The word of the day is sex. Parents and family members of certain discretions, turn away from this article because I am about to be extremely candid and the last thing I want is for you to look at me in a certain way once the family reunion comes around. Or you can read on; I am not your boss and it is your mind that is about to be rewired. Happy Reading!
When life becomes hard, there is one of two things we can do: fight or flight. In love, we sign the same deal. When it becomes tough, we can fight for our love or let it fly away. The situation with the latter is that there is always a lingering hope that it will fly back to you. But if you haven’t trained it to fly back, if it hasn’t a clue what to do once it’s released, then what? What if it flies into oncoming traffic? What if it gets sucked into an airplane? With this train of thought, without the hope or the coming back, doesn’t it become more of a self-destruct of your relationship than the letting go of it? Is this not the proverbial point of no return? Where does the line get drawn? When does the big red button become so tantalizing that the only feeling in the world is to press it and watch the fireworks come to life?
For one, it’s a much prettier end. To see the twirling embers in every color from scarlet to chartreuse light up the night sky, like a funeral pyre for those three years spent wondering if they’d propose, only to end your nights with lukewarm sex and a sweaty back. What better way to end a lackluster streak such as that than with a spectacle far more enjoyable than the ending credits of the fiftieth action movie you just watched? That, of course, is the best case scenario. But what about those moments you find yourself overthinking? What about those moments when the big red button is just an escape from a wonderful, yet emotionally difficult relationship? What if you just don’t want to fight anymore?
Thinking that it could be so much better, thinking that you want nothing more than to watch the fireworks twirl and dance, instead of spending one more day talking about your classes or work or how Patrice baked you the wrong kind of cookies when you were feeling down. What if, the need becomes so enticing, so comforting that you notice your hand begin to hover over the button. It’s bright and shiny and red, untouched and aching to launch days and months of work, devotion, and passion into the sky in a fashion that would entrance the most stubborn of audiences and frighten the most fearless of dogs? You get closer and closer and everything slows down; the sound of your heart pounds in your ear and you actually stop and think for once if it’s what you want to do, because to end something so abruptly isn’t a task to be taken lightly. You then begin making excuses, fabricated reasons to send rockets to the sky. How he licks his teeth, how he smells in the morning, how she scratches her armpit in a way that makes her look like an orangutan, or how the lack of texts means that they must be cheating on you. Lingering fears flood your mind and your gasping for air, the only thing in sight is the bright red button. I will briefly confess that this happens to me. Often. Why can’t you just push the thoughts aside? Let them lie still for once and realize that you have something special. Realize that someone is there for you. Realize that it could be something very, very good for you. Of course, if it really is something that is destructive or poisonous, then the best thing to do is go away, to push the button. Every love life is different and circumstantial. Please don’t look at my love life or your sibling’s, or your parent’s as a monolith for what true love is, because it’s different for everyone.
The fireworks are beautiful, I can tell you that now. They will leave you with awe and inspiration and life. But it’s temporary. The flames will fade and the smell of gunpowder and smoke will linger. The self-destruct button exists, but you can dismantle it. You can wish it away. You can control your life. So given the circumstance, what would it be: Fight or Firework?
**I will admit: This post is inspired by a class I’m currently taking at school focused around social constructionism and popular culture. A quick caveat and preface: If you are taking a class at school/college/uni and the content is permeable between the realms of your social life and academic life, don’t take it for granted. That class will stick with you forever and you will look back and realize how grateful you were for that professor. So thank you, Professor Bucholtz. Here we go. **
As you have probably guessed at this point from the previous four posts that I am constantly baffled at the world around me. Baffled at the students that embody my school, at the decisions news outlets make and what they deem as “news.” But there’s nothing more baffling to me than sexual assault. Now, this post isn’t going to touch on this topic, per se, but the actual topic does seep in to it. Today (at the time of writing it is Monday, April 13) my professor offered us a challenge: Locate within popular culture (US and British television and film, primarily) examples of consent. It must be a verbalized question and not just a “look.” You all know what the “look” is, right?
It looks a bit like that. No words; just the glance, the slow motion, and the palpable tension between two people. I understand why this wasn’t an allowed option. For one, is it really consensual if no one says yes? Debatable. I began my search, writing up every last TV show and movie I can think of that can possibly exhibit some sort of vocalized consent. Anything! Please society, don’t let me down, I pleaded. As I went through, I began to notice a trend. Most of the shows I began to think of with any shred of consent were TV shows centered on young adults, banking on their first kiss. Even then, it was rare that something was even said. Even more interesting, were that these shows were released in the 1990’s! The ’90s! The upcoming generation wasn’t even alive yet! What does this say about the current pop culture that is floating around in society? What does it say for the future? Will my future child just pop out demanding sex because they feel its their birthright? Probably not, because they’re so fresh and new, but I’d give it at least until his/her/their tenth birthday. Moreover, my research led me to films which showed consent as either an awkward and comedic quip or again, among children (see Little Rascals [from 1994] or Frozen as examples). It was also very hard to locate any vocalized consent in relation to sexual intercourse. Almost impossible, but not entirely.
Why is it that pop culture and the media is so obsessed with “the stolen kiss?” Kisses taken mid-sentence, taken in silence, kisses taken by surprise. It’s because we’re taught that the stolen kiss is sexy. My take from this exercise? Society and the media don’t think consent will sell. They don’t think it’s sexy. They believe that what is sexy is for sex to be spontaneous, sporadic, long-lasting, and satisfyingly pleasurable. Which is not the case whatsoever. I think to limit to a vocalized consent is eye-opening because of its rarity. Think about it. Most sex isn’t scheduled. Most sex isn’t talked about. Sex just happens. That’s a dominant discourse in our lives. Sex just happens and we expect it to be amazing. Not the case. Even when you think of the term ‘consensual sex,’ it’s completely redundant. Sex should be consensual 100% of the time. If it’s not, it’s rape.
Next time, when you’re watching a TV show or a movie, try and look out for these types of things and notice how rare they are. Notice how much more difficult they are to find when you’re actively seeking them out. It’s headache-inducing, so I’d keep a few aspirins nearby. I don’t mean to ruin these things for you, far from it. To notice, is to be aware and awareness is a good thing. Also, when in doubt: Just ask. Maybe one day we can justly prove that consent is sexy. A final note that should be said:
Yes means yes. Anything other than that is a no. It’s as simple, and apparently as complicated as that.