is to date a menfolk person with a penis. To clarify, when I use the term menfolk I mean people who are men or have an identity that leaves room for a recognizance of the maleness of their experience. For example, I would consider myself to be inside of both the categories menfolk and womenfolk because my identity is recognizant of both the maleness and femaleness of my experience. When I use the term penis, I mean any genitalia that the particular individual who owns it calls or recognizes as including a penis (in the same way that I do not call my genitals a vagina, but I recognize that my genitals include a vagina).
So yeah, menfolk person with a penis.
And I think it’s important that I clarify why this is not fetishizing of menfolk people with penises, because, really, if a person said to me that their new year’s resolution was to date someone of a particular identity or genital configuration, I’d probably call them out on it.
First off, I’m not gonna just date any dude who offers. It’s not about dating absolutely any menfolk person with a penis just so I can try it out and say I did it. It’s about pushing myself to actually try and connect with a guy in a way that I haven’t even attempted to in years.
I’ve known I liked menfolk since I was 4 years old. I started dating menfolk when I was 10, and was certifiably boy crazy by the time I was, we’ll say, 12. And then I discovered womenfolk. I identified as bisexual and then discovered the term queer and used that because I always knew that there was more to it for me than an attraction to men and an attraction to women. I have always, always maintained an identity that spoke to my attraction to a variety of genders and bodies, and as I’ve gotten older, the range of genders and bodies I find attractive has grown and refined. I have always insisted both publicly and internally that I am as open to dating menfolk as I am to womenfolk. Still, every person I have dated from the age of 15 until now (that’s about 5 years)—with the exception of two not-so-enjoyable dates at the very beginning of that era—has been womenfolk. One person came out as trans after we started dating, so obviously ze counts as menfolk as well, but ze was not menfolk when we met, so the thesis that I have not pursued a connection with a menfolk person in a long time still stands.
These last 5 years have greatly dwarfed the 5 years preceding them in terms of the number of people I’ve dated and how seriously I weigh their impact on me. Despite my declarations to the contrary, I lead an entirely woman-centric life. I’m pretty sure that most people think of me as a person who dates exclusively womenfolk, and that my own image of my dating life typically positions me that way as well. I don’t even really have any friends with penises; I’ve just sort of managed to build a life that didn’t need menfolk in it. And I’ve blamed men for it, but it’s just as much my fault. Sure, the one time I did actually try to date a cisguy he had serious enough qualms about my lack of penis that we never ended up going out, but that’s one time. It’s one dude who needs to work out his own issues. You can’t try one time and then say it’s never gonna happen.
I think it is true that I connect with fewer menfolk, but I think it’s also true that a lot of the time I don’t allow myself to believe that such a connection is possible. There have been a few guys with whom I’ve sort of danced around the idea of liking, but I never gave it the kind of focus that I would have given to a similar situation with a womenfolk person. I think some people would see that as evidence that I’m not really into men, but I just can’t see it that way. Instead, I view it as evidence that I am holding myself back because I’ve stopped seeing menfolk as a real possibility.
So this is not fetishizing because it’s not about the body or the identity so much as it’s about pushing myself to not be a coward anymore. I’m not trying something new, I’m trying to make sure that I do something I’ve always known I wanted to. Realizing that my attraction to men was queer was an important and freeing moment in my life, but that was years ago and I haven’t done anything with the knowledge. It’s time I did something with that freedom.