I'd written here before about the way it's become riskier to admit to any particular sexual or romantic desires or interests. It's become harder to say that you like anything particular--- or anything at all ---without being subject to mockery. I'll note that this just may apply to the culture as a whole. Maybe it's the effect of social media as much as of anything else. There's a need nowadays to critique, to treat everything with a prosecutor's eye. Maybe, too, social media opens up more fronts on which you can be criticized. There are so many more ways now to let someone know that you really, really dislike whatever it is they are, whatever it is that they do or believe. We're far more harsh on one another than we used to be, and we take it for granted that everything needs to be criticized to destruction and that anything that can be criticized at all is probably no good at all to begin with.
Well, whatever--- but it is harder now to risk telling a potential lover what you like and what you hope to do with them. Memory says that in my long-ago youth, you could smile across a table or a bed and tell a lovely girl what interested you without the fear of being told that what you liked was pathetic or disgusting...or morally corrupt on ideological grounds. Memory says that girls were more willing to experiment for its own sake, to try new things just because they were new. I'm sure there must've been things that girls found they weren't interested in, but I don't recall ever being attacked or told I was politically evil for raising possibilities.
My friend Ms. Flox raised another issue in an essay she wrote a couple of weeks ago. What is it, she wrote, that we hope to do by telling someone about your fantasies? Isn't telling someone that you have fantasies, fantasies about them, simply an act of aggression? Isn't describing to a listener a fantasy the same as acting it out with them?
Well....I can only sigh. So even having interests and fantasies is now an act of aggression? I'm old enough to recall all the clichés about "communication", all the prim psychologists urging potential lovers to "communicate". But I suppose that these days, all communication is regarded as suspect in and of itself. To employ words at all is to control the listener's world. I suppose poets and novelists have always known that, but now the gender warriors and the Social Justice Cult have applied it to the hopes and stories passing between potential lovers.
I'm a creature who lives by stories, who lives through stories. What I have to offer a young companion is all about stories--- stories to tell, stories to share, stories for the two of us to be part of. I do have a real fear these days of being told that stories are now "problematic", that creating stories is a kind of "micro-aggression". What I have to offer my young companions is the idea of living inside well-crafted stories. My fear is that I'll lose that, that there'll be a cultural moment where creating stories, having fantasies, telling anyone that you have particularized desires or kinds of desire will be regarded as some combination of disgusting, pathetic, and aggressive.
I do recall long nights or Sunday brunch afternoons where lovely companions sat with me and we traced fingers over one another's hands and talked about fantasies and stories. Yes, those were very much part of seductions, part of worlds we were creating for one another. I'm going to miss those things.