Spontaneous Spectacle affects straight men, too

By David Bliss

Jens Tamang’s incisive February 19th article “On Things I’ve Heard in the Sauna” raised questions I have often considered myself, though it articulated them much more effectively. As a straight man, I have often found myself similarly subjected to what Tamang calls the “Spontaneous Spectacle” of latent sexuality in otherwise private areas. I do not react in any unusual way to homosexual PDAs, and the issue I wish to bring up is not about handholding or affection in public anyway. Like Tamang, I wish to draw attention to issues of behavior that is nominally not sexual in nature and which is not meant to be seen by me, but which nevertheless makes me, like Tamang, an unwilling voyeur.

Many have been the night I have unwittingly been made a victim of privacy invasion by women changing in full view of windows at night. In one incident, an attractive young lady disrobed and looked at herself in a mirror, fondling herself with the lights on, clearly aware that anyone sitting in a tree outside her third-story window would be made easily uncomfortable by this. And this was no isolated incident.

The Friday night after the first incident, I unexpectedly witnessed the women of the same house get together for drinks in their second-story common area. After some time, they began discussing and demonstrating what seemed to be oral sex techniques using bananas (though I may be mistaken about this, as the microphone I had placed in their houseplant was not functioning properly). I was already feeling like my privacy as a straight, treesitting male was being violated by this suggestive behavior.

Imagine, then, my discomfort when the women in the house began kissing and touching one another in a display which (to paraphrase Tamang’s piece) bore “remarkable verisimilitude to cheesy [lesbian] porn.” The problem here is the way the women in an all-female, sexually-liberated environment are privileged to be able to explore each other’s bodies in a way which victimizes straight men not expecting to be made lechers just by sitting in a tree outside the window.

Should these women be told to conform to heteronormative, patriarchal behavior which denies their alternate sexual desires even exist? No, of course not; they ought to do whatever makes them feel comfortable and emotiono-sexually fulfilled. To again paraphrase Tamang, “Just know that the ability to freely [have hot lesbian sex] comes to you at the expense of our peace of mind. If I traipse into the [tree outside your window] nude, not thinking anything of it, I will soon realize that there is indeed a protocol for where to look and how to act.”

I wish to close by making it clear why I felt compelled to write this piece: it is not to discourage free sexual expression among privileged cohabiting women. It is only to make it clear to all, including those who do not have the courage or ability to articulate my sentiment, that my own unwilling (and unwitting) voyeurism and discomfort is anyone’s fault but my own.