà vu, the feeling of being watched, or shivering when you’re not cold. In a self-related body, things can only be described. My bodycock is one type of this self-related body. It is my dysphoric body. 

I am not any more or less uncomfortable with myself knowing that I am not female than I was before. Since my bodycock is formed by the fetishization of nongenital appendages and surfaces, it makes known that gender, for me, is undefined. When I experience gender dysphoria, it is not directly linked to genitalia, since, as a bottom, it does not matter to me whether the cock I have will be organic. Besides, gender has always been the least persistent aspect of my sexual identity. Rather, the question is whether medical intervention has the capacity to transform the knowledge afforded to me by my bodycock. Am I alive or just sexualized? 

 
Desire can be thought of as the tension between who you want to be and who you want to fuck. Previous attempts to radicalize non(hetero)normative fucking have run up against the lack of language to articulate this porous relationship between sexuality and gender. This queer affectation has no legibility under the psychoanalytic construction of sexuality that tries to move bodies and desires towards hetero(normative)sexuality. That’s why Paul B. Preciado did us all a solid when he wrote about this in the Counter-sexual Manifesto.

In the heterocentrist world, desire (roughly) works like this: the people with cunts are jealous of the people with dicks, and the people with dicks wanna fuck the cunts they came out of. People like trans men become a mere expression of cunts being jealous of those dicks. But what this version of sexuality, as told through psychoanalytic diagnonsense, constantly forgets is that sex is a sensual experience, meaning power must be equally so. Preciado: “It’s time for philosophy to learn from the dildo.”

The dildo hacks a feminist masculinity from the heterocentrist world by presenting gender as something which extends beyond the hierarchical presentation and form of genitalia used to underscore the Oedipal tension between the two sexes. In the Oedipal world, we know that gender is constructed through the sex act because the names “male” and “female” are defined by the relationship of dick to hole. 

Lacan gives us the construction of the penis, the biological sexual organ of the male, as separate from the phallus: any privileged signifier that returns desire back to the heterocentrist order. The assertion of cis feminist theory that lesbians who use a dildo to fuck each other don’t qualify as lesbians because of their invocation of the phallus is an example of how the construction of homosexuality is contingent on its recuperation into heterocentricity. 

In general, those who use dildos do not have biodicks. Further, heterocentrist psychology and medical pathology asserts that bodies with biodicks who use dildos only do so when the natural organ malfunctions: due to homosexuality, accident, or illness. The practice of assigning sex to intersex babies, where the difference between male and female is a question of mere centimeters, further illustrates that for a biodick to be considered phallic, it must be erect. Thus, the dildo, because of its proximity and inherent externality to the sexual organ and its use as a replacement of the natural organ when it fails, occupies the space in between the phallus and penis. 

The phallus, says Preciado, is god, and the dildo killed it: “If the penis is to sexuality what God is to nature, then in the domain of sexual relationships the dildo brings about God’s death.” If the dildo, as an external object which produces the ideal of the penis as that which symbolizes patriarchy, makes, because of its excellence, the biodick obsolete as a signifier of the patriarchy, then the bodies which use dildos to fuck do so outside of heterocentricity. Preciado calls this wonderous psychoanalytic double reach-around dildonics, and it opens us to the possibility that FTM and non-cis masculinity can be distinct from patriarchal masculinity.

 
When I come out to T he says that it’s okay because he is attracted to femininity and not necessarily the female body. We are two Asian-American gender non-conforming bodies staring back at each other: the hormonal construction “T” that distinguishes a virgin, pre-T body from itself. 

There is an unspoken understanding of the nuanced codes of Asian masculinity and femininity, under which we are both subject. Its malleability in the American context begs the question of whether race or gender determines the type of domination on a body in any given moment. When the racialized body experiences hormonal change, the external relationship of its body to the world around it stays more or less the same. The question of race is undoubtedly gendered, but gender alone does not answer it.

My bodycock existed before I started hormones, before I knew what domination meant, before I experienced gender. A body is looked at, named female, and makes absent the presence of a body. My female body has always been dead. But absence is just the phenomena of listening before you speak. Bodycock is sensual awareness. Since is not interested in utility or names, or in words like subjectivity that deny the body in order to talk about it, transition does not move a body from one code into another. It merely opens another channel through which we can listen. Like masochism, it is one of the body’s ways of speaking: a language which describes but cannot define. 

In this self-related difference, I am only physiology: synapses firing around the Pineal I. Regardless of whether it is masochist or trans, my dysphoric body is first and foremost an impossible body when I fuck with my bodycock: without femininity, masculinity, and outside the constraints of my racialized body. 

 
Preciado’s dildo fucks capitalism in the ass every time he fucks. But I am a bottom and can barely plug the charger into the wall socket. The masculinity I need to imagine cannot maintain the psychoanalytic technicality that puts plastic pleasure at the center of what separates FTM being from the patriarchy. 

Dildonics is the view of subjectivity from the top: it assumes that masculinity is associated with agency, and that the FTM gender identity intersects with its sexuality wherever pleasure is produced by a bodily organ. Since the production of pleasure is contingent on the agency of an extremity’s proximity to genitalia, bottoms remain bound to our passivity, since in this case, our pleasure can only be a consequence of our relation to the top. But because power is a sensual experience, the masculinity I need cannot be all in the head. 

Philosophy has something to learn from the dildo, but it has a lot more to learn from those who take them. As a bottom who is transitioning, I am concerned with transforming the affective qualities of penetration. Instead of ascendant relationships, let’s say between femininity and masculinity, there can be complementary relationships. Sadomasochism (s/m) offers a way for one to negotiate this self-related difference.

S/m allows for intimate, penetrative experiences that don’t focus on genitalia, meaning that sexuality can be experienced as something separate from gender. Sadomasochism does not assume a relationship of domination and submission, making it a distinct form of BDSM play that is focused, first and foremost, on sensation. The imbalance of power contained in the roles of top and bottom remains, but is rearticulated in the language of the body.

Remember that bodycock is a sensual awareness concerned with describing, not defining. Knowledge meets my bodycock and changes its constitution, but my shape still remains the same. Bodycock inherits everything it used to be. 

Masochists differentiate themselves from other bottom roles through their prioritization of extreme experiences. Where a sadist knows to stop when something becomes uncomfortable, a masochist insists on experiencing what lies on the other side of that discomfort. Just as in times of intense fear and threat, the I who observes dissolves into the eye that sees, the phallus into the bodycock. Hyper-sensitivity opens up to heightened self-awareness, and it is in this self-shattering clarity that racial and gendered qualities of power become subsumed into our biological imperative to survive. The transformative moment happens when the pain of being registers in the basal ganglia as pleasure. 

 
The last gasp of 2012 Williamsburg hipsters. At 285 Kent, Glasslands, and the Alligator Lounge: may the aluminum foil on this Modelo bloody your drunk fingers.

P and I settle into a six flogger, two knife session.

The pain: I can’t tell which flogger came when, but there were at least 5 different weights (at least two came in pairs) and one paddle, and I haven’t even gotten to the knives yet. Let me think past the rage and to the sensations. To the pain.

It feels like the scene didn’t even happen. It’d make sense to start at the climax but I am still on the moon. P has two knives, a longer forest green one with a curved tip and a shorter one made out of tusk that’s sharp. You scrape the flat blade of the knife up and down skin first for a sample of intensity of pain while knowing for sure it’s not drawing blood. Pin pricks with the tip of the blade condition you to the depth it’ll go in. Quick, long, drags that get deeper and deeper get push you closer to the point you feel your skin break. 

I am so happy when I see the blood. I’m so proud of myself for getting there and seeing two girls fuck each other next to us because of it.

Leave it to the vanillas to get all offended when they stick their noses in business that isn’t theirs. At least twice someone approaches P (not me) to make sure everything is ok. I am turning the sharp pain of the knotted flogger into major side eye at them and then laughing because the space between tragedy and comedy passes in a second.

At one point it gets so much, the flat stinging pain, on the same spots it’s been applied to all night, that I start crying. Language fails or I am too much in subspace. Crying is another limit like orgasm and laughter. 

The body in parts: because we’ll only ever have each other in parts. These are the categories of you in ways you don’t necessarily identify as at first, even though you can’t help being them. 

 
Recently, I went to the doctor for cancer genetics testing. There is no variation in the BRCA genes that would indicate that the breast cancer my mother had was genetic. This was disappointing, because I would have to find some other way for my insurance to cover top surgery. And it was disappointing because the psychological doom contained in the possibility of a positive result, a doom I’ve carried with me since childhood, was still not alleviated. But sometimes, expectations can outlive their applications.

What masochism and transition have in common for me is the struggle to control the physical in the face of my body’s material reality: in the face of death. Someone is looked at, named female, and makes impossible the presence of the body. My bodycock castrates the Cartesian man so that I can turn inward. I want this body that is impossible: the body that is not personal, that is untheoretical, that lives, eats, shits, and dies. I’ll build this impossible body from a body that was once called female, from the absence that was its name. Cucking death, I make this life from my madness. 

 
Needle play is all about the sensation of discomfort. For this reason, I insisted on taking my T injections intramuscularly. 

The surface of the body is fairly easy to puncture. A bevel needle is cut at an angle, not sharpened at its tip. This is what allows it to push through the homeostasis that keeps bodily fluids from seeping out the pores of the skin. 1.5 inches into the Vastus Lateralis (the glutes), two fingers away from the Femoral nerve. 22 gauge is authentic displacement: pushing through a nerve, moving the grain of a muscle. The body expresses no fight or flight response. If one were to flex at the moment this equilibrium is broken, the grain of the muscle could be felt as vibrations in the plastic syringe while endorphins flood the space behind the eyes.  

Feeling skin from inside, bright and stingy from the cold and hard rubbing up against it. Deep discomfort you can feel from your deepest organ, your bones. It’s important to pull back on the syringe to know you haven’t hit a vein, but the blood at the site of injection means it’s ok to pass through one. The slight pinch of a nerve means it’s gone somewhere it’s not supposed to be. Pushing on, the pressure of injection opens intramuscular pathways, bloating tendrils that distribute an intense will through the blood. One part of my self has resolved. I can no longer think as I speak. 

Something is missing; something is freed up.