Recently I came across this article making the plea for “nurturance culture” as a panacea for the insidious pervasiveness of rape culture.
It is revolutionary. And yet so obvious. It is why I know TWO people who are “cuddle therapists.” And yet we’re still focused on how “hook-up culture” is dissolving morality and polluting the youth. We’re all just fucking strangers and ghosting the next week.
But ARE we?
We are going through another sexual revolution, or so we’re told. With easy (at least if you’re white and middle class) access to contraception and a slowly dissolving social barrier on promiscuity in women (oh ever so slow), we, like in the 60’s, are smashing our genitals against as many others as we can find. (Well ok, no, not really, we are apparently having less partners than our parents.)
We’re animals. And sex is one of three supposed base instincts (fear of death, hunger and reproduction). One could argue that hunger isn’t an instinct, it’s an involuntary physical mechanism, whilst fear and the sex drive are more ambiguous. So is this why we love? Because we NEED to bond to prevent us from starving.
But enough of the segues. On love:
We are still trapped within the Victorian narrative on romance. It is reserved for ONE person at a time, it is oh-so-rare and it should be the driving force in your life. Right? Who cares if the other person doesn’t love you back, or they’re married or 2000km away? YOU LOVE THEM! So all things must be thrown to the sidelines at the expense of this feeling. Besides, there’s only one THE ONE. And if you miss this chance you’ll never find another.
Really? Out of nearly 7 billion people? Only one?
But let’s dissect what LOVE is:
It’s a butterflies-in-the-gut emotion, it’s a serious of emotions, a drug. It is NOT commitment. If we only reserve our hearts for those few we’re prepared to marry we’ll be forever heartbroken. When did we get the idea that love is rational? By removing the stigma and the weight of this experience we can meet it without fear. No one likes unrequited love. But why?
Maybe it’s the social implications that we ATTACH to love.
WHAT ARE WE AFRAID OF?
” is all too much pressure for someone you don’t know yet. The “one” is created over time by slowly undressing who they are, not what they should be”
Carsie Blanton couldn’t have said it better.
I was once named a “triumphant slut” (it was a compliment, really) by a lover of mine. And I embrace the beauty in casual sex with new people. But because of this fear of loss and of vulnerability, we fuck with our hearts closed. And when sex is removed from nurturance and intimacy it’s mechanical, it’s objectifying. It’s missing such a huge component of our human experience. THIS was what I was missing from my relations with others. We’re no longer afraid of our bodies, but what about our hearts?
In the blog post that really threw me and made me fully realize how emotionally detached we are from each other,
“If a lot of men grow up learning not to love their true selves, learning that their own healthy attachment needs (emotional safety, nurturance, connection, love, trust) are weak and wrong – that anyone’s attachment, or emotional safety, needs are weak and wrong – this can lead to two things.
1. They may be less able to experience women as whole people with intelligible needs and feelings (for autonomy, for emotional safety, for attunement, for trust).
2. They may be less able to make sense of their own needs for connection, transmuting them instead into distorted but more socially mirrored forms.”
She further argues that the antidote to “rape culture” is “nurturance culture.”
I love a lot of people. But how often do I say it? I suspect not enough. I learned that if i told a man I loved him that the most likely result would be a sprint in my opposite direction. Why? I’m not expecting anything from you. Not a relationship, not commitment, you don’t even need to feel the same. But BECAUSE we have equated romantic love with commitment, we have attempted to contain something that is organic and mutable.
We’re all adults, and like Carsie, we should be able to handle this emotion with the same impulse control we use to control our hunger:
“If love was casual, perhaps it wouldn’t collide into our sense of identity or our plans for the future at such high velocity. It wouldn’t feel so personal. If it’s not mutual, so what? If it doesn’t turn into a relationship, so what? I have feelings and desires all the time that go unsatisfied. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times), late at night, I want Chef’s Perfect Chocolate ice cream, but Creole Creamery closes at 10pm. Do I panic? Do I call Creole Creamery and leave a series of desperate messages? Do I curl into a ball and lament that without Chef’s Perfect Chocolate, I am a broken person who is not worthy of ice cream?”
And so begins my next evolution. To commit to ADMITTING my love. And allowing people to know that this carries no expectations. Just as we enjoy pleasuring our partners, why couldn’t we also share this (in and outside of the bedroom)?
Perhaps this is one of the last bastions of patriarchy. I’ll take pleasure in helping to undercut it with all the casual love I can share.
I love you, but it’s no big deal.