Wednesday, June 20, 2007

on monday i was sitting outside at the patio with a bunch of kids, and somehow the conversation landed on craigslist sex-work, which several of my friends have done. the unanimous opinion of the table was that if a straight guy was paid to have a man go down on him, he probably wouldnt be able to finish, because of some kind of mental block. first of all, given that i have friends who have done this who qualify as something like straight, i know that isnt what happens. but regardless, to whatever extent that is true, its obvious to me that that is a socialized reaction; that straight men, even progressive straight men, are repulsed by the idea of another man's lips, hands, or naked body, appear to me to have their basis solely in culture. "yeah, im all for gay marriage, but i would never kiss a man, because that would be disgusting". im not saying that every man is actually attracted to other men, but how much grosser would that really be than kissing a women that you werent attracted to? its kind of frustrating for me to be in this summer camp bubble of people that have had no exposure to the ideas that compose the shared framework of most of the people i interact with. when i try to explain that many if not most of my friends are queer (according to some sense of the word, myself included, although i hesitate to self-identify as such because i dont want to appear to minimize someone else's empowerment), 9 times out of ten i get "wait, so he's bi?". or when i try to explain why i dont drink - which i hate doing and only do when people ask and then get offended that i dont want to tell them - if im in the mood to give them a more complete answer (ive taken to just saying that i dont like it, to avoid frustrating conversations), the part about how i perceive a relationship between drinking culture and certain abusive or dominant elements of our culture at large, people have no idea what im talking about. disagree with me, fine. debate me even. at this point, i almost miss being told that im offensively coopting someone else's struggle, because that rebuke contains the implicit message that my attempts to understand gender dynamics are aknowledged and understood. well, almost. and when it comes to sex work, forget it. i cant understand how the same people who participate in a culture that commodifies sex, replaces intimacy with conquest and domination, and in which all of the rules magically disappear after one drink, can really think that a consensual (or at least, as consensual as is possible when there is money involved) interactions with a sex worker can be unethical and disgusting. how can people take themselves seriously when clinging to puritannical moral systems so selectively? is like the passage in leviticus, in which god condemns men who lie with other men. he also condemns eating shellfish and wearing clothing made of mixed fabrics in the same breath, but you dont see too many protests that lobster and cotton-poly blends are responsible for 9/11. in this respect, my roommate, inti, is a godsend. he is a sex and gender studies major, and the only person in this program to whom i can vent.

this is not meant to be an indictment of drinking. i gave up that fight a long time ago. but my frustration with the college culture of drinking knows no bounds.

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