4 of 4 – EcoSex @ U Conn – Anderlini’s Gaia – Student Reports: Alexandra’s Take
The EcoSex course at U Conn is in process. It’s a great experience. We are reading amazing books. Thinking out of the box and across disciplines. Students are sending their responses in, with discussion questions. In class, we connect the dots: a holograph of what we’ve read together, the “required readings.” Multiple perspectives and good synergy. Here, we offer a glimpse. Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio’s Gaia and the New Politics of Love was one of three cultural theorybooks. We got four responses: from Michael, Alissa, John, and Alexandra.
I was intrigued by the idea of separation in this book, specifically the separation of sex and
gender. I have always been confused by the body. I find it absurd that we have such rigid social constructions of gender and sex that certain individuals need to switch their biology to feel natural. Natural, however is a social construct. The feminine and masculine ideals paired with their respective sex labels dumbfound me. Still, I realize that there are a list of traits titled feminine and a list of traited titled masculine. It is not my intention to swipe away these labels, rather I would love for these labels to be independent of sex and or biology, as well as avoid mutual exclusivity. What I mean by this, is that someone with a penis should feel okay wearing a dress, and society should not be shocked by this phenomena. The biologically “male” being should not have to label himself “female” or “male” or “trans,” he should simply be able to explore what it is that intrigues him, whether that be football or high heels or both. I believe that there are infinite ways in which “gender” can be expressed. In an idyllic society, we would halt labelling genders and succumb to the fact that individuals are just that-individual. They do not have to fall into a specific category, though some will. Earth, or Gaia, happens to fall under the category “female.” I support this, for earth has many of the characteristics that fall under the title: she is perceived as loving, nurturing, and emotional. The idea of Gaia as feminine gives power to traits generally considered “weak.” I do not believe in “weak” traits. Thus, I adore the equalizing of qualities that are not detrimental. The idea of Gaia, however, extends beyond Earth as a feminine entity.
Gaia is a theory of love. It showcases the connection between all beings. I first felt to be a part of Gaia on a recent trip to Patagonia. Engulfed by the glory of mountain passes and crystal waters, I couldn’t help but to feel infinitely small, for amidst nature’s grandeur the individual is rendered utterly insignificant. This taste of insignificance, however, spurred a comprehension of connection. I forgot about the body that confines me and surrendered myself to Mother Nature, realizing that I was part of earth itself. The atoms that compose me once ebbed and flowed within a myriad of the universe’s creations. Matter cannot be created or destroyed. We are thus infinitely recycled– as flowers, as waterfalls, as elephants, as humans. We have been, are, and will be everything. All of this knowledge, learned in various classroom lectures, crashed and rippled over me, and for the first time I truly understood. We are one.
The idea that we are one spurs love. To love the earth is to love yourself. To love a friend is to love yourself. To love an animal is to love yourself. This, in turn means that to hate anything is to hate yourself. Gaia therefore spreads love. Love, in turn fosters kindness and care. This theory also questions monogamy. Why do we feel that love is a depletable resource? Why do we hoard love, choosing to bestow it on some, but not others? I have come to find that I can love infinitely. We live in a world submerged in beauty. Somehow, long ago, a compact spot burst into a infinite slew of planets, stars, and matter. In this endless stretch, Earth, but a speck within the universe, managed to host a plethora of diverse ecosystems and beings. A miracle. A scientific theory. A story. Thinking of this, I have no choice but to surrender to the glory of it all, totally and completely awestruck. I have no choice to fall in love with every tiny creature, plant, speck that earth has to offer. Of course there are different types of loves. A love for a sister is different from a love for a plant, which is different from the love for a lover. Still, I do not believe we need to limit love within the forms themselves. I believe we can love many siblings equally, many friends equally, many animals equally, and even many lovers equally. There are of course stigmas and negative connotations surrounding many of my believes. Social constructs halt self expression and love. These societal standards, however, are changing. Bit by bit, the collective conscious is shifting. There is an objective reality, but none of us are able to see it. We all then view the world though the events that have shaped us, the DNA that has made us, and maybe even the souls that possess us. We in turn, make our own realities. Therefore, if our collective consciousness were to transform, these concepts would not only be accepted but the “normal” would be disbanded. The Gaia theory can spark this shift.
Let “nature” be your teacher in the arts of love. Education is the heart of democracy, education to love. Come back for more wonders: Students Responses to appear every Tuesday. Book Reports to be scheduled soon, every other Thursday. Check out our summer offerings: Ecosexuality in Portland, OR, July 17-21. Info and Registration here!
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, PhD
Gilf Gaia Extraordinaire
Author of Gaia,Eros, and many other books about love Professor of Humanities