Feels Blind

07/22/2011

The intro and first few lines are stuck in my head.

Trip prep, prip trep, trip prep. The last few weeks have been eaten up by a chaos whirl of various stressors, moments of rest too brief.

Tomorrow I go forth maps in hand, bike loaded.

This is an accomplishment: readying my self and then once more, into the breach.

I like knowing how to do this, escape like I’m make-believing collapse. Find shelter under a tarp by a stream, cook dinner by starlight, exist solely by the combined clock of body and sun, forage food and medicine from the undergrowth.

and (maybe) my soul is a nuclear reactor

capable of so much:

joyful energy

rampant destruction

banked intention.

*the heart is a drum machine

In my culture(s)*, this is considered the ideal relationship. I consider marriage to be an institution of the patriarchy, built to oppress women. In addition to Twisty’s scathing critique of marriage, I would add that I believe that The State (tm & co) uses marriage to confer privilege upon individuals that I believe should be considered human rights–things that The State ™ shouldn’t be able to touch in the goddamned first place! Reasons I have considered getting married: conferring medical power-of-attorney to someone I trust, access to quasi-affordable education, shared health insurance, access to citizenship, spousal privilege…you see where we’re headed here. Fuck The State ™ and fuck Marriage (turn down the defensiveness–not your experience of marriage**, but Marriage As An Institution). Forcing people to get married in order to access these privileges gives The State ™ ever more ways to enforce the kyriarchy.

I was pretty small (~ 10 years old) when I announced that I would never marry. I’ve wavered since then in various capacities, trying to negotiate with the cultural concept of The Ideal Relationship: a committed (state-approved, static, lifelong) monogamous heterosexual patriarchal relationship, homogeneous in race, class, ability, etc. I think it’s been relatively easy to reject the notion of homogeneity in my relationships because I am the by-product of a mixed marriage myself, although I still feel like my parents used marriage as a tool for assimilation to whiteness, class privilege, heteronormativity, etc. Personally, I’m still working on unpacking the rest of my internalized shit about relationships.

Establishment Gays (as I like to call them) have been pushing marriage as a big gay agenda item hard for ~10 years, after HIV infection rates began to fall (nevermind that they’re on the rise again). Notable tag lines of these arguments: ‘we’re just like them, but gay!’ I find this rhetoric to be patronizing and false. Because queerness has evolved in direct opposition to (and under direct fire from) the patriarchy and the State ™, I see many of our relationships (both in history and currently) do not conform to the ideals of marriage or monogamy. Additionally, I feel like this kind of rhetoric marginalizes people who don’t fit whatever the USian “normal” is supposed to look like.

For me, to say that I am a queer is not just to say that my desires do not conform to those predicated by the patriarchy, I mean that my desires act in direct resistance to the patriarchy. Some of those ways: being a CAFAB person who fucks other CAFAB people, being a masculine-identified person who fucks other masculine-identified people, engaging in enthusiastic consent, having multiple ongoing sexual relationships, committing to non-romantic or non-sexual relationships and prioritizing those over sexual/romantic ones, practicing BDSM, doing sex work, challenging notions of what constitute ‘primary’ sex acts, redefining and/or doing away with the concept of virginity, engaging in mixed (class, race, ability, generation, etc) relationships…the list goes on and on.

In identifying and actualizing upon my desires I spend a lot of time thinking: is this what I really want, or what I’ve been told to want? It’s harder for me to undo what I think of as The Monogamy Myth, that we can just pair off and close off our world from others and be completely fulfilled. I find this a) tacitly false b) unhealthy as hell c) undesirable because it undermines the health of communities d) to put that another way: it reinforces capitalism. If I put all of my resources (emotional, physical, and financial) into a single relationship, I don’t have any resources left for anything else. Even for people who prefer monogamy to other models of relationships, outside relationships provide important tools and support! If I already have someone(s) to care for me when I’m old and sick, what do I need a spouse for? If through our joint efforts we can provide for ourselves with fewer means (i.e. as a collective household or thru a pantry), we don’t have to justify the Wage Gap, and we certainly don’t have to fuck, date, or marry people who perpetuate fucked up abusive shit.

I think that a very real argument for marriage as a tool exists in terms of conferring privileges that people would not otherwise have access to, thanks to the oppressive nature of The State ™, but I also want to keep working to combat the notion that marriage is the end-all be-all of a politickal agenda that represents ‘the best interests of all queers’. Because it’s not. Marriage is not a solution to the patriarchy. Marriage is not a solution to the medical-industrial complex’s monopoly over access to healthcare. Marriage is not a solution to homophobia. Marriage is not a solution to white supremacy culture. Marriage is not a solution to abusive relationship dynamics. Marriage is not a solution to the State ™ having acquired legal purview over one’s residency.  I could go on but hey, let’s leave you some room for creative extrapolation! Putting forth marriage as The Big Gay Agenda Item legitimizes the State ™, and is used as an excuse to justify all sorts of fucked up shit, marginalizing the experiences and very real oppression of others.

So. I probably won’t marry unless I decide that it represents my best interests, because I prefer that The State ™ stays the fuck out of my relationships and my bedroom, but if I have to in order to access privileges I/the people I care about need, I’ll do it. But I sure as hell don’t want to.

No gods, no masters, no marriage.

additional suggested reading:

*when I say “my culture” I mean middle-class (ish?), white-assimilationist/supremacist USian. not the culture I strive for, but the culture(s) I was raised in.

**some of my best friends are married! No, really. Some of my favorite people in committed relationships are also married. To eachother! And I love the way that they are partners to one another–it is an immense joy to be a part of their lives as a friend, to bear witness to them growing and loving and supporting one another thru the years. But it’s the health of their partnership that I toast to, not the seal on their marriage certificate, when I toast to them. You know who you are.

And you who can not marry: I love y’all, too. And I toast to your partnership just as high (or higher), tho I know sometimes it’s a bitter fucking pill not to be able to sanction your partnership with the privileges that marriage could afford it, from shared ownership to health insurance to visitation in perilous situations.

Let’s keep fighting while acknowledging that these are rights that should be afforded to everyone.

shutterbug

07/14/2011

in the late/early dark, naked. hands trembling, mouths both hard and soft. bodies firm but yielding.

“…but it doesn’t seem okay to talk about other lovers here.”

“why wouldn’t it be? how else could we have gotten here, than by the richness of our histories?”

a  smile lights in the dark.

***

the best of friends, sometimes lovers, newly travelling companions:

“oh, making your tired noises, better camp soon.”

“i have tired noises?? […] guess you’d know.”

the crankiness dissolves like sugar in tea.

***

a note to myself: when the going gets shitty, put it in perspective by listening to the snippets that are stored in your brain.

thinking hard about cultural constructions of masculinity and (especially) how they affect parenting.

watched this recently (ed. note: available on netflix). predictably felt there were some wonky racist/classist/sexist elements, but overall it still rendered useful food for thought, questioning cultural mores about masculinity. And I appreciated the “ah ha!” moment the main protagonist has at the end where he’s like oh, my performance of masculinity=violence! tragedy times, WHOOOAAA.

when talking about my dad’s abusive craptitude, my mother is often wont to remind me that he grew up at the intersection of two deeply patriarchal cultures (Mormon and Latin@), in addition to the usual USian immersion-in-the-patriarchy program (ugh).

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07/07/2011

a hard time of year for me, and then i go off and forget to take my meds.

reality seems subjective when i am forced to spend time with my mental “ill-ness”–a chemical imbalance that does not accurately reflect my personal interaction with the reality i am living in.

call it the best/worst/best {worst/best/worst} thing about me.

give me a minute, because this too shall pass.

remember to slow down. remember to breathe. take your medicine. eat green things. dance. ride your bike. read Jeanette Winterson novels until you fucking puke. call your mother. drink less. spend time just alone, breathing. make art. listen to the same Frank Black album until you remember what the stars looked like the last time you saw them (outside the city lights).

become body, not mind. bodily re-integration is jenga. gotta be careful about the memories and emotions that will come out to play.

Hello reader! Another day, another potentially triggering subject. This is triggering for discussion of rape, abuse, and trauma. Please click away as you feel the need and take care of yourself, you’re worth it! Love and light, RD

“And can you put the bite back into the beast you’ve broken, tied and tamed?” – Blood Brothers

Surviving abuse and neglect as a kid meant learning how to separate mind and body, act like hunger was happening to somebody else, not me. Surviving rape meant learning how to just get through it, separate into my mind while somebody else fucked my body without my consent. There’s a lot of ways to survive, and I figure out as many as I can.

When somebody breaks an animal, they’re teaching the animal who is boss. I’m the pack leader, I’m the boss, my friend explains about her dogs and the training process. I don’t disagree with her approach–but people aren’t animals. Sure enough, though, abusers will try to break us to their wills. Abusive actions say My wants/needs/wishes are of sole importance, and yours don’t even exist without fulfilling them. For some survivors this creates a coping mechanism that I will refer to as depersonalization.

One of my primary abusers as a child (let’s call them “MD”, okay?) withheld food unless they determined that I had fulfilled their ever-changing requirements for accessing food, and even then they either ensured it was an unpleasant experience or would make themselves inaccessible so that I would have to wait until it was convenient (read: high metabolism + scarcity of food = days and nights of cramps/dizziness). I was 12 years old and rail thin, though up until then I had been lucky enough to have relatively secure and guilt-free access to healthy, plentiful food. I suspect that I should have been growing, but I stopped the year that I started living with MD. Ostensibly, their heavy-handed control over the food supply was to prevent the other two children in their care who were “fat” (seriously? it was baby fat!) from gorging themselves**.

Do you listen to your body? Do your HUNGER ON and HUNGER OFF switches work properly? If not, you’re certainly not alone. Recent scientific inquiry suggests that these signals are irrevocably screwed up for many USians, causing people to misconstrue or ignore these vital messages from the body. A lot of people would argue that this has to do with changing portion sizes and calorie-laden, nutrient-deficient foods, but I would also like to set aside the “obesity crisis” debate (which is frequently incredibly fat-phobic, ableist, and body-shaming) and focus on depersonalization’s roots, causes, and effects. I will focus more on the practice of re-integrating one’s self to the body in some later writing.

When MD refused me access to food, they were training me. My well-being comes before yours. I am the pack-leader, the boss, and you are just a dog, and you must learn to put my needs before yours. So I did. I learned how to depersonalize myself, ignore all the things my body was telling me, in order to fulfill the wishes of the pack-leader first. And thru further training from other abusive forces, I learned this lesson over and over again.

The distancing of my brain from my body is hard to illustrate but in vague examples–thinking that everything else is more important than taking care of my self, from body to psyche. I block out the pain of rotten teeth, forget to eat till I’m dizzy (tho I’m learning to hear my body when it says kale!), can only sleep to escape but struggle to sleep when I need to rest (everything else seems so much more important).  I was taught that my body was not important (this is why I was raped–my rapist’s will was more important than what me/my body did or didn’t want) and that my brain was the safest place to be (10 feet above my body at all times), so I try to stay there (which is part of what makes me so fucking anxious all the time, where do I put the body when I’m all brain?), tho I am learning ways to put them back together as appropriate.

Broken, tied, and tamed. Tamed animals are not meant to fend for themselves in the wild, they have been taught to subordinate to the will of the master. Who holds the reins now? It is in healing that I fumble and sometimes even find them.

*yeah, a teenager is a kid, okay? much as I hated to admit it then and hate to say it now, and it doesn’t mean teenagers can’t make decisions for themselves or don’t have to deal with fucking heavy adult shit.

**but hey, I gotta say here: shame and insecurity do not healthy consumptive habits make. This is true of anything, from food to love to drugs, y’all.