LOVE IS EVERYWHERE
First, something totally off the topic but you will soon see the point. Just bear with me, ok? Albert O. Hirschman (1966) in his book The Passions and The Interests argues that the rise of capitalism is a function of the activity of merchants and bankers, whose labour was originally considered sinful. So, what changed? How could a morally shameful enterprise become ethically acceptable? The answer lies in the moralizing role of the interest as opposed to the passions. At first Seventeenth century philosophers used the principle of countervailing passions – they defined which passions were to be tamed and which could be used as tamers. So passions such as ambition, lust for power and lust for sex needed to be tamed by other set of passions, hitherto variously known as greed, avarice, or love of lucre (1966, 56).
Another step in this process came with the discovery of “interest” and “interests” as tamers of the passions while trying to pit passions one against the other. While the passions made unpredictable and irrational, for instance greed now defined as interest could be cultivated by work and commerce, both intrinsically innocent and mild activities – at least vis-à-vis the wilderness of other passions, as Smith argued. So Smith dismissed the whole debate on how to tame one set of harmful passions (i.e. ambition) against the other (i.e. greed) simply by equalizing passions (to be more accurate one passion) and interests. So one passion, greed, self-interest at one point just became an interest. In Smith’s writing, the pursue of personal interest came to be recognised as the key to personal and social prosperity, happiness and even peace.
So what is my point: that as long we will be caught into the debate about trying to tame one bad outlook on lesbians with other less bad outlook we won't get very far in a positive (self)presentation. Instead I will show that homosexual love is equal with heterosexual one and that there is nothing shameful about it. On what grounds? On a simple one: it is love and it is friendship as the same big passionate or romantic love and friendship in a heterosexual relationship.
But let us go step by step. It is said by conservatives that the mission of straight relationship is union of men and woman with the aim of reproduction. If we are beings just to reproduce, i.e. spread our genes then lesbians certainly fulfill this mission. We can get pregnant without a big deal and bear a child if that is what it takes to. And we can do that in old fashioned way as it was presented in film Viola di Mare (ITA, 2009) based on a true story where the main character slept with a man or we can do it in a modern way by using a sperm donor as it was presented in film If These Walls Could Talk 2, part 3 (USA, 2000).
And if someone might say of a lesbian relationship as a wasteful relationship may we point to the fact that nature itself is wasteful – if you look at woman's period we have only 2 days of ovulation per month which is 24 days per year comparing with the rest of 340 infertile days per year - an awfully small amount. If that is what counts for the equality of lesbian couple with heterosexual couple – spreading our genes - we are certainly equal.
But that is not enough, conservatives say. We need to raise our children by giving them a model in the role of a mother and father. However, studies have shown that it is enough if you keep a presence of a male figure in child's life as if in the role of grandfather, brother, uncle and as it was done in the film Tous Les Papas Ne Font Pas Pipi Debout (FRA, 1998). On the other hand there are numerous studies showing that fathers in straight families are more and more absent (because of work) and the number of one parent families is also growing and both occurences having a much stronger impact on child's development then having two mothers who are loving and present. Children in lesbian relationships are ordinary kids having the same questions as other kids, as shown in feature/documentary film Gayby Baby (AUS, 2015).
But not that is not enough again. Conservatives also say their relationships are not so crude being based only on biological base but that there is (must be) love between partners. So do we claim – our aim of being together is certainly not only to produce and raise children but loving each other (and our children). What is the base of this love? The same as in heterosexual relationship – as being said it is not only a physical communication but also a psychological and emotional communication between the two personalities (partners), as in the case of romantic love.
Giddens points out its characteristics: “Romantic love became distinct from amour passion, although at the same time had residues of it. Amour passion was never a generic social force in the way in which romantic love has been from somewhere in the late eighteenth century up to relatively recent times. Together with other social changes, the spread of notions of romantic love was deeply involved with momentous transitions affecting marriage as well as other contexts of personal life” (Giddens, 1994, 44) as shown in film Desert Hearts (USA, 1985).
Romantic love presumes some degree of self-interrogation. How do I feel about the other? How does the other feel about me? Are our feelings 'profound' enough to support a long-term involvement? “Unlike amour passion, which uproots erratically, romantic love detaches individuals from wider social circumstances in a different way. It provides for a long term life trajectory, oriented to an anticipated yet malleable future; and it creates a 'shared history' that helps separate out the marital relationship from other aspects of family organisation and give it a special primacy” (ibid). Although Giddens argues that relationships have changed and proposes a new definition of (post)modern love as a confluent love as And Then Came Lola (USA, 2009).
And our relationships are indeed the same as heterosexual ones: (romantic) love is all about trust, individualism, compassion, reciprocity and intimacy. And intimacy is above all a matter of emotional communication with oneself and others in the context of equality. In this context women are emotional revolutionaries. And it is because understanding women's emotionality is the key to understanding intimacy that Giddens also considers accounts of lesbian relationships a key source of understanding a 'pure relationship' as a general type!
And the base of our love is also friendship. As Aristotle said you are friend with someone for the sake of doing good to each other. This type of friendship is based on a person wishing the best for their friends regardless of utility or pleasure. Aristotle calls it a “...complete sort of friendship between people who are good and alike in virtue...” (Aristotle, 1966, 120) and in aspirations, wishes and interests (we add). This type of friendship is long lasting and tough to obtain because these types of people are hard to come by and it takes a lot of work to have such a virtuous friendship. He also argued that this type of friendship is very close to love.
That is why a true loving long-lasting lesbian relationship includes also being a (best) friend with the partner. Aristotle also argues that there are similarities between friendship of virtue and that of utility and pleasure, however; it is only the good that can endure in such a friendship. As Aristotle puts it, “it is clear that only the good can be friends for themselves, since the bad do not enjoy their own kind unless some benefit comes from them” (ibid.), as presented in film Julia (USA, 1977), based on true story and Fried Green Tomato (USA, 1991) although the latter is not an explicit lesbian film (however, it's considered being full of lesbian subtext which book according it was made doesn't hide it).
So the pursue of personal love's preference can be again recognised as the key to individual and social prosperity and happiness. Indeed we can say that partnership and/or marriage is only one form of love, although the most common one. Yet it is true that love also has other – and as we will show many – forms and even degrees (some are more intensive then the others). Different forms mean that we can find love between friends as we showed with Aristotle and Montaigne in one of our previous texts on this site, but also between acquaintances, co-workers or even strangers.