Archive for January, 2011

photo by: Cambo

Coming home to a dark house, she wonders if he’s home.  She opens the door to a dimly lit room and a trail of rose petals leading her to a Hallmark moment table adorned with wine, candles, and perfected place settings…a romantic candlelit dinner…a.k.a. the bait.  Before she can take it all in, a glass of wine finds its way into her hapless hand.  The day’s surplus problems race from her mind like children caught red-handed snooping through their dad’s forbidden box of “good articles.”  It’s then that she notices a chocolaty drizzled message on her dinner plate:  “No clothing. No option!”  As she grapples to take in his strategically premeditated  romantic gesture, he puts the last piece of the get-laid-tonight puzzle into place…and permeates the room with her favorite romantic love song.  One sure to make her knees weak and her loins ache. Music and wine are intoxicating her.  The puzzle is complete…now it’s time to “tear it up!”

the hunted ~ “Why sweetie, what a romantic candlelight mood!”

the hunter ~ “The better to relax you with my dear…”

hunted ~ “Why sweetie, what an interesting dining attire rule!”

hunter ~ “The better to see you with my dear…”

hunted ~ “Why sweetie, what delicious wine!”

hunter ~ “The better to woo you with my dear…”

hunted ~ “Why sweetie, what erotic music you’re playing!”

hunter ~ “The better to DO you with my dear…”

And the ravenous wolf devoured her…but not before she left her own passionate scratches of defense tatooed across his back.  😉

Turns out music and sex have more in common than “I Want to Sex You Up” lyrics.  They both cause the brain to release the chemical dopamine that’s responsible for making us experience pleasure and reward.  While we’ve known that both eating and sex get our dopamine juices flowing, scientists now have proof that music is also a dopamine doozy.   Studies prove that all types of music…from classical to punk, from jazz to bagpipes, from hip-hop to tango…all tickle the dopamine fancy.  The studies were performed without lyrics, so it seems the music alone gives us the same high as sex.  But it should come as no surprise that music provides such titillating pleasure, seeing as how most musical lyrics are consumed with love and sex…having always played up to our lovesick heartaches, heartbreaks, and booty shakes.  So, sex and music undoubtedly go hand in “band.”  The question is:  Why do we sing our hearts out about our sex drought?  Is it simply an outlet, or is music a subconsciously primitive means to a consciously sexual end?

Darwin believed the latter.  His sexual selection theory suggested that music evolved to serve the same function as the rest of the animal kingdom…to mate.  He viewed animal musical behavior such as the mating songs of birds, frogs, alligators, and whales as equal to the evolution of music for humans.  Evidence of music dates as far back as the Paleolithic times, during which the first flute was created out of animal bone.  In a time when survival and procreation were the only things on a busy caveman’s to-do list, what reason at all would he have for attempting to create music?  It wasn’t necessary for food, fending off predators, or getting those pesky animal hairs out of his teeth.  So, why spend time he could otherwise be hunting creating music?  Why…to get the girl, of course.  Darwin dubbed it a do-the-dirty methodology.  He theorized that sounds generally evolved for the sole purpose of sex, which explains why music is a part of worldwide culture.  But those sounds have continued to evolve along with human beings.  With evolution, we’ve learned language…and thrown that lusty language in with our musically sexual quest.  Interestingly, with the rise of feminism, men aren’t the only ones using music to their sexual advantage.  “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?”

Darwin’s sexual selection theory has historically been dismissed by some scientists.  But if food, sex, and music all cause our brains to release dopamine, we have to wonder…why?  Food, sex, and music have one common thread…they’re a means to an evolutionary end.  Like the rest of the animal kingdom, we have but two evolutionary duties in life…survival and procreation.  Food is a means to survival.  Sex is a means to procreation.  Music is a means to sex, it seems.  Maybe we subconsciously use music as a mating dance just as the rest of the animal kingdom.  Is it possible our brains have evolved to enjoy the things we need in order to survive and procreate.  We eat a slice of steamy cheesy pizza…we feel pleasure because eating is necessary for survival.  We hear climactic music, we feel pleasure because we anticipate sex.  We have climactic mind-blowing sex…we feel pleasure because we may now procreate.  Survival…check.  Procreation…check.  The continuation of the species…check.  All in a hard day’s work for primitive caveman…or modern He-Man.

Yes!  It seems, when it comes to music, the beat isn’t the only thing getting our booties bumping.  😉

So, next time you see young girls swoon over the latest heartthrob boy band, or some unsuspecting woman throw her panties at a rock band with mile-high hair, makeup you could carve your name in, and a sickly toothpick frame…reflect on Darwin’s theory.  And know that music just has that “feel good” effect on us.   You could try to pull her from the wolf’s sexually hypnotic grip…enlighten her…warn her…

“Hey girl!  He’s just trying to get to your nitty gritty with his witty ditty!”

But chances are she’s aware and dancing along to the ditty for HIS gritty.  😉

Chick Hughes

If music be the food of love, play on. William Shakespeare

photo by: Cambo

Love and war.  Shove and roar.  When we decide to go head to “head” in a heated Battle of the Sexes, we shamelessly fire off any and all ammo we can dredge up from the dark cobwebbed recesses of our minds…be it pertinent, or not…recent, or not…rational, or not.  Emotion knows no rationality.  So, once we’re hurt, we’re eager to return the favor.  All’s fair in love and war, right?  There’s a popular notion that we hurt the ones we love the most.  Novel notion, no?  Although we’re well aware of this tidbit, we’re repeatedly shocked with disbelief when a loved one uses our heart as a dart board.  Why?  Because we’re desperately passionate about the ones we allow close enough to throw those darts.  If we didn’t love them so fiercely, we wouldn’t be invested in the argument.  Wouldn’t care what they thought, why they thought it, or how it affected our lives.  It’s because we feel so deeply that we fight so passionately.  Any time we wage war on our sweetie, our emotions acts as our guns…our words the bullets.  The bigger our gun, the more deadly the bullet.  Words slinging around in the heat of angry battle like tiny grenades waiting to detonate can’t be easily rationalized, controlled, or unsaid.  The experts tell us to talk, rather than fight…to communicate calmly and rationally face to face.  But if we could manage that tip when our tempers flare…and successfully control emotion,  we may also feel the need to capitalize on our newfound powers and TAKE OVER THE WORLD! 😉

The truth is our emotions are powerful…and, at times, dominate rational thought.  When an argument breaks out, our bodies feel attacked, become overridden with emotion, and respond negatively.  We fight back.  We wage an ugly war.  A war so ugly, we sometimes imagine ourselves having an out-of-body experience…hovering and watching from above as our proudest chair-slinging Jerry Springer moment plays out in all its tacky cut-off jean shorts glory…and we watch helplessly wondering who the hell this untamed idiot is.  Personal shame has abandoned us.  We yell, scream, blame, avoid, cry, bully, play the victim…anything that makes us feel justifiably in the right…NEVER the wrong.  Whatever it takes to further our delusion of self righteousness.  Such is human nature.  But when our delusion is challenged, we feel angry, defensive, hurt, alone…all of which tell our body we remain under attack.  So, we pull out the big guns.  We shoot off explosive words and watch them crash into each other like Stephen King’s possessed cars in a dare devil drag race.  Explosion upon explosion.  The intensity!  But maybe there’s a better way to resolve our heated battles…leaving far less casualties in the wake, less blood on our hands, and make-up sex at our fingertips.  An E-fight?  Fighting via email?  U got it!

OMG!

Couples WILL fight…over finances, sex, kids, finances, sex, family, finances, sex, a lost connection.  And sometimes, we fight over finances and sex.  When we fight, our techniques differ.  Experts say men tend to withdraw while women seek emotional support.  A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family followed 373 couples over a 16 year time span.  They found that the couples’ fighting tactics were a predictor of marital success.  How they communicated their disappointments to one another ~ whether they reached an agreement, agreed to disagree, or fought to the death.  Essentially, it’s not our fighting that’s the problem, but HOW we fight.  The study found the most volatile combination of spouses consisted of one who tackles the problem head on plus one who withdraws and avoids the problem.  They found the spouse who faced the problem head on perceived the other’s avoidance as an uninvested disinterest in the relationship.  An unspoken “f**k you.”  So, if she’s pushing to fight and he’s avoiding the issue, she “rationally” comes to the conclusion that he just “doesn’t love me.”  Sound familiar?  But in reality, he just needs a cooling off period…time to think before speaking.  Probably not a bad thing.  After all, she may not want to hear what he’s thinking at the precise moment she’s rattling his ear drums with each and every fault he has the misfortune of possessing.

A fight is a natural part of any relationship…a healthy part.  A chance for growth if managed properly.  But the instigator sitting on the sidelines capable of destruction and egging it on is none other than EMOTION.  Experts agree emotion is a perception of the bodily state…a mental understanding of a physical arousal.  An event…such as her cleaning like a housewife gone mad while he reconnects his butt to the couch and his hand to the remote…leads to arousal in the body (likely negative).  This physical arousal leads to an emotional feeling…such as resentment or anger.  The emotion leads to a reaction…yelling, for example. Yelling is simply a byproduct of pain… “expressing your own pain through anger.”  Or perhaps, sharing the “love.”  But obviously, yelling is contagious, breeds more yelling, and drowns out hearing.  Emotion has successfully brought about war with both now feeling pain and expressing it simultaneously.  Both want to be heard.  But neither is.  We can’t seem to hear over our own anger.  We’ve reached…an impasse.

But what if we took our fight to cyber world?  A world free of irrational ammo AND emotion.  Send our enemy an email explaining why we’re upset.  No irrational emotions running the show.  No speaking before we think.  The very act of typing out a thought requires us to deliberate on its rationality.  Our tears may short circuit the keyboard, but they’ll be productive tears…healing our pain instead of adding to the strain.  Our thoughts and feelings ~ minus the accusations ~ will be listened to, and heard, in the neutral world of email.  Both parties feel less attacked without our opposition looking us in the eye and combating us.  Therefore, we listen more, contribute more, and counterstrike less.  Win…win!

Whether we E-fight from completely different locations or just take turns on a joint computer, it’s a chance to pour our hearts out to our sweetie without assaulting him/her with every negative emotion that impatiently and inconsiderately spills forth from our mouth.  And as we sit and read our spouse’s thoughts, feelings, and fears…we feel empathy rather than anger.  Come together, rather than forcing a divide.  Listen, rather than yell.  We’re more likely to open up in a calm stream of thought-out emails.  More likely to clam up in a steady stream of “go to hells.”  When we type out our rebuttals, we eliminate the emotional trigger that sends our bullets flying and avoid hitting our spouse right between the eyes with heavy artillery. So, think before you shoot.  If we shoot up today’s enemy, who’ll be tomorrow’s ally?

Next time a war is brewing, don’t go head to “head.”   Send an email and go heart to heart.  Through your glowering snarl and clenched teeth, look your opposition in the eye and growl…

“You’ve got mail!”

Chick Hughes  🙂

Because we can all use a little editing sometimes.

photo by: wreckedm

You, me, WE.  Yours, mine, OURS…c’est WE!  Who knew those bitterly plotting pronouns would follow us long after we bid adieu to our rigid English instructors’ bloody war zone of red corrections slaughtering our diligently written papers.  Stalking us like ninjas in the night…ready to obliterate us with their nunchuck skills the minute we utter our marriage vows binding “me” to “we.”  Singular pronouns D.O.A.  Your plans.  My savings.  Your house.  My car.  Your money.  My kids.  Married adults declaring “Mine, Mine, Mine, Me, Me, Me?”  Much like a couple of preschoolers brawling over the only light up Buzz Lightyear toy.  One difference…preschoolers are way easier to deal with.  🙂  We adults sometimes get so caught up in remaining individuals, we forget that we married for a reason…to join TOGETHER.  But, understandably, with a 50% divorce rate, we may find ourselves in self-protection mode, keeping assets, experiences, and problems separate…just in case.  The problem is “me” can’t manage a marriage.  The mindset of “we” is what keeps us bonded together.  Without it, “me” usually ends up becoming a divorce statistic.  Me, you, us, we, mine, yours, ours.  The language of marriage quickly devolves into one down and dirty pronoun throwdown!

It seems obvious enough.  For a marital union to remain happy, it must be…well, united.  A union is formed when two become one.  Two individuals merging together to form a singularity.  If two individuals don’t wish to become one ~ financially or emotionally ~ they should also avoid a marital merge  and should, instead, travel as a parallel pair on a perpetual dating road.  But for those who do choose a marital merge and wish to prevent fatal accidents, the traffic lingo must be WE.

A study published in the journal Psychology and Aging followed 154 middle aged couples and had a front row seat to their pronoun throwdown.  Blood and gore galore!  Last one standing:  “WE!”  Those couples who stuck to plural pronouns… “our,” “us,” or “we” …were happier with one another and showed less physiological stress.  When conflict did arise, these couples showed more relaxed heart rates, had lower blood pressure, and were better able to resolve their conflict.  Opposite the plural pronoun victors were those who emphasized their separateness…using singular lingo such as “I,” “mine,” or “me.”  These couples weren’t as content in their marriages, had more difficulty resolving conflict, and displayed more negative facial expressions, tones of voice, and body language.  Hmmm…they were sore losers even before they lost.  🙁

In today’s modern matrimony, some couples predict their own failure.  Before the marriage license is even signed, they anticipate divorce and make it a point to keep anything and everything separate…mine, yours, no confusion.  Some see it as savvy business sense or self-protection.  Some see it as a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Our expectations sometimes predict, or cause, our outcomes.  Things like prenups, while my logical brain can justify them, scream “red light” to my emotional brain.  Entering into a union that is based on trust without trust seems a moot point.  Why open the door if you’re expecting an armed stranger?  And if you do open the door and arm both yourself and the “stranger” with ammo, fear and self-preservation will eliminate one…or both.

But that’s just finances.  Some couples choose the more treacherous road…emotional singularity.  Rather than focusing on financial assets, they focus on more intimate day-to-day experiences and problems.  Day after day, reiterating their separateness.

~ to the sick spouse ~ “You’re sick?  Ok, you stay home.  I’m going out.  See ya.”

~ to the wife who pleads for help with birth control ~ “Your body.  Your problem.  I’m not getting a vasectomy!”

~ to the husband who worries about money and struggles to support the family ~ “I AM buying this for myself.  I deserve it.”

~ to the wife who’s crying over a lost connection ~ “What’s your problem?  I’m here.  What more do you want?”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones…”  but words can break our bond.

Turns out words are much deadlier than sticks and stones, acting as poison darts firing upon an already choking emotional connection.  When we disconnect emotionally, we tend to quit thinking in terms of “we” and focus on “me.”  We’re no longer a team.  Gone are the days of “us against the world.”  We divvy up our metaphorical weapons and prepare to stand alone.  We stop making together plans, stop considering the other’s feelings, and begin carrying out our days alone only crossing paths when absolutely necessary.  Result…LISTEN UP!  The fat lady is singing.  D.i.v.o.r.c.e…it’s D-Day.  He finally has those double D’s he’s been dreaming of since his pubescent afternoons spent in the john.  Unfortunately, the only thing he’ll be “jerking” on is his wallet as the divorce lawyer charges him for giving her half of everything.  Uh-oh…the fantasy has gone horribly awry, no?

So, how do we take back our marriage?  And control our looming pronoun throwdown?

Experts say it’s simple…equality.  Neither husband, nor wife, dominating the relationship.  No “his.”  No “hers.”  Just “ours.”  Whether it’s financial assets, debt, problems, or plans…the concept of “us” suggests a team…working toward a common goal and providing support and confidence for one another.  Without the team mentality to help us through life’s storms, we’ll be drenched in the pouring rain hoping our tiny umbrella for one won’t attract the crackling lightning from above.

Scientists say our pronoun lingo is as telling about what goes on inside our marriage as an x-ray is of what goes on inside our body.  It can show a healthy body…or it can reveal a nasty cancer festering, growing,  and destroying its host. They say to master our marriage, we must master the art of togetherness while maintaining our own identities.  That we must share interests, feelings, ideas, experiences, and memories.  When shared, this common ground serves as our marriage fingerprint…gives it a uniqueness all its own.  No two alike.  This fingerprint is bonding as a couple and helps to create a sense of “we.”  Together, we’ve survived terrible twos, teenage rage, job loss, and dysfunctional families that make us want to bitch slap the Cosbys.  On the other hand…together,  we’ve enjoyed births, anniversaries, school plays, vacations, and holidays that would put a tear in Clark Griswold’s nostalgic eye. “We” persevered…together.  And together, “we” stand united to face whatever more this fickle life has to throw our way.  As long as WE control our pronoun throwdown.

Ditch the “‘me.”

Say “OUI” to “We!”

Chick Hughes 🙂

“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.” ~ Robert C. Dodds

photo by: sasa eh

She’s a good girl.  She’s a bad girl.  She’s everywhere in between.  She’s the steamy release from every woman’s boiling pot of hidden thoughts, feelings, and desires…a pot stirred by the hand of sexual expression, but sealed by the lid of sexual repression.  She’s the woman torn between the safety of being wholesome and the risk of being whoresome.  The moment she enters puberty, she’s met with the paradox that will forever shape her sexuality ~ Men love openly daring, sexually confident women…but they won’t marry one.  And there it is.  Her “how to” manual for landing a hubby summed up in one contradictory load of crap.

Marriage is the big finale to her youth and launching of her “happily ever after.”  She sees but one road leading to the brainwashed bliss of marriage, babies, and baking so subtly implanted by society…that road is good girl conformity.  She mustn’t be too in touch with her own sexual feelings, arousal, or satisfaction, lest she be labeled promiscuous…and therefore, alone for eternity or stoned to death…depending on the soil she dares get horny on.  So, she plays down her sexuality, suppresses it, and denies it.  Becoming quite the pro.  So much so that she wouldn’t recognize her own sexuality if it crawled up out of her panties, grabbed her hand, and offered her a privately guided tour of the ghost town down under.  She’s a stranger to herself.  But, hey…society must have been right.  After all…she did marry, have children, and live “happily ever after.”

For a minute.

Once the exhaustion from tending to everyone else’s needs wears off, she has a moment to think.  And in that moment, she realizes that “happily ever after” came at the expense of her inner sexual powerhouse.  And her lackadaisical sex life is starting to get on her nerves.  Not only that…but her “prince’s” wandering eye indicates a desire for a sexual shakedown as well.  Unfortunately, she still believes that he doesn’t want THAT out of HER. That he prefers a conservative wife in the bedroom as he merely fantasizes about a liberal one night stand.  And so, her struggle continues.

Conservative homemaker or liberal lovemaker?

It’s widely publicized that she reaches her sexual peak somewhere between age 30 and 40.  But does she?  Some experts in sexual education suggest that her “peak” isn’t hormonal at all.  Perhaps she’s been sexually conservative for so long that she has a sudden sexual awakening at this age.  That upon this age of maturity she, at last, feels comfortable enough in her own skin to experiment with her sexuality.  She’s long been taught that, unlike boys, girls aren’t “supposed to” experiment with sex…it’s unladylike.  The message is sent that she’d be labeled a jezebel and no boy would want her.  A message she hears loud and clear, despite it’s covert deliverance.  But once she reaches this golden age of maturity, she no longer cares.  Having spent too many years doing what everyone else wanted of her, she’s now eager to discover what SHE wants.  So, she explores the “forbidden.”  Only to discover the sexual freedom that’s been eluding her.

“O” yeah!

So, like any kid with a new toy, she wants to play with it.  Here, there, and everywhere…much like an 18 year old boy hitting what we call a “sexual peak.”  Boys are said to reach their peak at 18.  Or is it that everything is just new and exciting in his UNforbidden world at 18?  As is hers at 30+?  Maybe it’s simply taken her longer to climb her sexual mountain and reach the peak…what with all the societal ropes holding her back.  And what awaits her at the peak?  A poke!  😉

Unfortunately, not every woman is afforded the chance to discover her sexual self.  It’s hypothesized that long ago, men felt threatened by her sexual capacity and feared her pleasure would entice her to leave and experience pleasure with other men.  They didn’t want to share her, nor did they want the competition for sexual power.  So, to this day, in 28 African nations, she is forced to participate in genital mutilation, or removal of the clitoris…to keep her from feeling pleasure during sex.  No pleasure, no risk.  As a young girl, she’s taught that men won’t marry her unless this procedure has been performed…because she isn’t a woman until it’s completed.  So, ironically, the elder women perform it on young girls themselves to ensure her arrival as a “woman.”  In African culture, sex is purely for a man’s pleasure.  For her, it’s a necessary and painful duty to please her husband or to bear children.  She has no comprehension of her own sexual potential because it was stolen before she ever even hit puberty.  Her “wings” clipped to prevent her from flying the coop.

While the African culture takes a more direct approach, more varied forms of subtle female sexual repression span numerous cultures across the globe…and one of its biggest cheerleaders is religion.  Synonymous with guilt, religion teaches that a sexual woman is a sinner and will take her rightful place in hell…alongside the other fornicating sinners.  This is true for any religion.  Guilt and fear are powerful suppressors.  But, why do we conform to cultural traditions and religions that have negative effects on women, both mentally and physically?  Because we dare not question tradition.  Not only do we risk becoming an outcast, but we upset the brain with new unexplored roads after years and years of following a set-in-stone map. NEVER veer off path!  Our brains prefer the path of least resistance, so we conform.  To rationalize, question, or rebel against years of culture or religion is risky.  Too risky.  And our brains are too lazy to face risk.

Risk or no risk…the irony of sexual repression is blatant.  He prefers her to be daring in the bedroom, as does she…secretly.  But society teaches her to be a “good girl” ~ code for “bore him to death.”  They both want exciting sex lives, but, in a weird twist, the repression has a negative effect on both sex lives.  By suppressing her sexuality, his sex life suffers along with hers.  Neither gets to take a romp on the wild side.  Alas, the lusty sex drive lurks just under the surface yearning to erupt forth and ravage its victims like Kathy Griffin in a room full of tightly wound conservatives.  It will burst through…one way or another.  Whether it be affairs, divorce, or pornography addiction…the sex drive WILL be dealt with…even with religion preaching its should NOTS.  So, lose the shame.  Turn her “good girl” into “should girl.”

Regardless of the times, her sexual walls continue to surround her.  Built by years of guilt, shame, and fear, those walls may confine her.  But she SHOULD embrace her sexuality, express herself, and…

Graffiti the hell out of them.

Be a good girl.  Be a bad girl.  Be everything in between.

 

Chick Hughes

“You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman.”  ~ Jane Galvin Lewis