Thursday, April 06, 2006

Not Your Grandma's Monogamy

Or: How a Sensual Prude is radical

Now, I do not know your Grandma. Perhaps she is a lifetime sensual prude, sucking the marrow from her experience and putting us all to crimson shame with her richly nourished partnership, supportive ties with other women, and zestful friendships with men.

Our archetypal Grandma, on the other hand, keeps the sensible a stranger to the sensual with one powerful purse of her disapproving lips. Grandma is guardian to that viscous mire of assumptions history has passed us, through whose sticky muck we must navigate all our intimate relationships. In this mire live many familiar notions, like:

Women are possessions cut off from economic survival except through sex, which they are not allowed to enjoy. They are irrational, manipulative, and will trap men into monogamy by any means.

Men are expendable, can’t control themselves, and have no feelings but the constant battle between honor and lust. They are monogamist in show only, meanwhile engaged in gentlemanly indiscretions and saturated in taboo imagery.

Anyone who chooses a relationship with someone of the same gender must be so depraved that they probably also eat babies.

And so on.

Then we hit the pool of assumptions that have been added recently. Many of the more potent sources of assumptions, Consumer Culture for a conspicuous example, actually advocate for monogamy as an economic institution. The monogamy a Consumer Culture thrives on, however, is insecure, competitive, hungry, guilty, bored, escapist – all those lovable traits that keep us buying. But you have heard all this before. You live it every day.

So, this is not Grandma’s monogamy. We want to climb out of the mire and wipe its slimy traces from our partnerships and friendships, yet still hold on to the possibility that there is something sacred about the number two.

So what kind of monogamy comes next? That is for us to invent. Sensual Prudes are all very unique, have drawn different boundaries based on very different ideals. There are a few points, however, that I consider essential for a true radical revolution of relationships:

- We strive to be clear and articulate about our sexual and emotional boundaries.
- We accept the boundaries drawn by others.
- We do not believe men are inherently weak, and do not treat them so.
- We do not believe women are inherently manipulative, and do not treat them so.
- We use our boundaries to power our sexual selves, not to stifle them.
- We actively oppose all cultural obstacles to the success of relations between and within the genders. This includes issues such as homophobia, the commodification of women and women's image, masogeny, domestic violence, competition between women, isolation for men, and predation towards youth.

But Prudehood is larger than me, and no one person holds the whole of it. So I open the floor - tell me: What makes a sensual prude?


Blogger Ramblin' Rabbit said...

did it work?

9:01 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home