It was that part of the night where the non-smokers start sidling up to you and begging for alms. Flush with duty free goodies, I was doling them out like sweeties, giggling when their delicate oesophagi encountered the hardcore that is Chinese Marlboro reds. As is the way with booze-fuelled conversations, we skipped from subject to subject; I went on a particularly incoherent version of my "marriage? What the fuck is that about?" rant, demanded life histories of anyone and everyone, and, inevitably, we ended up on bisexuality. (Until fairly recently, basically everyone I was close to was either a gay lady or a straight man. Which is fine, but sometimes you just need to talk about dick, you know? With someone who isn't your mum. Thus the addition of a Heterosexual Lady Friend and a couple of comings-out of the woodwork-closet are extremely welcome.) (Vaguely-related aside: I think it may serve the revolution better if I refer to my two closest pals as Straight Best Friend and White Best Friend, respectively. That should fix things.) (I think about this too much.)
So BBFF observed that, for him, divvying up his romantic history into dudes and ladies was akin to distinguishing between blondes and brunettes: a completely arbitrary distinction. We whizzed on to another topic before I could figure out exactly why that didn't ring true for me, so, in true overthinking it fashion, I've been mulling on it for a couple of weeks and will now blog the fuck out of it.
I think it's to do with expectations, with accepted scripts. Cliff Pervocracy talks brilliantly about this with regard to poly relationships and kink: because 'kink' contains such multitudes, you can't just whack someone on the butt and hope they're into it. You might as well strap them up to a cart and put a saddle on them and hope that's what they were after. The only way to find out what they want, whether that meshes with what you want, and how you might both go about getting off is - horrors! to ask them.
Similarly, when romancing girls, the Boy Meets Girl / Boy Hits On Girl / Kissing / Touching Above The Waist / Touching Below The Waist / Waggle Penis In Vagina / Snooze plan of action doesn't apply - because no one's a boy. The simple fact of not resembling the characters in every blah blah romcom ever means that it's that much harder to fall into the well-worn path of least resistance: instead of trying to squeeze yourselves into the oddly-shaped spaces represented by Lustful Boy and Willing Girl, you have to write your own story. Like Cliff says: "There’s no conventional
path-of-least-resistance way to date three people, so you have to
work it out among yourselves."
Then there's the crotchy bits themselves: if we're talking about cis people, it is, generally speaking, easier to give a guy a good time. Obviously it will be better if you're paying attention, and ask questions, and make sure you're doing whatever it is that makes him feel like WOAH than the thing that will just result in a functional orgasm, but - all else being equal, going in with no knowledge of a particular chap's particular predilections, you can probably bring things to a fruitful conclusion. With a woman, it doesn't really matter what the last six girls you slept with liked: you need to know how her junk works, and to do that, you're just going to have to ask. Doing something delightful there when she wants you to do it two millimeters to the left (to the left) is probably going to be worse than useless.
I mean, it's not like it's impossible to avoid the Dominant Relationship Narratives when you're shacking up with a dude, as demonstrated by the fact that I live with a very heterosexual straight man and have yet to use our washing machine, while he quakes in fear at the prospect of using a screwdriver. (This is not a double entendre.) It's just a lot easier, when you hit a bump in the road, to reach for a pre-approved script, rather than diving into the messy and painful - and ultimately liberating - process of figuring out what it is you actually need.