Post Socratic Dialogues: Sex-Positivity: 2
By Greg Scorzo –
Post-Socratic Dialogues are moving thought experiments. They portray elaborate, unfolding situations which, at every turn, force the reader to examine his or her philosophical intuitions about a range of topics. These dialogues are called “Post-Socratic” because there is no Socrates figure, telling the reader which arguments (if any) are the best ones. The reader decides that on their own.
Another Kind of Elitism
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” – Frank Zappa
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” –The Beatles
While having their coffee in Vroman’s, Lena and Davis were surrounded by adults who mostly looked like attractive and stylish grad students. Pasadena grown ups. If the two women had noticed the presence of minors, people like their former selves, their conversation might have been different. But because they were only in the presence of other adults, they felt they could say whatever they wanted to each other.
So this is what they said:
Lena: (with enthusiasm) It’s so great to see you offline for a change!
Davis: Yeah, the last time we met was at the Promenade in Santa Monica. I think it was Starbucks. What was that, 2012?
Lena: Yeah, when I was visiting Mom and Dad in Fairfax.
Davis: It’s amazing you’ve come back to LA. I can’t believe it. I never thought you’d come back.
Lena: It’s amazing UCLA actually hired me.
Davis: And I’m so happy they did. Every time I go on Facebook, it seems like you’re at some conference in Boston or Virginia.
Lena: Conferences are like romantic vacations, but nicer, and with smarter people.
Lena: Yeah, everyone you talk to has something interesting to say. You get to stay in swanky hotels, eat good food. Everybody wears these really serious, scholarly suits. But you know, no one’s really serious afterwards when the alcohol comes out. It’s great.
Davis: You’re making me envious.
Lena: Well, you shouldn’t be. You can find cool people anywhere, Davis. You just have to spot the sorta person who can have a good conversation. That’s why it’s good to know a few things about fashion.
Davis: Well, if you live in Downey, the cool people are mostly on Facebook. And in the last year, I’ve been so busy I haven’t even been on Facebook all that much.
Lena: Busy’s good. I’m glad that we’re both busy.
Davis: Me too. It’s better than doing nothing, right?
Lena: When we were kids, we used to get so bored. Do you remember how boring high school was?
Davis: No, nothing was ever boring with you around, Lena.
Davis: You ALWAYS got me to do the craziest shit. I’m surprised I didn’t get expelled, with a friend like you.
Lena: (giggling) Davis, I never made you do anything you wouldn’t have chosen to do anyway.
Davis: (smiling) You brought out my inner rebel.
Lena: And what ever happened to that rebel?
Davis: It’s taken me many years to rescue her.
Davis: Yeah, it’s like…I was thinking about something you told me when we were in high school the other day.
Lena: And what was that?
Davis: You said we weren’t normal people.
Lena: Well, we’re not really, are we?
Davis: I remember this moment during the last day of 10th grade. Right after we were in detention. You looked at me and said “Davis, YOU AND ME GIRL, we are NOT made for raising families in stupid suburbs.” And now that I’m a mom in Downey, that seems more true than ever. Especially when I look at all the fat ass moms pushing strollers around the fucking Downey landing. Have you been there recently?
Lena: No, not since since about…..2008.
Davis: I mostly go there for the pasta. But it always reminds me of how right you were when you said we were too smart and cool for a life like that.
Lena: I don’t remember this, but I’m sure I was on my period.
Davis: You said we deserved better, that we could see through things people we knew couldn’t.
Lena: I said that?
Davis: You were pretty profound for a 14 year old.
Lena: (giggling) I’d feel more profound if I remembered saying any of this.
Davis: You said a lot of things that day. I remember all of them.
Davis: You also said I should never be ashamed of my talents or how I choose to live my life.
Lena: Were you feeling ashamed that day?
Davis: I don’t remember. I just remember that day, you said all the things my mother should have said. That’s why I’m so glad I knew somebody like you, growing up.
Lena: (smiling) I’m glad I knew you too.
Davis: You were like my mom! But way nicer.
Lena: Not really. More like your big sister. Even though you’re a year older than me.
Davis: It’s weird. I don’t have people like you in my life anymore.
Lena: But you have Ben and Max. That’s a full fledged, loving family, Davis. In that respect, I’m the one whose envious of you!
Davis: I do love the both of them, but they are a handful. They’re boys.
Lena: Is it hard to deal with Max now that he’s going through puberty and noticing girls?
Davis: I wouldn’t say that he’s hard to deal with. I’d say…he’s kinda preoccupied. Distant maybe.
Lena: That’s totally normal.
Davis: I know but it still pisses me off.
Lena: Teenagers piss everyone off. Remember what we were like?
Davis: Well, it wouldn’t piss me off if Max were a normal kid.
Lena: What do you mean?
Davis: Up until last year, we used to do everything together. We liked the same TV shows, we read a lot of the same books, which was amazing, given his age. He got my poems better than the people who wrote me essays about them. He’s a fucking brilliant kid, Lena. It’s hard for me to even keep up with him.
Lena: Well, there’s another reason I’m envious. You’ve got a wonderful son and an amazing husband.
Davis: I have a thoroughly ordinary husband.
Lena: I wouldn’t say that. I’d say you have a practical husband, a husband that’s kind, helpful, loyal, makes good money, and really puts himself on the line for you and Max.
Davis: (smiling) I’m falling asleep already.
Lena: He’s a good guy, Davis. Loads of women would love a guy like Ben. He’s been a good guy ever since high school.
Davis: It’s funny. I never knew what you saw in him…until he started doing my homework assignments and it suddenly become apparent he was really fucking gorgeous.
Lena: (playfully) Yeah, you fucking stole him from me, you bitch.
Davis: Sometimes I think I shouldn’t have.
Lena: Don’t say that, Davis.
Davis: I love him but he bores the shit out of me, Lena.
Lena: But he really really loves you. Come on! Every two weeks he posts something on Facebook about how much he adores you and Max. I see them on my timeline.
Davis: He doesn’t love me enough to lose forty pounds. He doesn’t look the way he did when we were kids, Lena. He’s balding now.
Lena: But you should love him anyway.
Davis: It would be easier to if we could have a conversation about something other than budget sheets. He’s obsessed with money.
Lena: Well, he’s an accountant. That’s his job.
Davis: I don’t know how he stands it. I’d kill myself if I had to to do what he does every day.
Lena: But Davis, everyone is different. Some people enjoy that kinda thing. And we need people like that in the world. Some of them, like your husband, are really really nice.
Davis: I know we need people like that in the world. But I don’t need ‘em in my house. And especially not in my bed.
Lena: Maybe you guys just need something to, you know, re-awaken that passion I remember so vividly.
Davis: For me, that’s like…ancient history.
Lena: Well, I remember it all very very clearly. You guys were crazy in love during my senior year. I almost stopped being your friend, I was so pissed off you snagged Ben.
Davis: I know and I do appreciate that you stayed with me. You got used to us as a couple when you didn’t have to.
Lena: I know I did.
Davis: You never tried to split us up, even though you were so jealous. Lots of other girls tried to take Ben away from me. But not you, Lena.
Lena: That’s because you were my best friend and I wanted what was best for you. And Ben. I thought you guys were good together.
Davis: You know, it’s amazing to me that he chose to be with me. I felt so unconfident at that age. I always felt like, compared to you, I was really inarticulate. Maybe not less pretty, but less eloquent.
Lena: You were smart in your own ways. There weren’t too many kids that could make a teacher cry.
Davis: (smiling) I used to love pissing off the teachers that really liked me.
Lena: Do you remember the time you told Mr. Holden we were Catholic atheists?
Davis: Yeah, I do. I’m surprised you remembered that. I haven’t thought about that for years.
Lena: I still think about it sometimes. I think about how you made those T-shirts for us that said, “I don’t believe in God because I believe in Jesus.” You wore them to Bible club.
Davis: (giggling) Yeah, I think I got that idea from you. You said Jesus rose from the dead so that everyone else can die without having to worry about heaven or hell.
Lena: (giggling) Yes, Jesus died for the biggest human sin-religious thinking. I still believe that, even now.
Davis: Yeah, it’s all coming back to me now. The day after we got kicked out of Bible Club…. I wrote that essay about how all Christians were retards. That was the only homework I ever did for Mr Holden.
Lena: And he didn’t fail you?
Davis: Nah, I used to flirt with him all the time. A couple of times I could see the bulge in his pants.
Lena: Really? I thought he hated you.
Davis: I think yelling at me used to turn him on.
Lena: (laughing) You were really good at pissing people off.
Davis: There’s nothing else to do in Downey. Even now.
Lena: You think Downey’s that horrible?
Davis: It’s the worst!
Lena: But haven’t you made peace with it? I mean, you chose to live there. You married a guy who went to Warren High School who works for Kaiser Permanente. You can’t get more Downey than that.
Davis: I know. Love makes you do strange things. Before it goes away.
Lena: But is your life in Downey really that….I don’t know, unbearable?
Davis: Max and my career are what make my life worth living. Not Downey. And not Ben.
Lena: Well, then why don’t you move out of Downey?
Davis: Ben likes it here and so does Max. His friends live here.
Lena: Well, that make sense. With the internet, I guess it doesn’t matter if your town is …not exactly exciting. Every time you open a laptop, you can always surround yourself with people and media that’s completely tailored to you. We couldn’t do that when we were kids.
Davis: You would think the internet would make Downey more bearable. But in some ways, it makes it worse.
Davis: There’s more of a contrast between the world inside your house and the world outside your front door. It’s depressing walking around my neighborhood. Everyone’s so fucking bland. And fat.
Lena: Yeah, but I’m sure some of those people are actually nice, once you talk to them.
Davis: (smiling) Lena, you’re the one who said you wished 9/11 happened in Downey.
Lena: (laughing) Yeah, that’s because I was a dumb kid who was angry at the world!
Davis: You weren’t dumb at all!
Lena: I was arrogant as fuck. I was also really intolerant and bitchy, most of the time. I was SO hard on other people, Davis. I couldn’t appreciate anything about anyone even remotely different to me.
Davis: What’s there to appreciate about Downey? It’s fucking suburbia. And the traffic’s horrible now. It’s worst than it’s ever been.
Lena: Well, a lot of the people we grew up with, our neighbors, the other kids, even some of the teachers…they really cared about us.
Davis: I don’t remember anybody caring about me.
Lena: Your parents cared about you.
Davis: Yeah, but that made them shitty parents. They were overprotective and paranoid.
Lena: Well, they were nice to you some of the time. I do remember that.
Davis: I don’t.
Lena: And I’m sure they’ve been helpful to you with Max. It’s always good to have grandparents for babysitting right?
Davis: I don’t see Mom and Dad anymore.
Lena: (shocked) What??
Davis: My Dad’s a control freak.
Lena: I know that, but he’s still your Dad.
Davis: I don’t want people like that in my life anymore.
Lena: But he’s your father. He’s the reason you’re here.
Davis: I don’t have to tolerate people in my life that are unhealthy. It doesn’t matter who they are. Part of being a grown up is learning to put up good boundaries.
Lena: I know that. But there are always things you can do to repair a relationship.
Davis: I don’t want to repair anything with Dad.
Lena: What about your mom?
Davis: Anyone who remains loyal to that bastard is no friend of mine.
Lena: Not even the woman who introduced you to Ezra Pound?
Davis: I don’t owe her shit for that.
Lena: I know you don’t. It’s just that she’s your mother and..
Davis: (interrupting) You don’t owe people your friendship because you fell out of them. Life doesn’t work that way.
Lena: I know that. It’s just…I guess I have a lot of fond memories of your Mom and Dad. They were always really sweet, compared to my parents. They used to take us on vacations. Your Dad used to build all those train sets for us and play string quartet records while we had tea. Don’t you remember?
Davis: That’s cuz he liked you more than me. He’d compare me to any fucking kid I had over the house. He couldn’t stand the fact that I didn’t give a shit about impressing him, or being his perfect little girl.
Lena: That’s not how I remember him.
Davis: You didn’t have to live with him, Lena. You only got to see his good side.
Lena: Well, you never told me he was that bad. I knew he was controlling, but not to the extent that you would cut him out your life.
Davis: I didn’t want to talk about him, when I hung out with you. You were like an escape from him.
Lena: What’s so horrible about him?
Davis: Loads of things. It’s not just that he’s a control freak. Every time we had a conversation, I felt like he was judging me. Waiting for me to say something stupid. And if I said anything he didn’t agree with or didn’t want to hear, he’d leave in the middle of the fucking conversation and roll his eyes at me. That’s why I used to fantasize about switching his angina medications.
Lena: So he made you feel like you were letting him down?
Davis: He made me feel like shit.
Lena: But I don’t remember your mother being like that. She always seemed really proud of you.
Davis: Everytime I did something that wasn’t what she wanted, she’d shame and humiliate me. When I wore anything she didn’t approve of, she’d slut-shame me. If I ever wore something she thought looked trashy, mom would give me a fucking lecture about getting raped. Can you believe that? Like it was my fault if some douche bag attacked me.
Lena: Yeah, but we’re talking about the late 90s here. People weren’t aware of things the way they are now. Parents didn’t know about Rape Culture.
Davis: Well, it would be nice if Mom understood she was fucking victim blaming me every time I left the house.
Lena: Was this because of the “EAT ME” pants you used to wear?
Davis: She couldn’t handle it whenever I was just being myself. If I wore low cut pants, she’d get freaked out if I went out at night. She was that stupid.
Lena: Well, I mean, can’t you understand that now, as a parent? Don’t you ever tell Max not to do dangerous shit at night because he could get mugged?
Davis: That’s different. He’s a guy.
Lena: I know it’s different. But care for a child’s well being always comes from a place of love. Even if it doesn’t express itself in a way that’s…. very sophisticated, politically.
Davis: If Max gets the shit beat out of him because he’s wondering around Hollywood with a pair of headphones on, it’s not cuz society tells anyone it’s ok to attack him. If he gets attacked, it’s because some asshole outside the norm of humanity decided to beat up a kid.
Lena: Yeah, but you still tell him not to hang out in Hollywood with headphones on at 2 in the morning, right?
Davis: Violence is different to rape. We live in a culture where boys are taught they have a right to control women’s bodies, that girls exist to give them hard ons. It’s like we normalise male ownership and control of women. Rape is just an extension of that.
Lena: I know that, but I don’t see why your mother’s a terrible bitch for wanting to do whatever she could to make sure you didn’t get raped.
Davis: But she was a terrible bitch, Lena. She made me feel like if anything ever happened to me, it was totally my fault. She’d obsess over stupid shit, like the fact that I liked to flirt with older guys. When I turned 17, on the morning of my fucking birthday, she told me I had a reputation for being a slut. Can you believe that?
Lena: Why didn’t you tell me that at the time? You drove me to Canters that day.
Davis: I didn’t want to talk about it.
Lena: (sighing)Well…that I can understand. It’s not very nice to hear your mom tell you that on your birthday.
Davis: I’m so happy now that I don’t have people like her in my life. I get such a kick out of knowing she’ll never know what a cool fucking grandson she has.
Lena: She doesn’t see Max?
Davis: Max doesn’t want to see her. Not when I told him the things she used to do to me. He doesn’t like slut shaming either.
Lena: I honestly had no idea she slut shamed you this badly, Davis. It always seemed like your Mom and Dad were kind of… liberal. Your mom was always talking about George Carlin. And your Dad had long hair.
Davis: They weren’t liberal. They lied to people. People thought they were lefty because they were writers and they did a lot of shit for the homeless. But they were just as repressive and just as mysogynist as any fucking 4chan meme. They just hid it better.
Davis: Everyone thought that because mom and dad wrote weird things that they were weird people. But they weren’t, Lena. They were normal. They liked Titanic. My mom used to watch 60 minutes at night. Dad would play Rolling Stones records over and over and over again-and not the good ones from the 60s. The bad ones from the 80s.
Lena: But in a way, don’t you think all of that brought you to where you are today? Like, if it hadn’t been for them, you wouldn’t have created the life for yourself that you did, with all of it’s uniqueness and all of it’s little eccentricities?
Davis: Not really. I brought me to where I am today. My parents mostly got in the way.
Lena: Well, the way I look at it, I didn’t have the happiest childhood. My parents didn’t really understand me. Neither did most teachers or kids I went to school with. But the dissatisfaction that came from that sense of isolation, in a way, propelled me into all the things I do now. That’s why I moved to Austin and my first apartment wasn’t some crappy shit hole in Whittier. It’s why I got my Phd. It’s why I published all those papers and my first book before I hit 30. It’s why I’ve just been hired to teach at UCLA.
Davis: (smiling) You’re amazing, girl.
Lena: The point is, everything that happened to me which made me feel like an outsider also helped me create all the things I have now. My life really really suits me. That’s something very few people I know actually have. And I don’t think I’d have it if I wasn’t an angry kid who felt totally misunderstood and breathtakingly out of place in a little city called Downey.
Davis: But if you had parents who understood you, you’d be way farther along than you are now. You’d be living in fucking New York, if you had a family that actually nurtured you. You always wanted to live in New York. Don’t you remember?
Lena: I’ll still get there. I’ll find a way.
Davis: (smiling) Knowing you, you will.
Lena: Of course I will. But the fact that I’m not there yet isn’t because my family didn’t nurture me. I’m not there because that’s not a hurdle in my life I’ve crossed yet.
Davis: Yeah, but if your parents actually got you, it’d be so much easier.
Lena: Maybe. Maybe not. It’s true that my parents don’t really know me. But that’s true of a lot of kids.
Davis: But doesn’t that piss you off?
Lena: Well, the only thing that still upsets me is that much of the time, my parents acted like my feelings didn’t matter all that much. They still do that now, sometimes.
Davis: That’s because they were religious.
Lena: That’s part of it. It’s also because they just expected to have a kid like them. They didn’t know what to make of me. I’m not religious and I don’t like sports.
Davis: I guess growing up means learning you don’t need Mom and Dad’s approval.
Lena: I suppose. In the end, it’s probably always better to get validation from people who appreciate what you bring to the table.
Davis: That’s why I’m so happy with my career.
Lena: Right, how’s the website going?
Davis: Oh man, so much shit’s been happening. It’s amazing, Lena. I can’t even tell you what it’s been like. I feel like I’m in the middle of a hurricane.
Lena: People really love your poems, huh?
Davis: Well, they didn’t actually. Last year, it kind of became obvious that people don’t go on websites anymore. Especially to read longer pieces of writing. For a while, I thought about just giving up. But then I got an idea.
Lena: And what idea was that?
Davis: I could spend all this time trying to sell something that only a tiny, fringe audience would ever get excited about. Or I could sell something that could instantly delight huge chunks of men…and allow me to live out one of my wildest fantasies.
Davis: Are you writing erotic stories?
Lena: No, I’m doing something so much more exciting than that.
Lena: …and that would be?
Davis: I’ve decided to resuscitate a dying breed. To make it seem new and exciting for people again.
Lena: I don’t understand.
Davis: I run a porn website now.
Lena: A porn website?
Davis: Yes, but not just any porn website. We’re re-inventing “the porn website” for the social media age. Taking things up a notch. It’s really exciting.
Lena: (taken aback)… Wow.
Davis: It’s different to the web porn of the past. I’m a pornstar who stars in movies, but I also work as a new kind of prostitute. But in both roles I get to have total control. I have sex with some of my clients, but it’s set up in a way where they’re actually more like MY clients. Isn’t that cool?
Lena: I can see why that would appeal to guys. Men love to give women control now. That’s the new big turn on for men. Lots of women writers I know are writing books about this. Men giving up control is a big market today.
Davis: That’s what I thought when I saw our google analytics. People fucking love this, Lena. Janet Waverly wrote an article about me. She said I’m bringing internet porn back into the cultural zeitgeist. She even says she masturbates to me! Isn’t that amazing?
Lena: (not knowing what to say)….I guess. Whose Janet Waverly?
Davis: This has totally changed my life, Lena. It’s been as dramatic as becoming a mom. That’s how big this is for me. I get excited whenever I talk about it, it’s so fucking cool.
Lena: (smiling) I can imagine.
Davis: Not a day goes by when I don’t get at least 100 emails from dudes telling me how much they wanna fuck me.
Lena: Well, that doesn’t surprise me. You are very beautiful. You’ve always been much more beautiful than me.
Davis: That doesn’t mean much. Sexiness always trumps beauty. And you’ve got sexy in spades.
Lena: (smiling) I have my moments.
Davis: If you wanted to, we could…
Lena: (interrupting) No, I don’t think that would be good for my career. And besides, if I’m honest, I don’t think I’m pretty enough.
Davis: Maybe not.
Lena: (awkwardly) …So …who films you? Who films your porn?
Davis: I write and direct most of my vids and pick all my co-stars. I even do a lot of the production design and post-production. Everything is specifically tailored to turn on my fans. Weirdly, that brings in people from all over the internet. It’s much more exciting than just doing generic porn.
Lena: You know, this, in a way, seems like something you would do. I always knew you were a talented film-maker. When we were kids, you used to go on and on about wanting to be the female David Cronenberg.
Davis: Well, maybe in the future, once we save more money. Who knows. I could wind up doing features. I’d actually love that.
Lena: And you’d be great at it too. I used to love the little short films you made in your bedroom.
Davis: In a way, this still feels like that. I’m literally making movies in my bedroom a lot of the time.
Lena: (smiling) That’s amazing.
Davis: For me it is.
Lena: So I’m curious. How many people are you having sex with on camera?
Davis: In the past year, I’ve had sex with 60.
Lena: (surprised) Holy shit!
Davis: Yeah, 48 of them have been women.
Lena: Wow….that’s just crazy. I had no idea you were bi-sexual. You never checked out any girls when we were in school.
Davis: I thought about it a lot. I just never said anything.
Davis: Yeah, I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable. And we both liked guys, so it just seemed safer to talk about that.
Lena: So do you enjoy gals as much as guys, now?
Davis: It’s hard to compare, actually. I was really really nervous when I did my first girl/girl scene. I had to get used to the smell. But after that, it started to feel pretty natural. Now, I’m really good at it.
Lena: (giggling) Well, you would be. You’ve had sex with more women than most men!
Davis: (smiling) That’s the best part!
Davis: Yeah, that’s one of the perks of being a female pornstar. It’s the one thing I think a lot of women in the industry have always been embarrassed to talk about.
Lena: What do you mean?
Davis: You get to have sex with all the hot women every guy wishes they could have sex with. It’s like getting the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Except the candy is eye candy.
Lena: That makes sense.
Davis: And you’re the one that doesn’t have to look outside the window, wishing you could have a taste. All the guys are on on the outside, looking at you. Especially the ugly guys with beer bellies. They’ll never have anything like the women you get to touch every day.
Lena: You enjoy that aspect of it?
Davis: (smiling) Hell, yeah!
Lena: (taken aback) You enjoy knowing ugly dudes can’t have sex with the women you do?
Davis: (enthusiastically) That’s what makes girl/girl scenes so hot, Lena. I get horny just thinking about it.
Lena: Do you ever worry that this is ….I don’t know..
Lena: Do you ever worry that sometimes…porn makes people feel like they don’t deserve to have sex?
Davis: What people?
Lena: People that are less attractive.
Davis: No one’s saying you don’t deserve sex. I’m talking about ugly guys.
Lena: (sarcastically) Right. I forgot.
Davis: I would never tell a woman she can’t have sex! I’m sex-positive, Lena. I think women should be able to do anything they want. Even fat women should be able to do whatever they want.
Note: An earlier version of this piece was written for “Philosophy in the Bedroom”, a 24 hour performance hosted by Sheree Rose, Rhiannon Aarons, and Martin O’brien. The performance is in commemoration of performance artist and photographer Sheree Rose’s 75h birthday. She is most noted for her documentation of BDSM and queer sub-cultures in Los Angeles. Rhiannon Aarons is an exhibiting artist, curatorial contributor, and author of children’s books, working in Los Angeles. Martin O’Brien is a performance artist whose work considers existence with a severe chronic illness within our contemporary situation. His work has been commissioned and funded by the Live Art Development Agency, Arts Council England, Arts Catalyst, Midlands Art Centre, and the British Council.
All three of them, to my knowledge, are sex-positive.
For more info, see: https://www.facebook.com/events/261271440912028/