Who’s Got What To Trade

I had the most excellent night of sleep yet, last night.  After collecting Shay from the airport, I bought a folding cot at Walmart, and set it up out of sight of the lights and buffered somewhat from the generator’s drone.  The cot is fantastic!  Better comfort than either bunk in the tractor, or the bed in the trailer office conversion.  The open air was perfect.  I took it for the team, in terms of sleeping arrangements now that we have a third person.  Often what sucks for others works just great for me.  I’m a very flexible person, literally and figuratively.  When it’s high noon and baking hot, I’ll retreat to the A/C of the pickup truck, and leave the tractor to Gene and the office trailer to Shay.

Socially, adding a third person to what was a duet, all of the sudden I feel less obligated to finish any particular conversation.  I feel more able to come and go.  It was nice to reconnect with Shay and then get here, introduce her around to Gene, handwash Julie, handwash Claudine, and various Marines, get her somewhat set up.  Then, shortly after dinner and teeth brushing, I just went into full blown feral mode.  I’d missed my nap earlier of course, so I just laid down in my discreet cot area and became non-responsive to anything anyone wanted from me, and it was great.  With only two people it’s hard to do that, but with three, that’s a universal signal to go ask the other person.

One big challenge for me is to not subtly morph to accommodate other people’s sensibilities and sensitivities.  To stay me, through and through.  It’s not an accommodation I make with stronger people, interestingly, but in response to people shakier than me, on some level I couldn’t articulate.  I tend to almost invisibly powder their ass, and I don’t know why.  Probably old childhood-unstable mom issues.  To make things more palatable for them, especially when they’re picky — and almost everyone on earth is more picky than me, except in the realms of my supreme pickiness, which are not commonly operative.  I hated going clothes shopping with girlfriends, as it were, at Savers, as it were, in college, or the flea market in high school.  

They’d hold something up — “I think this would be perfect on you.”  

“…Mm.”  

“Do you like this on me?”  

“…Mm.”

I’d always try to drift off in some different section by myself but they’d always find me, to express ideas about clothing I felt chagrined to disagree with so vehemently.  Sometimes I’d just abandon the project and decide to come back on my own, later, in order to actually accomplish the necessary focus without the social element to juggle.

It occurs to me that my family always has felt like a relief to me, a benevolently neutral energetic oasis, except when my mom’s pain body would take over, which no one mistook for her actual personality.  Other than that, the world was a bit of an energetic obstacle course, of varying levels.  Then I’d go home, from school or from college, and the whole thing was like a suit of clothes I could finally take off.  It’s amazing to feel there’s this space, this house with some rooms, where you can wear whatever you want, say whatever you want, eat whatever you want, sleep whenever you want for however long you want, be verbal or not verbal, engaged or not engaged with any particular thing that’s going on, and it’s totally fine.  And by “totally fine,” I mean, no one’s privately interpreting things to imply something negative about you.  My mom has been gone for a while now, but my dad is still the driver of this oasis, and I think it’s been a good experience for Nick, who’s there now with the bugaboos tackling mountains of logistics, in a vacuum of negative implication.  

And you know, an energetic oasis of this nature sounds easy, but the minute you get someone who consistently doesn’t do their dishes, or consistently talks over others, it’s a strain.  It takes a group of people who are neither pushy nor oblivious.  So hard to find, in the world!  

My thoughts about various social projects are sort of ironic, I suppose.  I think you probably can’t have an actually successful intentional community that works unless all its members are almost as happy to hang out by themselves.  I think you can’t have an actually successful polyamorous or open relationship, for instance, unless everyone is so evolved and self-regulating that they’d choose volcel over mismatched desire and integrity.  

Nick and I were just talking about this on the phone the other night — not for us, we’re not interested, but on the macro, it’s kind of a shame that LGBT (I’m leaving it at that) culture has become effectively synonymous with promiscuity, both from the outside looking in and, justifiably, from the inside looking out.  And to be honest, hookup culture is to straight people what San Francisco in the 1980’s was to gay people.  

Nick had a nice long hangout with one of his gay friends who is married, but it’s an open marriage, and x y z about that.  This friend is aware that, you know, open marriages and open relationships are inherently controversial in our dominant culture of “enforced monogamy”.  

Funny side note — this was another one of Jordan Peterson’s references that was totally distorted and weaponized against him because the Lefty press is always finding new ways to misinterpret what he says and then get offended by it.  “Enforced monogamy” is a sociological term, meaning we’re typically not approved of by our peers and community and families when we exhibit non-monogamous behavior — not, as the interviewer took it, or pretended to take it, as some horrifying practice of distributing nubile women amongst useless men against their will.  Ffs.  

So Nick’s friend’s obvious critique, and probably LGBT’s critique generally, was of the heteronormative or “enforced monogamy” double standard, where we pay lip service to monogamy but betray its spirit, literally or figuratively, all the time.  Ie, cheating culture.  Cheating culture is where people don’t have the integrity, and don’t apparently know they need the integrity, to either not escalate to monogamy if that’s not how they feel, or to do the work of erecting some other kind of agreement that does accurately reflect what they can and can’t commit to, which allows others the same degree of agency as yourself, whether that’s comfortable or not.  It’s where you secretly cheat, or reserve the right to cheat, on someone but damn sure don’t want them cheating on you.  It doesn’t make any sense, except when you consider that enforced monogamy and presumed heterosexuality simply “happens” to people, like the weather, and they feel they don’t have much choice about it, and so they just privately negotiate their own interests within that, in compartmentalized fashion.  

So I totally get how LGBT channels this big integrity step, in a sense.  It’s less about people making different choices and more about people being more honest about making the same choices straight people make, dishonestly, and haphazardly excused under the winking camouflage of cheating culture.  Hypothetical scenario: let’s say we have a dinner party, and one of the couples is in an open relationship, and another of the couples is ostensibly monogamous but everyone knows there’s some running around going on.  Which couple will be interpreted as more controversial, by the remainder of the guests?  Well, depends on the guests, but I’d say the first couple, frankly.  We still prefer secret moral failures to actual transparency, in my opinion, so long as appearances are kept up.  And maybe that’s the main thing right there — appearances.  And caring about appearances implies, to me at least, that it’s less about what we think is right or wrong for other people, and more about our level of discomfort in our own choices when confronted by someone comfortably choosing otherwise.  So as usual, it’s all about ourselves, and not actually about anyone else.  

“Normal” couples can encounter a cheating culture couple and privately think, “At least we’re doing better than them!,” or “Now I don’t feel so bad about cheating because look, everyone’s doing it!,” or whatever.  But a “normal” couple encountering an openly open couple, or an openly gay couple, stands to have their individual, secret grievances inflamed, if such exist.  

I could rap on about that, but the point is, I get the unavoidable LGBT critique of heteronormative, enforced monogamy culture. There’s a lot to be critiqued. There’s a lot of dishonesty, a lot of bypassing, a lot of keeping up appearances, a lot of double standard cheating, a lot of leading lives of quiet desperation, all that.

But still, when I hear about Nick’s good friend being in an open marriage, or acquaintances of mine being in open relationships, my gut reaction is: aw, that sucks.  My journey through the years has brought many, many changes in perspective about all this, and for whatever reason I seem to have arrived at an old-fashioned place, but not for normally old-fashioned reasons; a conservative place, but not for normally conservative reasons.

My thinking about committed monogamy now is that it’s a mutually inevitable and desirable state when you’re in partnership with the right person, BUT finding partnership with the right person is so monumentally difficult that deconstructing not only the central tenet of Judeo-Christian civilization but indeed our own neurochemistry represents, actually, the path of least resistance the majority of the time!  Lol!  How funny is that.  So I do feel that committed monogamy is the partnership ideal, just as I feel that conducting ourselves with transparency, authenticity and integrity is the personal ideal, but that we should always at least try to erect our contracts and agreements to match where we’re actually at, not where we feel we should pretend to be at.  So in a sense the LGBT community is saying, “Don’t pretend to be somewhere you’re not,” while the heteronormative community is saying, “At least I’m pretending to be in the right place.”  

And notice I don’t really see “gay” or “straight” as being the central difference — to me that’s almost irrelevant in the face of the common problem we all share, which is how the fuck to negotiate partnership vs autonomy, period.  I mean, a lot of things in life aren’t about the thing they’re supposedly about, and this is one of them.  

So on the gay side of things and in hookup culture too, the reality of perceived and/or actual promiscuity is something that makes me, frankly, sad.  I don’t think it actually serves us, beyond a certain point.  Every promiscuity arc has an upside, where you’re figuring it out, and a downside, where it becomes clear you didn’t figure anything out and you’re just spiritually bypassing.  The high point on the parabola is differently placed for each of us, probably, but a plateau is a plateau no matter how many zeros or decimal points there are on the x-y graph.  The descent of the parabola is guaranteed to be characterized by the accusations we typically make when we’re spiritually bypassing: You’re trying to control me.  You don’t own me.  This isn’t caveman times.  Nobody wants to eat the same meal every day for the rest of their life.  The interesting thing about spiritual bypassing is that we can say a bunch of things that are actually true, but still represent red herrings.

After millennia of women’s sexual disempowerment at the hands of men, I guess it makes sense that the turntables would turn, and women would use men’s own rhetoric against them.  “We’ve decided to be in an open relationship” usually translates, from what I can tell, to “She decided we’re in an open relationship and it’s this or nothing for me, so I guess it’s this.”  The moment you give females a reprieve from being economically dependent on males, our natural advantage as the commodified gender comes surging to the fore.  The natural question for females in committed monogamy, always, has been, “What am I getting from this?”  And the answer throughout history has been, physical and financial protection for her and her children, ideally, and maybe they enjoy the man, maybe they don’t.  I mean, pretty low stuff on the ol’ Maslowe’s hierarchy.  With physical and financial protection issues mostly nullified, it’s like, What am I getting from this that requires me to surrender honestly any degree of autonomy?  It’s a valid question!  

This is why I find our modern confusion about masculinity versus toxic masculinity especially interesting.  No one cares what kind of masculinity is going on when the entire culture and economy has been emotionally arrested to the level of that masculinity.  It diminishes women by commodifying them as sexually viable dependents, and it diminishes men by rendering them little more than occupational workhorses.  When you disentangle women from that economic sex slavery, though, now men have to evolve something else to trade.  And what’s the foundation of effective barter?  I’ll give you something you don’t have in exchange for something I don’t have.  

Our efforts towards reframing gender as a social construct, right now, kind of crack me up.  This is not the right time, and that’s not the right thing.  I mean, let’s say for me, a woman — I accept this notion that men aren’t truly different from me.  Any characteristics or abilities they have, I can have — it’s all just been a figment of our patriarchal imagination.  And I have my own job and money so I don’t “need” a man for any of the outdated reasons.  There’s no reason for me to trade!  There’s nothing he has that I, definitionally, don’t or can’t have, and would need to trade for.  So, cue the open relationships because, magically, my gender is still commodified and this time to my advantage — we might represent only 50% of the population, but we represent 100% of the pussy.  

Oh!  Turns out it’s not actually a figment of our imagination — turns out we’re not, or not entirely, socially constructed.  Or as Douglas Murray put it, with his quippy British sarcasm, “Men and women are perfectly equal, except women are magically better on some occasions”.  It almost seems to me that we consider any expression of masculinity “toxic” that cannot be rendered intelligible to the female brain.  I’m not going to weigh in on that one way or another, but if we arrive at a point where women don’t have to trade sex for money, and men don’t have to trade money for sex, and we deny and deconstruct all our actual differences, then no one has anything to trade.  Except women still do, because pussy, and the spiritual connotations of pussy.  Somehow I think we all still grasp that, whether we admit it or not.  

Guess what, though: men have an equal and opposite card to play.  They have something women can’t deconstruct away from them, and we can’t construct ourselves into.  And I know you think I’m gonna say “dick” and maybe that’s what it is, but in a world of sex toys, it’s not just that.  It’s masculine energy that is by definition unintelligible and inaccessible to the female brain, but we still like it.  Of course we like it — it’s the one thing we’re willing to trade our autonomy for, even when we have our own money.  And it’s easy to call that thing, whatever it is, “toxic”.  I don’t think it’s toxic inherently, but I think it can be, practically, but we ought not attempt to dispense with it entirely, as a society.  

To me it seems that women are predisposed to create, biologically but also energetically, whereas men are predisposed to have an enormous flow of energy that can be turned equally towards creation or destruction, as circumstances dictate, so we have to be pretty careful about the circumstances we surround men with.  It just makes sense, when you think about it.  As a species, that’s what we’ve needed from the genders, in order to persist.  And also, when you think about (I mean: think about it — courtesy of Joe Biden), the entirety of women’s oppression at the hands of men has simply been one organized and unsuccessful attempt to balance the scales, where, when you have pussy on one side, literally no amount of other social construction is heavy enough to compete.  

I know that from a social justice standpoint, it *appears as if* we’re exiting the age of men and entering the age of women, large-scale.  I get it.  However, energetically, I think the opposite is either occurring or needs to start occurring.  The attack on masculinity itself is simply an enormous pendulum, swinging the other way from what has been a sustained attack on femininity, itself; a crucible from which a wounded but rarified gender energy will either emerge, or die trying.  

That’s some abstract stuff, but back to the question of committed monogamy — which is essentially a question of who has what to energetically barter, in the presence or absence of other options — women really aren’t in a position, anymore, where we need to trade autonomy for money.  Simultaneously we’re prone to convincing ourselves that any expression of masculinity we find unintelligible is toxic.  Hence: “We’ve decided to be in an open relationship.”  

It’ll be a nice day when men find their balls, and stop caring what women think about that.  And to the extent any woman takes any more offense at that idea than me saying, conversely, ‘it’ll be nice day when women find their clits and stop caring what men think about that’ — a tipping point that has largely already occurred, in my opinion, even despite and perhaps because of the centuries-long persecution of our gender — to the extent we take offense at the equivalent empowerment of men, we’re toxic.  

So despite our societal game board of “enforced monogamy”, there are a lot more ways to arrange the chess pieces these days.  There’s no reason not to conflate promiscuity with empowerment, for straights and queers alike.  In fact, we find a lot of encouragement in that direction.  And there’s nothing wrong with it, until and unless we’re spiritually bypassing.  And who’s to say when that is?  Probably not ourselves, because if we could be that aware we wouldn’t be doing it in the first place.  

I think that what we all want, in our heart of hearts, is to meet someone who says, “Hey — knock that shit off.  You’re with me now.  You’re mine.”  And it’s gotta be someone who has something to trade that we can’t get any other way.  We can’t socially construct it or socially deconstruct it.  We can’t get it with batteries and we can’t get it with other lovers.  And most of all, we can’t be it.  They have to be it.  And vice versa.  

It’s tough to find.  It’s easier to just write it all off as obsolete hogwash, and “empower” ourselves forward, instead, through less and less “traditional” scenarios.  I totally get it.

Nick said, on the phone yesterday, that he’s honestly jealous of Ben Shapiro and his wife, who were both virgins when they married, and who are pretty transparent about that. Shapiro is a devout Jew, of course, and I’d assume his wife is too although I haven’t looked into it. This is a pretty dramatic statement coming from Nick, who was plagued by women’s forgotten panties accumulating under his bed, when we met. And he even felt like chump change compared to his older brother, who’s been cutting a swath across Manhattan for years now. The rakishly handsome boys of his family are great at figuring out how to get laid, and maybe need some work on figuring out why to get laid. Men’s desired sexual “conquest” of women, which has really good stuff at its energetic roots, obviously spins out of control when it’s fetishized in a context of increasing disconnection from those roots. Nick has been kind of pushed to the sexual conservative side the same way I’ve felt pushed to the political conservative side — by confronting the furthest illogical conclusions of the alternative, and feeling pretty yucky about it.

That’s 2020 for you.  We’re Beyond Thunderdome, where Thunderdome represents any reasonable intersection of ideological disagreement.  We’re Beyond that.  

I don’t wish that Nick had been any other way, when we met, but I do have some regrets about myself.  It’s practically an act of bravery, these days, to admit to our own territorial natures, and years of rationalizing misaligned connections had me pretending, at least, to be blasé about stuff that, you know, I don’t actually feel one iota of blasé about.  I like being in relationship where I can just admit: I will freak the fuck out if you cheat-culture me.  I am not “evolved” and not pretending to be evolved with you.  I can be evolved with everyone else, platonically — I have that luxury, being as rooted down as I am in the visceral where I need it, and with whom I need it.  Nothing about this is airy fairy open to interpretation, and that’s how I like it.  

Okay, long since time to wrap this up; I got a new team member to train.                                                              

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