Love as Spectrum

The violence inherent in ownership is a violence that privatizes.


My definition of love is the investment and contribution to the creation or nurturing of a person, place, thing, or idea.

Most folks who grow up in American society to a more or lesser degree are conditioned by their family, and other instituted bio-social environments i.e. schools, workplaces, and public spaces for the gathering of people, to play roles that are restrictive of their overall selves and the variegated ways humans exist in various spaces.

What’s the difference between platonic relationships and romantic ones?

Not only is the binary framework of platonic & romantic over-determining our views of ourselves and the socio-sexual roles we align ourselves with and practice but we also discursively transfer those frameworks onto other people and situations we find ourselves in which bifurcates and sets up false dichotomies we choose sides on because we feel forced to.

The idea of platonic love is one that centers non-sexual intimacy as the ideal and goal of the social relations between humans and romantic love centers sexual intimacy as THE definition of what it means to be in a romantic relationship with another person.

It also structures what is possible between homo and hetero sexual and gendered relationships.

There are levels to this shit and varying degrees and levels of intimacy. We run into a problem when any intimate act becomes lost in an atomized specificity only reserved for particular relationships that convey social status and restrictive roles we can readily identify with and those roles are recuperated into restrictive ideas of relationality within capitalism.

The idea of platonic love marginalizes those folks who don’t wish to engage in human relations in a traditional and typical way and robs them of agency and validation as one who doesn’t fit neatly into traditional masculine or feminine roles in human relating.

Where do we choose to draw the line in those platonic relationships? Is a kiss on the cheek between friends the same as a kiss on the mouth or even permissible? If I’m a cis-het man in a platonic relationship with another cis-het man am I still cis-het if I show them affection? If I’m a father is it wrong to show my son affection by hugging or kissing him?

For men and masculinity there are rules that are enacted abstractly and play out socially that restrict the kind of acts that one is able to do and these acts are categorized by assuming the restrictive role of man and engender culturally conditioned boundaries through those acts. In relationships labelled as romantic there seems to be some distinction of commitment, care, and sacrifice that are those same characteristics that can be found when observing platonic relationships but the over-determining factor is yet again distinguished by particular acts that convey the role to be taken up, one of domination and ownership ritually tied to the practice of sex in its most extreme act.

The body in social, sexual, and spatial engagement with other bodies becomes the defining factor and demarcates what relationships get labelled as romantic or platonic, specifically determined by the interplay of genitalia or sexual “organs.”

Consummation or copulation becomes the defining factor and at the same time restricts the boundlessness of the uses of the erotic. Audre Lorde’s essay ‘Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power’ renatures the reality of love and pulls the obsolete distinction between romantic and platonic love out of the either/or category into a spectrum of love by revealing the spectrum and the quotidian ways humans can love on many levels, ones conditioned, restrictive, and ones more nuanced.


Published by clare

Entrepreneur, writer, organic intellectual scholar, avid reader and cat whisperer.

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