Professor links sexuality to environmental issues

KAITLYN SPECHT

Arts & Life Editor

Intimate, private, personal – these are words that are typically associated with sexuality.  However, the sexuality Dr. Michael J. Morris, described, ecosexuality, had a varying definition.

The visiting dance professor described ecosexuality in their presentation on Friday as the “entanglement of human lives with the nonhuman material world.” Sexuality, they argued, has much more connection to the environment than many people think. Sexuality is ecological, and ecology is sexual, they said. These things are interconnected – sex is not as private of a thing as is normally thought.

With the dimming of the lights in the Knapp performance space, Morris began with a vivid, poetic explanation of sex, then moved from this arguably a beautiful, romantic image to one which was deeply disturbing. With the expansion of sexuality which no longer revolves around reproduction, sex for pleasure has some negative effects on the environment, Morris argued.

Think of all the materialistic elements of sex today: latex condoms, birth control pills, sex toys, beauty products, etc. Between the industrial aspects of producing these items and the act of depositing them in the landfill, sex has a much larger impact on the environment than perhaps intended.

“Sex is…more than human bodies,” Morris said. The “larger world is…much more than human.”

This was best explained through the video presentation of Pina Bausch’s “Rite of Spring.”

It began with a single female dancer, sprawled out, face down, on a red piece of fabric which was laid down on the dirt. She moved in a very slow, erotic manner, gripping fistfuls of dirt, arching her back and then lying flat again. Other women came into view, and, after a few moves, lied down in the dirt and made similar erotic motions, this time into the dirt. Morris described them as “pulling away and then giving into the dirt.”

The women eventually rose and gathered together, shrinking away from the red fabric in shame.

Male dancers then flooded the stage, causing the women to spread out, though it turned into a “war of sexes,” as Morris described it, as the women danced on one side and the men on the other.

The dance ended with a ring of dancers surrounding one woman as she danced herself to exhaustion. She fell and rose, over and over, until what is interpreted as her death, when she fell and, in essence, returned to dust.

Al Dilorenzo ’19, really enjoyed this part, commenting, “The dancers looked like they were dancing to [their] words…It was refreshing to see.”

Similarly, Lashonda Love ’18, was “most interested in dance and movement as part of this…seeing actual footage of ‘Rite of Spring’…the movement itself was different from what I’ve seen before.”

Morris encouraged people to think of marriage in a different way. Inspired by Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens’ ecosexuality and their marriage to the Earth, Morris spoke about how, in reality, the Earth is our longest relationship.

The dance was beautiful, if not somewhat disturbing. Morris argued that, because of this inherent human instinct of pleasure, which causes humans to continue things that are no longer necessary, humans are destined to die off. With the fall of the woman at the end of “Rite of Spring,” Morris similarly ended the presentation: “our time is up.”

What does this mean? In the question and answer session that immediately followed this powerful comment, Morris explained, “We have set processes that we cannot reverse…is the only way for life to go on for ours to end?” It is a question, they say, they have not answered yet.

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