Punk Rock Matrimony

Marriage is so punk-rock.

Say what? Excuse me, Anna, I believe you are confused. Marriage is all about the institution. It’s about Government and legality and his and hers towel sets! Punk rock is rebellion, and primal screams, and green mohawks and converse, and piercings, and definitely not so absolutely not government.

That’s probably what you are thinking. But hear me out. I think marriage and punk-rock are kind bedfellows. Because, like punk, the union of the two goes against everything from biology to the natural laws of the universe. No wonder it’s so difficult, right? I’m going to get a little metaphysical on you and a lot physical as I try and expound on why punk and marriage are hardcore.

To preface this, I’ll say that perhaps I’ve got no business talking about marriage or punk or love. Love and I have gone round and round over the years. I’d like to say we just ignore that the other exists and get on about our business, but most of the time I’m pestering love to show itself in every face and flower that I happen to meet. On the other end of it, I’ve been known to be the jackanape saying to any angsty pre-teen that will listen (not really choosy about my audience age though) that love is a chemical reaction, and not a “thing” at all. For the record, that’s got some truth to it. That aside, my connection of marriage and punk will perhaps help my fuck all attitude and yours too.

Inspiration comes from unlikely places. I think even Kevin Smith would agree that Kevin Smith is an unlikely place to find inspiration. In case you haven’t heard of Mr. Smith, he’s the man behind Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and others. He’s a self-proclaimed “fat, lazy slob who did good.” That’s from his autobiography title, which I’m currently listening to him read aloud via audiobook. I think Smith is honest, funny and intelligent and enjoying the “read” a good deal. He’s real, and encouraging when applying his philosophies to my own “get ahead” endeavours. The chapter that particularly got my brain buzzing today is the one where he is talking about his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach. He’s describing being married to this woman, and how much he’s crazy over her in a sweet and equally potty-humor way (not that I expect anything less from him). So he says that marriage, which he makes synonymous with the term monogamy (as will I for this post), goes against biology and nature, because we are hardwired to procreate with as many bodies as possible in efforts to create as many screaming, clueless replicas of self as possible. That last bit is my words, not his. But that aside, I see a lot of truth there. 

We are fancy animals that wear clothes, season our food, and trim our various outcroppings of hair in an effort to appear a bit more refined than our mammalian family members. And perhaps we make decisions better than the apes because our brains are a tad more hardwired to keep us out of the anthills, but all the same, we have animal urges. One of these is to procreate in a way that produces multiple, healthy offspring. Perhaps, marriage was initially established to create a stability in choosing mates as related to ownership tendencies so that we didn’t get it on with someone else’s pick and get into fisticuffs on a weekly basis. But, I’m here to argue that now marriage is (or can be) a tool of punk rockers everywhere to fight against our biology and the world that is consistently working to bring us into a torpid whirlwind of chaos. I’m arguing that saying “I do,” is a promise to say “screw your inescapable forces of heredity, genetics, and entropy that are working to push my attempt at love into the dumpster fire that is miasma chaos.”

Or something like that.

Kevin Smith argues in “Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good,” that what holds two people together in a relationship is not love, it’s cum. His words, not mine. I’ll rephrase this by saying that “love” is such an abstract term, quantified by so many different factors, and pretty much doomed to ambiguity by its constant state of flux and inability to be defined that it’s not really what weathers rocky shores. I can agree with this that love is not responsible for longevity, it’s sex and sexual connection. And it feels weird to type that because my whole life, literally everyone else has said that love is what makes relationships go, and that it’s not about sex, or it shouldn’t be about sex, or that sex is certainly not supposed to be talked about in the same room as the sacred cow of love. Well, let’s just go ahead and slaughter that right here. Smith said, he’s loved a lot of women and lost them too. But the sex with Schwalbach is different because it’s what’s kept them together. That carnality (and sometimes fantasy attached to this) of wanting to be with someone is stronger than love. Disagree? Ponder this: you can be angry with someone and not feel like doing something loving for them, but you can still feel like fucking them. And you both feel better after getting it on after a big fight. Sex has staying power where love may fail. And sex can keep or rejuvenate that love chemical squall.

I’ve gotten a little off topic, so I’ll reign it in. Sex keeps a marriage together. I’m not saying it’s the only thing, but, from my observations, it really does help. And Marriage/monogamy/sex with one person goes against our natural way of spreading our genes. So marriage is fighting the system, and sex is its decorated war hero. Plus, punk is sexy. Punk is about liberation with your body and your emotions with a big ole helping of “don’t like what I’m up to? fuck you.” So when punk and marriage meet, they take on the mentality of “hey, I’m deciding that my body, my emotions, my being is dedicated to one person who appreciates their worth and so to hell with all the rest of you trying to get into my head, my bed, and my wallet.”

This is how I assume punk rock matrimony sounds. It probably has a British accent too.

True and lasting monogamy is a big ole “fuck you” to biology and theory. Perhaps it does still buy into the system of organized relationships, but even then you can elope or do something non-traditional enough to quantify your devotion to another punk-rock-style. The only thing making marriage a construct of “the system” is when you allow it to restrict you in the choices you make. Don’t want to wear a white dress and invite your brother in law to some classed up version of a high-school-invite-only birthday party? Then don’t. My monogamy is not in adherence to how They want me to behave, because, even though I claim one boy as my heartthrob, it hasn’t toned down my zest for doing what I want, when I want, with no questions asked. Monogamy doesn’t have to be about settling down. Indeed, if you find the right person, the only thing that will settle is your madness as they click the puzzle pieces into place on your imagined picture backdrop life board thingy. How’s that for mixed metaphor, Balazs? 

Punk rock matrimony is also a slap in the face of the natural laws of the universe. The preference to share your seed or womb with one and only one, fights hard against one of my favourite concepts from physics: the law of entropy. Entropy is, in layman’s terms, the nature of the universe to devolve into a state of chaos, disorder, destruction; the path of least effort. You drop a plate and it reverts into its most relaxed and natural state, several sharp pieces of plaster. Holding things together is hard. It could be argued that marriage/monogamy are the definition of entropy, and perhaps in some cases they may devolve into these. But the intent behind marriage, as I’m often told, is security, structure, boundaries. Some nice concepts to seek when the world is on fire.

Punk plays with the ideas of chaos and messing stuff up, but mature punk uses the entropy of the universe to create change for a better consciousness. And punk can grow up into something valuable. If done right, that’s the goal anyway. Combining punk and marriage results in using an institution the Man thinks he owns to better your life in a partnership that benefits the two involved directly, and through their combined efforts of mind can ripple to make changes for a better community…world…universe. It doesn’t end after the wedding bells stop clanging though.

The struggle to remain in wedlock boils down to a battle against entropy and all its bedfellows. Entropy wants to revert us into separate beings, with messy rooms, not counting calories, slowing turning in our own filth. Heredity wants us to spread our legs to all viable candidates for a strong offspring, and then watch as we all fight each other over limited resources. Biology wants us act on impulse, fight or flight, do what feels good. And then Punk Rock Matrimony says, hey wait a minute, let’s do things my way; you seem cool, too many irons in the fire is going to result in some nasty burns, let’s connect in no particular tangible way and…here we go. Punk Rock Matrimony is about being a part of something for a larger cause but for a larger cause of SELF.

Maybe I’m just musing too hard. But if it got you thinking, I’m not sorry for it. Either way, I recommend checking out Kevin Smith, punk rock, and monogamy. This girl can vouch that they do good work.

 

-Anna R. Kotopple 

 

 

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Feminist Womanifesto

I’m not saying I regret what I posted yesterday, because it was what was on my mind and that’s nothing I wish to retract, but I apologize if it bored you. I know that personally I tire very quickly to hearing people gush how wonderful/mysterious/attractive/insightful/irritating their “other” is. I especially can’t stand to hear how happy they are when I’m feeling confused and bored and destructive with my own feelings towards the unfairer sex. I hope that’s a similar shared feeling with other humans, because, if not, it just means I’m self-centered and more bitter than I’d like. Either way, I’m going to plead the excuse that I’m only human…most days…I think. 

So I’m going to finally get to what iit means to me to be a feminist today, and still I hesitate. Not because I’m afraid of being branded with this oft categorized “dirty word,” but rather, because I’m not sure I can say anything that hasn’t already been said (and better said) by others out there. And too, because I think the people who want to argue about feminism, and slap one word equivalents upon it, are not people who it is really worth arguing with. My mother always says that concerning relgion she brings an open mind to the table because really, no one knows for absolute 100% sure what is the “TRUTH,” and we aren’t going to know until we go toe-up and into whatever afterlife may or may not be waiting for us. Therefore, she says, it’s pointless to get so hot in an argument, because, you can feel as confident as you want, but no one actually knows. I agree. And I loosely extend this to feminism because no one knows what feminsm means to the individual feminist or anti-feminst anymore. 

True. There’s a definition of feminism. Feminism: a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic and social rights for women. But one of the things I love (and hate) about femism is this definition that offers room for interpretation with application to the individual life. It’s wonderful that this definition gives me the liberty to say that when a sexist joke is told and I say (true Morrissey style) “That joke isn’t funny anymore,” that I’m not only standing up for my right to be able to say what I think, I’m also saying this type of idea is damaging to women and their struggle for equal rights that are on par with the rights of anyone else. But, I understand that people don’t like to be corrected for bad behavior, even if perhaps they know deep down that that kind of teasing and shaming based on sex is wrong…so when someone retorts with a comment like “bitch” or “feminist” I tend to take it as par for the course, and tell them to find a new come back because those are so so very over played.

To some, feminism may be the right to take to the streets with posters and get angry about suppression and disrespect from the half of the human race that’s supposed to be our partners (not saying that they are our only option though, go go gay rights). But it’s not JUST that definition that femists should be viewed as. I’m not angry, and I’m not marching, and I’m not burning my bra (I’d never do that: no. 1 expensive  no. 2 bras are wonderful, and serve a valid purpose in my every day life), and I don’t hate men (just the opposite), and I’m not a lesbian (see previous post). The stereotypes of feminism are designed to inhibit progress and draw attention from the real purpose of the movement, and that’s change for the better for women so that we have more opportunities to make our dreams come true, we can feel respected AND loved, and we can show younger generations that a strong woman IS a desirable thing not to be equated with someone who will be lonely, unattractive or despised.

So if I’m not in the streets burning my bra, having promiscuous sex with a variety of partners, or yelling at small children in my yard about equal pay for equal work: what the hell am I doing to promote the feminist cause? Well, first, I educate myself. I read up on the good things men and women are doing (and the bad things too) and I promote women and men who are working to promote a level playing field. Also, I act the part of feminist whenever I stick up for myself or others that are being bullied. Whether it’s a student in my class that’s being made fun of for her hair color choice or it’s asking a friend to not judge a woman’s sexual status based on what she wears OR (and this one was a doozy) diplomatically straightening out Lanks when he said a particular woman was “easy.” For the record, I’m very proud of that last one, because I remained calm and let him know that there is huge inequality between men and women when a man can sleep with a woman on the first date and be praised, and a woman who does the same is shamed and called such things as “easy.” For once, Lanks was speechless. Then again, he was probably just trying to fuck with my head about all of it. He’s a psychology major, and he tends to use his skills for his amusement and my chagrin.

I really could go on and on. There’s so many little acts of disrespect that we can let go or we can politely,or depending on the severity, not so politely adress. I’ve been called: girl, sweetie, ma’m, dear, and lady, all in one day, depending on how the person who used the term viewed my status as a human. I’ve had a customer reach into my name badge on my chest, grab my pen, and say “I just wanted to click it.” I’ve had a customer say, as I dusted a fixture, “They’ve got you on your knees again, huh?” And then again, I’ve had a very gentlemanly gentleman correct his friend that kept calling me “Lank’s girlfriend,” by saying “She has a name. How about you call her by that?” (Swoon) He also stepped up and told his friend to back off when the guy made a comment about my breasts. (Double swoon…for Lanks, not that other guy, obviously ) And this just proves that femisism needs its male allies just as much, if not more, than feminine crusaders.

Point is, I’ve had sexist comments and jokes and tests to stand up for myself and others, and I use these to further the cause. It may not be the most effective method, but by asking my brother to judge women by their merits, not their legs, and acting as a role model alongside this, I’m encouraging him to choose a woman who respects herself and him and  who will pass this on to their children or all they encounter. Take a swig and pass the Feminist juice, so to speak.    

If you are interested in being a more active feminist, fighting a feminist, or knowing more about the struggle that IS real (not a myth, thank-you-very-much), I suggest reading the so-called feminist bible: “The Feminine Mystique.” The work is a bit dated these days and flawed in certain areas, but it’s a place to start and it’s written well. Watch a film on Gertrude Stein, and see how this attractive and intelligent woman has crusaded for women’s rights AND found the love of her life with a man who supported her ideas. And take this for the road…it’s not about women so much as it is about everyone’s rights, and the fight to help everyone (black skin, white skin, female, male, homosexual, asexual, fat, skinny, disabled, healthy) accomplish what they want to with this blip of a life on the cosmic scale. I love all you humans and semi-human lifeforms. Go do something wonderful with your one wild and precious life.

-Anna R. Kotopple