tangents about sex
September 22, 2002 04:17 AM

Here's something that irks me: holding up "The Greeks" (meaning classical Greeks, nothing to do with sororities or fraternities) as a culture tolerant of a wide range of sexualities.

It irks me because, well, it just doesn't appear to be true. I mean, yes, classical Greece accepted men having sex with me - but only to an extent. Classical sexuality was understood more in terms of power than love, and people with power [men of age, the only Greeks really referred to as "citizens"] could penetrate the less powerful objects of their choice. Who a citizen could associate with was not so much a question of gender, though marriage between people of the same sex was hardly even considered. Marriage was a social and procreative necessity; the notion of marriage as a commitment born of love simply didn't exist.

And yes, there were those who spoke of love between equals (for instance Plato, though he only advocated love between equal men), but that would have been a radical philosophy.

It annoys me when we bend history to fit what we wish it had been. I'm sure I have some distorted ideas about how things went down at various points in the past. I haven't researched everything in detail, and it frustrates me to have to do so in order to be sure I get an unbiased perspective. Shouldn't I have gotten that in history class?

[Yes, I can just imagine a frank discussion of classical perspectives on sexuality along with the seventh grade social studies examination of gods, goddesses and architecture. It would go over so well.]

Anyhow, I read someone somewhere talking about how the Greeks were just totally cool with homosexuality, and of course I had to open my big mouth and sound educated.

It also made me think of something Rev said recently, about the words we use to insult people. We say fuck you and we're screwed and bite me (well, maybe no one says "bite me" anymore).

And these are all essentially words that talk about sex classical-style. That is, sex where one person has the power and does the action, and the other is a passive vessel. Taken in a contemporary context, these words really do imply abuse and rape. We use them so often that they've practically lost any meaning. But it's still pretty creepy.

I mean, I won't even let people say vagina around me, because its meaning offends me [not what it means now, what it used to mean - "sheath"], but I say fuck a lot. Enough that I wish I hadn't thought about this - what will I fill my potty mouth with now?

I don't know whether these words incite us to violence (I'm certain they don't directly, but indirect effect is much harder to pin down), and I don't know what the taboos around these words say about our attitudes towards sex and violence (maybe nothing), but I do think it's worth considering your word choice.

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your wicked thoughts

I heard a woman a long time ago say that she stopped using the word fuck after she considered that she was sexualizing her anger. Iíve thought about that ever since. But I still use the word. Ironically, I tend to use it when Iím not really that mad. If Iím really mad I either get really quiet or really articulate. Heh.

Saying fuck (and all the other funny little bad words) feels like pushing against the weight of power. Itís like using the words to push back. Troubling. Me being such a freak for peace and mutuality

these are the thoughts of Tish on September 22, 2002 11:09 AM

I use the word "damn" a lot, although it's lost most of its potty-mouth punch by now. Likewise "shit," although that's retained enough naughtiness that you can't say it on the radio.

these are the thoughts of revolution9 on September 23, 2002 08:39 AM


these are the thoughts of eris on September 23, 2002 10:46 AM

meant to say: when all else fails, create your own words with your own meanings.

these are the thoughts of eris on September 23, 2002 10:46 AM

leave it to eris to sum that whole thing up in one word.

recently i've taken to using "dingleberry" as the rudest, most vile thing someone can be. it looks wimpy in text, but it's all about tone of voice, really.

these are the thoughts of april on September 23, 2002 11:50 AM

You are so my favorite blogger.

I think it's a permutation on the whole "we must be ancient to be valid" thing, which irritates me to no end when teenage girls try to explain to me how Wicca is an unbroken tradition straight from the caves. For most of human history people enslaved other people; that doesn't exactly lend the idea CREDIBILITY. So why is it necessary for us to be happy and well-adjusted perverts?

(I noticed in Eli Clare's _Exile and Pride_ that she was down on the word "pervert," and that she also seemed to think everyone else was, too. I mean, I can understand why some people don't like the word "pervert;" to me, it doesn't seem like a very different rationale from the one for not liking "queer," but me, I like "pervert." Sometimes I feel like it encompasses me better than "queer," which many people interpret solely as a predilection for licking girls, and really, I'm SO MUCH MORE than that. :-)

these are the thoughts of Cabell on September 27, 2002 09:48 PM

You have some very good points. I wrote a diary entry voicing similar thoughts a couple years ago. I don't swear or use words like the ones you mentioned. I don't even use "sucks." Why would you describe something you hate as "sucking," but then expect someone you supposedly love to do the same?

these are the thoughts of Laura on October 5, 2002 03:09 AM

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