Friday, October 14, 2016

On Being The Left

I can still vividly remember the first time, as the Bush administration contemplated attacking Iraq, when I made a comment on a blog and was instantly labeled a "lefty" and a liberal.

It had never occurred to me. I had always thought of myself as a kind of rednecky guy who grew up in the desert and looked at the world from the viewpoint of a rather hopeful jaded realist. I voted but didn't really identify with any political group. A lefty? I didn't even know what that meant. Nowadays I am more or less comfortable with this definition from Psychology Today: may reasonably define liberalism (as opposed to conservatism) in the contemporary United States as the genuine concern for the welfare of genetically unrelated others and the willingness to contribute larger proportions of private resources for the welfare of such others.
That seems like a pretty good definition, and I don't mind seeing myself that way. Liberals don't think everything is about themselves or that their own point of view is the only one.

So as a member of "the left," I'd have to say that this is the place to be, especially when I see something like the inane muttering of rightwinger Rush Limbaugh:
You know what the magic word, the only thing that matters in American sexual mores today is? One thing. You can do anything, the left will promote and understand and tolerate anything, as long as there is one element. Do you know what it is? Consent. If there is consent on both or all three or all four, however many are involved in the sex act, it's perfectly fine. Whatever it is. But if the left ever senses and smells that there's no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police. But consent is the magic key to the left.
Yes, if two or three or four people consent to something, there is actually, from "the left's" (that is, my) point of view, no problem. It doesn't make lefty-sense to judge people because they enjoy something that I am not interested in.

And, yeah, consent is the magic word. I won't call the rape police if you and somebody else are enjoying something that doesn't appeal to me, if it is something you, or both of you, have agreed to do. Or all three or four of you. And your inflatable love-sheep. Shut the door and go at it, consent is exactly the thing that makes it all right.

Consent is more than a magic word. Consent is the affirmation of human agency. Consent means that you have a soul, you have a mind, you are self-aware and can reason and chart your own course and you have used these mental gifts to make a decision to do something. Consent means that you have positively and consciously decided to engage in an act. Consent is the immediate instance of the general concept of freedom. Sexual behavior without consent is exploitation. I don't really know what "rape police" are supposed to be, but sex without consent is a crime, and regular police are on duty to handle that. Waiting for consent is acknowledgement that your partner is a fully conscious and fully responsible human being, and your equal.

I think "the left" is onto something.