EcoPunk #74

    It's been months since I hung out with other punks. The Sea and this needy old boat have captured so much of my attention that I go to sleep at dusk and wake before dawn. Being so far away from my friends and lovers floods me with an apprehensive loneliness, but at the same time, has given me tons of perspective on the scene and all of its eccentricities.
    Lately I've been thinking a lot about communication between people in our scene. In the past few months the punk self-help movement has shifted into high gear and lots of people are talking about feelings and mental health and traumatic history. Finally, after years of isolation we're making progress. Some of us have breached decades old emotional dams, while others are setting themselves up to improve nasty habits. We're finally finding receptive ears and warm arms to pour out our hearts to and it seems to be having a good effect. We've created a space to share our collective pains and there's a very real, very tangible sense of intimacy rising between old friends as well as perfect strangers.
    As happy as I am about this level of communication, I still see a huge gap needing to be filled. For all the time we spend processing/neutralizing bad things about ourselves and our histories, we spend all too little time communicating the things we want, need and desire. We spend 99% of our time in reactive dialogues about the negative, which, as any good shrink will tell you, is anything but a healthy way to spend one's life. In the long run, being able to balance our antipathies with proactive communication will decide whether our movements merely make life bearable or they make life good.
    For example, for how much our scene talks about sexual assault and domestic abuse, it's amazing how little we talk about what we want out of love and relationships.  For how much we bitch about our roommates and messy kitchens, we scarcely address the things we feel would make a good, functional collective house. For how much we whine about pigs and oppression, we very rarely talk about the specific attributes of the world we want to create. The former circumstances certainly need to be addressed, but our lives would be improved immeasurably if we took control of our own futures by talking about what promises fulfillment and then crafting a plan to achieve it. If we continue to fight all our battles as negative reactions, we will forever be on the defensive, unable to turn the tables in going after what we want and need.
    A good indicator species of any movement's potential is its ability to communicate about sex and sexuality. It is also the most logical place to start a discussion about needs and wants 'cuz it’s also the most repressive. In much of the PC anarcho-punk scene, even admitting you have a sexuality, much less sexual needs, desires and fetishes, is a slick lubricant to get your ass squeezed right out of the scene. Admitting you like to fuck, suck or feel the slap of leather across your thighs is akin to admitting membership in the anti-feminist patriarchy and of course no one wants to do that. So from the smoldering ruins of our anti-sex upbringings, we've erected a whole new set of quasi-Christian closets isolating us from the very primal urges that make us tick. Not only does this fuck a whole lot of us up emotionally, but is also counterproductive to liberation of any sort. To paraphrase Emma Goldman, "If I can't fuck I ain't coming to your revolution."
    There are other scenes in the world where sex isn't tainted with repressive taboos and recycled Christian dogma. Much of the fag scene is extremely open and communicative about sex.  I can go to the clubs or bars, find someone I like (and who likes me) and say without fear "I like you. I think we should kiss, hold hands and maybe go fuck somewhere after Danzig stops playing on the jukebox." If the person's into it, great. If not, they say so and with no hurt feelings, I go look for someone else who wants to suck my nipples while fucking me. The same goes for guys hitting on me. If I'm interested, out comes the flirty nod. If not, a polite dismissal and it’s over. It's that simple, that humane and that much more conducive to fulfilling basic humyn needs than the PC punk "Oh ummm… I like you… and ummm… you wanna go hang out sometime?"
    Yeah. I know we're all squeamish about sex 'cuz of all the yucky people out there. But every time we closet our fantasies and desires, we allow those fuckers to gain a monopoly on things no one should control. Our silence allows ambiguity to rule; an ambiguity that more often than not results in misunderstandings and hurt feelings. When things aren't adequately communicated and expressed, we end up not knowing our cohorts' expectations, limits or feelings on events that very well may transpire. If you wanna stay up all night giggling and cuddling, tell them outright. Same goes for wanting them to spend two hours tickling your clit with a well practiced tongue. It might seem a little bit awkward or premature, but it sure beats waking up with unwanted hands probing your soft parts or being bummed that your crush is in a monogamous relationship with Murray Bookchin and has no intention of performing daring acts of cunnilingus with you.
    The biggest obstacle to an open and honest discussion about sex or anything else is the comforting allure of ambiguity. When we hide ourselves in the shadows of ambiguity, we always have a safe escape route if our partner rejects us. We can say things like, "I didn't REALLY try to kiss you. My lips just brushed past yours when I turned over." Or "I wasn't writing bad poetry to woo you into running away on freight trains with me, I was just writing new song lyrics for JAWBREAKER's reunion album."
    Rejection sucks, but it's a whole lot easier if the whole situation is honest and expectations expressed in brutal honesty. When you know where someone's at, it's far easier to be judicious in fabricating hopes involving them. Afterall, it sucks to have a hope smashed, but it hurts a whole fuckload more if it’s dozens and dozens of hopes being squished.  So much of the bitterness and shit talky animosity in our scene is caused by these immolated hopes and other related disappointments; especially those associated with sex and relationships.  It would do all of us personally, and the scene generally, a great deal of good to start digging ourselves out of these nasty patterns.
    Talking about sex is a lot like swimming in cold water. At first it's ackward and tingles, then, once the initial wave of surprise passes, it becomes comfortable. A large portion of my lovers come out of a scene and a culture where it's not only OK to talk about personal sensual pleasures, but expected. In order to make a safe scene, all parties need to know exactly where you're honestly at. You must know the same. It's immensely comforting, as well as sexy, to sit around in some gorgeous person's arms letting them know how you like your ears kissed and how you don't like being tickled while they tell you how they like to be stroked and coddled. There's a symbiotic bliss in honest communication in the positive; a communication as addictive as it is productive. Once you know it, you'll forever miss it when it's not present.
    But this all goes way deeper than sex. Our scene has forged a collective ascetic mentality that denies personal needs as being selfish or distracting from the bigger struggle. In much of the scene it is now assumed that if one has the audacity to say exactly what they need or desire, they're being domineering, oppressive, or arrogant. If they were trying to enforce these needs on someone else, that would certainly be the case. But the fact of the matter is that we all have needs and wants and in any liberatory movement all our needs are equal, just as we are all equal. It's now just a matter of everyone having equal opportunity to achieve 'em. Just toss 'em out onto the table, shuffle 'em around a bit and come to some kind of consensus as to what needs can be fulfilled by which means and with which people. This holds true for sex, relationships, housing, travelling and even our beloved, but as of yet tardy revolution.    
    I think it's high time for us to stop the monastic trend of self-denial and get comfortable enough with our friends, lovers and comrades that we can honestly and respectfully communicate our needs, wants, desires and expectations. If we really want a future where we are all free to express and pursue our dreams, we gotta make it so here in the present.

mike antipathy
somewhere on the pacific

PS- Speaking of needs, my dear friend Nohand Dan is locked up in an Arizona State Prison and after three years of being around dudes all the time, is really craving some female energy and conversation through the mail. He's sweet, smart, funny as hell and one of the best guys I've ever met. He also writes awesome letters. You should write him at: Dan Norris #140770  B6 B5, AZ State Prison Lewis, Barchey Unit, Po Box 3200  Buckeye, AZ 85326. You won't be disappointed.