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I’ve been talking to a guy I met recently on Tinder, D. He’s loud and funny and a full-time artist. He’s unlike anyone I’ve ever dated. I don’t like artists, generally. I have a hard time relating to anyone whose job requires them to be pretentious. D. is not pretentious. His art is lowbrow.
His everything is lowbrow. “Do you think I dress like a comic book villain because other people like it?” he said to me as he put back on his multiple thick fake gold chains. I’d already told him how un-chain-wearing the vast majority of my partners are. “I dress like this because I love it.”
If I had to say what I enjoy most about D. it’s how much he enjoys being him. It’s as if it’s never occurred to him to be self-conscious. It makes me enjoy him more, and it also kind of gives me permission to more fully enjoy being me. He’s also hilarious, open, vulnerable, generous, kind, straightforward, and gorgeous.
I was talking to one of my best friends this weekend about D. and he was like, “Street art artist is the only kind of artist I could see you with.”
On Tuesday I saw a chiropractor. Before cracking my back, she told me I seemed like a well-educated, smart woman and had probably read about the side effects of Adderall (anxiety, insomnia, etc.), which I am prescribed and take for ADHD. I told her I’d had those problems long before I started taking Adderall and have taken breaks without seeing significant improvement. In my experience, not being productive stresses me out more than the speed.
D. was an elevator mechanic before he became a full-time artist. He doesn’t have a bachelor’s as far as I can tell. His grammar, punctuation, and spelling are atrocious. Sometimes I’ll want to send him things from Twitter but don’t because I don’t want to risk having to explain the backstory. Not because he won’t get it but because it’s just not worth the trouble.
I can’t think of the last person I dated who doesn’t work in an office or whose work doesn’t require an advanced degree. I think that’s mostly due to the fact that I rarely encounter anyone else in a social setting. Although, I did read once that people can gauge class with startling accuracy from looking at one photo for a few seconds. So it’s entirely possible that I’ve been subconsciously screening my matches.
I feel like, especially in cities with high income inequality, white collar workers and blue collar workers don’t really interact socially. I wonder how much my dating history reflects my circumstances versus my preferences.
I feel conflicted about class. I grew up between classes. My mom got her bachelor’s when I was in middle school but never really got a foothold in the white-collar working world. She read me Shakespeare between shifts at the factory and at call centers. My father is a well-educated, upper middle-class, white collar guy but I didn’t live with him growing up. I went to school speaking like a rich kid but dressing like a poor one.
I have these weird pockets of what feels to me like class solidarity. I like lowbrow art and top-40 music. My politics is aimed around redistributing power upward. But I’m also very class insecure. I do not ever want to be poor again. I do not ever want to struggle like my mom struggles.
D doesn’t have savings. He gives what he has to people who need it. He seems unworried about money. I’ve read that lower income people are much more integrated into their communities than wealthier people. They act as safety nets for each other. This can be a double-edged sword. When someone does get to be higher income, they often feel compelled to give a lot of their money to their family, friends, and neighbors. In Black communities, especially, this can prevent young, upwardly mobile people from building intergenerational wealth.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m burning the candle at both ends. I’m working a full-time job, doing OnlyFans, writing this blog, freelance writing for publications, serving on the SFSPDC board, and saving money aggressively so I can do activism full-time someday. Will I regret not resting more, later?
I understand that anything could happen to anyone at anytime. And if you need help, you should ask for it. But one reason I don’t feel comfortable taking my foot off the gas is that I’m afraid of it being my fault that I had to ask for help. I’m afraid of running out of money and feeling like if I’d only worked harder and saved more I wouldn’t be a burden on anyone else. I’m afraid of feeling like I didn’t do my part. I’m afraid of feeling like I was lazy or unwise and now others have to suffer.
I don’t judge other people who need help. I don’t try to guess whether they’re unlucky or unwise. But for me, I would know I rested when it turns out I shouldn’t have.
It would be nice to work hard without feeling like I’m a shitbird if I don’t.
Perhaps my biggest point of class solidarity is that I don’t think people whose worst case scenario is mildly inconveniencing their parents (which is me to a certain extent, to be real) understand what it is to not have a safety net. The constraints are so much tighter when the downsides are so much more severe. Sometimes the downsides are your own mind. But either way, it’s exhausting to feel like you haven’t earned a break yet and you’re not sure when you will.
That’s why I support a UBI. The downsides of resting at the wrong time should be inconvenient, not life-ending.
But in the meantime I’m still having a think about how to balance everything.