In the first of a rolling feature, Semtex agitates, discusses, ponders and expounds with her innate verbosity on the death of gender. In many respects her ideas regarding the ‘traditional’ (and for some sacred) ideas of male and female union are almost controversial in this current climate. Indeed, you might find yourself dis-agreeing vehemently but that’s ok-stay #itchysilk a place for provocative words.
Bodily contact in a post-monogamous, post-heteronormative world………………..
I trace the death of gender, or rather, gender as the twentieth century was conditioned to believe in it, to 2015. Or maybe it was 2016. My ex-boyfriend told me bluntly, ‘I’ve discovered I prefer being alone,’ essentially terminating our three-year long relationship. Apart from shattering my heart into incalculable bits upon a street in Istanbul, this was my first real glimpse into the condition of the present generation. A sea change so increasingly palpable that the last of the heteronormative Mohicans can’t help but feel like they’re drowning in the irrelevance of still wanting something more than merely a “situationship.”
Beyond the lack of desire on the part of most people- (“men” especially)-to attach themselves to any one person in the era of Tinder, (the most symbolic brand-turned-noun for describing disposability), there is a lack of gender assignation. Then there’s the most unparalleled trend of all. It harks back to the ex who destroyed me. People are fine being alone, when they can essentially procure sexual encounters like Seamless, whenever they happen to feel lusty, itself increasingly rare with the Orwellian/Bradburian preoccupation with screens. It is now socially acceptable to remain single. Gone are the days of judgmental, hushed whispers like, ‘He never took a wife’. People now feel at ease to focus on the ‘I’. Men and women feel no particular obligation to one another when it comes to commitment.
Condemn the 50s all you want, but it was, in so many ways a simpler time for the “basic” existence known as being straight. Was female oppression so rampant that Lucy Ricardo had to subvert the male mind with her schemes of the week, goading Ricky with always starring in the show? Yes. Did children get fed meat loaf like government lies? Absolutely. But everything was clear. The black and whiteness of what gender and its roles meant it kept everything in one taut box that has since exploded into many directions. And yeah, before the box exploded, there was that stifling Revolutionary Road (2009) feeling of being “stuck” with the same person-but there was also the secure comfort of being stuck with the same person!
In the present epoch-Trumpian though it may be-the U.S. has never known more liberalism for what it “tolerates,” relationship-wise. However, as Eleanor Roosevelt, the OG anti-male political force to be reckoned with, once said, ‘With freedom comes responsibility’. Yet with the freedom of being trans, gender fluid, asexual, gay, bisexual, pansexual, polyamorous……it seems no one wants to take responsibility for where that leaves the long implemented construct of monogamy between a man and woman. As the crux of so many’s belief in “the way it’s supposed to be,” stamping it out entirely could take at least a century. Even the biological predilection for reproducing conventionally might slow the process further.
This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong or “iniquitous” (as some Christians might bill it) with people describing themselves how they want to, and fucking accordingly. It is, however, throwing a wrench into the lives of the type of millennial raised on large portions of rom com fodder. Think- When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sixteen Candles (1984), Pretty Woman (1990), Clueless (1995) and the surprise that was not a surprise conclusion of Friends when Ross and Rachel reignite their romance. With so much of the culture brainwashing us into believing that there is a man for every “quirky” woman, where are those of us still seeking the love the media peddled to us left in this post-monogamous, post-heteronormative world?
In seeking to determine the answers in this weekly instalment, I hope to shed light on the unprecedented times we live in with regard to romantic attempts and the antiquated notion of spending your life with one person.
With this in mind, stay tuned for a look back at the past fails of monogamy and how we can apply them to our present in next week’s episode, Boys Who Like Boys Who Look Like Their Dead Wives: Nero and Poppaea Sabina.
Featured image by Hal
In text image still from the film Naked Albi (1954)