Judge not: Ten for Today


“I love your cute, little ass,” he always says, and every time he does, I guffaw, snort or giggle just a little. Not a tee hee, coy, embarrassed or flattered giggle either. It’s more disbelieving and cynical than that–way more.
 
Both parents at one time or another measured asses in the family. “Poor Pam. She has no ass,” I’ve heard my father say on more than one occasion. “Not like her sisters.” Nope, I’d silently always confirm the criticism because I’ve heard my mother respond to his remark with, “She has my ass, and I got my mother’s flat ass.”
 
I used to joke to people (still do) that I come from a long line of flat asses. I’d see body type illustrations, animated or real life, of the body labels “pear shape” or “spoon” in Cosmo or some other rag. Spoon, definitely spoon. Spoon has a long torso and convex posture–with a flat ass. Yep, spoon.
 
In my youth and young adulthood (the time when they could get away with that kind of crap), people would comment on my height. “Oh, she’s tall,” they’d say to my mom. “Yes, she takes after her 6’4″ father.” And the first time I met my mother in law at her suburban flat in Garches, just outside Paris, the first words she spoke upon seeing me were, “Elle est grande!” (She’s tall). France is short.
 
I’m 5’8″. I look up to meet the eyes of my 5’11” daughter. She’s tall, relative to other American women. I’m tall relative to the French. And all of this parceling of parts into categories to somehow order ourselves, well, I discouraged it raising my own children.
 
I explained to them how labeling others by body shape, color or size objectified people (in terms they could understand, of course). The brainwashing took, and now they berate my father, who habitually points to people’s fat, skinny, ugly, hairy, bow-legged, shapely, old, young, black, white, “oriental” (and more) selves.
 
More than PC, the de-labeling gives people a chance. It’s lazy and disinterested to sum people up by their parts. You can make snap judgments if you know their “type.” “Oh, she’s insecure and doesn’t date because she’s taller than most guys her age,” I’ve heard tell of my own daughter. And I still carry scars from those who–a la Trump–rated my body parts, a profiling which I swallowed as fact.
 
I know better now. The force-fed, culturally-created body ideals against which others (and I) measured myself bullshitted me for too long. My ass may be flat, cute, small, just right to onlookers. Bottom line (yep, I did that), I couldn’t s(h)it without it. Judge that.
 

Credit: spoon-silverware: pixabay

Bro-jobs in Salon

She told us, “They stop each other from killing each other by rub rub rubbing, until they come come come. And then have a banana together or something,” adding, “I think there’s a very positive and certainly very natural aspect to this.”

Despite this slightly offputting ending paragraph about rubbing-to-coming monkeys, I appreciated Salon’s broaching a risqué rather than sensationalized topic of real human behaviors that few, if any, in our still-so-homophobic culture here in the U.S. mention.

Of course, I’m a sucker for all things relationship-exploding. Not destructive eruptions, but exploding sedimented behaviors and expectations based on normativity, wether applicable to marital or sexual definitions, the kinds that clear the path to allowing a little reality to seep through.

Salon’s The “Bro Job”: Why “straight” men have sex with each other explores in an anthropology-light sort of way, the underpinnings of self-identifying heterosexual male sex with other men, reasons–if there need be–for its natural occurrence in what is for some, even many, an unnatural social order of human intimate relationships based on heterosexual monogamy.

Pointing out the diversity of male sexual appetite for meaningless as well as meaningful sex, the author explains how men sometimes want sex that is just…well, sex, not love-making or performance, just men enjoying what men do, for fun, release, something less demanding, I suppose, a more automatic, instinctual and non-committal release.

It makes sense to me. Men–and women–suffer under the continual obligation to try and understand another; sometimes the relief lies in just being what they are without apology.

Though the author is quick to point out that sexual politics and labeling are part of the problem too: so is a man who has sex with men and women automatically bisexual? Quickly jumping to labels is what others do to others to make themselves feel comfortable. But the label does not necessarily fit the identity of the labeled.

Fuck labels.

I recommend this quick and tactful read.

 

What’s in a Name? Are you a polyamorous pansexual?

A solar system a vortex,
some believe so,
the sun sucking in
all in its range
in ever closing spirals.
That I am too, no matter,
a vortex with spirals,
children, pets, students,
parents, friends, strangers
and partners and lovers.
As my trajectory spans
the sky of my life,
I feel those close,
farther and further
ahead and behind.
I merge with them,
drag and spin them,
catapulting
their weight and shape
to bend to and for me.
I draw people powerfully
with my own pulse.

IMG_0349-0
credit: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/cyCtmtIu8Ks/maxresdefault.jpg

As I sometimes do, I asked my oldest daughter recently about her love interests, which appeared to be no one in particular, and as was almost always the case, she was noticeably uncomfortable with the question.

I am never sure when I ask her, that I should ask and what I should ask. My nearly nineteen year old has never been seen openly intimate with anyone thus far, though she clearly has interests to be so.

If I am honest with myself, I ask with more than mere conversational curiosity. It isn't quite concern, either. But as her mother, I want to know about her thoughts, feelings, interests and difficulties. As a budding adult human, however, she appears reluctant to share the complexity of her desires with me. Or maybe she can't articulate them and adopts a defensive posture.

However it is, I feel as uncomfortable asking her after I receive the response: "What are you trying to get from me, Mom?" Or often she will joke, "There's no one who has agreed to join the awkward club."

Yet, I know she goes out with friends, has a seemingly active social life with people of various overt and covert identities, as far as I can tell. Some are declaratively gay or lesbian. Others are more difficult to discern.

Once I asked her outright if she were in a relationship with a friend I knew to be a lesbian. After her usual overly joyous forced laugh, she steered the conversation to a more general discussion of sexual identity. Somewhere in the conversation, she declared she was pansexual.

I thought I knew what that term meant, but I wasn’t so sure she did. However, a sure way to kill the conversation was to get pedantic, probing definitions from her.

But I couldn’t help myself and asked her if she meant polyamory or pansexuality. After a blank look, she gave a decided, slow shake of the head in dismissal of me and the subject and moved on.

These morphing adults are so hard to get a handle on when they are your own offspring. I have better luck with college students I teach, though I never ask about their sexual or romantic orientation. Some offer it up unasked or wear it like a uniform, however.

After our neat little chat, I, of course, retired to my cave for some research on the topic that piqued my curiosity. There are so many terms to identify sexual and intimate orientations or inclinations that I get dizzy sometimes, despite my mastery of Greek and Latin prefixes.

The synthesis of my readings led me to believe that pansexuality is sexual openness for attraction to all gender/sexual identities: gay, lesbian, tran, cis, androgynous, to name a few off the top of an exhaustive list. Admittedly, I had to click the links to some labels.

Polyamory, as the word’s root suggests, is about loving multiply with open honesty (how else could you get away with multiple partners?). Loving is used broadly to encompass emotional intimacy and/or sexual intimacy.

What draws me often to this term–polyamory–is the notion of multiply loving that may or may not include sex. Intuitively and experientially, the idea resonates with me, especially when I reflect on all of the relationships of my life to date.

I have had love/sex relationships, love only relationships and sex only relationships with various gender-identified partners. I have known friends I have loved more than lovers, wanted to be with more than with my monogamous partner at the time. The ratio of sexual to emotional attachment or engagement has differed with each relationship long or short.

Long-distance relationships have been some of the most intense emotionally and romantically, perhaps due to the effort they require to maintain. In those, the physical to emotional calibration is far different from the daily relationship, though both are intense. The challenge of each–lack of physical touch vs. daily friction of minutia–hones different skills and underscores individual strengths and weaknesses.

I have far more patience for promise than reality, I find. Perhaps I am not much different from most in that regard–fantasy is so much more malleable than reality.

But this is why polyamory makes sense to me. I love so many people and each uniquely, which is reasonable given that each brings a specific set of attributes to a relationship. The combinations are endless in light of the global population.

I think we do largely operate polyamorously. At times, we love our girl friends or guy friends as much as or more than we love our chosen ones, our significant others. Why the term is not more widely adopted, however, is the underpinning of the term: honesty.

For all kinds of reasons, the least of which may be cultural, sociological, historical and/or biological, people around me cannot acknowledge they love to various degrees many people. It’s too threatening–to their security or sense of how things should be, as they always have been in the ways of love in monogamy.

And I am not knocking monogamous coupling as it has immeasurable benefits personally and communally. But monogamy may be not only unfit for some people as a lifestyle, but also unfit for any person at any given point along the timeline of his or her lifelong relationships.

We are a fluid people. We change, many of us. This does not suggest we are fickle or shallow lovers. It means we grow and shrink as we move through life. If we are honest, and that is not only critical but terribly challenging, we acknowledge our love and desire flux. If we are brave, we honor it and engage with others who are likewise brave enough to acknowledge it.

That takes continual checking in, open communication and honesty with self and others–a daily life practice.

So while pansexuality is a political term, in my mind, one that respects choice and a host of other attributes derivative of anatomy, biology and psychology, polyamory is the umbrella term of intimacy.

Pansexuality makes sense for my young daughter hell bent on railing against the evils of society, her youth the reason for her informed intimacy deficit.

Polyamory is not about having sex with lots of people. And the question of sexually transmitted diseases is encompassed by the honesty prerequisite. You cannot do polyamory without the honesty.

The choice and the identity is about loving people as we do, when we do and how we do–in our spanning days roaming the earth hunting and gathering, doing the business of living.