Here are two poisonous but common myths in the culture I live in:

(1) People who like erotic representations are really a bunch of pathetic losers masturbating in their mother’s basements, and

(2) Only a tiny number of people are actually kinky, even in their minds.

And these myths serve those who want to beat down others who are not like them sexually, or, more insidiously, others who are like them sexually but unwilling to live lives as hypocrites. We all know that there are too many such people: busybodies and bigots. Why someone should want to behave in such a vile way to one’s fellow human beings is a a mystery to me, but we are confronted with the brute fact of their existence, and the brutal fact that they can do immense harm.

But in a larger cultural context that at least formally honors human liberty and equality (thank you, Enlightenment!), the proposition that you should be allowed to beat down other people for no other reason than that their sexuality pisses you off is not going to sell. “Because my religion tells me I must” might get marginally more traction, but not much more. In a religiously pluralist society, claims like that understandably make people nervous. But what you can sell is the claim that somehow you’re doing people a favor by suppressing their revealed sexual preferences.

And how do you do that? By advancing the claim that their sexuality is somehow inauthentic. By claiming that other people are helpless, passive vessels into which bad wine been poured. They’re brainwashed. They have false consciousness. They’ve gotten bad lessons from the media/the patriarchy/corporate capitalism/Satan. They’re addicted. If only we took Pete Pajama’s porn away from him he’d get out of his mama’s basement and fine a real girlfriend for a change. They’re sick. They need therapy. We know they’re sick because there are millions of us and only a few of them so if they disagree with our consensus reality, we know they must be wrong, right?

You know the litany.

The point here is that if you’re a creator you are presenting to yourself to the world as no longer passive. Being able to create involves being inherently active: you select your materials, you choose, you shape. You have no choice but to reach into yourself and engage with the world. In the place of the passive loser, you put a Promethean self.

bringer of fire

And of course, you can no longer be represented as lonely, because your very act of creation is likely to involve creative partners, and you are reaching out to the world, making friends and making fans. Making art of any kind is a social act, because it involves an audience.

And not only are you reaching out, you are encouraging others. Lots of people have interesting ideas and intriguing fantasies but are intimidated about expressing them. If you create, you encourage others on the margin, who will encourage others and others.

If we do our jobs right, in the end there will be millions of us creators, linked to each other by billions of strands of friendship, influence, and affinity. And that’s a lot harder for bigots to beat down that a lonely, disconnected individual.

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