My spouse and I went away on a trip. When we came home, I realized that the power dynamic here is so messed up, in a way I had never articulated to myself. It has to do with respect of sexual needs.
It hurts the men who live here, when I wear tank tops. Hurts them, that my spouse gets sex, but they don’t. I knew all that was off, and I noticed tension around that. I thought I was the one suffering from it.
But now I understand they are suffering too. We all have bodily needs. Their needs for food and water are respected, but their needs for sex and bodily affection are totally denied. The expectation is that they will have no guests. Seems they’re supposed to smoke cigarettes, complain a little, and watch tv until they die.
Why is it known that the people who live here and have more power will want touch and partnership, but the formerly homeless people are not allowed to try to find love and physical contact like that? Their needs are just as valid as the needs of me or anyone.
The obvious offensive answer is that these men are so dysfunctional that adding women and sex to the mix would be pain, drama, intensity, and disaster. For the men to have their sexualities active would be a huge mess. There would be more people around–noise, fighting, complication. The men are subdued, now, but adding sex would mean conflict and chaos.
But it’s clear to me now–to deny their bodily needs is totally wrong! It’s cruel, dehumanizing. It reminds me of assisted living facilities, where the elders and disabled people are denied privacy, access to porn, access to visitors for touch and sex. That’s not an ok thing to do to people.
I don’t want to be part of that. I was homeless only briefly–the deprived men who live here were homeless for a long time, for real. They want to hold onto the shred of good they have here. But it’s wrong for me to be part of this power structure that oppresses them.
They are ostensibly straight, cis men. So I think of them as king, not sexually oppressed. But this environment is sexually repressing them. They trade in their freedom for relative safety living indoors, with weird rules.
My spouse and I could just leave. But people would come take our place here who would be ok with the power problems.
I want to think of a way to help the men get what they need. We all deserve respect of sexual needs. But I see how that seems like opening pandora’ box. Why invite chaos? They are people, and we all have a right to sexuality and physical contact.