To Be A Lesbian

I just finished watching The L Word all the way through for the first time. I know, I’m late AF to the party, seeing as the last episode aired in 2009. I was graduating high school that year and was NOWHERE close to admitting to myself that I was gay. Not to mention, in my hometown The L Word was seen as some weird, fetish-porn, “gay-agenda” TV show and basically spoken about like a demonic betrayal of all things wholesome and divine.
However, now, as a newly self-recognized and Out Lesbian, I loved watching it. It was so validating! Sure, it’s dated, missing a lot of broader and diverse representation, doesn’t address transphobia within the gay community, and guilty of stereotyping–but it’s also incredible to see a show that just disregards male significance and necessity altogether. It really shows the intimacy of the world of womxn. Lesbians specifically–womxn who do not identify AT ALL through their need to be connected to or validated through their relationships to men (or at least go through the struggles of that being their truth in a world that tells us we need male approval for survival).

It’s insane how cishet-white-male centric our society is–especially in the States. I watch my female heterosexual friends put up with such bullshit out of the men they date and pursue–and I used to put up with such bullshit out of the men I dated. They continue to put up with it though. The need for male acceptance and approval is so strong, so subconscious, and so necessary for hetero survival in this toxic society. Women are taught by society that we need to be accepted into the Male World (aka, the Patriarchy’s Constructed Society, because there is nothing real or natural about it). I see women who won’t call men out on emotionally abusing them or their friends.
How many women put up with emotional silencing or abuse for the sake of financial security? How many more will endure physical abuse or psychological manipulation for security and acceptance in a world run by men? How many do you personally know–because I know soooo many of these women personally. In many ways, I am still one of these women and trying to empower myself out of the mindset every day.
Why are we so trapped?
Internalized fear? I know my father made it seem like if one man didn’t want to fuck me they’d tell all other men in some secret MALE ONLY social network and I’d be forever blacklisted from being in a relationship with any male ever. I was convinced of that, ridiculous as it sounds.
Stockholm Syndrome? Learned Helplessness? We have been so oppressed by the patriarchal forces that be, accepting our roles (shitty and demeaning as they are) is a necessary means of survival without facing the severe internal depression that becomes expressed through “hysteria” and “women’s troubles” and now mental illness. (Not to say mental illness isn’t legitimate, but that we often don’t acknowledge that it’s cause is traceable and many of them are results of abuse.)
So many heterosexual women, even feminists, will cut men slack when they emotionally abuse others or gaslight women into thinking they’ve overreacted or are being overly-sensitive when we call them out for mistreating us–and why? We make it seem like they’re incapable of the emotional depth we have to get over their shit, and aren’t we all one species and one existence? The trap of seeing men as a NECESSARY part of one’s worth, value and ability to succeed is one deeply engrained in the average American woman. Ever so subtle, but undeniably present.

Since coming out, I have been able to see things in my own life clearer. Suddenly, interactions that were once confusing make complete sense. For example, I have always found myself to be the strong, independent girl in the crowd. The one who called men out of their assholery if they hurt my friend (though never able to stand up for mySELF), dead-eyed them for making sexist comments, and didn’t laugh at jokes that degraded other humans. When I was being myself, and not the Self I had to be to be accepted and approved of by men, I was a bad bitch–and I’m becoming that bad bitch again the more I permanently pull away from the belief that I need male acceptance and love to survive and succeed. I’ve definitely had moments of feeling down on my own worth because all of my other friends were receiving male attention and I wasn’t. It has made me doubt myself so much in the past–Am I too cynical? Too harsh? Too aggressive? Intimidating? Miserable? Ugly? Fat? Annoying? What is wrong with me that I can be hilarious and beautiful to all my friends and no men want me? How do I change myself to be more what they want? How do I become submissive, enjoyable, complimentary–fake–for their acceptance?

Well now that all makes sense. I never wanted them, and getting their approval was a temporary fix to a much larger problem. Plus male approval isn’t as satisfying as it promises to be when it’s first offered. The attention I sought from men was nothing like what I want (and deserve) from a real, loving, intimate relationship. It’s nothing like what I know Love to be. My reaction to men is nothing to how my body reacts to other Lesbians, or womxn in general. My attraction to men was simply a need for attention that validated that I fit into a world–a world I only wanted to fit into because I was convinced I needed to fit into it to survive. But many other worlds exist, and I’ve found I fit into another one entirely. It’s actually one I’ve been a part of for my entire life–though secretly and in the intimacy of my one-on-one relationships with significant carers in my life–my mother, my best childhood friend and first romantic love, etc. It’s a world I’ve live in, but closeted. Now, it seems the doors have been opened and I’m ready to exist in this world more openly. It’s always been here, but the world is only felt by those who know it and believe in its existence–the world of non-male centrism.

 

My roommate is a brilliant person. She’s a writer, currently in grad school for English. We have had many conversations about the significance of Lesbian visibility. She’s been Out for a long time. As I watched The L Word, she rewatched it with me and we had a lot of conversations. Recently, we were talking about how the word “Lesbian” is not just a term that means “Gay Woman”. If we look at the analysis of words, being a Woman is another reminder of how we are simply seen as an extension of Men, about how our greatest sense of identity (where limited agenda, white feminists seek their empowerment even) is from a word that references to that which we are not–to our Oppressors!

I don’t want you to think I’m saying anyone who uses this word is bad. I’m just proposing that there is another option, and possibly to be aware of these things will help us move forward with more conscious use of our words, especially in regards to our self-identity and self-worth.

Words matter. Their context, origin, and implications validate, create, and instill our beliefs about them. Only half of your brain recognizes a word as a collection of letters strung together. The left brain understands and interprets language, but it is not the knower of conceptual understanding altogether. The right brain, on the other hand, takes these words (strings of symbols put together in a linear fashion and assigned meaning) and assigns them meaning on an experiential basis. The right brain understands wordless concepts outside of time or place. It can understand time and space if necessary for context, but it doesn’t think through things linearly–it comprehends them all at once. Like vision in a fourth dimension would be, the right brain sees all sides of the concept it looks at, all at once. The left brain then interprets that linearly. So if we have a word for something, we have to respect that the development of that word comes from a larger conceptual understanding with a whole lot of context, and psychological and historic implications. Your left brain receives the word, but then your memory recall triggers a whole UNIVERSE (made of many worlds) of meaning and connotation for that word. The collection of these meanings is taught in our use of language for understanding the past, and we are bound to the larger concepts after a certain level of knowledge has been gained.

That said, the etymology of the words “Women, Woman, or Female” does not necessarily prove that they were developed or derived in reference to “man, men or male,” their modern context and implication must be considered. The history of masculinity taking claim of everything must be remembered. When these words were developed, they were developed from the latin, and the “men” and “male” aspects of the words referred to humankind, not to a specific gender or sex. However, since the development of these words, a book has been written and widely regarded as Ultimate Divine Truth which states that the first ever woman was made out of a man’s rib, and that man was created by another masculine figure–God. (Yes, I’m talking about Ye Olde Testament–The Bible.) So while the word “woman” may not necessarily derive from this concept or principle, those brought up in a western, Judeo-Christian influenced society have an unconscious internalization of this concept as a means of our creation. Even those who don’t believe in Christianity will have a hard time reminding ourselves that the principles it instilled in us through societal conditioning aren’t real.

I know a woman who has a bad relationship with her birth father and, convinced that she needs love from a father figure to survive, she told me I needed to seek a relationship with the Heavenly Father like she had and I would feel whole and loved. Now, this may work very well for people who can’t get out of the christian dogma, but I’ve been doubting the details of that Patriarchy since I was about 8 years old so that didn’t sit well with me. On a personal level, I have a relationship with divinity but I think it is a concept beyond simplicity of our concept of gender identification and to assign it masculinity and tell people they NEED to seek HIS approval for an understanding of eternal and unconditional love from creation is just manipulative. God is not a man, and you don’t need HIS approval to feel whole. Frankly to gender the concept of God is to make God small–boxed into a definition that makes the incomprehensible into something minutely understandable.

Now, I’m not trying to say that I am not a woman, or that I am not perfectly happy identifying as a woman overall. In the context of society, I am a Cis Woman. For the recognition and importance of my trans family, I recognize my role of having the outward identity of “woman”. Maybe one day I’ll identify as non-binary but for now I don’t feel that is necessary for me. I won’t claim being misgendered (yet) if someone calls me a woman, because what I am about to propose is not a widely acknowledged concept and it will take time for people to understand it and me to further develop what this means to my gender identity. However, I think it is much more appropriate to say that my entire identity, both sexual preference and gender identity, is embodied in the word Lesbian.

Lesbian is a word that stands outside of the traditional need to identify through an attachment or relation to men. My roommate mentioned something this morning about how the word Lesbian is non-human. This isn’t to say we are lacking in what is commonly referred to as “humanity”, or that we aren’t a part of our species, or that we are aliens (though lez be honest, I could be an alien). It means that calling our species “Human” and then giving one acknowledged gender identity in the forced binary the default option of being called “Man” and the other a connection to that with a prefix of “wo” is an immediate means of establishing inequality. It established 1)a binary in an unlimited universe of options and 2)a “Default” and an “Other”. (Another thing instilled in us through Judeo-Christian dogma is the idea that there is a good and evil, and that which is not like you must be against you.)
I want to further this idea by comparing it to the oppression and struggles of Black Americans. They, too, are seen as the “Other” and White is thought of as the “Default”. Everything between is seen as a part of some weird greyscale by White America, rather than seen as the true diversity that racial and cultural diversity is in truth. This has been the case for a long time, far before American Slavery (as the roots of White Supremacy are not strictly North American). The greater piece of toxic society in America doesn’t even really consider Black Culture to be a part of American Culture, calling their own world “America” without being inclusive of any experiences People of Color have with oppression, immigration, racism or prejudice.

This said, I feel the word Lesbian does not attach me to this archaic, binary concept that the word “Woman” with the adjective of “Gay” does. For the sake of society understanding and putting a simplified, reductionist label on me–sure. I guess I’m a homosexual woman. For the sake of a binary believer’s need to understand me–tell yourself whatever you must to get to sleep at night. However, there is so much more to who I am than just being an Other-who-likes-Others.

There is a mindset, an intimacy, and a private world in which non-men exist. Toxic masculinity couldn’t understand it even if we let it in to try (and it has been let in plenty of times, trust). It’s a deep sharing of stories, feelings, pain, pleasure, and endurance. It’s the intimacy of having shared similar oppressions, as well as the multitude of intersections at which our DIFFERENT struggles can be related to with vulnerable empathy and understanding. It’s the inclusion of more and more people into our world–not because they identify a certain way or look a certain way, but because they have become in touch with themselves and their self worth OUTSIDE the world of male approval. This world is ethereal, abstract, made up of feelings and based on the principle of true equality. It is the recognition of Namaste–That which IS in me acknowledges that which IS in you. We are both valid in our existence as we experience it simply because we exist, not because we exist in relation to others. This is a world all its own–like a secret and special club in which our main goal is to live our lives the way we were born to live them, not the way we were taught to live them.

Not everyone in this “club” is a lesbian, and not all those who identify as Lesbians fit into or understand or seek to remain in the understanding of this empathetic existence. However, I find that I know who I am when I am here, and I know who I love and how I love them. I found this world through finally accepting that I am a lesbian. It didn’t come when I accepted myself as a woman–and that never felt like a full or apt definition of my existence.

Another reason I love the word lesbian is the connotations it has been assigned historically. Lesbianism used to be considered a mental illness. Literally, men couldn’t comprehend that women didn’t need or want them and so they decided it was an ILLNESS that could be treated with electro-shock therapy. Let that sink in for a moment. Men were so threatened by the idea that women would leave them, that they could do NOTHING to manipulate them to stay, because some women just weren’t attracted to them at all that (white, cishet, male) Doctors decided it was a condition which needed SEVERE treatment. If we consider this on a large scale, its a disgusting show of dependency, not to mention oppressive AF.

The word Lesbian has also been used as a derogatory slur, along with queer, fag, dyke, butch, and others. Like those words have been reclaimed by our community, the reclaiming of the word “Lesbian” is an act of empowerment for me.

Some of the lesbian community are TERF af, I’ll admit, and seek to make the word more about being a cis gay woman who is attracted to other cis gay women. I’d like to reclaim the world from them too, as this is a grave reduction of the word’s importance. Some lesbians are trans! Some lesbians date trans men! Some lesbians date trans women. Some lesbians care about your genitals and some don’t! Some lesbians fall in love with non-binary folks! Some lesbians are non-binary themselves! Some lesbians even date a cishet male once or twice (or for the first 23 years of their lives in my case). All of these intersections are valid in the identity of “Lesbian”, because being a lesbian isn’t just about being a “gay woman”. That is an outdated definition, in my understanding. I don’t have to be dating anyone to be a lesbian–not a man or a woman or any other gender outside those.

To speak to my sexual preference, I find myself personally attracted to all kinds of womxn. However, I also am constantly having my definition of “womxn” challenged and broadened to be more inclusive of more lives and experiences that differ from mine. I believe that anyone who truly lives their identity and calls that identity womxn IS a womxn and thereby defines the word itself. We are the creators of words, afterall. We control them, and we can’t let them (and such specific, manipulative definitions) control who we are–its unnatural. We are the existence, we are the creator of the word, why would we have to be forced to its definition.

To be a Lesbian is about so much more than the simplified, patriarchal definitions of identity. It is to live outside of the definition of existence which attaches us, our worth, and our identity to others, specifically Men.

To be a Lesbian, for me, is to be Free—

—Free of the mental conditioning, free of the isolated emotional pain, free of the chains that bind me to a false Self I created to survive 20 years in a homophobic environment I couldn’t escape.

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We Are Valid, Regardless.

Sexuality and Gender are valid, regardless of whether or not they are scientifically backed. In other words, if someone feels they are some identity and tells you Who They Are, just respect them for who they are right there in that moment regardless of the “why”.

When I look back at my childhood, the signs and experiences of my sexual preference leaning more to women are littered throughout a confused flurry of memories and lies I told myself for survival. I’m pretty gay, and I always have been–but I haven’t always known or let myself know. I played straight kind of well–and lived the lie well for most of my life.
I told people I was straight for years, and nobody questioned it. Nobody asked why, or asked if I was sure (except maybe a close friend or two who knew some of my experiences with girls). It was a norm that was expected of me and so it was never questioned until someone knew about my high school girlfriend or something. Nobody really questioned my straightness, or my cis-gender and yet there is this part of society that seeks to ask why we are gay, trans, queer, non-binary, asexual, intersex, kinky, polyamorous even though they’d never ask why THEY are straight, cis, monogamous, vanilla, or binary.
It would be one thing if they were asking “why” to further understand and accept us, to integrate our experiences into their empathetic consideration and broaden their minds to include us in their perception of reality. However, this is rarely the case. As we see, people need to know how to fit us into the boxes their anxious minds have accepted as “Only Truth” and when we don’t fit, they claim we are mentally ill, invalid, confused, disturbed, or just gross.

If I have learned anything about the human psyche, it is that for someone to actually understand something when they are in a space of resistance, their ego’s game must be played. Their resistance must be met where it lives and their ignorant delusion must be validated in order to then be invalidated with broader perspective and fact. That said, I’d like to address the delusional aspects of people’s opinions of us quickly before explaining why they are irrelevant to the validity of our identities and preferences.

For many people on the LGBTQIA spectrum, we either know from a young age or later see that we SHOULD have known from a young age because the signs were always there. It’s something we feel as a truth of our reality at the core of our being, even if we don’t want it to be (due to internalized phobias from an abusive environment). Unfortunately, our community is one in which mental illness is VERY common because the abuses we suffer are extreme and target the core of our being in macro and micro-aggressive ways every single day. Many people misunderstand this phenomenon and think it must be the illness causing the LGBTQIA spectrum identity, but WE can tell you it is the treatment we receive for existing somewhere on that spectrum in a world with limited understanding of that diversity that causes the illness.
The assumption that a person is less valid in their identity because it may be a creation of their mental illness is laughable to many of us, but also probably something we’ve thought about if we were gaslit enough as children. However, since I know that is a suggestion of some of our oppressors, and some of our own abused minds even, I present two counter arguments to those who might believe such things.

First, the most commonly acknowledged treatment for any mental illness is for external parties to BELIEVE THE DELUSION (reality) of the “ill” person because often that is exactly what the person needs to heal themselves and live a healthy life. I generally have a love/hate with the word “delusion”, as it suggests a lack of reality, but the way in which I mean it is not necessarily trying to demean the experience. I think many realities, if not every reality humans experience, is some kind of delusion. We can look at love as a desperate means to escape loneliness, fueled by powerful drugs–oxytocin and seratonin. We can look at religion as a desperate means to escape fear of death and the unknown. We can look at ALL identity as simply facade and ego protection. The more we learn about the mind, the more likely it is that everything we experience is an illusion and creation of the mind–which is commonly know as a DELUSION when it is not shared by others or seen as fitting in to shared reality. This said, if my identity is a delusion, so is yours. Being straight and cis-gender is not a strict reality in history, in nature, in mind, and clearly not in the present world, as my existence proves. The LGBTQIA+ community, who is just as valid in their existence as anyone not in that community, is a testament to that–because all humans are equal in their inherent value and existence, and so are their realities, even if those realities are seen by outer parties as a “delusion”. In short, You cannot invalidate one reality without invalidating them all–or else you are a victim to a supremacy complex and your mind does not inherently see through the eyes of equality–meaning YOU are mentally ill with Narcissist Personality Disorder or something like it. If your eyes do not see through the eyes of equality, truly YOU are the one who is ill–lacking in empathy and the ability to comprehend that which is new or different. Cognitive dissonance. Narcissism. These are the illnesses of ignorance. So either all of our experiences make up the whole, on equal grounds of validity, or none of them are real and we are all useless carbon creatures on a tiny planet in the middle-of-nowhere-whatever-space-is-blah.
Still, that said, even IF my identity were a result of mental illness (which is a result of both Nature [my biological sensitivity] and nurture [the abuses of those who sought to make me straight and cis]), a queer and non-binary identity and life is what my hurt mind needs to exist in this world, that MUST BE ACCEPTABLE. If it is not, the only other choice I am given, personally speaking as a depressive/dissociative/anxious being, is suicide or death by not living. Mental illness is chronic for many of us, and when it is severe it cannot be CURED, only coped with and made less severe. If my coping is to avoid men for the rest of my life and not see myself through the eyes of binary gender, THAT MUST BE ACCEPTABLE or the only other choice I have is death and misery.
So basically, assuming that all humans are valid and equal, and we all exist on an inherently equal plain of reality, even IF someone’s identity as LGBTQIA is the result of emotional trauma, mental illness, confusion, experimentation, etc, IT IS STILL VALID AND DOES NOT NEED TO BE JUSTIFIED BY SCIENCE OR RELIGION TO BE ACCEPTED.
Self identity is, for all of us, necessary for the calming of the mind. Truly, I am sorrowful to anyone who sees themselves strictly through the eyes of others, as I have been there before and it is SO very painful to the core of my being. But even that is my own perception of someone else’s reality, and may be a misinterpretation of how they live their lives. If someone needs, even for a moment, to see and be seen, themselves, as something, why does it matter to you? If that is what they need, and it’s a matter of life or death, why not just let them have what they need to live? It’s so easy. And yes, people do need things for survival and for some of us it is something as abstract as expression of our Selves in a way that is outside the accepted “norms”.

My second, and more important argument is this–you should not assume you know someone better than they know themselves. If you are projecting what you SEE someone as onto them as their identity, you are seeing them, and asking them to see themselves, through YOUR eyes. Basically, If you hold, in your heart, a respect for another human being then their identity should not matter to you insomuch that you don’t accept who they tell you they are. Also, you should try to hold respect for every person you meet as an individual beyond that which you SEE them as. That is respect. That is giving one the benefit of the doubt.
Love is a thing beyond this world and who we are in it, but we have to live every day in a painful and harsh reality too. Regardless of anyone’s spiritual beliefs, just living in a human body is painful for some people, and they should be allowed to seek any perspective they need, so long as it is self reflective and not projective, in order to live in peace with their own mind, body and reality. Identity is something we ALL assume in some form or another. The identities which should be offensive are not the one’s which seek to validate self through reflection and discovery, as the LGBTQIA+ community does. If any reality is to be questioned it should be those realities which actually hurt other people, those rooted in ignorance and supremacy, which lack empathy, compassion, and basic psychological understanding, because those hurt our species and our world. I only say that even because those identities (such as alt-right or evangelical extremists) seek to draw lines of limitation and separatism, breeding a certain assured self-destruction of the human species.

Point is–if someone wants to “Switch to girls cuz men are trash”, still fucking valid.It does not mean all lesbians are man haters, and it doesn’t mean others weren’t born gay. It means, that person found themselves to be prefering women. That doesn’t mean it’s a choice, and it doesn’t mean other lesbians weren’t born gay. It’s a spectrum, all reasoning accepted. If someone wants to “Identify as asexual for now” because they’ve been traumatized and can’t imagine sex anymore and don’t feel connected to sex at all, it doesn’t need to invalidate anyone else, and it shouldn’t be used to invalidate asexuality in general. By the principles of equality, the mind creating our perceptions of reality, and the self being a part of that, that identity is still valid and it may be what they need to heal from trauma, and it may be who they were born as and they are just now realizing it. Asexual is a spectrum on which the “Why?” can be many things–as is gender and sexual preference.

Stop thinking that how YOU see someone from the outside is how THEY experience themselves from inside.

That’s often not the case. And if you think what you see from the outside is more valid an identity for THEM than the one they know and feel from inside their own life and mind and body, YOU are the one projecting. YOU are the one forcing someone else into YOUR delusion. YOU are the narcissist, and YOU are the one who is ill and harming others with your illness.

When someone shares their inner reality with you, their inner experience of themSelves, it is a gift.

It is a serious insight into something and someone so divinely different and yet so divinely the same and your Self. It is the universe meeting itself, it is God, it is love and empathy and vulnerability and faith and grace. It is the connection we all need and seek to some extent. It is interdependence. It is expansion. It is intelligence. The seeing of the world through someone else’s eyes, the seeing of someone else through their OWN eyes, these things are invaluable gifts being shared with you for the sake of mutual growth toward universal love and acceptance. To dismiss them because it challenges your reality is to turn down this gift to maintain the comfort of your delusion–at the expense of someone else AND your self-growth.

So here’s my final statement. Some of us were born this way, some of us discovered ourselves late, some of us still aren’t sure and are exploring to find where we fall on this vast spectrum of infinite possibility, some of us are scared, some of us are hurt, some of us are sure and some of us are questioning, some of us are going to be one thing for the rest of our lives and some of us may change identities with outfits. Regardless, because we know who we are and what we need better than anyone outside of us knows, we are valid and our identity, expression, and preferences are valid. We do not need a scientific, spiritual, or psychological justification to be LGBTQIA+. We do not need societal validation to BE valid. We are inherently just as valid as all others, because no one reality gets to decide what IS and IS NOT truth. It is ALL realities that come together to create the balance of creation and truth in the universe, including those which challenge 2000 years of invented and conditioned imperialist “normalcy”.

Art is Necessary

The other day I was talking to a vocal student about Da Capo arias from the Baroque. I once had them explained to me as “One emotion or sentiment is expressed, then a major mood shift, then back to the original”. It works, it gets the point across. It’s a reduction of the form itself, but certainly get’s students to understand the performance aspect of those pieces.

As I was discussing it with my student I got a little carried away and it sent me on a thought tangent. I mentioned how everything in humanity evolves together–music, architecture, technology, even human thoughts and emotional processing–because the human mind collectively evolves together the more and more we come in contact with one another.
So, for example, now that we have the internet, intellectuals gain vocabulary and ideas from one another within hours of their thoughts having been thought and shared. Everyone who reads their words and allows them to expand their knowledge will evolve to a new level of understanding and have new words to express something more specifically than it was expressed before. Before we had the quick and constant communication of the internet, there were certainly intellectuals. However, the further we go back in history the harder it was for their words to have been read by the majority of the population. Its not that individuals with their own thoughts didn’t have brilliant ideas and amazing words for to express those thoughts, but not everyone was reading those words, or hearing them, let alone thinking critically about them. Our thought is evolving exponentially faster because of the potential for shared information on the internet–even false information. Those of us willing to read, to access, to critically think and consider, we are growing and learning daily from the collective hive mind of the internet.

As for emotions, I mentioned to my student that our expression and our understanding of complex processes like grief or heartbreak were fully felt throughout the history of time, and often written about, painted or otherwise expressed through artistic means–but those expressions were not always shared or spread as quickly as they are now.
Van Gogh, for example, was a brilliant painter with the ability to use color so that it depicted emotion and feeling. He painted how he felt, not necessarily how reality would see something, but how he personally felt it. Still, it took his tragic and lonesome death for his artwork to be appreciated.
Similarly, Gaius Valerius Catullus (84-54 BCE) wrote words which were beautifully expressive of the process of love and heartbreak. Those words were written before the common era and waited until 1982 to meet their musical match in Dominic Argento’s composition I Hate and I Love. I don’t think any other genre or time period could have expressed the intensity of those words, their imagery, their pain, quite the same as Argento’s did. It took 2,000 years for them to be communicated in a genre beyond written words. It took 2,000 years for that expression of emotion to meet another and become the emotional genius that is I Hate and I Love.

Historically, there were literally less words in the human vocabulary, less specific and universal understanding of those words, less techniques of uninhibited artistic expression with which to convey those words. Even the most expressive works based on human thought or emotion did not travel too far outside their origin as quickly as things have the potential to now.

Music grew, in depth and understanding, from the simplistic understanding of emotion through da capo arias, and by the romantic era you have through-composed arias which literally change feeling from phrase to phrase, moment to moment, bar to bar, note to note–all as a result of the developments that came before it being reinterpreted and pushed further. This is a sign of the human capacity for emotional expression growing! To me, changing mood every other phrase is much more accurate an expression of the process of going through intense emotions like grief. It’s more cognitive of the individual thoughts that lead us through the emotional processing.

Not to say that before then humans didn’t have the emotions or didn’t feel as deeply, but our understanding was limited, and those with understanding didn’t have their expression shared as easily or readily as now. Without the words, or the composition/technical development, or the social/political FREEDOM to express, or the communication for that expression to be widely heard, or the cognition to hear the thoughts that are triggered by our feelings, or the psychology to understand thoughts as thoughts and not as messages from a god–how could some minds develop beyond the necessities of survival and forced beliefs, beyond political and religious censorship?

Words further musical expression. Musical expression furthers written and spoken expression. Art influences art. Art in different mediums makes understanding and emotional growth more accessible. Emotional and intellectual evolution is fueled by artistic expression of the human condition. Art is necessary for humanity to grow.

Art is NECESSARY for our intellectual and emotional evolution as individuals and as a collective existence. It is necessary to our self discovery as humans. It challenges humanity to look at itself in a way that politics and religion fail to do on their own.

Art is necessary. So are other things, like communication, technology, freedom of expression and thought. But art…. all art… is necessary.

Ending the Debate on Abortion Rights

Pro choice vs. Pro life is not a political debate, and we need to stop allowing it to be. It’s an ethical debate, which does not have a place in politics–at least not with situations as specific as abortion.

Let’s go through the reasoning, because as much as we think of this as a complex debate topic, it isn’t in the context of our laws. It IS a complex ethical debate, but in regards to legal right, there is no debate here.

Allow me to elaborate…

If you’re “pro-life” because of religion, that’s cool. But also, your religion is yours and not mine or anyone else’s, so my choice is still mine and your religion does not get to make laws that take that choice away from me. Separation of church and state. That’s it. That’s where your God arguments end. You do not get to put through legislation based on individual beliefs that counter our collective laws and shared reality. We can talk ethics and morals all day, but as far as law goes—you’re done when you bring up god and religion. It has zero place in politics. Done.

Take God out of it and its still super easy. You say its a life and to abort is to take a life? It’s killing someone. Let’s completely skip the debate on when life begins for a fetus. Whether it is at the time of conception, the moment of birth, or anywhere in between is completely irrelevant to the logistics of legality. Again, this is a debate of ethics, which could go on forever. However, one thing makes all other arguments irrelevant–body autonomy.

Body autonomy laws protect us and are already in place in the medical field. I can refuse a dying person my organs because of body autonomy. It may not be easy to watch them die, but I have a choice to say, “No, you cannot use my body or my body parts to sustain your own life.” If my own mother needed a piece of my liver, I have a the choice to say no and live with the consequences of that choice–even if the consequence is the death of my own mother. It is legal for me to refuse. The ethical and moral dilemma of whether or not I could sacrifice a piece of my liver to help my mother live is entirely my own, but legally I am in no way obligated to give her a piece of my liver.

Same principal applies to the medical procedure and choice of abortion. If a fetus cannot survive outside of my uterus and I decide not to allow it to live there– it doesn’t matter whether or not it is a life. It’s still my body and I get to decide who uses parts of it for their own survival. Just like the person who will die without my liver, I have the right to refuse another being the use of my body for their own sustenance and survival if I so choose. Think me a horrid person if you will–I still have the legal right to my own body. A fetus will not live outside of a uterus. It will die. A person needing an organ transplant cannot live without a new organ. They will die. I am not required to give them my organ, even if it is my fault they need an organ. I am not required to give an undeveloped baby my womb for the same reason. Body autonomy.

The reason for becoming pregnant is irrelevant. My body, my choice. It doesn’t matter whether I was raped or just have a really promiscuous sex life and am irresponsibly about protection. Your personal opinions of the reason behind someone getting an abortion, those reasons are not relevant to the debate of legality. Not relevant at all.

Body autonomy is not a privilege of the sexually responsible. It is a natural right of all body owners. I get to decide who touches me, and who uses my body for their own survival.

It’s not a hard debate. Its just difficult ethics and morals–which you don’t get to decide for any other human on the planet but yourself–not even your own children. So you cannot, should not, and will not take away someone’s legal right to their own body because you disagree with their lifestyle, morals, or ethics. That’s manipulative. That’s narcissistic. That’s abusive. When it’s being done on as large a scale as an entire society, it is oppressive.

Also, everyone needs to stop assuming people who get abortions don’t understand the gravity of their decision. Estrogen, a side effect of owning a uterus and ovaries, makes us uterus owners very deep feeling, very self aware, and very empathetic. We understand the gravity of choice. Stop shaming people who already understand the gravity of their life decisions. The only different between the hurt they cause and the hurt you cause is that they have to acknowledge it and you write yours off with your ignorance and privilege. You’re not pro life. You’re not fooling anyone. Get off your fucking high horse and come back down to earth. Your morals don’t make you any better than anyone else. Not even a little bit.

Nobody ever said getting an abortion was an easy choice, but it is now and should forever remain a choice for the uterus owner which takes away the biological inequality of responsibility for the consequences of sex.

This is not a debate of legality. It is a debate of morals and ethics that has been mixed and confused into our laws and politics. When you take the emotions of individual perspective out of it, pro-choice is the only legal reality.