Planet Waves | Making an Issue out of Sex... | Intro by Eric



Making an Issue...

.......There is a passage in Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in which the Chief, the book's mute narrator, describes his hallucination of the fog machines that are installed inside the ventilation ducts of the mental ward in which he and Randall McMurphy and a whole bunch of other people are being held captive. Every now and then, a fresh fog just rolls in thick and everything is obscure and it's nice and safe. McMurphy is the guy who's not really crazy but went to the nut house so he wouldn't go to jail for a crime, and ends up provoking the entire ward into some degree of alertness and sanity. The Chief, in one of the book's most sober and not-so-funny passages, describes how everyone resents McMurphy for dragging them out of the fog when all they want is to hide in the cottony thicket of psych meds and madness.

.......This is a bit what it's like being sex positive in our culture. I speak from experience and a lot of it. I want to start off this edition of Planet Waves in which we are Making an Issue Out of Sex by acknowledging that there are dubious rewards for waking up to the power and beauty of your sexuality. Like, for example, everyone pretending not to notice, but you being in a hyper-clear state of awareness, standing honestly in your desire, and noticing lots and lots of beautiful people who, to a greater or lesser degree, are scared of you, scared of themselves and scared of letting go.

......."Scared." I keep hearing the word "scared" around sex, love and intimacy, I hear it as an excuse and as an explanation and a means of evoking empathy. I am not impressed by scared. I am scared, too, and I am not impressed by that fact because I know it's not an excuse to hide away, and it doesn't work so well, anyway.

.......Scared accounts for the foxy little tit-and-ass games some women play, which you'll hear a writer named Chenoa explain to her readers is the cause of incredible grief and pain for men. Scared is why some men beat and rape women, and is the emotion behind all of the violence in same-sex matings. Scared accounts for the strange way we recoil from love that you'll read about in an article by Pennell Rock, who some of you know as the author of Jealousy and the Abyss. Scared accounts for people not returning phone calls, not answering email, and it especially accounts for people pursuing only those individuals who reject and tease them rather than those who offer them companionship and fulfillment.

.......Scared is people who are too prudish and moralistic to allow sexual passion into their lives, then get so drunk they can't muster up their own resistance, then fuck and get pregnant.

.......Scared accounts for people who refuse to consider new models of relationship yet at the same time lie and deceive their lovers.

.......Is fear God? You would think so.

.......Funny, I thought love was God, or an attribute of God. But if that were true, we would love and fuck and call it Divine.

.......To some extent I see through the fog. Oh, I strain to do so and burn my little brown eyes. That is why I write. Please trust me, I am not a sex writer because I am so sexually fulfilled. I am a sex writer and, because writers are teachers, a sex educator, because it's all I can do to keep the fog down in my immediate vicinity.


.......This is an election year and I happened recently to subscribe to Time magazine to keep up with the output of the propaganda machine, and the Oct. 30 issue arrived with a photo of a nubile, down-covered little nymph of maybe eight or nine, pictured from behind her shoulders, clad in a bra and captioned by the headline, "Early Puberty: Why Girls are Growing Up Faster."

.......For some months, including the current month, readers of Planet Waves have been subjected to a barrage of environmental stories that make the connections between industrial pollutants and sexual diseases. In fact most of the environmental pollutants we read about, from PCBs to mercury, create reproductive chaos in people and in the other people known as animals.

.......There were those famous "lesbian" seagulls a few years back. There are the thin egg shells of marine birds. Whales and ducks and polar bears having fewer young. Crabs trying to mate with rocks, men's sperm counts down by half -- fifty percent -- in the past three generations, girls growing tits at four and menstruating at eight, bizarre sexual cancers in children of chemical exposure victims, small penises in children of PCB exposure victims, endometriosis from dioxin, women sprayed with pesticides suffering such profuse vaginal bleeding they must endure hysterectomies, many suffering miscarriages and a stunning variety of birth defects. Then there is the general lowering of intelligence and an assortment of neurological ills.

.......I was at a talk on gay teens a few years back and the speaker proudly announced that one in 20 births involved some kind of hermaphrodism, that is, blended male and female sexual characteristics that must be surgically corrected. She thought this was progress, that we were evolving toward unisex. I have no clue where she got her statistic, I could not track it down -- but hermaphrodism is up and so are all kinds of chemically-induced gender-bending phenomena; scientists call it the "feminization of species." I wanted to ask her, "Have you ever heard of dioxin? You wouldn't think it was so great."

.......I have often wondered whether the hormone mayhem of environmental chemicals is what makes us such sexual lunks, but then I walk into a room where a television is on and am met with a blast of poison to make DDT seem like home-made rice pudding.

.......In its coverage, the advertisement known as Time pulls the usual, "What Is it?" routine, quoting scientists who don't rule it out (whatever it is) but who can't say for sure, ultimately suggesting it could be anything and never, incidentally, mentioning the word "dioxin." But no matter what "it" is, it has to be something. Unless it's all perfectly natural and the whole point of evolution is that we don't reproduce at all -- crabs mating with rocks, for instance, or sexually mature eight-year-olds on the cover of Time, or lots and lots of people being "pro sex" but too scared to hold another person in their arms, to surrender to them, especially if there is love between them.

.......In posting this edition and in writing my as-yet unfinished article on Sex as Mysticism [later incorporated into Fuck me Free: An Essay Into Compersion], I have been acutely, painfully aware that sharing information about sex is not sharing sex. I am vividly aware that working on projects with people in far-away cities is not exactly companionship, eating together or making love. And I am aware of the extent of the ignorance, fog and darkness in our culture around sex and love. Sex and love, I feel and know in my heart, are aspects of the same thing -- which for our world is some kind of horrible taboo. After all, sex is filthy and shameful and love is good, uh, right? Or, sex is made up of a base, animal instinct and love is a quality of the "higher mind."

.......So I want to dedicate this edition to all the people in this world who are sexually generous, and who do more than talk. Like a morning deejay I send it out to those who refuse to use the sexual vulnerability of other people against them, who refuse to use their own sexuality as a weapon, and who feel free enough to experience their pleasure. I dedicate this to everyone who is brave enough to call up a friend and say, "Please have sex with me." I dedicate it to people who strive to treat others as their sexual equals, who use condoms without being asked, and who tell the truth about sex to their friends, lovers, partners, kids and anyone else who asks.

.......I dedicate the fine work of this group of mostly women writers -- only one man has so far responded to the request for submissions, and Pennell's article is a reprint -- who will give you a rare and honest piece of their hearts and cunts in this world where we are so used to everybody eternally bullshitting us about how they really, truly feel about sex. After all, "good girls don't" -- and we all know that "men are pigs" for being horny, so you can't trust them. If these writers make a small chip in the citadel of lies abd bias, or awaken one person to their own beauty, or spark one experience of hot sex somewhere in the world, I will be very grateful.

.......Finally, I dedicate this project to everyone who is scared, but refuses to let that stop them from loving.

-- Eric Francis
Seattle, Oct. 30, 2000

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