From Forest Bathing To Ecosex, Earth Day Sure Has Changed
To Save The Planet, Have Sex With The Planet?
Earth Day is a good time to note that environmentalism is growing creepier.
Take the queer practice of “forest bathing.” Forest bathing “doesn’t involve actual bathing, the kind with water. It’s figurative bathing. You soak in the wonders of the forest.” How? By walking slowly.
We used to call forest bathing “taking a walk.” That was long ago in less enlightened times before mankind learned how to turn commonplaces into marketable experiences.
Amos Clifford, the mastermind behind the movement, leads forest bathing sessions for $50 a stroll. Or for $3,400 you can learn how to be a forest-bathing leader. Clifford also wrote Your Guide to Forest Bathing.
Clifford claims forest bathing “can produce mental, emotional, and physical health benefits” and says your gentle footsteps will “connect with nature as a way to help heal both the planet and humanity.”
A reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle went on a forest bath. He describes a transcendent incident:
There was a long discourse about a hummingbird. Several of us had seen it. The hummingbird had been amazing, we agreed. Also amazing was a wild rose bush, a honeybee, the sound of a distant stream and some purple flowers that nobody knew the name of.
Clifford told him the name of the flower was not important. “What’s important is your relationship to the purple flower,” the reporter concluded.
Spread Your Leaves
Then there were the trees.
“I want everybody to find a tree that’s your twin,” said Clifford. “Talk to your tree. Ask your twin about yourself. Find out all you can from your tree. Put your hand on your tree. Take your time to get to know your tree.”
And so it was that a dozen people walked around, slowly, talking to trees. Like the purple flowers, the trees remained anonymous. We didn’t have to know what kind they were, only what was on their minds.
After 20 minutes of human-tree conversation — much of it one-sided — we forest bathers returned to the same spot and sat down in the same circle to share our conversations with our trees.
“My tree asked me why I was so afraid,” said one forest bather.
“My tree said it thought that we could grow together,” said another forest bather.
I tried this in Central Park. My tree wondered why tourists were so fascinated by the squirrels that scampered up its bark. My tree hated having its picture taken.
My tree didn’t extend its intimacy beyond a chat. This would have been disappointing to Sarah Ensor. She quotes approvingly from the Ecosex Manifesto in her peer-reviewed paper (put out by Oxford University Press), “The Ecopoetics of Contact: Touching, Cruising, Gleaning“:
“[Ecosexuals] make love with the earth … . We shamelessly hug trees, massage the earth with our feet, and talk erotically to plants … .” Such an approach, which counters mainstream environmentalism’s ascetic imperatives by advocating unbounded pleasure, playfully indexes one of the foundational impasses inhibiting the development of a queer ecocriticism: the conflicting status of embodied desire — and thus of touch — in its two constitutive fields. (ellipses original)
This standard academic gibberish masks a real trend. Ecosex is on the move.
According to the page “Here come the ecosexuals!” hosted by the University of California of Santa Cruz, a public institution, an exosexual is “a person that finds nature romantic, sensual and sexy.” Sexecology is “a new field of research exploring the places sexology and ecology intersect.” (The home page is not linked and is definitely not safe for work.)
The Ecosex Manifesto insists that “being ecosexual is our primary (sexual) identity” and that ecosexuals are “polymorphous and pollen-amorous.”
There is a helpful guide for ecosex newbies: “25 Ways to Make Love to the Earth.”
Tip #2: “At first you may feel embarrassed to be lovers with the Earth. Let it go. It’s OK.”
Tip #7: “Circulate erotic energy with her.”
Tip #18: “Bury parts of your body deep inside her soil.” This is to pre-experience what happens when (Tip #25), “death brings you closer together forever.”
Save the Planet for What?
This isn’t about self-indulgence. This is, says Vice, about saving the planet and “combatting [sic] climate change.”
You strap on surgical masks with glued-on moss formations, then pervert yourself with the soil. This will drop atmospheric temperatures. We aren’t told how.
Ecosex is not to be confused with ecosexuality, which is about the “sustainable” choice of “environmentally-friendly,” and presumably expensive, “bedroom paraphernalia.”
What’s confusing about this distinction is that sex — actual sex — requires no paraphernalia whatsoever and is by definition the very nature of sustainability.
Lost in these bizarre practices is that the best way to celebrate Earth Day is a prayer of thanksgiving for the bounty which we receive. Send this article to your tree-hugging friends to remind them.