A sex ed blog with more
School makes me think about things in a way I often hadn’t thought of before, which is why I love it so much. Today, I am hormonal and sassy, and I find myself in a super negative head space; so bare with me. There are ways to talk about oppression that don’t require biting someone’s head off. But I’m really bad at them. I seem to have trouble sharing information about a concept that I think someone should already know; I become arrogant and entitled and incredulous as to why a person may be unaware.
I am continually amazed when people can be calm and rational when talking about things that really upset them. My stepsister-in-law is amazing at this. She has a new film out called Angry Inuk (currently making the rounds through film festivals!) and is SO good at fighting with honey, rather than vinegar. I need to learn her tricks: it really is easier to talk to people who don’t know when they are being harmful in a calm way, rather than blowing up at them. No one pays attention when you yell or belittle. People get defensive immediately, and stop listening, if you raise your voice. We can see this in children and teenagers, all the time. As adults, with fully developed brains, we must remember when it is best to be angry and vocal, and when it is best to be calm and collected when discussing hegemonic systems (the really big, underlying structures in our society – like politics, religion, education, medicine, etc.).
I know that for myself, I must first get out my anger in one way or another before I can be rational. Often that means crying or yelling, or sometimes venting. And I need to be very careful of the blast radius when I explode; it can be super hurtful to people around me if they don’t know how I operate or if I say something in anger that I don’t really mean.
Today in class we talked about dominant assumptions about jealousy, commitment, sexual satisfaction, and romantic love. And I’m pissed by all of the negative messaging we’ve received about each of these topics. We are taught, in Canada and the US, that heterosexual, monogamous marriage to a person that we are passionate about and get jealous of or with is the only option for a reasonable adult. This is super problematic for a number of reasons.
[Important assumptions: everyone wants to be romantically attached to one person for an extended period of time; acting on jealousy is a totally reasonable response and is a healthy sign of love, sexual satisfaction involves orgasm and is required within a healthy romantic relationship]
There is now a focus on individual autonomy in a way that didn’t used to exist. In an increasingly secular society, we now turn to relationships as a sort of religion: for security and validation in a world that is less stable than it was even 50 years ago. We can see this within the wedding industry, because it is the only one that seems to be recession-proof. The sheer number of choices is overwhelming and staggering.
Let me be very clear: there is nothing that says that a romantic, monogamous marriage MUST occur. If that’s what you genuinely want, go for it, but THINK ABOUT IT. Pair-bonding does not make someone successful in life, and jealousy is not a sign of love. Our society is set up for pairs (law, especially), which makes it very difficult for someone who does not wish to be paired, and certainly leaves no room for anyone who chooses to be in a relationship with more than one person. I am tired of people complaining when they are single, quite frankly. If all you want is a romantic relationship, you can easily find one. But you’re complaining because you’re picky and you’re bored and you have the luxury of both of those things.
We have placed this highly committed, monogamous, sexual, romantic relationship up on a pedestal and we are very, very good at forcing these ideals on others. I am really not certain as to how to stop this, beyond everyone learning how to be respectful and accepting of differences. I will say, though, that we are slowly getting better. Awareness is so important, and some of our blinders are coming off. It sucks. It is no fun. But it is SO important. And this has become a discussion of privilege.
Let’s be better, folks. As Ellen says, be kind to one another.