This is our truth, tell us yours
Who are you? Its a chant of a football mob, a simple request and a challenging question to some of us. Most people know me as Jem, its been my name online for so long that there are many friends offline who also call me it. Ever so often I see a tweet or blog by a feminist who wants my blood and even they call me Jem, a strange familiarity from those who explicitly or implicitly supported outing me. I am always tempted to tell them they must call me Jemima, Jem is for my friends.
The oddest expression of this was when SWOU (the sex workers open university) picketed a conference in Nottingham. Someone was dispatched to the women with the demand that they be allowed to speak to Jem, which amused me greatly, as I was hundreds of miles away sitting on my sofa at the time. Although I answer to Jem, and like it as a name, it is, of course a construct. Jem is a construct, but then is not the person who those who know me by my birth name also a construct? If you only know my birth name you most certainly don’t know me, don’t know I am a sex worker, don’t know of my relationship with Carter (another self chosen name, I often wonder how many are even aware of the USM reference, or the nod to a certain film, or song).
Then there are the other names, the other personas I put on at different times, There is the name I advertise under, and the names I tell clients are my real name, and there are two of those, one Celtic, one upper class English, depending on what my gut tells me about who a client wants to meet. (IN my experience when selling GFE punters want someone not to different to them, hence the names).
These different names and in some ways the different personalities they represent are on my mind because the compartmentalized life I live has traditionally been seen as unhealthy, or something to change. As the old joke says the goal is to be at one with everything. Maslows hierarchy of needs, which I wrote about here, puts at the pinnacle self actualisation. One self, one presentation of the self, one job, one role.
I think we need to move beyond this idea of oneness as being a synonym for wholeness, for success and mental health. In the workplace it has been accepted that over the course of a lifetime we may have a number of careers, no longer waiting 40 years in one job for the obligatory clock. In relationships there are now a number of models, and the idea of meeting one person in your early 20s and being monogamous with them until you die is growing rarer and rarer.
We present ourselves in different forms, something the internet has made incredibly easy to curate. The radical anarchist can keep down a steady office job, the swinger can have a facebook page where they post happy family pics. They are not necessarily being false or incongurent in wanting, and needing to keep the parts of their life distinct. Carter and I have an ongoing conversation about how we are congruent with our various offspring without being age and boundary inappropriate. When it comes to sex most people understand this compartmentalization without even considering it odd or unhealthy.
We are the sense8 generation, we can congruently hold different lives in our heads. It is time the view of what is ideal for people to aspire to changed from some 1950s white male one. Life is not about achieving oneness, it is about achieving unity. Life is about embracing the many, accepting someone can be one thing in one space, and completely different in another, so long as those different aspects are congruent with each other. Once we accept multiplcity the idea of outing becomes archacic. What does it matter if someone does something in their private life so long as it is consensual? Hypocrisy is about claiming to believe one thing, whilst doing another, not about doing different things, at different times, with different people, which all fit with your core beliefs.