Originally posted on Sayoni Speak
Love. Amour. Pyaar. Ai. No matter what language, what culture, the L word dominates our thinking, our lives, the media. Finding (and keeping) love, is the universal theme that connects humankind.
It might be partly the fault of media, that we have been absorbed into the myth of “love”. It begins with fairytales as a kid, when the Prince falls in love with the beautiful princess, and they live happily ever after. Then the movies, songs, which all seem to speak of this. Love has a powerful grip on the human imagination and consciousness, to the point where we almost seem obsessed with it.
I am, against my better judgement and time-management issues, hooked on a reality TV show [yes, I know, don't say it] called “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila“. If that sounds vaguely like a porn movie title to you, don’t worry it is not. Or maybe it is – Tila Tequila is as porny a name as you can get. The girl, Vietnamese and Singapore-born, is OMFG hot, and… bisexual.
The show plays on this, and pits 16 guys against 16 girls in a reality TV dating show, in a bid to win Tila’s heart. I am not sure what to think of it – on one hand, there is the obvious sensationalism, and the reinforcement of the stereotypes that bisexuals play with both genders, cannot choose between men and women, etc. And I am sensing that people are going to make too much of whether Tila chooses a boy or a girl. On the other hand, it is great bisexual visibility, and lesbian visibility – besides The L Word, there is no other show where you get to see so many gorgeous, normal lesbian women [emphasis on gorgeous - these girls could have walked off the catwalk of America's Next Top Model].
Overriding all the obvious political concerns, there is the simple fact that the show is entertaining, and has more drama than all the seasons of the Bachelor and Bachelorette combined. And did I mention that the girls are hot? Even the butch/andro firefighter, I find cute. I like all the bitching going on, and the attitudes of the girls towards the guys, though reproachable, is funny. The guys, especially the Italian dude, are just entertaining.
FYI, I dont usually watch MTV trash, much less reality TV trash. And even less of reality TV dating show trash. But this show is so unique, I just gotta.
Quotable quotes from the show so far: “Homophobia, I don’t know, is kinda like when you are scared of other guys. Homophobia, it is like a disease!” [Now say that with an Italian accent and you'll see why I love this show]
When I was much younger, I used to think that there should only be one person in your life, and you stayed faithful to that person forever. As the mark on the kitchen wall got higher, and fairy-tale illusions peeled away, I slowly came to realise this was quite an impossibility. Relationships hardly ever lasted forever. It was quite likely I would date many people before finding The One. If The One exists, and I manage to find him or her.
I came out to myself at around 17, still a virgin – I had not even dated guys yet. At that time, I told myself I would only have sex with a girl I loved. Over the past three years, my views about love and relationships have changed so much, I don’t even recognise the young naive girl I used to be. I don’t think sex before marriage is wrong at all, certainly not with girls. With guys, I was a little more reserved, due to my upbringing that preached values about chastity and purity, but now I am theoretically open to it. [Theoretically being the key word.] I don’t even think love is a prerequisite to sex – just be safe. I used to think the only way to date was to remain faithful to one person – even if you weren’t “attached” yet. So much as flirting with someone else was wrong. In coming out, I used to hear stereotypes about how gay and lesbian people were promiscuous, so I tried extra hard to hold on to the values of monogamy.
Being in Sayoni, however, has the effect of opening you up. Through the discussions, it became rather apparent that I was holding on to such ideas purely because of social conditioning. That’s when I became open to polyamorous arrangements, realising there wasn’t much value to “committing” from the outset. I even support polygamy, because I believe that the human heart has the capacity to love more than one person. Anj will argue that it is impossible to love all the people involved to the same extent, but to me, that is irrelevant. So what, if you don’t, as long as you do indeed love them? It is not a competition. What is to say that, even in a monogamous relationship, your girlfriend loves you more than anyone else, or to her maximum capacity? What is more important than the quantity of love is quality, and the way the relationship plays out. She also argued [on the sayoni forums] that it is not possible to maintain intense deep relationships with more than one person, but that is a personal limitation. Maybe some people really can – who are we to tell them that it is not possible?
Having resolved this from an academic perspective, I am able to apply it to my personal life – hardly any of my past and present dates can ever complain that I’ve ever gotten jealous of other people. I just simply don’t factor in other people when I consider myself and someone else – what has always been more important to me, is how our relationship plays out, how he or she treats me, how much he or she likes me. I’ve stopped relating love and monogamy to each other. Just because my partner checks out other people doesn’t mean she doesn’t like me anymore – like I said, I think it is entirely possible to be attracted to more than one person. It is whether you act on it, that is an indicator of your values or committment[given there is an agreement to stay faithful]
Which begs the question… why are people so into the idea of monogamy, given it is not necessarily an indicator of love and committment? The idea of one-man-for-one-woman is rather Judeo-Christian. Some other cultures such as Chinese, Islamic and even some Indian ethnic groups extend the privilege of polygamy to the man. [For lore about female-oriented polygamy in Indian culture, check out Mahabharatha] The origin of monogamy is easy enough to understand – it helps keep the paternal line in order, especially in cultures were lineage and male-biased inheritance are important. Otherwise, how were men supposed to know and trust the kid was theirs?
It keeps society simple – one to one. One might even wonder if there is some deeper significance to the number two – we have two hands, two legs, two ears, two eyes, two lungs… [I might also point out that our computers are based on a binary code]. While this goes into the realm of Michael Critchon-like speculation about society and human development and may make me sound like I overdosed on Lost, my thought is just that human society is just accustomed to the idea of pairs as a universal concept. We are essentially a binary civilisation.
To come back to the main point… monogamy is an articial construct, in my opinion. It is a construct powerful enough to seem real, however. And it keeps society functioning, running on its well-oiled tracks, so I will not begrudge or shun it. But suffice to say that I give polygamy and monogamy equal respect, acknowledge both as valid ways of life.
Of course, academic speculation is one thing, and practice entirely another. Not everyone is capable of maintaining a polyamourous or polygamous lifestyle. Jealousy is a huge green monster capable of devouring entire relationships – and she is always hungry.
P.S. Why the long entry about this topic? Because I’ve just transitioned from a polyamorous to a monogamous situation, and that kind of thing can make a person think a lot about what it means to be in either situation.
Yesterday I made contact with two former friends of mine. One is from the States whom I haven’t spoken to in a year or two[we simply lost touch], Ms T R. Or as I should now call her, Mrs T A. She is now a stay-at-home lesbian mum, married to another friend of mine, Ms K A. She told me our mutual friend Ms T K, who is all of nineteen, was getting married to her boyfriend [who happens to Ms K A's nephew]. I can reasonably guess why she is doing this at her tender age, given her past. But being me, I think it is a colossal mistake by the simple virtue of her being so young.
What is it about the girls around me? They get into relationships at the age of 17, 19, 22, and start talking about a marriage, family and a white picket fence the minute the relationship stabilises. Or sometimes even when the relationship is not stable. The other friend I made contact with, who is my age, expressed her desire to find a nice girl and “settle down” and urged me to do the same.
Why, girls? What is it about you, gay, straight or bisexual, which makes you want to exchange rings with the first person that comes by, especially when you are so young? It can’t just be the ones who are scarred and damaged, though they tend to be the ones who express these sentiments.
Take a breather. Enjoy your youth, enjoy dating people. You have your whole life ahead of you worry about mortgages, chores and kids. You may feel like you love that person a lot, and marriage can seem like a really good idea to hold on to him or her, to avoid losing that special person. When you are in love, your emotions may completely overwhelm your intellect and your good head… just keep in mind that there is a life beyond being in love and a relationship, though the movies say otherwise.
Love really isn’t everything.