It’s the perfect summer night, warm but breezy. As I cycle through Queen’s Park the shadows are buzzing with erotic energy. The darkness is full of circling silhouettes – clusters of men here and there, a pair up against a tree, a trio a little further off the path, others watching from the benches.
I’m envious. Why is it the fags get to have all the fun? Why do dykes not spontaneously take up public space for pleasurable purposes? Several possible explanations come to mind, and I don’t particularly like any of them.
The first is that women just aren’t as sexually driven as men, gay, straight or in between. Our innate biological need for sex isn’t the same, say some behavioral biologists, because it’s in our genes’ best interest to be selective about how we spend our reproductive potential.
Unlike men who, theoretically at least, win the evolutionary war by producing sperm like mad and sharing it far and wide in the hopes of increasing their genetic representation in the next generation, women are, theoretically at least, far more selective. Sperm is cheap, but carrying a child to term is very expensive. It’s in our best genetic interest to choose our partners carefully so that our relatively few kicks at the reproductive can will result in offspring that are more likely to survive to reproduce themselves. It’s a matter of quality versus quantity, and so women just aren’t innately inclined to lots of indiscriminate sex, or so the reasoning goes.
Needless to say this argument falls apart when you enter the realm of homo sex. But you don’t throw all of your hardwiring out the window just because one switch is flipped, so let’s consider the other important factor: self-determination.
We humans aren’t slaves to our genes. We’ve demonstrated time and time again that we’re willing and able to disrupt our basic biological imperatives in response to cultural influences. From suicide bombers to inexplicable acts of altruism, humans don’t always behave in ways that can be fully explained by our selfish genes.
In other words, as much as I believe that human behaviour is influenced by the unconscious desires that are a result of evolution – and believe me, as a former student of evolutionary biology, I do – biological interpretations of behaviour allow us to identify the starting point to overcoming our prudish nature. I lust, therefore I am.
Another possible explanation for the dearth of dyke park sex is the perceived risk factor. Girl children are taught early on to avoid dark, secluded areas where sexual predators might be lurking. But it’s these same dark, secluded areas that make for prime park-sex territory.
Clearly queer men know that there’s the possibility of being bashed when they’re partaking in public spaces. For the worst-case scenario, one need only think as far back as Aaron Webster, the gay man beaten to death by a group of young men in the cruisey area of Vancouver’s Stanley Park in 2001.
Is the risk higher for queer women than it is for men – too high to outweigh the potential pleasures to be gained? Or is it rather that dykes are preoccupied with the threat of rape rather than the threat of a beating, which then gets in the way of getting into the right frame of mind for anonymous sex?
Either way it seems that before women can enjoy the outdoors the way men do, there needs to be some effort made to create a minimum sense of security. There’s strength in numbers – would the guys in Queen’s Park welcome dykes into their fold? Or maybe we could establish a secret society of voyeuristic volunteers dedicated to staking out space and acting as perimeter guards?
Of course, it’s difficult to have anonymous sex without the anonymity part. Sometimes I think that grrrlz dismiss the idea of park sex for the same reason that some avoid Pussy Palace – the available pool of willing participants is just too small. Even if you do manage to hook up with some hot babe you’ve never seen before, chances are you have friends, if not exes, in common. Maybe we just haven’t hit critical mass yet. Maybe we’re just a couple dykes short of another sexual revolution.