At first glance, sex and the environment don’t make obvious bedfellows. How can the answer to our environmental problems – global warming, access to fresh water, ecological sustainability, and the use of fossil fuels – possibly be found between the satin sheets of lovers? According to a growing number of greenies, free love may just save the world. In her newest book, Gaia: The New Politics of Love, author Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio attempts to lay the groundwork for this premise.
And if you can get past any initial squeamishness, there is value in her message: Specifically, some behaviors typical between lovers in open-relationships, also known as polyamory, may indeed be the secret to protecting Mother Earth from her errant, environmentally challenged children. That would be many of us.
Living where we do, in the rugged climate that is the Middle East, many are personally invested in finding ways to better understand, reach and communicate with our neighbors who worship and celebrate differently.
Some even suggest that the answer to the Middle East peace process won’t come from obvious, political efforts, but through grass roots activities and outreach from environmentalists. Every time environmentalists talk about common concerns – because let’s face it, nature knows no boundaries – opportunities open up for dialogue on other challenges.
Until we heard about this book, however, it never occurred to us that peace might come from shifting our views on sexuality as well, from lying in green pastures together, if you will.
Don’t believe that we didn’t protest at the idea, our skeptical brains presuming that some sex conspiracy was at play by those in favor of open-relationships who were on a mission to convert as many ‘happily married, committed for life, no sex with any others till death do us part’ to their freer pastures. It’s easy to scoff at shocking ideas, and just as important to consider them before passing judgement.
Here’s what we learned from a brief exploration into the concepts of this book: sharing is caring. If we approach life with an attitude of fear – for example, there’s a lack of resources, amorous or otherwise – then we engage in hoarding behaviors. That’s my wife! That’s my water! That’s my land, my pastures and clean air! In other words, the concept of scarcity takes precedence over negotiation and trust, and power struggles ensue between partners.
Whether those partners are man and woman, husband and wife, Jew vs. non-Jew, Muslim vs non-Muslim, conservative vs. progressive, the end result is the same. Conflict.
Polyamory, on the other hand, advocates that partners relax their anxieties about not getting the love they deserve (which in turns causes all sorts of harmful behaviors such as adultery, infidelity, husband stealing, etc). The unexpected result, according to the author of this book, is that lovers are then free to embrace the love they have without feeling compelled to horde it all for themselves.
Are you with us on this? Love is not the crime: criminalizing the many manifestations of love is the crime. As long as we believe the myth of scarcity, we hoard. As soon as we recognize there is actually abundance, we share. Apply this paradigm – inherent to open-relationships – to the earth (which she refers to as Gaia, implying that our planet is actually a living biota, a whole being made up of interconnected ecosystems of which humans play a part) and you can see the dots the author attempts to connect.
Free love = sharing = less hoarding = more for everyone to go around. In other words, making love is actually good for Mother Earth.
Our planet, by the way, doesn’t really need us to save it, it will continue its orbit, lifeless or not, regardless of how successfully humans steward our resources and relationships, regardless of the outcome of the current attempts to make peace, not war, in the Middle East.
That is why the ultimate beneficiary of all that sex and sharing really is humankind. And for those of us living on the frontlines in the Middle East, with our various experiences – sexual and otherwise – informing our beliefs about the solutions to the crises we all face – environmental and otherwise – the idea that sex may hold the answer to many questions is both the oldest, and newest, idea of them all.
Read more on greening your sex life:
Sister’s Sell Environmentally-Friendly Sex Toys
The Dinah Project Helps Create Environmental Sex Awareness
Green Prophet’s Guide to Greening Your Bedroom
Above photo: Rene Magritte’s Lovers.