Posts Tagged ‘sexual repression’
After reading a recent article in the New York Times, “Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry,” I was overcome by a myriad of emotions. Anger and empathy dominating them. Once again struck by the struggles of women who, bound by culture and fear, are forced to share their lives with men who lack the education and self confidence to embrace and appreciate the wild, fiery, passionate, dedicated (and, yes, at times dramatic and difficult) entity that is the female spirit. In attempts to thwart off his own handed-down insecurities and assure himself that she will never have the freedom nor independence to see a life outside the one he deems “honorable,” he robs not only himself of the limitless possibilities promised by her ravenous spirit…but he robs her of a spirit that defines her, empowers her, and inspires her. Leaving her trapped in a relationship void of love, in a body void of familiarity…where she can only be, say, or do what is dictated to her.
In spite of this centuries-old practice, some women still manage to find a way to thrive. To write.
This ambitious group of Afghan women featured in the NYT article has found an emotional outlet in poetry. Writing as a form of escape, a form of complaint, a form of freedom. But they do so in secret because the act of expressing her feelings, her ambitions, her worries in written form is cause for extreme physical punishment at the hands of her husband, brother, or father. The men they dutifully answer to are threatened by such things, seeing her expression as a possible flight risk from her strictly defined domestic role. So, she isn’t allowed education or exposure to outside influences that may mar that role.
Feeding an unspoken fear as old as time…education leads to independent thinking. And independent thinking leads to rebellion.
Damn straight it does. Thank goodness!
Expressing oneself through writing is not only a source of therapy, expression, and self exploration for the writer, but also a source of strength, understanding, and inspiration for the reader. Though separated by oceans, cultures, and cavemen hell-bent against evolution, we all have the desire and the right to grow and learn by literary means.
To inspire. And to be inspired.
May these women continue to find both the strength and courage to inspire all women, as they have me.
I wish I may, I wish I might
Be a solitary bird lost in flight
Free to be, to love, to write
No glow of red, only green light
No tether, wrong, or right
Soaring high over mountains, cloaked in night
Shedding, ridding all semblance of plight
And fervently anticipating, with dawn in sight
A bold new rush of wind as I graze the sunlight
~ Chick Hughes
Nookie for the Nook! It seems the latest literary must-have material for women to innocently peruse is Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James. Filled with daringly erotic sexual content, the book is gaining attention for getting women hot, bothered, and anticipating the next big O in the trilogy threesome. Literary lust or bust has always been a hit with women. Allowing her repressed sexual beast to run rampant with every turn of the sexually charged page. Igniting her inner promiscuous powerhouse. The book’s New York Times bestseller status is confirmation of its ravenous readers’ thirst for all things forbidden.
However, a local (at least local to me) library in Brevard County, Florida has ordered a hit on the book…because of its naughty nature. Pulling the books from the shelves, the library is “taking out” the trash that will cause impure thoughts in the untainted minds of its Floridian southern belles.
“I think they should ship them up north, where they’re more open-minded,” sneered a Florida female conservative touting her intolerance for liberal lit in the confines of a building specifically designed to house literature from all walks of life (regardless of the color of its binding). And apparently, her position was validated by her fellow fuddy-duddies. The book has been deemed unfit reading material for the Florida library, and therefore stripped of its shushed right-wing library privileges. Because only liberals have sex drives. And all liberals live in the north.
Liberals like the beach too.
And this one will be getting her tan on – while getting it on with Fifty Shades of Grey.
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.
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.
“You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman.” ~ Jane Galvin Lewis