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A Test of Character

by
Katti Jisuk Seo
Mark Wachholz
22.12.14
60 min
Longread
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Ralph Martin
People

Ralph Martin and I met on a Berlin balcony roughly the size of my New York living room. This was in the fall of 2007; it was Thanksgiving. Most of the apartments we haunted back then were, as Ralph describes, a particular kind of Berlin-nice. They were not the coal-moted blocks of the nineties. They were roomy to the point of cavernous and well-lit and, typically, underfurnished, because furniture, like food, existed for us on a strictly need-to-know basis, and we did not need to know the credenza. In any case, this apartment was not Berlin-nice in that particular way. This apartment was New York–nice; it spoke bluntly and eloquently of the unattainable luxury most of us preferred to have out of sight. In any case, there it was, and we were on the balcony. Somebody introduced us and Ralph asked how long I’d been in Berlin. I’d been there three or four months then.
Ralph said something along the lines of, “With all due respect, I don’t think I want to be your friend.”
“Why?”
“Well, you’ll see – or you won’t. It’s just not worth it. People show up and they hang around for an academic year and then they’re gone. You go back to New York or wherever and we’re still here. We’ve learned not to invest ourselves in the new arrivals.”
Ralph has no particular memory of this conversation, though he concedes it may very well have happened, and that it accurately reflected his (generally unvoiced) feelings on the matter of new arrivals. For what it’s worth here, less than a year later I learned what Ralph was talking about. Many of my friends were moving on, when it felt as though we’d barely gotten there. Ralph describes pretty well what that feels like. The main thing Berlin had had going for it was that it was practically impossible to stay too long at the party, because by the time one party ended another had begun in its place. But then all of a sudden your particular cohort has moved on, and the new people are intolerable because they so accurately reflect your own pretentious naivete. In any case, by the time that happened, Ralph had gotten over his initial reservations and we’d become friends. We’d become friends mostly because I’d been third-hand invited to a birthday party Ralph was having in the Tiergarten. The party, I’d been told, had a dandy theme, but because it was Berlin nobody bothered with the effort of a costume. Because Ralph had treated me with such disdain, however, I was nervous to show up in my civilian clothes. I wore a rather silly thin-waled corduroy suit I hoped Ralph might admire. I can’t imagine he liked the suit but he appreciated the effort as a personal gesture.
The following Thanksgiving was at Ralph’s house. My mother was in town to visit and we went. There were probably sixty or seventy bottles of nice wine for maybe twenty people. I’m pretty sure all the wine was consumed. There was the only goose-liver paté I can recall having consumed in my time in Berlin. Ralph had a rather imperious orange cat, and an adorable daughter who thought English was the secret code only her father new. Back then, like now, Ralph’s attitude toward his own bourgeois comforts was self-effacing. He wrote two drily hilarious collections of satirical essays on the cliche of his Prenzlauer Berg existence. (Frankly, they stand with anything David Sedaris has ever written, but for now they remain available only in German.) But what made those books so terrific wasn’t their satire – though that was always sharp – but their warmth, and their generosity. They were funny and moving not because Ralph despised his life in the bezirk of Swabian yoga-mütter but because, despite himself, he loved it. Ralph always worried that more fun things might be happening in dirtier, darker corners, but in reality it was the gaiety and liveliness of his hearth that felt much realer to me, in those years in Berlin, than another night of vaguely fun self-loathing at Berghain.
When Ralph’s son was born, sometime later, our mutual friend David said we should go visit. I was in no particular hurry; none of my friends, at that point, had kids to speak of, and the whole concept seemed retrograde and a little gauche. David said to me, “It’s very important to people that you go meet their children as soon as possible.” We went, and sat around with Ralph and his family until almost dawn. Everything was the same for Ralph, but just a little bit different. A few weeks later Ralph was allowed out of the house for the first time since his son was born, and we went to some Halloween parties in Neukölln and then the old Polish bar on Schlesische Strasse, its Halloween floor littered with broken glass, and ended up spending that dawn on the Oberbaumbrücke. At the time, it seemed to me that it was those nights I’d gone to Berlin for. It feels odd to say now, but I remember the nights at Ralph’s house much more fondly.
So take all of this as a kind of caveat. Ralph has written a very clever, wide-ranging, intelligent, witty, and poignant piece about real estate and speculation and the ambitions of youth. But it should be noted that he should not be taken strictly at his word. His written metier may be bristly self-satisfaction, but his lived metier is, from the outside at least, the adult model to which we might all aspire. It is, after all, that tension that makes his essay feel so vital, and so relevant. Have fun with this essay. But keep in mind it was written by a wonderfully unreliable narrator.

Zombies of Berlin

by
Ralph Martin
29.11.14
60 min
Longread
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On Love

20.11.14
3 min
Conversation

Love as memory, maybe this is what I mean, maybe this is what you mean. This is, at least as I read it, how you employ love in your novel “Restaurant Dalmatia”. The past is the past, but what we take from it or what takes us back or what helps us bridge this gap is the idea of a story that connects us with others. Is this then exile? Is this being lost? Or being found? We tell ourselves stories in order to survive, this is what Joan Didion said. There is nothing wrong with love being such a story. This does not mean that love is exactly that story. The power of storytelling is essentially that it creates a reality by describing it. Or by describing another reality that is not even similiar to the one it creates. This poetic leap is what love makes possible. Creating is an act of loving, of sharing, of giving something to the world. Does it have to do with John Lennon and Joko Ono? I would think not. I remember a book that I did or did not read a while ago, it was called “From Shame to Sin” and describes how in late antiquity the early Christians used morality to create around the dangerous force of sex something that was inflated with morality. Guilt arose and with it order. And suppression. And anger. And loneliness. This does not mean that a different society would have less suffering. It only means that this society has the suffering it signed up for, a long time ago. It is the very foundation, the agreement that holds us together. It is not even bourgeois. This is a conceit of the present to think that everything has to do with something that happened in the last 200 years. The book by Kyle Harper was exciting exactly for that reason: There was a moment of creation or destruction, there was a decision made that had consequences. Everything could be different. Again, not to say without suffering, longing, fear, loneliness. Happiness, fulfillment, everything that love can bring, the sparkle in the everyday, a look, a gaze, warmth, belonging, all these things that are so hard to hold on to and so easy to destroy and so valuable. They are still the feelings that love is made off. But in a different setting they might play out differently. It would be worth a try at least.

On Love

03.11.14
7 min
Conversation

I have never felt safe on any ground. Not on band names. Not on the eighties. Not on Games. „Love is the absence in the present”, let me take this line of yours as the starting point of inquiry, the underlying question towards whose answer I´m heading to. Do questions love answers – or the other way round?
I loved to watch Schnitzler´s Reigen on stage. But it scared every cell inside of me to be part of that play off stage. Maybe ´cause I saw Reigen when I was in my early twenties and in a way it retold the story that women would turn tender after having sex whereas men would turn cold. I saw the play only a few days after a guy I was almost impressed by had let me know: Women have sex for relationships and men have relationships for sex. How the hell did all these men from Schnitzler to Freud to that guy so precisely know what women wanted sex for and how they would feel afterwards? I really, in those times, couldn´t understand what kept the two sexes so interested in each other, and if it worked out: what was the missing link, that glue that tacked two independent circles to an eight of eternity. Judging by Reigen and Schnitzler and so many others, that one moment of closeness we long for can´t but destroy anything between us because in the end it is all about the power play of „ getting someone“. And behind so many stories representing that power play there was always that one cliché being reproduced: a man trying to get sex and a woman trying to get love. Not to speak of the repetitive motif of the exploitative nature of older men in their lust for inexperienced young women/girls, this little young nothings as an instrument of masculine aging self-love. I live(d) in a little town. Imagine Schnitzlers Reigen there. Is this all there is about the sexes that we pass each other on from one to another – not much of an attractive idea, particularly in a little place, to be honest. What about exclusiveness? Or is the dream of exclusiveness already a self-deceit in utter need of therapy? It would scare the shit out of me to sit on Freud´s couch. Not that I mind inquisition and deep talk. But much of what I have read about him and from him has to be treated with a lot of suspicion. In the ways it is so absolute. So intrusive. So Original Sin and thus religious in its claim for the darkest corners of our Selves. I prefer to be misled by Love than by a bad Freudian therapist. Or Freud himself. Love has to be questioned, you wrote. But so has lust. In the way we live it it might be as invented as love. We are maybe directed into lust in the same way we are directed into a certain image of what love is nowadays. You say the song by Foreigner could be addressed to any kind of girl or boy or… Reigen… you make it sound easy and like a reminiscent of a time where hormones were not so heavily loaded with romanticism and concepts of love as they are today – whereas i think the play was written in that way because it was a way to release the lust from the normative load that was then the hormone´s daily christian and societal rule. Sure there must have been a secret night-life, but: I believe we are nowadays physically and emotionally more able to express love and lust „freely“. We are on so many levels invited to live our sexuality/ies in a daily routine just like eating Corn Flakes in the morning or jogging along a river. Simply add the ingredient sex to your daily routine if you like or seem to need it. Today´s times make sure you know where you can get it – and I don´t mean for money, i rather mean sexploitation of your own sexlife. Whereas sex could have been a refuge it has turned into a hunter itself since it supposedly doesn´t have to have to do with love.
The other day some news ticked into my account: Young people these days don´t seem to know when a relationship starts. Now that everything is just an expression of oneself, from a kiss to a night to whatever – people don´t need to clear up what this means any longer. Is this still the Reigen? Is that still a dance, a song? Or is it mechanical love? Mechanical lust? Is anyone listening? You don´t dare to ask a machine how it feels, do you? Narcissim hasnt´t replaced anything but taken the role of a shield against that vulnerability that competitiveness and replaceability cause. Where is the difference between lust and love? Why do we often speak of love when we speak of contexts you pay for physical activities? Why do some in turn speak of duties when they speak of the same activities in marital contexts? This whole love-lust-life-marriage-whorehouse-thing seems to be upside down. We are afraid we are not gonna find love in marriages, or lust in marriages, we believe you can´t have it all and yet architect our lives exactly around that have-it-all-theory as if that knowledge wasn´t around.
I do agree that love is a dangerous force. Self-destructive in times. It can unleash all sorts of feelings, pure want being the one among them I consider the least harmful. I don´t know about innocence, Georg. I think innocence is that in a person that does not know what an experience will cause inside her. Or around her. That inside us that doesn´t even know there is a possible experience. I don´t know about the innocence of the scene I told you about. We stood in front of each other in awe. Admiration. Wonder. Experience – and hence a threat to innocence – begins when you reach out. Desire is the beginning of the loss of innocence because you sense or know that there is an experience to be made. The two of us knew no desire, we just wanted to be where we are. Maybe a kind of love the gods would have shattered in a Greek Comedy for the Human´s Happiness was unbearable to our Divinities. The complexity of that encounter was limited, that is why it was innocent – and joyful. Complexity raises tension and thoughts and thus reduces that childlike joy we feel about each other. The girl became an actress. The last time she wrote to me she was in Germany, precisely in Berlin, because she had fallen in love with a German. I don´t know what became of her. I don´t even know what became of me – in terms of love. There was always this question of safety when I felt love could be around. It was not the Reigen that made me catch glimpses of Love. Not that wanting to know what love is, as Foreigner put it, but knowing. Calm. I remember watching „The Making of Imagine“. There was this scene in which Yoko Ono and John Lennon talked about Love. And this sentence: So, what is love then? I really think that love is something to do with relaxation, you know? When you’re guarded with somebody, you know, then you’re not relaxed. And when you’re guarded with somebody, you can’t love that person, you know? Love is when you understand it so well that you relax for it, you know. And we have that kind of relaxation between us, a lot.
–Yoko Ono Lennon
I know that people hated her for that. I know that I had little to say about that since I have always rather been the Annie-Hall-kind-of-girl-with-more-of-a-J-Lo-Shape-and-dresses. I never knew much about relaxation. Maybe, just like Lennon´s fans, I was afraid it would kill creativity. But maybe this is why I often wonder if this is exactly what love is about.

On Love

23.10.14
4 min
Conversation

Love is the benefit of doubt. Love is the absence in the present. Love is but a song we sing to ourselves, and be it this strange tune from the eighties by the band aptly called Foreigner – some might say that this was a major aesthetic accident of pre-late modern times, but you know that. You say that this is more humble, to accomodate the doubt in the concept of love? But this is not what this song is about. It is about convincing a girl to go to bed with him. It is a tactical question, the doubt this song employs is superficial in the sense that it could be addressed to more or less any girl or boy for that matter. Which is not a bad thing. It is, to the contrary, a very common feature of what love can be. A pastime. A game. A carnival. A Reigen, as Schnitzler called it, in a time which was much less romantic about what love is. Why is that? Freud told us that love has to be treated with a lot of suspicion. Who is it that loves? Who is it that he or she thinks they love? Why do they think they love? What is the story they want themselves or the other to believe? Is this the doubt you see in love today? Or is this doubt gone, replaced by a narcissism that wants love, claims love, as if there was a right to love and be loved. There is a greed in this, a sense of entitlement. The story of life is incomplete without love.
The story you tell, on the other hand, totally makes sense. But it is not a story about love in the sense that most people would use that word. In this we agree. It is a story about being awake, about being in the world, about feeling alive, about having dreams and blond hair, about the strange beauty that is youth, about age which teaches you to love as compared to youth which tells you to live. Then again, of course this was love, especially in the more or less innocent way it happened, even though I am not sure that the innocence is in your narrative or in my mind – which is a typical way in which love and the things associated with love happen – or if there is a tone in the story that makes me doubt the innocence of it all. And what would be innocence after all. You would agree that love is a dangerous force, not only for oneself who can be led to despair, false hopes, a life of misery and longing, always the wrong person, always the wrong dream – but also dangerous in the sense that it can unleash brutal forces of revenge, of deceit, of pure want. How did this story end? What did become of the girl? What did become of you?
This love you talk about, it has a very broad meaning, and this I like. I think we use words to try to even access some of the things that puzzle and surround us, these words in turn take on a meaning that we cannot very much change after a while. They take on a reality which might be different from what they were meant to mean. The stories that love writes are stories that might be different if a different word would be used. The lifes that people live might be different if they would realize what they mean when they say love. It is not only a substitute for many other words, which means that you become lazy after a while and don*t think about these other words, about these other aspects of living with a person, of longing for a person – it also means that something is being hidden behind this word. There is a reality to be discovered. Which in turn and again: is the world.

Über Bayern

21.10.14
3 min
Conversation

Ich müsste eigentlich loben. Acht Spieltage sind vorüber, ein Viertel der Saison immerhin. Die Bayern haben sich an der Tabellenspitze eingerichtet. Dortmund, der große Konkurrent, ist bereits tief gefallen, 13 Punkte entfernt – beinahe auf einem Abstiegsplatz. Und doch stimmt irgendetwas nicht. Mit den Bayern. Es ist wie in so einem Film über Kunstdiebstahl. Man geht ins Museum, alles ist scheinbar perfekt, aber irgendetwas stimmt nicht. Man weiß es nicht sofort, aber so ein Gefühl begleitet einen. In guten Filmen ist der Twist am Ende grandios. Irgendein Gemälde war eine Fälschung. Aber was ist die Fälschung gerade beim FC Bayern? Alles scheint so gut zu sein, vielleicht zu gut?
Möglicherweise. Denn weder hat das Offensivspiel eine Zuspitzung wie in der Triple-Saison 2013, als Jupp Heynckes die zwei besten und versiertesten Außenverteidiger der Welt mit den zwei dynamischsten und trickreichsten Außenstürmern der Welt kombinierte. Noch erreicht die Defensive jene Undurchdringlichkeit, die immer schon das Alpha eines Titels war. Und was das Mittelfeld betrifft, das im postmodernen Systemfußball zum Hochaltar der Taktiker wurde, so darf doch niemand glauben, dass in Xabi Alonso und Philipp Lahm die Macht gefunden wurde, die Real, Barca, Chelsea oder Paris aufhält in der K.O.-Runde der Champions League.
Was also will Pep Guradiola? Will er das, was alle sagen? Vier Systeme in 90 Minuten spielen lassen? Jeder Spieler muss jede Position verstehen, einnehmen können, beherrschen? Philipp Lahm hat er nun in die offensive Flanke gestellt, rechtsseitig. Da würde er ja, um beim Beispiel Chelsea zu bleiben, im Dreieck John Terry, Ces Fabregas und Cesar Azpilicueta tätig werden müssen. Wie soll Dante den Belgier Eden Hazard aufhalten, wenn Dante kaum einen Sprint gegen Stürmer aus der Bundesliga gewinnt? Unter Heynckes stand der FC Bayern tiefer, Dante musste nicht so weit sprinten und wurde von Martinez und Schweinsteiger beschützt.
Damals, vor 16 Monaten, galt der Heynckes-Fußball als vollendete Schönspielerei – klar, strukturiert, kraftvoll, filigran, cool, effektiv. Was ist Guardiola-Fußball? Die Zauberflöte? Was wäre Guardiola-Fußball eigentlich ohne die Grundlagenarbeit von Louis van Gaal? Denn eins fällt auf: Wenn es eng wird für die Bayern, macht die individuelle Qualität der einzelnen Spieler den Unterschied aus, und noch immer stehen sechs, sieben auf dem Feld, die in Wembley Champions-League Champions wurden.
Und was will einem eigentlich der Transfer des spanischen U-21-Nationalspielers Bernat sagen? So einen Spieler hat der FC Bayern schon einmal verpflichtet, 2009. Sein Name: Danijel Pranjic. Man könnte meinen, Bernat sei für Guardiola das, was für van Gaal Pranjic war. Am Ende ist van Gaal daran gescheitert, nicht an Pranjic persönlich, der ein mittelmäßiger Spieler war und blieb. Van Gaal, der so viel erfand, etwa den linken Außenverteidiger Alaba oder den Stürmer Müller, er scheiterte an seiner Selbstsucht. Wider besseren Wissens sollte Pranjic quasi Alonso sein. Das war er nicht. Und was ist dann Bernat?
Man weiß es nicht. Man weiß, dass Bayern München nach acht Bundesligaspieltagen weit vor allen anderen liegt, noch kein Spiel verloren hat, auch nicht in der Champions League, auch nicht im DFB-Pokal. Man weiß, dass Philipp Lahm erstmals in seiner Karriere zwei Tore in einem Bundesligaspiel erzielt hat, gegen Werder Bremen, ein Team, das keine Zweikämpfe gewann und keinen einzigen Torschuss in 90 Minuten zustande brachte. Und man weiß, das Guardiola ein allseits bewunderter Schöpfer taktischer Züge ist. Ach, Bayern ist so gut, man scheitert mit Kritik. Doch irgendetwas, irgendetwas stimmt nicht.

On Love

19.10.14
3 min
Conversation

This is what love is. I guess I don´t know how you know so much about it so clearly. 1984. Foreigner releases a song called “I wanna know what love is”. I am age 7 then. By the time I am a teenager I have listened to this song as often as a zillion others. How the hell do we come to know what love is? And that fucked-up-following-line just made me wonder even more: I want you to show me. Where does the other one know it from? You and I, we write on Love here, you and I and a lot of others talk about love, we make decisions on Love and yet I wonder if we all really know what it is. To some it is longing, isn´t it?
I once met a young actress, boy did I love that girl. How do I know? Is it because the memories are so alive, because I was all the way present in her presence? She was young, could be anything between 17 and 21, she was free and wild and asexual in a gorgeous way. She had cut her hair short and bleached it platin blonde. The one night we were almost drunk we took pictures of us with our cameras, selfies with digital cameras, me, that brunette-twenty-something next to that coming-to-life-big-eyed-blonde-shorthaired girl… when we looked at our pictures we knew: She was Andy Warhol. Andy Warhol – with a slavic accent – is what we called her when she felt most ridiculous since then. We saw and we knew. Have I ever really seen love? She has maybe given me some of the most vital hours since my childhood, she was all so curious about life, she needed life to act, she didn´t think of acting as acting, she thought of acting as re-living experiences and thus she needed them. All of them. And then, one night, she came up with that one thing she was missing in her life: She didn’t know what love is. How can you act when you don’t´know what love is, she asked? All those female character are about love… I was amazed at how clearly she knew what she had not felt… I was sure she would know it one day, because the clarity of what wasn´t there felt like a space for what was to come…. And then again: What happens to those who don´t believe in it, don´t ask, don´t know about it… Do you have to believe in it to experience it? This is what love is, you wrote. And I got all lost. I need more doubt in all this.

Groin Gazing

09.10.14
9 min
Conversation

The things you say resonate with the situation I am in right now. It makes me think about the unfortunate constellation of power, desire, harassment and resentment. I am sitting in a train and while I am writing this, a man stares at me. I don’t like the situation, because there is no way out for me. I don’t want to engage with him at all, don’t want any mutual communication to go on. But if I ignore him, he just feels free to continue to watch me and if look back at him, he might interpret that as if I am teasing or approving. So I feel trapped in his gaze.
In the discussions about rape or sexual harassment men often accuse women of using/abusing their power to tease men. But what this teasing means is defined by men and their desire. They get angry at their object of desire – the women, because they think she has power over them. But in reality they gave a woman the power she never asked for. Men resent women, because they feel exposed to their desire for her and the danger of being rejected. But the rejecting is a power the women never asked for to begin with. Still men accuse women for provoking desire in them, as if its the woman’s responsibility.
I feel that this is at the core of this wicked misinterpretation of who has power. The person who desires or the person who is desired. I was in situations where men became rude because they felt rejected by me, because they projected that I want them to desire me. But that was a “power” I never even wanted to have. On the same time, I realize again and again, most men are not capable to see themselves as a teasing object of desire for women, because they argue that this power relation only goes one way – women teasing men. They blame women to tease them and don’t acknowledge that men have the same enticing power for women as well. But women don’t rape (besides the few cases, statistically close to 0 in opposition to how often men rape). So apparently men feel more entitled not to limit their desire but see it as an invitation whenever they feel teased. Gender hierarchies become clear if we simply reverse gender positions: for instance I wonder if the female gaze could be seen as so dominant that men wouldn’t be allowed to go topless anymore, because it would be seen as a tease for women and therefore indecent. I always want to go topless in the summer. I would love to feel the warm air on my chest. But people might call the police, if I’d do so. Why? Because society sexualizes my breasts. Honestly I find that a scandal, that I have to cover my chest in hot weather because other people sexualize me. The male gaze defines what I can show and what not. Honestly I find that truly crazy, but it is perceived as totally normal. So, will we come to a point when men have to cover up because women sexualize them? I think if you turn around this perspective you truly understand how crooked and limiting our perception of normality is.
I agree with you that the most attractive men are the ones who are not afraid to lose their strength by not performing a strict and clear image of masculinity. Instead machos smell of a deep insecurity, which they try to cover up. But you can of course also look underneath the macho skin and find other things: As a girl, I liked to watch soccer with my father. I liked watching men being so emotional, sensitive and physical. Indeed I didn’t see soccer as a sphere where men are super masculine but a sphere where they show their beauty in their vulnerability.
But mostly, even if men are shown as sexy it still adheres to the typical gender stereotypes: Men are more and more sexualized like women e.g. in commercials, but still the difference is that sexualized women are portrayed as serving, passive, waiting to be taken, while sexualized men are portrayed as strong, demanding and ready to take possession. So just because we all undress for commercials doesn’t change what women and men perform in their presentation of femininity and masculinity. And that’s pretty boring.
Because the very sad thing is, that the dominant view on sex takes away our ability to explore, enjoy and define our sexuality on our own terms. In the end sex and desire should be about play and not about who wins.
In that regard I also have to respond to your view on prostitution: I actually think there is a possibility that prostitution can be a service to assist in a play, if we don’t find a partner or we have a certain wish about a sexual speciality. I would argue that pornography, sex work, desire or gazing is not a problem in itself. But it becomes a problem, because it is organized according to a sexist world. I also find the comparison of sexwork and being a wife or mistress valid. In a patriarchal and capitalist society women have to use their body and their sexuality as a source of income or social status (e.g. marriage) because that is the way men acknowledge the status of a woman. But is there a way to organize sexual services in an non-damaging way?
We consider penetration altogether as an act that makes women vulnerable or easy to degrade. And that’s a fucked-up notion to begin with, created by patriarchy and a culture which uses rape to discipline and scare women to feel vulnerable and powerless. And of course in the world we live in, men use paid sex to feel power over women, to get their superiority out of degrading her thru using her for sex. In that way it makes me just sick when I think about how popular it became as an image representing sexuality for a man to spread his cum all over a woman’s face. That this is portrayed as the absolute climax of male sexual pleasure. Well not for women…, but that unfortunately has an impact especially on young people’s expectation when this is presented as usual sexual behavior. So you are right, we teach women to feel alienated from their bodies and their pleasure, to be ashamed to explore what turns them on and tell their partners. We hardly see men in porn going down on women, especially not until she comes. Visuality and gender inequality strengthen each other in mainstream porn: men’s pleasure is the sole focus, confirmed in an always-visible ejaculation; this hyper visuality also denies women any orgasm, as there is no obvious visual sign to be used for it. Squirting – the female ejaculation could be one, but not all women do that every time they come. Instead we say that it is sooooooooo complicated for women to have orgasms, sooooooo complicated that you have an easy excuse if you don’t even try… and women feel ashamed to ask for it or to even explore which are the best ways for them to come and tell their partners, because it’s being presented as too much work. It’s all about women serving men and not at all about the different ways women and men can find pleasure. It makes me really really sad. In that way, prostitution in a sexist world approves that men have the right to fuck without caring about their “partners” pleasure. So in that regard we still have a long way to go.
But I do think in a non-sexist society, where sex is not a tool to degrade and control women, where our desire wouldn’t be so fueled with images of objectification, there would be a way that prostitution can be organized in a non-damaging way like any other service with workers rights, unions, health assistance, etc. and if they could organize it on their own terms, not dictated by a sexist culture, pimps and the police. Maybe it could be acknowledged as a healing power, but I know that is utopian right now.
So, regarding African male sexworkers, I do agree that European women find it probably easier to objectify a black man, then a white one, because in a racist culture they learned to take for granted they don’t have to consider African men as subjects with their own perspective and experience. They are easier preys, you can deal with them in a more irresponsible way and get away with it.
That makes me wonder: How do Nigerian women look at men? What does it mean culturally, when they direct their gaze at men. Does it signify an invitation, provocation, an aggression, a transgression? As a white female traveller, I was told Nigerian men would see it as an invitation when I directly look at them. But I wonder if that is one of the clichés which reinforce the cautionary tale, teaching women to be aware about dangerous black men and dismiss any communication from the start, to uphold a race division. I like to smile at passers-by, as an expression of friendliness (but also to be honest, as the performance of the leftwing, liberal white middle class women in a black environment, in a city which is pestered by class and race division), I hate the feeling I shouldn’t smile at male passers-by, to not “provoke” them. In Lagos I got involved in some nice and easy chats because of that, never harassment. I would like to know your thoughts about that.

What Happened?

04.10.14
1 min
Conversation

A Test of Character

by
Katti Jisuk Seo
Mark Wachholz
22.12.14
60 min

Zombies of Berlin

by
Ralph Martin
29.11.14
60 min

On Love

20.11.14
3 min

On Love

03.11.14
7 min

On Love

23.10.14
4 min

Über Bayern

21.10.14
3 min

On Love

19.10.14
3 min

Groin Gazing

09.10.14
9 min

What Happened?

04.10.14
1 min