The Gray Matter

This post is influenced by Brianna Kienitz. A line in her post just stopped me.  She wrote this about her sexuality,

I’ve lumped myself into the grey part of the spectrum for the time being.

When I read it I had to stop and let those words wash over me. It was as if she captured my life in fourteen simple words that covers both time and space. This made me write a self-awareness post using the metaphor Brianna offered. Because  categorizations only cover a tiny sliver of humanity.

In my case, I am confused and unclassifiable in not just one aspect but in almost every practical aspect you would take for granted. If sexuality is one dimension, there sure is a vast grey zone in its spectrum. When you layer in other dimensions it gets complicated and sometimes painful. I am unclassifiable or confused when it comes to culture, chastity, sexuality, love, my career, my food preference, etc.

Scientists talk about multi-dimensional space, dimensions beyond the three (four if we included time) that we are in. They say that dimensions beyond three are curled onto themselves and not easy for us three dimensional creatures to visualize. Let me stick to simplicity and talk about my grey zone circumscribed three dimensions, culture, chastity and sexuality.

Culture

I was born in India, in a very conservative, practicing Hindu family that had strict rules even on simple things like what I can wear, when I am allowed to leave my hair untied, to where I should stand when I have my periods. It is hard to pin down one culture for a country of billion people but in one way or another the common threads are about restricting the role of woman.

I now live in the land of freedom, or that is what implied in the Declaration of Independence. I definitely have more freedom now than I ever had in my birth country.I love my adopted country more, more than anything else. I love the promise and hope it offers. This is not yet ideal but as Dr. King said the arc is bending in the right direction.

I dislike the hatred, restrictions and the social mores of my birth country. I have more freedom than before but being married into another conservative Hindu family I still have restrictions on what I can eat or whether I can drink.

Outside of home I take advantage of every chance I get to break those rules. While I was born vegetarian and still mostly is, I have eaten meat. I drink wine when  I go out with group (but I take measures to drive out wine breath before I go home). On the flip side, I dress in Saree for events, kept my hair long for a very long time,  and play  the traditional role expected of wife.

Nothing showcases this more than my pseudonym.  My parents named me for a Hindu Goddess. I decided to name myself Stacia here. Perhaps it is my home that had I been born as Stacia in this country, my life would have been different.

People tell me I am running away from my cultural roots. I say, if breaking shackles mean running away from culture, so be it. My Indian friends place me on the far side of the spectrum and my other friends see me at the near side.

I am in the grey zone.

Chastity

I am not sure if this is the right word. Perhaps loyalty is a better one to use. Let us stick with the dictionary definition of chastity for now.

Hindu mythology, no doubt written by patriarchy, is full of stories and examples on extremely chaste women. Sita, wife of god Rama, is often quoted as paragon of this virtue. Her chastity was so powerful that when she walked through fire, unscathed. Conversely, she was asked to prove her chastity by walking through fire. The moral of the story is, if your chastity is not fireproof, you are dead.

The very definition of what it means to be chaste was and is very restrictive. In one of the stories a saint’s wife saw a reflection of a minor god flying in the sky and thought to herself that he looked cute. The saint declared she lost her chastity and punished her to death by beheading (by their own son).

There are many such examples of women of high character. And there is just one about a man, Rama (his chastity was axiomatic requiring no proof unlike his wife’s).

I resent these examples and definitions. While I do not see promiscuity as a viable lifestyle for me, I do not agree that sex can be limited to only one partner at a time. I call myself non-practicing woman with lust. Another grey zone.

Sexuality

This has been a long term confusing aspect for me and still confusing as heck. When I was growing up I did not have sexual attraction for a man. Did not have a boy friend. And my first experience was on my wedding night. You can chalk all these up as artifacts of the culture since what these are true of almost every girl who grew up with me in my home country.

It is not that I had explicit likings for girls back then. Well except one. That too was almost a one sided love that burned out from my end. Since then I was scared of expressing love or making myself vulnerable. I was confused by my feelings then. I did not have have anyone to discuss why I felt attracted to her, why I wanted her to hold me in her arms and tell me she loved me too.

Now I am married to a man. I do enjoy sex with him, more in early days than now. I still have my feelings to be with a woman. I am attracted to certain women, have secret crush on some I meet in daily life. I would say I am still the non-practicing type, the one who has not acted upon her instincts, but I have come close to what you describe as flirting with some. To confuse things further, I also think certain men are cute and fantasize about wild sex with them. Yet another grey zone.

So what you find in the region circumscribed these three dimensions is me, made of grey matter, trying to manage my confusions, manage my fears and trying to live the life where I am true to myself.

Astrophysicists say most of the Universe is made up of Dark Matter, that is matter that we cannot even get any observations on to even classify them one way or another. What we can see and classify in Universe but a tiny fraction of Dark Matter. I guess the Humanity is made up this unclassifiable Grey Matter like myself.

 

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