what paper bird?

© adam dot 2011

The title comes from a poem by Vicente Aleixandre, the Spanish poet: “A paper bird inside the breast / Says the time for kisses is not yet here.”

These pages are mainly about sexual rights, a term whose meaning is open to anybody to decide.   I take it to encompass the idea that people have the right to enjoy their sexualities and bodies freely. As part of that, they should be able to define who they are — including their identities and gender — move freely, live freely, wear and say what they want or need to, earn a decent living, see doctors when they have to and visit hospitals when they must, control their reproductive lives, have food and water and a roof with walls, and be recognized and treated with dignity in community, family, and society.

Lots of people don’t think those premises are true. That’s the first problem.

The poem, though, expresses something more to me: the idea that you can’t love freely, or be yourself fully, while repression and injustice walk openly around the world.   Unfreedom is as seamless as its web is subtle. The hatred of pleasure and the immurement of emotion are only part of innumerable strictures that wall us in, stopper our voices, confine our hands, and stop our hearts. Another way of putting this is that, as the lawyers say, human rights are universal and inalienable, indivisible, interdependent, interrelated. That is, they all connect.

Human rights themselves, however — once they harden into defined norms and become the instruments of institutions — demand to be questioned too.  What ends do they serve and not serve; whom do they help and not help?  They lay out ground rules for a reasonable society, but while they imply fairness and assert they embody justice, they don’t necessarily mean liberation. At times, indeed, they only turn the tumblers of the lock on our confinement. And some kind of liberation is needed if the barriers are to fall, and the time for kisses to come.

So there are a lot of questions. There will not be answers; only different ways of rephrasing the questions.

All the drawings on this blog are the work of Adam Dot, a gifted young Egyptian artist, whose generosity I gratefully acknowledge. You can see more of his work or contact him here, or here.

© adam dot 2011

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6 thoughts on “what paper bird?

  1. Hi Scott,

    I came across your paper bird site and I was acutely reminded of the complexities of this world – populated by a species that calls itself human, but excells in INhumanity across the globe.

    Please keep on enlighting us and show us the activist way – when needed.

  2. I don’t FaceBook, but I did follow the link to Flicker. Thanks. I think that until we allow ourselves to love freely there will be oppression. It is the Ouroboros .
    Bear.

  3. Hello Scott, I saw what you wrote about Charlie Hebdo and was truly relieved. I have struggled myself over what to say about the situation, because until I read your article I felt that some of the points you made were simply absent from the dialogue. I was at pains to put the idea into words in a way that could be powerful without seeming arrogant and would hopefully mitigate some of the inevitable political polarization and galvinization of the anti-Muslim right and radical Islamists. Unfortunately, I don’t think that your article will recieve the same level of exposure as #JesuisCharlie has across the web because it is more difficult to swallow, which is precisely why I think it is so important that it does get as much exposure as possible. First of all I would like to sincerely thank you for writing, I look forward to reading more of your posts. And secondly I would like to ask if you could see yourself on news programs, defending your ideas and hopefully demystifying some of the factors that are currently crippling this debate over free speech and individual rights. I’d love your feedback.

    I’m currently a student at the University of Texas. My email is cdearwater@utmail.edu

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