“It” is a sex positive antidote, a way for King to tell kids that sex, even unplanned sex, even sex that’s kind of weird, even sex where a girl loses her virginity in the sewer, can be powerful and beautiful if the people having it truly respect and like each other.
That’s a braver message than some other authors have been willing to deliver.
Grady Henrix on Tor.com about the book It (1986) by Stephen King
Yesterday I wrote a blogpost, a sexual explicit one and the first one of its kind in two months.
But this morning I deleted it, and it will never be back online.
It will go straight to paper, and although I will keep writing on at least one sexually explicit series of books;
I don’t expect to blog anything sexual, ever again.
The reason for my decision was that I woke up with the worst anxiety attack since the 90s.
My phobia for hiv and aids, and the social stigma surrounding that, was back full force.
It is a social phobia, not a hypochondriac one.
But in a way that nuance is beside the point. In particular to the potential danger it holds to call it “social phobia” instead of “aids phobia”.
It’s like saying Pennywise is an extraterrestrial force and not a clown; It’s true, but is it relevant?
Pennywise, It is evil, It is dangerous, and if you wake up with It in your bed, calling it by its correct name should be the least of your concerns.
So after I had decided I was not going to stay here, writing as LS Harteveld like I have for the past 16 years, I started wondering what had happened?
What had caused this fear that I had last seen in the 90s, to return? It was almost like It’s 27 year cycle to return, in the book and the movies It 1 and 2.
A fear so big I could feel the strength leaving my body and knowing with absolute certainty this would have the power to traumatize, immobilize, and to seal my fate of ending up in a coffin filled with regrets.
But how come now? After 27 years?
And what was it really about?
Because IT, your fear, is never what you think it is about.
And while fear of spiders and heights, will be met with an understanding that of course, you have some kind of mental projection short-circuit going on;
And of course, the solution can never be to lock yourself up in a spider sanitized box planted firmly on the floor and anchored with extra weights to make sure it doesn’t accidentally fly away and take you up;
That of course-ness is right out the window if the object of your fear is closer to home than dreading spiders and heights.
Fear, a shape-shifting force that is rarely beneficial, and in 99.9% of the cases tied to incorrect causes, becomes a lot more difficult to identify as the soul and life crushing monster that it is, once that fear is not tied to spiders or an irrational fear of heights, but to something everybody is allowed to worry about.
Like Aids in the 80s, Covid today, and cancer is timeless. You re always allowed, if not encouraged, to worry sick over that one. But let’s skip that for now, for clarity’s sake, and focus on Covid, because that is the Unlimited Fear of our days.
There is no such thing as worrying too much over Covid.
Of all the people who have expressed how they are giving fear of Covid a place in their lives – and it is of course never called out as “fear of Covid” but responsibility towards, et cetera – of all of those people none, a percentage of zero, have been met with:
“This fear is crippling you.You should start living your life.”
Everybody either has this fear of Covid, or they do not, but then they are aware that they are a minority and that it is inappropriate to ignore these fears in others.
If nothing else, we have reached consensus that although nothing has changed for the people who have uncommon fears, like the one for spiders, everything has changed for the ones who have attached their fear to Covid.
No one is questioning the nature of their fear, when it comes to this global pandemic.
And it gets worse!
Because Covid is an ideal host, the fear can spread in two opposite directions.
To pro- measures but against the virus or to the other end of the pole, against the measures and fearing conspiracies or unknown health risks of vaccination.
Fear can go both ways.
Both sides of this spectrum are afraid of different things, but they are both alike because neither one questions fear itself. They both project their fear onto aspects of life they have little to no control over.
I think this is the right time to take this characteristic by the horns and elaborate on it.
Because it is this aspect, to be afraid of something you cannot control (either a virus, and how badly people follow rules, or danger lurking from governments and big pharma) that brings out the sick, destructive nature of fear in all its disgusting glory.
It is once you give into THAT fear, of something you cannot control, that you are in deep trouble.
When we can all see that even dangerous spiders are relatively innocent and not worth turning your whole life around for; When it comes to intangible enemies most people cannot do that.
My social phobia or Aids phobia of the 80s, is why I started this diary about Covid. I was curious what the mass panic of this pandemic would do to me, and how fear, IT, would show itself.
Was the 2020-2021 fear of Covid identical to the fear of Aids?
Because I knew fear of Aids had had very little to do with an honest conversation about sexual risks, and all about not wanting to be confronted with sexuality at large and the sexuality of those at risk in particular.
So I was curious if fear of Covid was in fact also not fear of Covid at all, but of something far less tangible.
At least outside of the gay community and the sex workers community, fear of Aids in the 80s was an unhealthy one that served an entirely different purpose than to protect anyone from getting infected.
In the 80s, the discussion and even education, about Aids was never focused and definitely not limited (as it should have been) to things you could control.
Instead, it was heavy with moral judgement and inconsistent, imprecise and non-supportive with regard to the specifics of sex.
These are two topics I think a genuine education on safe sex should have covered;
-straight, homo, and bisexuality, and the sexual acts for each and every one of them indicating how to do them safer.
-dating styles, monogamy versus non-monogamy, and what types of people (and their sexual styles) you are attracted to
The nature of this conversation should be to illustrate that since your sexual orientation is largely a given, and even a fluid or adventurous style could be seen as a specific orientation, that we therefor all start out with a different base level of risks.
The word “Safe” sex implies something singular, a binary nature of safe sex=1, or not having safe sex=0
That is a lie.
If we agree that suppressing who you are, and what your sexuality is, is unhealthy, then we also agree that for example I, a girl who felt attracted to sexually active, worldly men, and not to inexperienced boys, was more at risk than one who goes steady and they’re both each other’s first partner.
Generalizing what safe sex is, is harmful to anyone not going for a heterosexual monogamous relationship, and even for them it is less than ideal.
The base level of risk and your margin to play with, are already determined by your sexuality and can only be changed by suppressing, altering, and harming your sexual identity.
Now, why do you think conversations like this were not part of sex education in the 80s, nor will they every be?
Because the moment you acknowledge that the majority of risks are beyond your control, fear becomes manageable because it becomes specific. Suddenly the factors that you do get to choose are known.
This sounds great in theory, but the moment fear becomes known, specific, and manageable, you can no longer attach this huge chunk of unnamed lower-belly fear to it.
The desire to connect the primal sense of fear, that we all carry around inside of us, the desire and perhaps even THE NEED to project that onto something outside of us?
And preferably onto something other people agree on, and that you can bond over?
That urge is uncontrollable.
The desire to have some topic, group of people, some disease, to project this fear onto, will always be greater, and definitely easier, than to deal with this fear in healthier ways and resist demonizing something far less dangerous than what you are making it.
The desire for evil clowns in the sewer we can blame for everything, will always be bigger than our desire to investigate why we are so obsessed with finding things that scare us or could potentially harm us.
The reason 80s sex education was not about accepting the differences in base level risks, and then supporting teens on their journey of developing a healthy sexuality within their personal parameters, is because then parents, school, church, government, sex education centers, would all need to find something else to project that primal IT-sized fear onto, that was eating them from the inside.
When they could also just act as if they were educating, or act as if they were responsible because they told you to “be safe”, and you could just hear the “told you sos” that would be yours if you got hiv – or got pregnant for that matter, this style of sex education was definitely not reserved to Aids-
They could also do that, and then flock together as grown-ups and respectable institutions, all sailing in union under the same righteous moral flag of “Safe Sex”, which was code for Silent Sex, Don’t Bother Us Sex, Your Own Fault Sex.
They could pretend that the monster they were warning you for could be fought with a condom just like they pretend Covid can be fought with simplified rhetoric of either mouth masks and vaccinations as the holy grail on one side, and an array of concerns and conspiracy theories on the other.
The simplification is wrong.
The simplification then, just like the simplifications now, are what make it evil.
Today’s simplifications look practical, just like a condom advice in the eighties looked practical, but there is a disturbingly large element where that practical approach, is all just one big cover up of conversations we don’t want to have.
Under that simplified solution, under choosing a polarized or simplified perspective, we are able to hide our biggest fear.
We are able to hide IT.
My fear of Aids was able to hide my fear of being rejected by society.
Society’s fear of Aids, was able to hide their fear of sexuality.
Today’s fear of Covid, or the fear of the vaccination strategies, is able to hide unnamed, uncomfortable fears and truths, that we don’t want to face.
Covid is the biggest, global container of underbelly angst, the world has ever seen.
It holds all of our unnamed fears, and it is functional, in its own sick way. Because speaking of Covid, disagreeing on Covid, and arguing over Covid, is way easier and definitely more welcomed, than having a conversation about who does the real work in this world.
Who earns the money.
Who we pay.
Who we ignore.
Who has chances.
And who hasn’t.
There is financial violence, at least in The Netherlands, of a government that eats its poorest alive by ripping support systems out of still breathing families.
The housing market has been thrown to the wolves. Directors have left years ago, their pockets filled with money that was supposed to house the poor, leaving their organizations bankrupt.
The coops and the housing market at large, both intended for people who actually go live in the house they rent or own, both are taken over by private investing firms.
In The Netherlands no one can get a new house anymore.
Just like the town of Derry, Main, in the movie It, the society where I live in, is rotten to its core. Evil has taken over.
I imagine everyone can judge if that is true for where you live, but that is The Netherlands.
And evil has a head start because for the past 18 months we’ve been bickering over Covid.
Oh sure, every now and then a politician is sent home, and our entire government is theoretically demissionairy. Seven months later and they re still all there. And based on the elections we had, they will probably rise from their ashes and become the exact same government.
Sometimes there are big reveals, national or European reports of exactly how ill-functioning our systems are, but they are as obsolete as the newspaper articles about the big fire in a bar, a historic event of Derry Main’s violent past.
Papers that turned yellow and will be forgotten.
Or they are like Derry’s flyers with missing kids on them; No one reads them, even when the topic is so important.
The reason I am quitting blogging as LS Harteveld, the parallel universe where I could share myself, my thoughts and fears in their purest form, is because I am leaving this place.
I have to move out of this town, just like they did.
In a way I was like the one boy from the gang of children that fought It, that I was the one boy who stayed in Derry, Main. All the others left, and lived their adult lives in different cities, and they forgot what happened to them. Until this boy called them back.
His name was Mike Hanlon, he stayed in Derry and became a police officer and spent the rest of his time in the library, studying the history of Derry, and anything he could find on It.
He was the one who made sure that if It returned, they could fight it.
Just like I studied the Aids pandemic, as the root cause of my social phobia or Aids phobia. I have overcome those fears, they no longer haunt me. Or they didn’t until this morning.
Which is why it is time for me to leave.
This blog post is the final one to a book I will be publishing, called The Covid Diaries.
I expect to have it ready late this year.
This post is the only one that will stay up, as the rest of my work for this site is like the scrapbooks of Mike Dolan; They served a purpose, but it’s time to wrap up.
Was I successful in fighting It?
No, not as clear cut as the adults in It, returning to their childhood hometown.
But I hope that by having documented It, the fear of Covid and the fear of Aids, I have at least pointed out that fear is the real enemy.
That you must be very strict with yourself.
You carry that It sized fear monster inside of you. One that feels far less scary if you tie it to a simplified perception of what our common enemy is, tie it to the accepted root of all evil.
But you are feeding a monster.
I was feeding a monster when I was afraid of Aids in the 80s, and I have been feeding it the past days, in the form of social phobia.
I was afraid certain people would reject me, and this morning the fear had shape-shifted back to its classic 80s and 90s form, of a painful Aids phobic panic attack.
Others are feeding their fears directly into the fangs of Covid but I will never feed my fear to anything ever again.
I will resist with the mightiest of might.
In my kitchen I have a note, and if I had done what it said, I would not have been trembling with fear this morning.
It says: “Only one fear allowed.”
I am allowed to worry, I am allowed to have fear, but only about one thing, and I have chosen to worry about dying with my life still inside of me.
With a sex life, toned down, altered or even incomplete with experiences missing, because of fear of Aids.
Career,under my real name, toned down or kept safe, because of fear of social exclusion.
I am going to choose life, choose sex, choose faith.
And if I feel fear, panic, anxiety, if my phobias get the better of me, I will be saying to myself:
“Remember you’re only allowed to have one fear. One.
It will not be Covid, and it will not be Aids.
My fear will be to die with my life still inside of me.
And nothing, nothing else.
An Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living.