Art Damaging Your Expectations On So Many Levels

We submitted this to the Occupy Valentine’s Day Tumblr in the middle of the night, somewhere between finishing a Middle Eastern dinner and following it up with ice cream.

It’s not up yet, I’m not sure if that’s because everyone’s at a Superbowl party or because I did snark a bit at some point over their “don’t be a douche-y couple” suggestion. Make no mistake, Eric and I are an utterly douche-y couple. We’re that couple that holds hands everywhere we go, has to sit on the same side of a table, and argues about who loves the other the most. We once made some woman break into a string of profanities and stomp to another part of a subway car this way.

Now, I don’t think anyone has quarrel with S&M tinged Roman festivals or people martyred for secretly officiating forbidden marriages to persecuted people (hear that whooosh? That’s the point flying over fundamentalist homophobes’ collective heads.). However, much like the Occupy movement itself early on, there seems to be a mix of ideas as to what the tumblr is actually about, and despite creator Samhita Mukhopadhyay’s assurance that celebrating love and romance can be a wonderful thing, there’s still some bafflement – Time’s newsfeed blog writes of the project with a passive aggressive subheader about women being morally opposed to chocolate and bitter about ex-boyfriends. The two main strains of thought I’ve seen thus far within the project are as follows:

1)Valentine’s Day as we know it is crass and commercialized. The idea of qualifying a complex emotion like love by how much money one spends on candies, lingerie, and heart-shaped trinkets, or how much of same one receives is absurd. Our culture’s Stepford-like idea of the perfect relationship is ridiculously narrow and exclusive, and the holiday often serves to make single people feel bad and serves as a reminder that our culture often unjustly implies that there’s something wrong with them (though our same culture has a grand old time treating marriage as a prison–ball and chain jokes, “game over” t-shirts, etc.)

I can get behind these points, even though frankly, we spent last V-day post-coitally aktion painting on my husband’s body with semen & menstrual blood, so I think the “pressure to be commercial/conventional” ship has looong sailed out of this port.

2)There does also seem to be a strain, not just here, of “all relationships are bad and heteronormative and marriage is stupid and elitist love stinks DOWN WITH IT ALL!” Well, unless one aspires to be an empathy-less sociopath (and despite my myriad encounters with them, I don’t quite understand the becoming proccess), umm, no. You know how I’ve ranted here endlessly about how societal attempts to cut-off and suppress “negative” human emotions such as anger and sadness lead to an imbalanced, unfullfilled human being? Well here’s a secret you never thought you’d hear from the “Too Negative” girl: suppressing human emotions on the other end of the spectrum, like love, joy, and connectedness, will bring you the same fucked-up results. Others on the tumblr seem to share this sentiment – one poster refuses to be apologetic for being in a loving relationship. Others focus on the idea of love in a more sweeping, agape manner, pointing out love for friends, the self, family members, and pets.

And us? Well hey, we too are the product of a society that often tries to depict disabled people in an asexual manner, and the mentally ill? We bear the projections of those who harbor notions of the mythic “crazy girl sex” (not sure if a male equivalent exists in popular culture) but deem us too much to deal with long term. We’ve both heard the admonitions from concerned parties – he that he wouldn’t be able to date a “normal” (translation: not physically disabled) girl, I that I’d end up alone if I didn’t make myself more manageable and less scary. And then we each met our match in one another. And…we’re asked to accept that by refusing to indulge in our sometimes saccharine, sometimes supernova passion for one another we’re somehow going to strike some sort of progressive blow against Hallmark, Whitman’s, and De Beers, and the rest of the world that wanted people like us to be quiet and invisible all along anyway? Again, umm, no.

So we created this little portrait, Diane Arbus by way of Ira Cohen and a whole lot more amateurism than either one of them, with a cheap combination still and video digital camera I picked up at a hole in the wall on Knickerbocker Ave. Because no one should be made to feel they shouldn’t love because someone else—anyone else—-doesn’t like it. If nothing else, I hope it comes through that to me Eric is perfectly beautiful.

“take your fill and will of love as ye will,
when, where, and with whom ye will.” β€”AL. I. 51


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