You know what? I like using mosaics as metaphors. They are useful in almost every aspect of the human experience right on up to the very idea of the human experience itself. Spectra are nice but linear and grids are only marginally more useful. Binaries are completely frickin’ useless. Mosaics though, they really help describe what a complex issue is like.
Right now I am pondering a mosaic that humanity really struggles with, intimacy and sexuality. We struggle with it because we have had so many rules, some useful but many not, over the years through so many traditions about sexuality that we feel discussing sexuality is a challenge to something so essential to our being. Which is too bad because it is far more crucial to our being (both physically and emotionally) than any of those traditions.
Besides that though is a tendency to think of intimacy and sexuality in such nice neat little packaged terms. You are dating (or married) or single. You are gay or straight. You are monogamous or polygamous. We really force the either-or down our collective throat when it comes to relationships.
We insist that men want and need sex all the time and that those that don’t are somehow weak. Yes this includes gay men. We insist that women should be both available for sex but chaste. We have no idea of how to view lesbians in that lens. We are completely at a loss when we try to understand asexual or pansexual folk. Even within these discussions we want to try to put everything in a nice neat category.
If you are a gay male, you are supposed to want men in every form of attraction. If you are bi anywhere on the Kinsey scale your preferred gender is equal in all things (or “both” genders are equal if you are in the middle of the scale.) Even “orientation” is limited to gender orientation when we are discussing our relationships. We never talk about people’s orientation regarding monogamy v. polyamory or any variation in that particular field. We never discuss preference when it comes to levels of intimacy.
Which is too bad because our sexuality has the potential to be such a beautiful part of what we are regardless of how we express it. The only rule should be whether the people in relationships have agency, beyond that we should be celebrating our diversity not trying to shoe horn ourselves into what we have been conditioned to believe relationships are.
For my part I describe myself as pan, because for me, gender is not a burning issue. Even that, though, is limiting the discussion because in some ways gender is important to me in varying ways. I tend to be more emotionally attracted to women, but more physically attracted to men. Even that is not giving the complexity its due though, because while I enjoy men for the sweaty stuff, I vastly prefer women for the gentler forms of intimacy. Subconsciously I know I have been sold on the primacy of long-term monogamy but I would love to explore opening that whole area up to include other relationships: poly fidelity, serial monogamy (without the guilt we so often attach to it) or even going from one mutually enjoyable hook up (with the potential for multiple partners) to another (though I admit, hook ups scare the shit out of me.)
Really, I think we would all be happier if we took the time to ask ourselves, and each other, where we sit in all this, or even if we want to stay in one place on this mosaic that is human sexuality. Maybe I am crazy, maybe it is as simple as everyone makes it out to be, but I doubt it. Tell me what you think.