Sex in the Wild (a First-Hand Account)
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The snail, limpet, nudibranch, and even we humans evolve through our abilities to experience sensations and their limits. Charles Darwin teaches us that life needs variation to accommodate our ever-changing environment. Our differences as species are elaborated at the sensuous edge of our selves; we are defined by our abilities to sense and respond to the world around us. Pleasure and pain, attraction and repulsion: sensation is the engine of change. It is through our differences and our abilities to differentiate that life opens up to indeterminacy and potential.
There is no direct relationship between a nudibranch and me—not even when I, a woman who was a fag-identified male seduced a man who was a lesbian-identified female. We are now married “heterosexuals” living in a swing state. But the nudibranch’s particular sexuality emerges from the same fundament as mine: life proliferates difference. I’m a woman with a transsexual history, because transsexuality is part of my species’ potential—by which I mean the web of relationships that make us human, like culture, environment, imagination, communication, and physiology. Transsexuality is just one way of being human, of being a thread in the web.
While I am queer and the nudibranch is not, both our sexualities are permanently under revision, because life itself is changing. And all of us will respond and react to the environmental pressures that we humans have helped to create—polluted oceans and depleted resources—and those forces that none of us can control. Perhaps these stresses will prompt new kinships and surprising alternatives, or they might foretell catastrophe and demise. Or, more likely, both.
Eva Hayward wrote this article for What Would Nature Do? , the Winter 2013 issue of YES! Magazine. Eva is a researcher at the Center for Gender Research at Uppsala University, Sweden. She has written on queer theory, science, and visual studies.