Unicorns

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

Why are unicorns so central in the symbology of gay culture and lgbt culture in general? Unicorns are magical animals, they are “special” or even “unique” but they are often associated with purity, not to mention virginity. What does that have to do with the very material and often highly sexualized gay imagination?

The stigma on sexuality reminds us of something dirty rather than of the purity of the unicorn coat. One of the most ambitious aims of a movement for sexual liberation is precisely to eradicate the idea that there is any purity in certain behaviors or that virginity has any moral significance whatsoever – or that it has any meaning at all. Lgbt movements attempt to break the barriers between heterosexuality and what is considered “deviant” from it and hence “bad”, “stained”, “sick”. In the lgbt universe, purity is irrelevant, dethroned by an inclusive rainbow of all the different shapes human sexual orientation can assume.

The whiteness of the unicorn couldn’t be any further from the darkness of the sleepless nights of gay clubbing. Its lack of imperfections couldn’t be less representative of the wounded, scarred personal histories of many lgbt people.

Perhaps, unicorns are symbols of re-birth after the first coming into the world was repressed by homophobia. The virginity they stand for could be a metaphor for the brand new start of life after coming out and accepting oneself.

This looks like a plausible interpretation, but I have my doubts about it, for it sort of clashes with my conception of (gay-lgbt) pride. Being “out in the open” as a lgbt person doesn’t mean to have forgotten one’s own past. On the contrary: the scars are worn with pride. They remind us of the fights, of the resilience against all odds, of survival and of the final victory, which didn’t come without high costs.

Lgbt people can be “re-born” in a certain sense, but not without any connection to their past. Personal histories give meaning to our pride, our joie de vivre, our strengths as well as our weaknesses.

I don’t have the intellectual tools to analyze lgbt symbology any deeper, also because it would require expertise in historical and cultural studies, not to mention semiotics and hermeneutics, disciplines I know little or nothing relevant about, especially for this specific case.

Let me then just give you a hint of what I think about unicorns. As small children we have been told that unicorns do not exist. The same doesn’t necessarily happen with respect to other imaginary figures like Santa Klaus, angels or else. Unicorns are the ultimate non-existent thing – at least in the western collective unconscious.

On the other hand, lgbt people have lacked visibility and are often misrepresented. They have been marginalized and made object of false beliefs and myths. Just like unicorns, they didn’t exist in the ordinary life of most people. Not because they hadn’t been there the whole time, just because they were oppressed to the point of invisibility.

Being recognized as existent, worthy of love and acceptance is central for the construction of the personal identity of many lgbt people. The unicorn becomes the symbol of being there when many do not believe in you, to be as real and as worthy of existence as anyone else, without further justification. Just because one exists.

Unicorns do not exist. Or maybe we just failed to see that they have always been there, under another name or another form. For now, I am content of being part of the most fabulous volleyball team ever. We are the Royal Unicorns and I am a proud unicorn.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha

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Sex

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

Sex is healthy and good. At least, this is what we hear from sexologists in a world mostly liberated from religious obscurantism. At the same time, sex is somewhat controversial. Feminism has shown us how important the question of consent is, whereas the social stigma on pedophiles proves how hard it is still to distinguish between sexuality and sexual act.

For months I have not been able to illustrate the philosophical condition I think sex has to fulfill in order to be healthy and good. My biggest worry was that of being mistaken for a puritan. Thanks to the help of the French novelist Marguerite Yourcenar, I have overcome this worry and I can now proceed to express my opinion.

Let me spend a couple of words on why it is important to spell out this condition. Nowadays, it is unproblematic for most people to find sex. Moreover, the taboos around it are crumbling and the wars for sexual liberation of the past decades are showing their fruits. A question now arises: is the availability of sex enough for sex to be healthy and good?

I don’t think so, because the simple fact that we can mutually consent to have sex is compatible with terrible sex. That kind of sex can be morally ok, but not good in the very concrete sense of the term. Besides, it is hardly definable as “healthy”: even if it might be “physiologically healthy”, it remains psychologically terrible. Hence, we need an additional condition to the mere availability of sex to make sex healthy and good.

How about love? That seems to be too demanding. As A pointed out to me once, a person can enjoy sex without displaying any profound emotional bonding to the sexual partner. One night stands can be often fun.

The short story “The Man who Loved the Nereids” by Marguerite Yourcenar has helped me shed light on this issue. The story goes like this: Panegyotis was a rich young man who enjoyed the company of many girls. Unfortunately, he was charmed by the Nereids, magical creatures living away from human civilization. After his encounter with these “supernatural man-eaters”, no common human pleasure could arouse him anymore. Indeed, he longed for the rest of his life for his nonhuman lovers.

To describe his condition, Yourcenar writes the following:

As much as no love exists without dazzlement of the heart, there is no true sensuality without wonder of beauty.

The condition of poor Panegyotis applies to many more cases than what you might expect. Without being amazed by another person, sex won’t be good nor healthy. This amazement needn’t be as pretentious as the one you’d experience in front of the Nereids. But it can’t be absent, if you are not willing to get terrible sex.

Too many people have sex without even questioning whether they like it, because sex is supposed to be intrinsically “healthy and good”. It is not. Sex is good only upon at least what we could call “Panegyotis’ condition”: there must be something that amazes you about your sexual partner(s). There must be “beauty” in that person, which could fill you with a sense of genuine wonder. Otherwise, sensuality isn’t “true”. It remains the social construct of void expectations it concretely is. Sex becomes a dull routine, a set of mechanical gestures to achieve an orgasm – sometimes even without the orgasm.

You can’t expect sex to be good independently of what you feel for a person. But this feeling needn’t be as strong as love. It can simply be an emotion related to our “inner sense of beauty”, call it wonder, amazement, inspiration or what you like.

No matter how hard we strive to understand it, sex remains a pretty complicated thing. To make it a little easier, we shall first figure out that we have been hit underneath, rather than under the bed sheets. For that might be too late.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha

Toys

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

It is not without a little embarrassment that I will approach today’s topic, which is (drum roll…): masturbation! Yay!

There is a huge stigma on masturbation, which makes it a topic to be cautiously handled – if you know what I mean. I mean, seriously, one simply does not talk about masturbation. It is considered dirty and shameful, the favorite activity of losers. Well, guess what? There are way more losers out there than what one might expect, dear.

I suspect that this stigma comes from (surprise surprise) the Christian influence on our culture. After all, like most of the stigmas and taboos in the western world do.

Christianity has always seen sexuality as necessarily related to reproductive purposes. No wonder that mere “recreational” sexual practices have been historically abhorred. However, our societies have become much more liberal in recent decades, breaking down many taboos related to contraception, virginity and pre-marital sex.

But why does masturbation remain so obscure and “dangerous” to be talked about? If practiced in private and with healthy and careful procedures, what should be wrong about it? Why is the religious taboo still holding for masturbation and not for “collective” sexual activities?

My intuition is that we have never gotten completely rid of the stigma on sexuality itself. We think that sexuality must have to do with the exercise of sexual practices with someone else and that it should be, at its best, crowned by love, romantic feelings and the like. We think that “love is love” and that homosexuals should be granted the same rights as heterosexuals because love makes us equal.

But sexuality is something way more essential than “love”. It is deeply rooted in our biological constitution and it has primarily nothing to do with sexual intercourse. It is an essential part of what we individually are made of. It grounds most of our drives, independently of the way they can be satisfied, if at all.

Accepting our sexuality means in many cases accepting ourselves. You can’t love a person “no-matter-what-her-sexuality-is”. It matters a lot that you respect and accept that sexuality, no matter what your religious and cultural background is! No matter if there is love between two human beings, one hundred or just within a single individual. No matter if it is promiscuous, shy, dolt, original, awkward. No matter if it is sexuality or a-sexuality.

I think everyone would benefit from appraising the value of a life that is sexually fulfilling, independently of one’s relationships with other people. I am not just saying that masturbating is “alright”. I am indeed saying that masturbation should be cultivated! Masturbating without regrets makes you know your body and it is extremely helpful to get to enjoy sex together. I am strongly convinced that masturbating enhances also one’s creativity. For example, I will never see Nivea roll-on deodorants in the same light again…

Sex toys are the best to explore one’s sexuality. Not only for “solo-players” but also for couples, triplets and full-blown orgies! It must be however acknowledged that, contrarily to people, sex toys don’t complain, don’t stink, don’t judge and, on top of all, never disappoint.

I am joking – well… except for the last line, perhaps. At any rate, what I find important in this whole talk, is that we should strive for the self-confidence necessary to make us respect our individual sexualities, no matter if we have sexual partners or not.

Intersubjective relationships are still of extreme importance and sex makes some of them just funnier and more savory. But, as one very inspirational person is used to remind us, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha