We live in a strange society.
Concepts like freedom and autonomy are cherished. Wars are fought on the basis of them and entire countries are founded on the principles of them.
More than 50% of the traffic that hits this website comes from a country that shall remain nameless due their terrible heresy of ruining a perfectly good shipment of tea by throwing it into the harbour several hundred years ago – you know who you are!
As an Englishman and avid tea drinker I of course I shudder at the thought. Not because of the political implications on taxes or how the episode then escalated into a war afterwards but just because it was such a terrible waste of perfectly good tea.
More than 300 chests of tea ruined! You heretics!
A Lego Reconstruction Of The Heretics At Work
However, the heretics had a perfectly understandable motivation behind their actions and it was not hatred of tea (thank goodness because that would obviously make them certifiably insane). No, it was protest over taxes and a desire for greater autonomy and freedom.
The desires for freedom and autonomy are deeply human and I believe are innate in all of us regardless of race, nationality or gender.
The heretics then went on to found a new nation and promptly proclaimed it “the land of the free”.
However, today in both this country and in many others in the world including my own (where our desires for freedom and autonomy are just as strong) today we will be happily be celebrating reduced autonomy day more commonly known as St. Valentine’s day.
Don’t worry, I am not poo-pooing love or raising my middle finger at cosy coupledom. Far from it. If two people are all loved up and wish to use today as an opportunity to express that with flowers, chocolates and bookings at expensive restaurants – go at it!
I don’t want the restaurateurs of the world baying for my blood in defence of their single most profitable day of the year. I just want to make a simple point and that is this.
We live in a society in which the less autonomy and freedom you have in your sexual relationships, the more society legitimises and praises you and regards your relationship as more “real”.
It goes on a sliding scale like this.
Greatest autonomy = one night stand
Not even regarded as a relationship of any kind.
In fact often seen as the opposite of a relationship as demonstrated by questions like “So, with you and him was it just a one night stand or do you think there is a potential relationship there?”
Notice the wording? It’s either or. It’s either a one night stand or a relationship.
Slightly Less Autonomy = Starting To Date Someone
Not officially boyfriend / girlfriend yet but dating each other perhaps exclusively, perhaps not.
Seen as more legit than a one night stand but not that much more especially if they are not dating on an exclusive basis.
At least seen as a relationship of some kind but not a “real” one yet.
Even Less Autonomy = Dating Exclusively
Ok, now it’s a “real” relationship.
You have agreed to fence in each other’s sexuality on an exclusive basis and you may now officially refer to each other using the possessive pronoun “my”.
That’s my gal!
He’s my man.
And shortly afterwards you may now officially start to berate other people and get into fights in bars and nightclubs …
Oi! Were you chatting up my bird?
Hey girl, stay away from my man!
Congratulations, you are now officially somebody else’s property! But wait. There is something missing! But what is it?
Oh yeah. I got to get you a ring so everyone else knows that we have an arrangement and knows to stay the hell away.
Engagement = Almost no autonomy
Guess what? This is the stage that some many people will have arrived at just today!
Popular locations to “pop the question” (the question being ‘will you please surrender what little autonomy you have left until one of us dies’) include on top of the Eiffel tower and in an expensive restaurants all around the world because nothing says love like 324 metres of bolted sheet metal and a bottle of wine with a 500% mark-up.
You get to break the news to friends and family and change your official Facebook status.
All and sundry will respond with “congratulations” which is odd bearing in mind very widely known 50% divorce rate. Would you say “congratulations” to someone who put everything they owned in the world on red at the roulette wheel as the dealer prepared to spin?
“Good luck” would seem more appropriate don’t you think?
Save the congrats for later
Marriage = Zero Autonomy
Well done! You have now made someone swear in front of God that they won’t back out of this deal.
Also, thanks to getting the lawyers and the state involved in reducing your own autonomy and that of your partner, backing out of the deal can now only be done at great penalty.
Possible penalties include loss of 50 percent of everything you own, getting thrown out of your own house, loss of rights to see your own children and jail time for lack of payment of child support.
Now I am not against marriage (chortle if you like but it’s true). If you truly believe in freedom of choice (which I do) then you should agree that people have the right to engage in bondage and legally handcuff themselves to each other.
This is not a kind of bondage that I find sexy and fun and I won’t be partaking in it personally during my lifetime but if you want to, go ahead.
Nor is my quarrel against love – it is against conditional love which is the kind of love that you see celebrated on Valentine’s Day.
Love that is conditional on reduced autonomy is neither human (for it is human to be autonomous) nor it is true love (because true love is not conditional) however, this is the framework that Sex 2.0 hands to us and we are just told to get on with it and whatever you do, don’t ask any questions.
The title of this post could just as easily have been “Happy Conditional Love Day”.
Here’s a crazy idea, how about a day to celebrate un-conditional love? How about a day for people in loving relationships that are run on the basis of autonomous choice as supported by Sex 3.0?
As a Facebook friend of mine said today “I want a day celebrating unconditional love. The kind of love that doesn’t need a “because.” The kind of love that just simply is, and always will be. The kind of love that doesn’t involve jealousy or a sense of ownership. The kind of love that doesn’t try to change a person or shape them into what we want them to be. The kind of love that welcomes every aspect of who a person truly is.”
I propose April 7th every year. Should be a nice spring day and we would not have to solider though the wind, rain and freezing temperatures that the UK and US are facing right now.
I am open for ideas of what to call the day. Suggestions by email please.
Also, I am sure the restaurateurs association would welcome another such day on their calendar and might even help us get it up and running. After all, if your bookings would fill your restaurant twice over today then this would be a great way to recoup that lost income.
Anybody have any contacts there (no I am not kidding)?
Further Reading : Your Threeway With The State