The Couple-Form: Against Shared Email Accounts, Summer 2015
In “Against the Couple-Form” Clémence X. Clementine and Associates from the Infinite Venom Girl Gang write how “the couple promises that, upon entering its grasp, one will no longer suffer from alienation, from isolation, from boredom, from rootlessness” (46). While many of us can identify with the variegated formations the “couple” can take on, alternatives often don’t matter if the hegemony of the “couple,” regardless of subversions, reside over a global ideal that reinscribes a system of repression, oppression, and exploitation.
As we are bound up in the culture that patterns daily life, how can we consider the couple-form that isn’t just deeply personal, but political? How do we develop our own way of thinking about it, without reverting to those tried and true ways of critique and discourse? How can we draw on our personal experiences as a grounding of our critique, without reverting to a discussion of lifestyle choices.
When the plot lines of mainstream discourse around sexuality are hinged upon heteronormativity, heteropatriarchy, and the commercial image of the middle-class white-couple, how can we be wary of not centring those voices in our critique of the couple-form?
An anecdote: her roommate is a Marxist (and self-identified “ally”) but he doesn’t clean the dishes. She says “the revolution starts at home” and he agrees. He cleans the dishes. This project, like all of our projects, stems from experiences and tactics. (Praxis?) An anecdote from a recent AAB meet-up: when the couple become parents, it’s not about romance. (“I’m sick of love.”) Emotional negotiations are trumped by super pragmatic negotiations. In “And, I Didn’t Even Call the Police!” (AAB Issue 2 Spring 2013) another anecdote asserts how “we are forced to cohabitate in order to save on rent.” The couple-form, then, is predicated upon real estate and square footage. And when/if financial insecurity and dependence becomes rooted in gendered violence and abuse, the true alienated and isolated couple-form presents itself.
There is always a longing for the thing that’s bad for us. Is there a way to abolish the “basic” couple-form without oversimplifying the messiness of relationships? How can we assert our agency and subjectivity when we “prefer not to,” to be prudish killjoys of compulsory sexuality? Is there a way to be a sexually free subject without reasserting second wave feminist sexual politics? Is there a way to pervert the couple-form, a form that is already perverted? Join About a Bicycle this summer and help us develop tactics negotiating our relationships to our mothers.