Friday, December 20, 2013

Doll-house Narratives

gordie grant
The recent "Married To A Doll" piece on the Atlantic highlights a story that has been going around for years, about "iDollators," those that take on dolls as love partners.
Rather than do the usual gawking and commenting about how "weird" it all is, I'd rather comment on something that occurred to me as I was reading the interview: when the other person is removed from a relationship, and their shell remains, you get a clear view of just how much projection is involved in all so-called "normal" relationships. So many of us are taught to make a possession of our lovers or mates, to evaluate ourselves, even our value, based on their perceived value.

This is something less than hyperbole. A December 2013 "Psychology Today" article asks, "Is Your Partner Good Enough?", going on to explain,
In the book Passions Within Reason, Robert Frank writes about a woman who asked her friend the following questions: Why do I fall in love with people that are not interested in me? And why don't I care about those that fall in love with me? Her collegue replied, "you're an 8 chasing after 10's and being chased by 6's." How could this woman know she is an 8 and not a 7 or 9? And should she stop dreaming about 10's?

Once you evaluate your partner is inferior to you, you are faced with making a romantic compromise. The concession here does not refer to whether the person loves you or is a suitable partner but whether -- in your opinion -- he or she is above, below, or equal to you or to the other partners available to you.
We act as if this behavior is somehow normal, and Davecat's is abnormal, but both of them show the exact same kind of thinking. He has merely applied those needs and the narratives that feed them to a synthetic proxy. And moreover, as dolls don't have agency, what he is doing isn't reducing a person to the status of possession in the process.

The narratives that we tell ourselves about our partners are in many ways realer to us than they are. What if they are so satisfying that we in fact live within a relationship to those narratives, rather than to the people themselves?
Both Sidore and Elena have two backstories. One in which Sidore is the daughter of a Japanese father and an English mother, and was born in Japan and raised in Manchester, England. Elena's is similar; she grew up in Vladivostok, Russia. The other backstory they have is that they're Dolls. Self-aware Dolls, but Dolls nonetheless. In one backstory they have favorite foods; in the other, they don't eat, becaus they don't have digestive tracts... because they're Dolls. You get the idea.
I've had that dichotomy for as long as I've had Shi-chan and Lenka, and it doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. As I write their characters, they each express themselves through the Internet; they both have their own Twitterfeeds, and Shi-chan has a Tumblr. Playing up the Doll aspect allows me to get comedy from the situation, such as when Sidore wonders why I don't just remove my sinuses when my allergies flare up, but writing detailed histories for them exercises my creative writing skills, and makes them more 'human'. Like I said, the dichotomy probably won't be solved any time soon.
Isn't the goal of a relationship to take, accept and love them as they are? Certainly not to evaluate their value as a commodity... except of course that the entire history of marriage is based on property and ownership. Perhaps it is little surprise that we should still be carrying around that cultural baggage.

To let a relation be what it is, enrich and challenge our lives, and pass on when it is their time. These are a few the assumptions that let me to polyamory, because I noticed a trend in myself when I was in monogamous relationships that I tried to change the people I was with, tried to make them "the one," because, after all, if you only have one partner they had best satisfy those needs. But other people don't exist to satisfy our needs.

Dolls, perhaps, can do that. But not human beings.

[Take a Trip with us... Mythos Media.]

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