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  • Writer's pictureErin Clark

Do-nothing farming, relationships and influence

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Dubble zine has included me in their list of “Disabled influencers” in their latest article called Sex and Relationship Accounts to Follow this Valentine’s Day! I love the idea that my realm of influence is one of “advocating for the inclusion of disabled experiences in conversations about sex and relationships.”

I am delighted! And cautiously amused because I am, and have been for a long time, single and not having sex. And even more delightful, just this morning I was thinking about what I might write about love during love month while single, and being a sex icon who is not having sex. but now... I’m going write about how I qualify as an influencer when it comes to sex and relationships!

Alex recently told me that she sees it as a choice I make to take the romantic fork in my reality road. Jenny, upon sending me a single yellow rose dried on the stem, it’s petals like used tea bags, taking crumpled form as they dried out and papering away from the heart, called me the queen of romance. On the post on if it’s ok to be attracted to me someone called me “erotically authentic.” “I can feel that,” another friend said. “Somehow the presence of reluctance and giving yourself freely.” Platonic friends, satisfying my romantic feelings, embracing my erotic nature.

I experience romance as inherently sensual, but sensual as not inherently sexual. Rarely have I been comfortable blurring their edges with another person, but frequently have I fucked. Sensuality is pervasive in my life, lovers abound if not in the strictest of forms. Some interchange sensuality for sex, sexual need and desire, while I consider asexuality. Does resisting my desexualization as a disabled person necessarily promote a sexual experience or desire? Does all sexual representation automatically objectify? I love my body and how nature influences my pleasures. I collect evidence of this and post it online. That is what forms the basis of my iconography. I call it sex.

The article says in it’s intro, “despite often being portrayed as sexless beings, disabled people thrive in sexual and romantic relationships,” I agree with this in the general sense, but it is not true about me.

The parts of sex that I like are the atmosphere of intimacy and desire, which, when translated well into sex acts, is truly exquisite pleasure. But I could live entirely without no-atmosphere sex. And there are other ways for bodies to collaborate in conjuring energy between them.

I fell in love once and thrived in the telling of it more than I thrived in the experience itself. I was in a relationship once (it was not the same time as falling in love) and thrived in leaving it. I dream of falling in love again, I dream of being married again, but they are formless dreams, I can’t quite picture the mechanism of partnership, components whirring along, influencing the influencer.

I think there is something else that being rendered sexless and "undateable” attacks, something that is not exactly about having sex or being in a relationship, and which I instinctively defend. Some form of power, or esteem —influence, perhaps.

I think of my slow maturation in this realm. How it might be like do-nothing farming. Jenny Odell writes about Fukuoka’s practice by saying,

"Not that it was easy: the do-nothing farmer needed to be more attentive and sensitive to the land and seasons than a regular farmer. After all, Fukuoka’s ingenious method was hard-won after decades of his own close observations of weather patterns, insects, birds, trees, soil, and the interrelationships among all of these."

But this is nothing to do with disability unless you believe that disability is how I learned to pay that kind of attention in the first place, as some of us do. It has everything to do with disability because that is where much of my defensiveness and distrust comes from. Am I open, or closed off? Yes. I love you. So wild and deep I hate you again. That is not because I’m disabled, but because I think nothing is real unless I feel it too much. Which is because I am paralyzed, so nothing is real.

I thrive in intimacy, thats true, but relationship is sometimes something else, or maybe I like it best when it’s deconstructed, strewn like rose petals dried out past life from nostalgia as much as exposure to air. Not that my love is dry, or that my romance is past tense, or that sex is brittle. It’s more that it is separate from the stem, intentionally preserved and my hottest fantasy is that I should love like a do-nothing farmer and be so loved in return. "Once he has seen to it that conditions have been tilted in favor of his crops, Mr. Fukuoka interferes as little as possible with the plant and animal communities in his fields.” (from the introduction in The One-Straw Revolution, quoted in Jenny Odell’s essay ‘On How to Grow An Idea’)

Influence is a kind of interference, and I became an influencer by talking about the ways in which I am interfered with. flooded and tilled and sprayed with pesticides and seeded into a monoculture and abandoned once the soil is inevitably depleted. These are my actions and my conditions.

What I mean when I say I dream of falling in love again, is that I wish to be tilted in favour of my thriving. When I chose romance in the fork of my reality road, when I influence sex, and the word I would use instead of advocacy —I tilt.

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