Friday, August 12, 2011

Being at Home

My husband and I love our couch.
Well, actually, I want to get a new
couch, so I guess I should say we love
what the couch does, anchoring us
in our house,
with our dog,
and our cat
And ourselves.
We watch entire seasons of Mad Men
and The Wire, and when he’s not home
I sleep on it.
Every once in a while he will come in
and say, “Want to meditate?”
We pull the cushions into position
so we can breathe easier.
I appreciate that he doesn’t do this often—
I never was regular with anything.
Sometimes he walks in the door
and sits down next to me,
and I can just tell that I need to
close my computer,
put it aside,
scoot over closer.

I used to wonder as I drove to the bar,
or the dance club,
or the coffee shop,
who these people were, the ones
with cars in the driveway
and lights on in the windows.

Now I know.

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Solution for the Economic Crisis: International Do-Over Day!

While listening to NPR during this whole debt crisis situation, I thought, "So, basically, everyone in the world owes everyone else in the world money." Perhaps it's more complicated than that, but that's the gist. You'll have to forgive me--monetary concerns were never my strong suit.

Which isn't to say that you should completely disregard the rest of my argument.

Seriously, once money gets up into the trillions (Hahaha, okay guys, you got me! that's not a real number!), I pretty much start to feel like we all moved to Monopolyland or something. All this shuffling of bits of information that represent money back and forth between computers. It's MIND BOGGLING! And just when I was starting to think that I was the only one on the whole planet who realized that money is this totally crazy made-up thing, This American Life did a whole episode on it. Scroll all the way to the bottom of that page and listen to it. It's fantastic.

So anyway, money is made up. And some people have waaaaaaaaay more of it than other people. Problem is, when one guy finally has all the money and refuses to share it with anybody, nobody can buy that guy's--or any guy's--products, and no one can pay their debts to anyone else, bringing us to an economic showdown wherein BARTERTOWN. TWO MAN ENTER, ONE MAN LEAVE! Don't worry. I know what you're thinking. "This girl is about to go totally socialist on my ass!" Um, no. I'm going to propose something even more radical. You're going to think it's crazy, but I beg you to let it soak in for a minute before you decide that it's a stupid way to take care of economic problems. I know you have a lot of top quality choices when it comes to debt solutions.

What is this mind-blowing solution, you ask? I don't know why you would ask that since I put it in the title of this piece but: INTERNATIONAL DO-OVER DAY!

What would happen if we just erased all debts? Everyone's debts? So tomorrow I wake up with exactly the same amount of money that I have now, but I don't owe anyone anything--and no one owes me anything, either. Then we start from baseline. Perhaps there would be SOME debts allowed to carry over. My employer still owes me a paycheck, and I still owe the IRS. Maybe? Maybe not? I'm not an economist! All I know is that on a larger scale, if China owes Argentina (do they? I made that up as an example) a gagillion dollars and Argentina owes the United State a gagillion dollars, what you end up with is some kind of circular standoff. It's like when the mob offers to sell you protection and then breaks your legs if you don't buy the protection. In other words, the money is like the protection--a MADE UP THING! And if you don't want to be involved with made up things, then can't you just decide not to believe in them? No. The mob still comes for you anyway. Maybe this is more like the emperor's new clothes.

MY POINT IS that it's kind of ridiculous to keep letting money wield all of this power over us when WE'RE THE ONES WHO MADE UP THE FUCKING MONEY. Money is whatever we say it is. It's not some inherently autonomous, uncontrollable force like God or your mother. It's fucking MADE UP, YOU GUYS! I think I've made my point.

International Do-Over Day. Think about it. Make a Facebook invite or something. Viva la revolucion! And remember what Jesus said (according to the Presbyterians): "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." See? JESUS is all about International Do-Over Day!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is domination the name of the game?

I just read this line in a piece at the Good Men Project about how men are doing in what sounds like our “post-feminist” society:

Most sexual relationships (if not all) involve a power exchange, including some degree of domination and submission. How does this basic human need fit in with the discourses of gender “equality” that prevail today?

This is an oft repeated stock idea that you’ll hear a lot all over the place. Sex is about power. When I was 21 and thought I knew everything about everything (and was a somewhat insufferable little shit), I would’ve said the exact same thing. It sounds like such an intellectual way to discuss the down and dirty deed, especially since intellectual types never want to sound too hopeful or sweet. It just wouldn’t do for us to say anything equating sex with love. And I would never say that all sex is about love—anymore than I agree with the idea that “most sexual relationships (if not all) involve a power exchange”. Emphasis mine.

Why is this the prevailing narrative? I can tell you, I’ve had lots of sex that didn’t seem to be about power at all. Two willing participants getting together and doing something that is mutually beneficial doesn’t sound like a power struggle to me—it sounds like a good time. Even when two people get together and one says, “Hey, can you boss me around for a little while? That’s hot!” it’s not really about a power exchange because, well, one person asked for the illusion of a power game. When one person is willingly submitting to another’s respectful domination, it’s fake power exchange. The person on bottom is just as much in control of their sexual experience at that point as the person on top.

The only other instances I can think of when power is at play during sex aren’t so pretty. They’re either situations in which the couple is at odds in other aspects of their relationship and each is using sex as a tool or a weapon, or they’re rape. “Maybe if I give him sex, he’ll like me.” “Maybe if I give her my love, she’ll give me her sex.” See what I just did there? I quoted the story before we get to the conclusion that all sex is about power. We’re taught to believe that men want the sex and are engaged in an elaborate ruse or, worse, all-out battle to get it. But, again, is that true? Like, is it inherently true, or is it just what we’ve been taught and therefore what we act out on the regular?

This idea that sex is inherently about power supports all sorts of unhealthy sexual attitudes. It scares women into trying to control men with sex. It gives men the impression that they have to be dishonest or forceful in order to get what they want. But, again, that isn’t inherently true. That’s just the traditional narrative. Why don’t we ever say that sex is about fun and connecting with another person? It doesn’t have to be about love for the long haul—it doesn’t even have to be about love for the night. But it can be a mutually pleasurable experience, and I just don’t get how that’s about power.