And speaking of labels I realised something. I am a Default Male sympathiser. That is, the desire has been very much planted in me to be like Default Man. Statistically I am white, heterosexual, middle aged, middle class, educated and male. I serve in a professional environment that is as close as one can get to the establishment without necessarily being an active part of it (as close to the beast as to feel the breathing as my own) and uphold a series of societal rules that have little or no relevance beyond enforcing certain cliches and preventing social mobility. Ken Robinson has my profession pegged as one that seeks to perpetuate society, to tamp down the need for change and create an anaesthetised youth. Someone that seeks to send young people to sleep, concentrated and serious sleep in a suit, rather than wake them up. And I wear a suit quite proudly, even if I pretend to subvert it with my cheap jackets, cheaper trousers and old shirts. I uphold the use of a tie to express limited personality, tell students not to give in to emotion and remain entirely rational.
|Deviance. Validation of a different sort.|
More follows, but we're into TMI territory. Hence, a line break.
|A wish. Forever unfulfilled.|
At home, I am trying hard to bury the emotional response to Tilly's birthday and the whirl of emotions that followed her behaviour. That is, in front of others, she kissed me on the lips (I could probably count the number of times that's happened since our Chat in July on the fingers of one hand) and we were challenged by Girlie: "Mummy, why are you kissing Daddy like that?" I suspect none of the watchers noted the emphasis that was placed by our eldest. Anyway, Tilly's response was "I love him!" and that was that. But the kissing was not repeated. Tilly's treatment of a friend who is also in a sexless marriage was instructive too. The lady was painted as being a bit too strange and sex-crazed and unreasonable. I was reminded that most of Tilly's female friends resent the amount of sex they have with their husbands and feel under too much pressure and wish they could live with someone who didn't want sex. I'm sure there's an "as often" hanging there but it is not something that Tilly feels necessary to add.
At work a colleague has split from her husband because he was expecting her to settle into being the 'little lady', Her Indoors. She wanted to stay going out and being herself, she is a bit of a Feminist (and yes, with a capital) and so very keen on maintaining her identity. I know as the boss of the colleague, she told me so that I would be aware, no more. So, that's the role I have kept to. She has a child too, a young one, and I don't know. I am not her, nor her husband, nor her family and not her child. I don't get to muse on the morality or efficacy of what she does, I just get to know.
I have rediscovered the Pet Shop Boys Electric album and am listening to it to and from work too. Many songs about dissatisfaction in love and the problems of relationships that fall from love into familiarity and then into a low level of contempt. In the same way I get to analysing some of the things that I have read from good people here, Terri, for example, who has recently split with their girlfriend and first relationship. Leslie, who travails still. And, like the good little Default Man that I am, I push all of this down deep within because it was Tilly's birthday recently and I want some distance between that and anything I might want to discuss that is deep and challenging. After all, I was slightly rubbish in not wrapping the towels that she bought for herself - though she claims this isn't a problem at all - and... yeah.
This whole sexless marriage thing is not rational. It's not like there's some magic amount of sex that I'm looking for, or a frequency that will fill a hole in the schedule, it's a completely irrational desire to have sex as part of a loving relationship. It's not the biggest part of a relationship but, after so long being denied, and still not any real reason given as to why (or the reason changes regardless of what I do) it has become the most significant part of the relationship. But I batten down my sexuality and repress it as hard as I can because that's what rational people do. I watch people I know are having sex and wonder. I am jealous of my parents. My mother once said that the hardest part of being divorced was that she missed sex. I'm pretty certain she had a string of sexual encounters around the time I left for University and I know she gets plenty now that she is married again. She went twelve years without regular sex. I'm not on that scale. So I can't suggest that my Default Male suffering quotient is particularly huge.
Florence Perry, Grayson's daughter, interestingly does not mention her father's cross-dressing as being a major feature of her father. Instead, she sees his champagne socialism and art-world contacts as being the lasting impression she has of him. The fact that his limited fame allows her to open doors that would otherwise be hidden from view and move across the world in her own individual way. She credits her parents with instilling in her the ability to be herself, to be true to herself and to be unabashed. In an article about identity written for her father's edition of New Statesman she casually drops the fact that she is a lesbian the way Default Man drops the fact that he wears a suit - in the background but glaring and obvious when pointed out. Would people suggest that her homosexuality was in some way created by her father's gender blurring cross-dressing? Of that I am certain. I want to talk to Tilly about it, to discuss Grayson Perry fully and watch the documentaries together. She's an intellectual, I'm an intellectual, we could do that. I know it won't happen though.
Someone Tilly knows has self-published a book, giving self-publishing a bad name in the process because the book is dire. We have both read it and it is awful. It has become something of a joke in the household. Recently, as in tonight, that friend sent through a sex scene for Tilly to read over. Tilly invited me to read over it and the conversation leading up to it. In that conversation the friend, let us refer to her as Alice, had explained that she wanted to avoid 'filth' by stressing the emotional aspects and limiting reference to the physical act. I instantly recoiled and opined that the separation on those grounds was worrisome, indeed, the scene was a laundry list of assertions, statements and stage direction. However, Tilly instantly jumped to Alice's defence, explaining why filth could indeed refer to physical action - indeed, she accused me of splitting hairs on it. I defended my point that this attitude was unhealthy and indicative of the poor writing style we had seen already.
Tilly then did an interesting thing, she responded "Sorry, I see you have some issues surrounding this, I didn't think I'd trigger this kind of response, sorry."
"What?" I replied, "No, I'm just saying that she's wrong on physical being equated to 'filth' and that what she's talking about is mechanics versus emotion, no filth implied anywhere-"
"You don't have to explain that to me, I'm agreeing with you, I'm sorry. I didn't realise you had an issue with this."
I'll admit, my tone had become strident and bold by this point, but I was surprised at being forced on the defensive. Tilly has always been good at this deflection of things that she finds challenging by making them about my issues and problems. When we had our first sexual encounter I didn't complete the job over a weekend. She did, a few times. This quickly became my issue to solve. Initially I wasn't that bothered, I managed to allow her to complete, I stayed very much engaged and to attention and just didn't complete. Tilly worried that it was psychological and that I might have some problem, believing sex to be 'dirty' and vaginas to be 'wrong' and that I should get checked out for possible sexual dysfunction. I did, I was fine, and that was that - when backed by clinical opinion. But it was never my issue. Of course at the time I did as requested, to put her mind at rest and because I knew no different, but looking back...
Oh what the fuck do I expect?