In French, you don’t really say “I am in love”. To describe the state of loving someone, you can use an adjective, amoureux/se. You can fall into this state, same as in English (tomber amoureux). And you can be in the state of loving someone, être amoureux de quelqu’un.
But an equally valid way of expressing this, which you tend to find in old plays, is to use an intransitive verb. That means you don’t even need to say “I love so-and-so” – if you are some sort of tragic heroine in heavy stage make-up, you will probably announce at some stage, “j’aime!”, “I am in love with someone!”. It’s the same sort of phrase as “I know”, “I see”, “I dance”, or “I breathe”.
I like this facet of the language, because it makes love into an activity. The way British and American people tend to think about love is very restrictive, in my opinion – it usually has to be a mutual and considered emotion, which you can only express after a given amount of time. If you’ve been in a relationship for over six months or so, it is acceptable to say you are in love with someone. Any less, and you are looked on as, at best, a bit naive, at worst, criminally mad. Although Shakespeare was English, there’s a reason it’s Romeo and Juliet rather than Rodney and Julie. Love goes hand in hand with a clear union with another person – there must always be a subject and an object to it, and you can then be safely classified as being in that state.
But states are never fixed. You can fall in love, and fall out of love. J’aime, je n’aime pas. Sometimes, you just have an flash of love for someone. It might be someone you’re involved with romantically, it might be a stranger on the street, it might be someone you have known for years. It hits you for a moment, or you choose to indulge it for a few hours, then it passes.
I think this is a better way to think about love, today especially, as something unbridled, transient, fierce or gentle, but which certainly needs no flowers or cards or chocolate hearts. Love is one of many possible, finite actions, and you don’t need to attach an object to it. You can just feel it, enjoy it. Le week-end dernier, je suis allée au cinéma. Ce week-end, j’aime. Le week-end prochain, je jouerai au tennis avec mes amis. It’s not some terrifying, grasping, suffocating thing which upturns your whole essence, or binds you to someone else for as long as they’ll have you. I just completely love you, this morning. You be you, I’ll be I.
I am sex all the time. I’m sex by day and I’m sex by night. I’m sex 24/7. I’m sex at home, at work, in the shower (oop!). When people see me, they see sex, and when they speak to me, they just know that they’re speaking to sex.
You’re probably thinking, gee, sex! Didn’tcha get the memo? But sex is pretty stupid, so you’ll forgive me for being a little bit slow on the uptake. All things come with time (and I should know.)
The first thing I’ll tell you about me is that sex is lots of fun! People love fun! And boy, do people love me. I go down well with everyone, be they colleagues, creative collaborators, or other forms of red-blooded human beings. People like to talk to me, they like to buy me drinks, they like to gaze at me wistfully, they like to tell me all of their thoughts and feelings and ideas, they like to try to touch my genitals. Some people like me so much, they will yell at me in the street how much they like me! That way, the whole world knows that I am sex (and I get a saucy little reminder myself).
Sex, like I said, is a bit silly when you think about it. It’s kind of brainless, and clumsy, and sweaty. Really, would you trust it to correctly do a Grown Up Job? Would you trust its dumb, sexy judgement? Wouldn’t you see that really it was just the naked, quivering act of coitus, and try to help it as best as you could? Even if it had been flopping about its work station or research with some success for some years, you’re clever enough to see through its Octodad-style disguise and rescue it from harm.
You may have heard, but another form of sex is angry sex. People talk about it, but it doesn’t happen all that often, because people are kind of scared of it and sex is supposed to be silly, and fun! (See above, in case you forgot!) Chill out, sex! What’s got your edible knickers in a twist?
Well, I guess what is troubling me in my newfound identity is that sex is supposed to be cooperative. The beast with two backs, folks! But what I’m realising is that it doesn’t really work that way, as some beasts are more equal than others. As a good 51% of us already knew, in this game, you end up getting fucked over.
I will try to excuse myself, since sex isn’t exactly the culprit, it’s kind of the cause – like how it’s your own fault if someone attacks you because you ran out of black tights so you had to wear see through ones and then a guy mistakes your dowdy school uniform for super duper sex gear.
Sex is something that men may pretend is just a form of intercourse that women control and allow to happen to them. “She let me come back to hers,” they may say; “she let me sleep with her. She let me put it in her butt! Awesome!”
But it is how women end up getting controlled, since, like me, we’re all just sex, or potential sex, and it’s all about whether or not people are going to want you. Although you may be or do or work your sexy little guts out to achieve all kinds of terrible or amazing things, ultimately people are wondering how far and to what extent they can put it in you. They can’t help it. (Well…) It is how society is run.
It’s no wonder, then, that everything is about looks and that we have to wait for other people – specifically and significantly the opposite sex – to praise us for them. Because your friends don’t know. Guys know. And naturally you’ll be ridiculed for ugliness, lewdness, prudishness, and all these things which make you laughably f*ckable, or not enough*. Then for the most part, in my experience, if you do sleep with people, they get an eternal right to pull you aside for a drunken conversation in which they apologise for hurting you (even and especially if they didn’t) and/or to send you messages in the middle of the night just saying “heeeyyyyyyy ;)”. If you don’t, men get to have bruised egos and never contact you again.
I have tried to do lots of things this year, interesting and different things, I have met interesting and different people. I tried to make art, and friends, and to fall in love at one point, but all that anybody wanted was sex. People who have known me for years, people who don’t know me at all, and people who really should know better, have just seen, and would have preferred, sex. And somehow, this is supposed to make me feel all warm and fuzzy, and flattered, and desired.
I am sex, and to be perfectly honest, this is unlikely to change. My curiously masculine body has since my fruitless puberty been branded with “SEX” in big fiery letters. But I can shout back at cat calls, I can be someone who wants and desires, rather than who is just wanted and desired, and with a bit of foundation and some eyeliner I can cover up those SEX letters in place of SUPER EXCELLENT PROFESSIONAL IN THE WORKPLACE AND OUTSIDE OF IT.
And, if nothing else, I can choose not to give a f*ck. So there.
*See the TinyLetter On the tyranny of fuckability by Chelsea G. Summers