I have been wanting to write this entry for a very long time. I decided that it would be my last entry of the years 2000s (the twenty hundreds).
My body is mine, but it is not me
Ever since I was a child I have been thinking that mind and body are distinct, very distinct. I actually thought that my body was something that I own, not something that I am. Admittedly I had spent a lot of time reading science fiction books where uploading your mind to a matrix and then downloading it into another body was common practice. Whether or not the technology around me at that time allowed this kind of operation wasn't the point. Whether or not the technology in the future will allow it, wasn't the point either. What mattered was the fact that I had discovered that my self didn't need my body to be defined.
I could mention many books, stories or movies illustrating the above, but I have a particular preference for Ghost In The Shell, notably the two movies by Maroru Oshii. This said, I think that the true origin of any of my thoughts about mind versus body was a book called La Memoire Double [French].
Of course, people use my face, my voice, and maybe even the way I walk, to recognize me when they see me in the street. Those attributes distinguish me from other humans, but they are not really a part of the definition of my personality. I believe that I would be the same person, if my mind was transferred into another body (say because my current body had suffered damages). And while being at it, I would certainly not mind if my new body was female. I indeed believe that my personality is not determined by the particular gender of my current body. Of course, certain traits of my personality might have emerged, or might have emerged easier, by being born in a male body; this because the society in which we live has a tendency to educate male and female in different ways, but once my personality is build, migrating it to a body of the opposite gender should not at all change what I am (merely would I have to buy new clothes). So in few words, I think that the part of me which is myself, has a body, owns it.
I guess that for someone like me who has been reading Iain M. Banks's The Culture series for such a long time, the above is quite natural.
Of course due to our current technological development, my current body is the one I will keep until I die. I do not have the luxury to change it if one day I ever want to, but this is only a temporary technological condition, not some kind of fundamental necessity.
I should also mention that I apply the same principle to everybody else in the world, including my friends, and including my partner(s). I do not include people's body in what they are. They own their body, can do whatever they want with them, and their body is certainly not within my jurisdiction or within the scope of the relationship (legal) terms (and all this even though we might have --possibly great-- sex more often than not)
Best Friends and Soulmates
I have very very high regards towards sentimental companionship. I adhere to the romantic / sentimental version of Eleanor Arroway's contact with aliens, when they (using the face of her father as interface) tell her "you know, after all our searching, we have discovered that the only thing that makes all this emptiness (*) bearable is each other". (*) Speaking of the vaste empty spaces of the universe.
I believe that one of the greatest things in life is Friends (my friends, the people I call friends, not that eponyme piece of shit of TV show). Things are very interesting when one of them, possibly your best friend, brightens your life. In such conditions you may enjoy the simple feeling of closeness and possibly sexual intimacy with your peer. Of course, it is easier if the peer in question is of the opposite sex (even though exceptions are known to exists). When the feeling of compatibility is particularly high between two such persons, they often refer to each other as soulmates. My dictionary says: "soulmate, noun, a person ideally suited to another as close friend or romantic partners."
A logical and simple consequence of the above 2 sections, is that even though I enjoy my body (I actually do, above all my current one, which is very athletic and healthy), and even though through physical / sexual closeness I also enjoy the ones of whoever friends I decide to sleep with, in the end, what makes the relationship is the interaction of minds, or more exactly the interaction of personalities; but in no case I include our bodies in the scope of the relationship.
Consequently, one of the things I truly do not understand is physical jealousy. I do not understand it at all. I do not understand why people, require their partners to be sexually faithful, or the simple fact that they even feel something strange when they are exposed to the knowledge of the extra physical/sexual relationship.
Before carrying on, I need to mention that I do understand and even appreciate faithfulness when it is natural. Faithfulness is something I have already experienced. I like it when your compatibility with your soulmate is deep enough so that you become naturally faithful towards him or her (just like I am naturally faithful to my Macintosh computer, and would never put my hands on another one, from another brand, above all one running that horror called Windows). I like it when I have chosen to be faithful. What I do not understand is that people expect each other to be faithful, and even ask each other to be faithful, and much more worse, threaten each other of all sort of penalties in case of unfaithfulness.
I was still young, when I saw that sequence in a movie, when the husband comes back home and his wife tells him that the plumber came during the day to repair that leak they had and that the bill was huge, that she had to do something to reduce it, and that she slept with him; after which they got a discount. At which point the husband replies "Good initiative darling !"
After this scene I thought: "Hey, wait a minute! Those people can actually think! They are not stupid !". If I was a guy I would love to have a wife like that, and if I was a woman I would love to have a husband like that.
Not only I truly, deeply, intrinsically, do not understand, physical jealousy, but the reader should now understand that within my education framework(s), heavily influenced by science fiction but also lots of other (good) things, it would be shameful to me to require my partner(s) to be faithful, or even to ask them to be, or even to tell them that I care about it. I would feel particularly primitive if one day my partner came back from a particularly wild party with her friends and told me that she could not resist sleeping with someone (men or woman) for fun, and I was mad about it. By feeling sad, jealous or any related feelings, I would be telling to the world how primitive I am. How deeply I miss the point of what being with someone actually means. I would have forgotten that true mates enjoy themselves for what they are and should not try, in no circumstances, to own the other one's body, or the other one ability to experience (sexual) pleasure. So my natural answer to her would be "I hope that you enjoyed your time sweetheart :-)"
When I am in a relationship with one (or several) person(s), what really matters to me is the relationship itself, the sparkles which arise from the contact between the two personalities, not what she or he has done with her/his body the night before. I do not care, it is none of my business. In any case, when I am in a relationship, I might have a very high interest in maintaining this relationship, but in no case do I own my partner or anything she/he owns, and above all something as trivial and unimportant as her/his body or her neural system (even if she needs them to be alive, or even to think).
This said the reader should not believe that I am unfaithful at any occasion, that I somehow want to be. As I said, I enjoy the idea that you may have found a partner which completes you so well that you do not have any interest in spending your time with others, at least sexually speaking; but this is a choice, and more accurately, a simple consequence of what you feel (the peace, fulfilment, whatever...). Additionally, this entry is certainly not an invitation to unfaithfulness, or some kind of attempt to justify it through logical reasoning (at least within the framework of my own personality). I am simply trying to promote the fundamental ideas of freedom and openness and point out that our classical couple dynamics are not compatible with those noble desires.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Yes, it's a problem, but we all have an efficient solution to it: condoms.
... by the way remind me to send a card to that guy who wanted to assasinate the pope.
Yes, it was a problem, but nowadays women can control their pregnancies. Additionally, condoms still work for that as well.
Sometimes I talk to people (long time friends or people I have just met) about relationships, and very often I hear: "Well, I would not like my boy-friend to sleep with another girl. And what if she gives him some pleasure ?"
This way of thinking sound so wrong to me that everytime I core dump, and undergo an emergency system restart. In other, less geeky, terms this sounds so wrong to me that I do not even know where to start. I really cannot believe that people around me could suffer of so much brain damage, could feel so lonely, and so afraid, so unconfident, so lost, so unaware of everything, to fear that their partners could feel some (not even "more", just "some") pleasure with somebody else.
In order to explain this clearly, I like taking the example of food. Say that I am very good at cooking and I know that my girl friend really likes my cooking. She is also a busy woman and very often ends up eating in restaurants, by herself or with colleagues. One day she comes back home, talks about her day and say : "... and then we ended up in this restaurant that I had never noticed before just round the corner at the office and the food was sooooo delicious. I said to the guys we really have to go back because it was amazingly good."
Would I feel jealous ? No. Would I tell her that I don't like her having pleasure with someone else's food. Certainly not. So what is the difference between a meal between friends and that tall and mysterious Italian she met while business tripping on the other side of the world ? (with whom she spent one night).
Truth to be told, I have much more respect for, and I find it way more interesting to be with, a woman who affords to bang a complete stranger on a business trip and then tell me about it when she comes back, or another woman who simply didn't notice that guy and then didn't sleep with him (this happens), than a third woman who did not sleep with him, but only because she thinks that she has to be faithful to me (or even worse because I asked her to be faithful to me), while in fact she was admittedly attracted by him.
I would feel bad for the third one (above all if she is my girl friend). I would feel that I denied her of her basic human abilities and freedom. But most importantly, I would really wonder what the freaking hell am I doing with a girl who thinks that she has to be faithful to me. Those are the kind of girls, would not even be able to explain why they thinks so, beside the obvious "but I love you!" all-situations-magic-answer (which is at best a meme, and in the worst case nothing else than a social preconditioning), with that stupid look on their face that would convince me in a fraction of a second that the quicker I dump this moron the better. (When a girl "loves" me the classical way, with that stupid, romantic and dedicated look on her face, that is, if any, the proof that she doesn't think. I am done with girls who do not think.)
On a last note, I know a beautiful and very clever girl, in her twenties, who is a high class escort. She has a boyfriend and says that he knows about her profession and does not mind. I felt less lonely in the world by knowing that, at least, another guy from my generation had moved away from the Dark Side.
Fundamentally, I do not dislike the idea that two people might want to legaly show a particular interest towards each other. The fact that there is a legal structure to make this interest official is not so much of a bad idea, but that's not what is happening right now.
In the past, and until recently (at least in our more advanced societies), the fact for a woman to get married was simply the legal acknowledgment of the fact that the girl was no longer under the ruling of her father/parents, but was now owned by her husband. Technically nothing prevents a man to own more than one woman, and some cultures made it very easy, if not common, to do so.
Nowadays, women no longer belong to men (at least in some parts of the world), but the tradition of marriage still carries on, I guess more by inertia than anything else. But despite all our progress, marriage is still, unfortunately, nothing else than a socially acceptable way for two people to limit their freedom (let us do it "together", how romantic is that...), and restrict the other one's abilities under the threat of various apocalyptic events.
I have been very confused by this at the beginning, but in the end, the fact that people may so willingly surrender their freedom is not surprising. If any, it shows how people like locking themselves into little boxes, and are satisfied by this. It also shows how deep is their lack of understanding of what being with someone actually means. After all, from birth, they have been living in a world where everything is always an attempt to reduce their freedom. Take the case of girls/women who should know better and should rebel against the thousand years old domination of men. From birth they have been brainwashed, one stupid song, one stupid movie, one stupid sitcom, one stupid story from their parents at a time, into thinking that her prince charming would find them, marry them in her beautiful white dress and that they would live happily ever after, with no particular involvment from their brain, only just by ... magic.
Richard Dawkins often invites people to think of what would the world be without religion. I invite you to think what would the world be without jealousy, without the marriage. A world where people would be friends, and have this special relationship with one (or several) of their friends. A world where people would not be afraid of being alone, not afraid of losing their partners and then invent 20,000 ways to keep them under their control. A world where people would find strenght in themselves, rather than sucking their partners attention like vampires (and end up addicted to the sucking part itself more than they actually enjoy their partners). A world where people would be immortal in their own eyes, like angels, not necessary thought the eyes of someone else.
A world you could just walk to a person and say : "Would you like to walk a part of the road with me ? Let us just make it last until we have to go separate ways..."