Monday, January 23, 2006

A culture National Geographic didn't explore

Let me begin by saying that I love National Geographic magazine. A few days ago, I suggested buying subscriptions to it and Discover for schools where “intelligent” design is taught. For Valentine’s month, they featured an article on the science of love. At first I enjoyed it. Then something occurred to me. Not only was same-sex love not mentioned, very little could even apply to same-sex lovers. All of the science—pheromones, the purpose of climax, waist-to-hip ratio—centered on how humans developed these things all for the purpose of making other little humans. I have encountered that attitude often enough—it is, I think, a secular version of the old “sex is designed for procreation” pronouncements made by fundamentalist and other controlling churches.

And of course, baby-making is a perfectly valid and necessary purpose! But anyone who has ever loved a member of their own gender knows that there are other reasons to love. L’Ailee and I wondered whether that could be why gay love makes some people so very nervous. On the surface, at least, it has all the pleasures of passion, with none of the responsibilities of reproduction. (Anyone who knows a real same-sex couple, even a childless one, knows there are responsibilities for us, too—household, bills, health care, emotional support. But those things weren’t in the National Geographic article, either.

Ultimately, I found myself a bit upset at the blatant heterosexism. What Indians and Italians thought of love belonged. What gay and bisexual Americans thought didn’t. In their own backyard is a culture that they ignore. We may even have insights for the love doctors about non-reproductive reasons for love, but they need to quit trying to account for the origins of our “disease” that leads us to same-sex loving first! It’s annoying.

Thankfully, NG also has a forum about this.

The one part I totally agreed with is a statement about the article’s photographer, Jodi Cobb: “She came to see love as a human rights issue, particularly for girls.” I dearly hope to see young women in India and Muslim countries able to love freely within my lifetime. But American women, like my shero Victoria Woodhull, had to fight for that right, too. Some of us are still fighting. Some men are as well.

I try to remember that we’re luckier, that I’m luckier, than 90 percent of the world. When we first got this issue, we sat on our couch in our solid home, cuddling and reading by electric light, well-fed and well-clothed, and how lucky is *that*? After the love article was one about the endangered Kamchatka bear of Siberia. A picture of bear skulls and corpses flayed by poachers made me gasp and cry. I love bears! L’Ailee loves them, too, but these were *her* bears and *her* land and *her* desperate people. “That poor sick country,” she whispered. “I am so afraid…that when I can finally go home again, home will be all gone…” That was all she said about that. I held her tight, and we patted each other’s backs and cried, and then we just *kept* comforting each other. How blessed we are, even if science can’t and scientists won’t account for why just yet.

11 comments:

BostonPobble said...

Acknowledging there is scientific fact/basis for sexual/romantic/not-just-platonic love between members of the same gender is a really scary thing still, sadly. It means society will have to acknowledge the fact that we really ARE all equal. We can't just be all proud about how we accept people who are "different" nor can we continue to condemn ~ depending on which side of the fence we as heterosexual people are on. Society would have to actually let go of the belief that homosexual and bisexual people are abnormal in some way. Not just pay lip service to letting it go but Actually and for Real LET IT GO. Kinda like having to admit the world is round or the earth moves around the sun. Sadly, we are not there yet. We are closer than we have been ~ and we're not there. So it's easier to just ignore the issue than have to address it in any way, let alone take a stand on it. I am surprised and annoyed along with you that NG chose to ignore it completely. They are usually better about issues than that.

I'm glad the two of you have each other to hold onto when the bears, and everything else, get to be too much.

Ruben said...

I loved this post.

cats said...

you love your woman... it's not any different from me lovin' my man.

i'm so happy that you are so blessed by the relationship that you've been given.

peace girl!

alan said...

bostonpobble hit it all right on the head...I hope I live to see the day!

alan

sttropezbutler said...

I'm with Ruben...great post...as always...

STB

Traci said...

Yanno, I am always thinkin' when I read here! Thanks...

Tai said...

Hi,
I just wanted to drop in and say that I find your blog so well done.
It's intelligent, emotional; well worded and so valuable for what it says.

Thanks for sharing yourself and your life.
One day the rest of the world will catch up, but until then, let's be glad for the things we already have, and work towards those that which we don't.

Cheers to you, and your wife...and don't stop writing, this crazy Canadian chick is really enjoying it!

Jaded&Opinionated said...

I think that its most basic level and strictly from a scientific point of view, the human body was designed to reproduce, period. I think the problem is that even scientists have made the mistake of associating reproduction with love. They can be two completely different things. You don't need love to reproduce. I don't think that there's truly a scientific explanation for any form of love. It's too intangible. It's almost impossible to explain why I love my husband and you love your wife, but we do, and the love is as deep and real for you as it is for me. Can't say I understand why that could ever be wrong, and why there are people who would dedicate their lives to trying to destroy something that beautiful.

Love is fleeting, so hold onto it when you find it. Just my opinion.

SassyFemme said...

Very wise words from bostonpobble.

Hold each other tight and treasure each day together! Together you two can conquer anything!

www.kimmy.cc said...

OK Ms. S expert ;)

I have a question. I was listening to my fabulous 80's mix mp3 cd the other day, and my favorite S song came on, Mandinka. Now, I know what\/where Mandinka is, but what is she singing about? LOL

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

This is a subject that can get heated very easily!