Friday, September 22, 2006

Is that all there is?

The other day, I mis-typed 'casual sex' as 'causal sex'. Freudian slip?

Been wondering lately about the divide some people need to create between 'stifling co-dependent married relationship' and 'casual emotionless fucking'.

Is that all there is? asks Peggy Lee

...And when I was 12 years old, my father took me to the circus, the greatest show on earth.
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.
And as I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don't know what, but when it was over, I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a circus?"

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

Then I fell in love, with the most wonderful boy in the world.
We would take long walks by the river or just sit for hours gazing into each other's eyes.
We were so very much in love.
Then one day, he went away.
And I thought I'd die- but I didn't.
And when I didn't I said to myself, "Is that all there is to love?"

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing...

Here is a tute paper that I wrote in 2004. Think I have quoted part of it before, but its something I need to keep working on. When I read my latest 'relationship' disaster through it I'm not sure what it says about either of us... Can you casually fuck someone you are in love with?

'Casual Encounters, Intimacy and Embodiment- are love and sex really opposites?

Part One- Doing it man-style

Casual sex is sex without feelings, or so the common discourse goes.The thought that it is possible to have sex occurring as an entitydiscrete from love or intimacy, is one that for a long time appealedto me. Especially when I came out as queer, when I started questioningthe ways that society expected me –particularly as a woman- to desire,to fuck, to play, to relate to other genders and my own. For a while Iwanted to prove that I could 'do it like a man', however that was, toprove that the stereotype of woman as not being able to separatephysical intimacy from emotional intimacy did not apply to me. I could be rational, detached, masculine- I could take my mind and emotionsand put them in another place while my body got down and dirty. I could hide from the dangers of 'love' in dark corners and I roamed dance parties and nightclubs, huddled in cubicles with an ACON safe-sex pack and rarely asked for names.I still do this at times, but somehow it doesn't quite feel the same anymore. The labels don't seem to fit properly, don't seem to describethe contents accurately- sure, these affairs are 'anonymous' on a literal semantic level, you might even call them 'casual', but thefact that I don't know what their mothers call my partners doesn't mean that I don't know 'who' they are or that there is no love orintimacy in a fleeting encounter. I love these people through fucking them, by touch and breath and shiver and moan. They are my friends, my family, my community, my lovers.Increasingly, I find the divide between love and lust to be meaningless or contradictory to my life, the borders crumbled, and so here I am now, reading Michael Hurley's discussion of Gay Men and HIV.

Part Two- Is my meat emotional?

I have a tattoo on my hip which reads 'I am not only a human being, Iam a piece of meat', in a suitable purple meat-stamp design. Peoplelaugh when they see it, often nervously, or stare blankly trying todecipher some meaning in the inscription. This is my response to the'I'm not just a piece of meat, I'm a human being' retort I remembergirls screaming at lusty boys when I was younger- I AM MEAT, I AM EMBODIED AND I WILL WRITE THIS ON MY SKIN IN A PERMANENT SCAR, I WILLNOT FORGET THIS. 'Its as though the person experiencing the emotionshas no body' says Hurley as he describes how physical pleasures aredenied a place within understandings of feelings. Lust is the experience of bodily sensations, feeling its greater and bodiless counterpart. 'The mind and the soul become 'higher faculties', the body is 'animal' and feeling is split off from and privileged oversensation', which applied to sexual interactions forces this opposition between sex and intimacy.I can't concede that my emotions are separable from my bones and blood, I insist that my feelings are situated in this carcass. And I am not content to have any of the sex my friends or I have described as less worthy by virtue of its form.

Part Three- Regulation of gay relationships through public health campaigns

The HIV epidemic provided ammunition for governing bodies to furthermanipulate homosexual bodies and relationships through the rhetoric ofpublic health. Hurley argues that public health and health promotionact together to create particular ways of being gay; HIV campaignshave been used through the process of 'govermentality' to createcertain kinds of subjectivities; health promotion becomes a form ofsurveillance. It creates the dichotomy of long-term monogamous sexual relationships and casual sexual encounters, when there is a much morefluid continuum in play for many people, even in the 'normal,straight' world there are relationships that do not fall into eithercategory.'Love and intimacy become the official currency for sex' says Hurley,'say that you love me and you can have my arse'. This expresses the way that some gay people (and other sexually different people) buy into the above dichotomy of sex vs. intimacy, and attempt to fit theirbehaviours into the concepts of sexuality that society affords them.'If we are having casual sex, then at least we will pretend that itmay be something 'more', that it fits into the concept of intimacy that is dictated to us' I can hear them say, as they are coerced into believing that sex without intimacy is dirty, unhealthy,irresponsible- and possible.'Intimacy and love can be asked to mean too much, as can sex' Hurleystates. The HIV education has presumed that long-term partners aremore trustworthy than casual 'fuckbuddies', that risk in arelationship correlates to its duration. This attitude demeans the integrity of the type of sex a lot of gay men have, it denigrates theothers ways of knowing people that society could not be bothered learning. Hurley posits sex on premises venues, with their glory holes and anonymous encounters,as places to learn of other people's pleasures, and to me this is intimacy, it is knowing another. But some forms of knowing are valued above others, and this animal physicality does not carry the respectafforded other types of relating.

Questions to the class:
* Is there such a thing as disembodied love? Can love exist independently from the body?
* Is there able to be intimacy in casual sex? Is it always there? Never?

Hurley, M, 2003, Then and Now: Gay Men and HIV, Australian ResearchCentre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University. Melbourne


Blogger never too old said...

To paraphrase something I heard Jaqui, oh so eloquently say "If you don't give a fuck whether they fall under a bus why the fuck would you want to play with them?"

11:17 am  

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