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    AC Benus
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The Great Mirror of Same-Sex Love - Prose - 10. Straight sexual activity equals “relationship of strangeness and distance”

...anyone who tries to tell you Queer people were shame-faced in the past has a lot to learn...

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Straight sexual activity equals “relationship of strangeness and distance”

 

We’ve talked a lot of nonsense about sexual orientation – we’ve mixed up an interest in turning sex into a form so specific, it is like a fight with manliness being well-sexed — I don’t believe any of it anymore.

I think specific sexual limitation is a form primarily suited to a clash of temperaments – between people who can’t communicate with each other – and which is utterly and absolutely inappropriate between people who do understand each other.

The kind of feelings which you have classified as “h*m*s*x**l” and “heterosexual” are really “sexual expression adapted to likeminded or understood temperaments” versus “sexual expression adapted to a relationship of strangeness and distance” —

To think one belongs in man-woman relationships – or that if it’s within a gender, it’s because one person belongs in a relationship with the other gender – is a fundamental fallacy.

I believe every person of ordinary sex drive has a capacity for diffuse “h*m*s*x**l” sexual expression, and specific climax – according to the temperamental situation. To call men who prefer the diffuse expression “feminine” – or women who seek only the specific “masculine,” or both “mixed types” – is a lot of obfuscation.

—Margaret Mead,[i]

1933

 

 

 


[i] “Straight sexual activity equals relationship of strangeness and distance” love letter from Margaret Mead to Ruth Benedict, April 1933, reprinted in To Cherish the Life of the World: Selected Letter of Margaret Mead (New York 2006)

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/02/06/margaret-mead-homosexuality/

This paragraph from Mead’s letter bears the traces of frenzied inspiration; one that received no editing for clarification before being dispatched. She used the word sex to stand for several of its meanings without delineating which one Mead had in mind at any specific point. I have applied separate meanings of gender, sexual orientation, sexual expression, sexual activity, sex drive, etc., which the context of the text seems to call for in various instances. As noting these clarifications would be a distraction for the Mirror’s readers, I have eschewed the usual editorial marks and provided Mead’s original text below for comparison and study.

We’ve talked a lot of nonsense about sex – we’ve mixed up an interest in turning sex into a form so specific it is like a fight with manliness being well-sexed — I don’t believe any of it anymore. I think specific sex is a form which is primarily suited to a clash of temperaments – between people who can’t communicate with each other – and is utterly and absolutely inappropriate between people who do understand each other. The kind of feeling which you have classified as “h*m*s*x**l” and “heterosexual” is really “sex adapted to like or understood temperaments” versus “sex adapted to a relationship of strangeness and distance” — To think one goes with man-woman relationships, or that if it’s within a sex it’s because one person belongs in the other sex, is a fundamental fallacy. I believe every person of ordinary sex endowment has a capacity for diffuse “h*m*s*x**l” sex expression, and specific climax – according to the temperamental situation. To call men who prefer the diffuse expression “feminine” – or women who seek only the specific, “masculine,” or both “mixed types” is a lot of obfuscation.

 

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Copyright © 2021 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.
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