It's been two months since I've written here, something for which I do apologise. These past few months haven't been a good time for thinking about the sorts of things I'd like to write about. For all the obvious reasons, there's a very dystopian feel to life right now, and there's an ugly undercurrent to social interaction.
Some of that may have been building for a while, of course. Even before the current political nightmare began, the gender wars have made social interaction a minefield. I grew up in an earlier time, at the flood of Sixties and Seventies attitudes towards sex and relationships, and perhaps I'm simply too conditioned by earlier mores to deal with the gender wars.
What have we learned, though? What are the new rules? A friend in northern California calls the gender wars "the triumph of the autistic", by which he means the triumph of an attitude that disdains social obligations, is suspicious of all interaction, and requires almost robotic responses instead of social cues. What we've learned is this--- all social contact is suspect and dangerous. We have learned these things:
Never speak first. Never initiate contact. Never ask for anything, never expect anything. Any initiation is a kind of aggression. Any act that requires the attention of another person is an act of aggression. Asking for anything is aggression. Any expectation of reciprocity or social obligation is aggression and oppressive. You are not allowed to do or say anything that calls for a response from another person. Anything that requires a response from another person is an act of aggression.
Despite a half century's worth of advice about relationships, "communication" is oppressive. To tell someone that you're attracted to them is aggression. To discuss what you'd like to try sexually or what you enjoy sexually is regarded as demanding and oppressive. Having fantasies about someone is a sign that you are complicit in a violation of consent. Telling someone they're in your fantasies is an act of non-consensual sex and a kind of psychic violence.
No compliment is actually complimentary. All compliments are forms of oppression. All compliments are acts of power--- you are arrogating to yourself the right to say something about another person.
Never disagree, never contradict, never correct, never debate. All those things are acts of oppressive power or gaslighting. Any discussion of principles at all is an act of coercion.
Say nothing. Make no suggestions. Never initiate. Never ask. Never touch. Never look. Never disagree. These are the things we've learned.
Nothing is acceptable, nothing can ever be any good, if it has any flaws in it, or if it can be presented as in any way problematic.
Everything is to be "interrogated"--- i.e., to be shown to be morally corrupt and evil. Nothing is ever good enough to be an acceptable social organization. Nothing ever can be good enough.
My friend calls this "the triumph of the autistic". I think of it as the triumph of the armoured monad. The age of the gender wars is an age that wishes that sex would never happen, since that calls for social interactions and linkages, since it calls for all the messiness of human emotion and human dreams to be foregrounded.
The new age is one where armoured, atomized individuals hide from one another, desperately afraid of one another. What's the old saying--- everything is about sex except sex, which is about power....? We've taken that to heart in a way that's ugly and sad.
It's been an awful last six months. And now we're angered and made afraid by even the thought of interaction.