It’s easy to look at the world around us and point out the flaws, but it’s hard to start from scratch while building something beautiful. Maybe sending out a critique of everything that’s wrong with what exists now is the lazy thing to do, and picking and choosing certain tenets of the current sexual culture while eschewing others feels like a fast fix for everything that is wrong with the world today.
What we need to do instead is destroy everything. Wipe the slate clean. Get rid of the specter of American Puritanical sexual mores and replace them with something that in no way harkens back to the culture of misogyny and perfunctory chastity that seems to undercut every conversation about sexuality in America today. Puritanical and Catholic sexual values have by and large shaped the sexual culture in America, and even for those of us who were not raised in strict religious households, the carry over of dogmatically religious cultures seeps into even modern agnostic households. This can be seen in normative cultural attitudes towards the way that women dress, the adoption of heterosexual monogamy as the sole relationship model, and consistently conflicted attitudes towards the depiction of sexuality in the media.
Growing up in this culture of Puritanical sexual mores, it’s easy to react directly against the tenets of that culture as a way to break free. While there’s something to be said for the artfulness of mindless teenage rebellion, reactionary behavior within the context of Puritanical sexual culture only serves to further prove the point of the values of chastity, purity and modesty. Reactionary behavior such as indecent dress is met with sexual harassment, which in turn becomes a cautionary tale that reinforces the original belief in modesty. Promiscuity leads to teen pregnancy, which becomes an opportunity to reinforce chastity. And the wayward behaviors of homosexuality become a PSA for celebrating purity. This, of course, isn’t meant to condemn the actions of indecent dress, promiscuity and homosexuality, but rather to illustrate that allowing the zeitgeist of Puritanical sexual culture to influence or dictate your sexual decisions due to reactionary behavior can give credence to their original tenets. Through being reactionary, rather than breaking free of that culture, you give it an even greater hold over you by allowing it to push you into the very behavior it warns against, hence sacrificing you as the poster child for why one should not stray from the path.
Rebellion against typical American sexual culture must be more calculated and ruthless than that. Fully shirking the shackles of sexual morality in the face of the unknown and deleting the religious undertones from the conversation entirely. For too long, religion has had too much control in the conversation on sexuality in America. Rather than letting religion dominate the conversation, it’s time to step back, walk away and start an entirely new conversation on sexuality that doesn’t let other people’s religious convictions set the groundwork for conversations on our bodies. I find it honorable that people dedicate themselves to their beliefs in something mystic, however, I do not find it rational that these beliefs are given more credence and respect than science or psychology when it comes to conversations on sexuality. If the church wants to be separate, then make it be separate.
As an artist and as a person, I find it difficult to divorce myself from my own religious psychology, but the damage done by a religious upbringing cannot form my opinions or my sexuality. I am not interested in the wholehearted rejection of religion and all it has to teach me as a whole, but, rather, I am interested in disempowering religion as a driving force in any conversation I have about sexuality. By extension, morality as it exists in its most arbitrary forms likewise does not need to enter into my conversations about sexuality. Contemporary extrapolations of pop morality have become so far removed from the common human element that the fickle tenets of morality seem barely applicable nowadays. The emotion of jealousy has dominated the tenets of morality as a means of vaunting monogamy as the ideal model for relationships, yet the morality of monogamy ignores the emotions of anyone who is not held hostage by their own jealousies.
These are the reasons why I want to start from scratch. As a creator, I do not want my vision of the future to be beholden to the past; I want the future to be liberated from the misinformed specter of the past. While I do not wish to forsake the lessons of the past for the sake of the future, for too long we have catered to yesterday’s outdated vision of today. If we have to take the good with the bad, then let’s just not take anything at all. Let’s start over. We might not get it right but at least we will be better tomorrow than today.