Thoughts After Atwood: New Modes of Sexual Duality
“But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest.
Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn’t really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.” Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
No two humans will ever share an exact process of sexual realization and maturing - we each carry our own ideal of gender, cobbled together by personal experience in and out of the body. The dualistic tension of sex maintained, but apart from traditional divided signifiers of anatomy or gender, which have never served to articulate the individual. Rather the individual was articulated by the external - assigned a random sex at birth, and then taught to express herself/himself using the limited syntax of gender. If the individual is to transcend the limitations of self-expression by abandoning gender performance, s/he must create a personal set of signifiers which better specify the conditions of her/his desire.
Gender as a construct simply cannot accommodate the reality that individuals experience sexuality subjectively; as each individual exists as a unique sum of the qualities widely called “masculine” or “feminine”, it follows that each individual experiences a gender identity of one. In the age of the individual, assimilation to gendered articulation is obsolete.
A new sexuality founded on the physics of physical bodies interacting with individual human conscience. A physics of sexual interaction where each individual is total, where qualities do not exist as “masculine” or “feminine”, “dominant” or “submissive”. These identifiers reduce the totality of individual sexuality to a fragmented half - by definition, the terms exist in relation to their opposite. Consider that the duality of sex may exist only insofar that there are two interacting individuals in a fluxes of want and permission/’forgiveness’. While each individuals acts according to personal code of desire, the dialogue in “May I do this” to the response “I acknowledge your particular desire” demonstrates a sexual exchange where individual specificity abolishes gender routine.
And here, the word forgiveness is not an assumption of moral superiority for the one bestowing - but forgiveness as a humane act of recognition for the desire/physical want of another.