Quill R. Kukla: “I invite you to care for the end of our sexual and romantic relationships”

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How did you become interested in the language of sexuality?

Quill R. Kukla : Debates about the language of consent dominate philosophical reflection. Ethical scholars and philosophers of language are amazed at the approval and rejection of the act of speaking: that is, peer abuse, forced sex and, of course, rape. As a result, our understanding of sexual desire is distorted and limited. So I became interested in talking before, during, and after sex. In one of my works, That’s What He Said: The Language of Sexual Negotiation (2018), I examined negotiations within sexual experiences. We use language to answer many questions: do we want to have sex? What kinds of relationships do we want? What activities does it include? What do we like and what do we dislike? What are our limitations and limitations? When do we want it to stop? Language can translate into curiosity, rejection, establishing interest, disinterest, and it can arouse excitement throughout the sexual relationship. But language, beyond permission, is absent in many relationships, except within polyamorous and “deviant” communities (“curls”).

“A relationship that has ended triggers a negative perception of the past relationship” Quill R. Kukla

How are these communities an exception?

In such contexts, it is clearly established that open and careful negotiation must take place between the partners. Not just about starting a sexual relationship, but also about the form of the relationship itself: how to start it and how to get out of it. These conversations are necessary for a safe, enjoyable, consensual experience and for exploring one’s own desires. In BDSM interactions (acronym for ” slavery [et discipline]RULE [et soumission]sado-masochism ”), for example, participants often agree to build a vocabulary of“ emergency stop ”(safe words ») before any activity of a sexual nature, to be able to conclude a report on the spot, immediately and without the need for argument, when certain words are spoken. The language allows to control the flow of the report.

How can we draw inspiration from this communication in the relationships you describe as habitual (vanilla)?

“Vanilla”, that is, more traditionally, relationships can benefit from this rich discourse of sexual negotiation. Having the ability to communicate throughout the report is not something that is reserved for unusual relationships. A vocabulary “emergency stop” will allow anyone to explore their preferences, the realization that it can be dangerous or can be uncomfortable.

How do you think about the duration of relationships?

The use of vocabulary and actions will depend on the relationship, especially its duration. We rarely explore the limits of our happiness during a short relationship or an evening stand. ; On the other hand, a longer relationship opens up this possibility to play.A shorter story doesn’t allow for this much, even if it can be valuable, exciting, in its own terms.

“This reasoning has an impact: it keeps people from bad or boring relationships, and it keeps us from appreciating and maintaining shorter relationships” Quill R. Kukla

What language tells us about the duration of love affairs ?

“Where is our story going? is a question that often arises within the couple. This expression is revealing, because it suggests a temporal but also a direction. After a while, a love relationship should come to a state of dislike. Thinking about it, the idea of ​​†‹вЂ‹ “relational escalator” – a concept created in 2012 by the author Amy Gahranunder his pseudonymAggie Sez – turned out to be interesting. This idea, which is deeply rooted in our culture, looks at romantic relationships with a predetermined direction that leads us to increased intimacy: we “be together”, we commit to monogamy, we live together. , we raise funds to get married, have children. and owned a house. When this peak is reached, the relationship must remain static, and moreover, it must last until death.

What happens if you want to go down the escalator, or just stop running?

It’s very simple: the only way to get out is to fall ! It’s enough to miss a step, to go down the escalators and find yourself facing a failed relationship. Relationships are conceived as precisely forever. Their permanence is the ultimate goal. As a result, their end heralds failure.

In society, is separation a failure?

Exactly. Because we act like endless stories: we see separation as a natural tragedy. We all heard the expression “Their marriage was a failure”. But the only thing the term “failure” means is laziness. The relationship is considered a waste of time if it doesn’t last … until death. And because this latter is unfortunate, we took the opportunity to add a horrible bad behavior.

So the separation hurts not only the language, but also our character?

Completely, this dramatic attitude stemming from the tragedy of separation is reinforced by films, novels, operas… Our language reveals a reasoning closely linked to the social norms and institutions established around marriage. Thus, a relationship that has ended triggers a negative perception of the past relationship. So, we allow ourselves to treat our spouse in a disgusting way. It is almost necessary in society. When we talk about our exes, we often describe a naughty person… It’s part of the ritual. And often, we try at all costs to make a relationship last, because its permanence is a sign of success. Its longevity is a measure of success. This is why one tries so hard to “save one’s marriage”: to restore it at all costs so that it retains its value. And that reasoning works in two ways: it keeps people from bad or boring relationships, and it keeps us from valuing and sustaining shorter relationships. There is no tradition that is respectful and dignified to support the value of a relationship that has already ended.

“Like life, a relationship comes to a natural end rather than a separation that denies its value” Quill R. Kukla

In one of your essays, you used a strange analogy: death.

It is useful and interesting to tap somewhere else to reflect on our love stories. My knowledge of bioethics, a field that also includes great vulnerability and deep intimacy, has proven useful in our reflections. Life knows an end; it ends in death. But our inevitable death does not mean that our lives are failures. ! However, before the “hospice and palliative care movements” of the 1960s, no doctors or health services were concerned about death; they leave the patients. Death is beyond their skill. A nurse named Cicely Saunders transformed the health sector by thinking of death as an essential element of life, and it is an essential part of it, medically speaking. The movement gave rise to the concept of “good death” (“good death”). An idea that marks a significant shift in our representation of death and in the improvement of palliative care: for the first time, death must be cared for, and not its immediate cessation. Because death is inevitable, because it is a fact and not a tragedy, accompanying the death of an individual with dignity is a medical achievement. So bioethical study offers us a powerful model that is naturally applicable to separations. A GOOD separation reduces pain, and neglects the tragic dimension of relational finitude. Like life, a relationship comes to a natural end rather than a separation that denies its value. In fact, even a long -term relationship ends in death, so it’s not forever.

Once finitude is accepted, what alternative models of romantic relationships do you suggest?

We need to think of relationships naturally with a beginning, middle and end. It is not a question of imposing a unique account. Some are taller than others: some end in death. And even within such relationships, separation has to be done right. Every love story must have a singular but limited temporal form, with its own ending.

How can these reflections influence your work today?

I am currently working on a book that deals with the subject of pornography, and much of the sex industry. I take my ideas of temporality to reflect on this contractual, almost legalistic model of sexuality. In pornography, there is a clear agreement before intercourse. I am interested in the potential to manifest self -determination in these strict contexts. In this industry, sex happens in the short term, but at the same time, pornography mimics the mythology of the soul. This cinematographic domain touches on two extremes: the formal coolness in the short term, and the romantic morality side in the long term. But is there in-between? Is it possible to build a positive and healthy relationship within the framework of such contractual and temporal constraints?

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