To belong or not to belong? Some people define themselves through commonalities. There are some who define themselves through difference and then seek to find others who share that difference. They find commonality in a shared difference. Commonality is what makes for a community. To keep that commonality becomes an unwritten rule. What lets you in? What keeps you out? Every community tries to keep its members together. There are expectations, rules, impositions and, for the dissidents, punishments. Ironically, even communities of people who do not conform to mainstream norms of sexuality or gender have their own norms.
Our desire to connect is perhaps one of the human aspirations that both Sexuality and the Internet serve. And with the Internet we now have new ways, unthought of even twenty years ago, of connecting with each other, and even at times with ourselves, finding aspects of our selves that we did not know existed.
Aspects of sexuality such as aesthetic taste, body image, sexual orientation, desires and aspirations, self-esteem, gender expression, reproductive choices, and more, are all interdependent with the impact of money in our lives and that of those around us. Indeed, our systemic relationship with money has a direct influence on how we ‘value’ ourselves.
The boundaries are the most interesting bits. No definitions can be identified without them, and yet they themselves remain in a state of flux – neither here nor there, neither this nor that, but both, all, nothing, and so much more. None can stake their claim on the borderland; it is unseizable, enigmatic, most ungraspable. In its ambiguity it has the power to comfort the outlier at its best, and at its worst, leave bereft those who seek refuge in the absolute.
Traditionally, marriage and sexuality have been bagged together and tinted with a bed-of-roses romance that has, over the last century or so, been unpacked and critiqued for propagating oppressive societal structures of gender, class, caste, and sexuality. Indeed, marriage isn’t just about two wedded souls matched in heaven, but about earthly ties that reach far beyond the couple it binds together. What happens when the roses are let out of the bag? This month’s issues of In Plainspeak on Marriage and Sexuality invite us to lean in and take a whiff.
What is the self, and what does it mean to give care? Philosophers, activists, artists, scientists, people of all inclinations and positions have pondered on, played with, and struggled to come to meaningful definitions about the issues these questions address. Without care, can there be a self at all?