• Peep_Show_by_David_ShankboneA friend and I had a great and heated argument not long ago about 50 Shades of Grey. (If you have not heard of this huge bestseller have a look on Amazon, you can read a few pages for free)

Finally there was a book that celebrated female desire, the female version of lust, she explained. Yes sure, it was pornography, and not exactly well written at that, but it had desire in it. Pornography, at long last, that appealed to women’s appetite and wasn’t it about time?

I really tried hard to listen. It might be fair enough that women have to culturally catch up and create their own version of pornography, including a seriously cliché prince charming and an infuriatingly self-deprecating heroine. We certainly have plenty to catch up with in all aspects of societal life. But hadn’t we dealt with this particular aspect in the Seventies?

But millions of women are reading this now, so obviously we did NOT go all the way, my friend argued. She also told me about studies that show that the large majority of women still do not experience orgasms when having sex with a man. Obviously something was amiss.

I could totally sympathize with the frustration. But the conclusion…

After quite a bit of noisy back and forth and literally being cornered into the kitchen counter, I found myself getting clearer about why I could not bring myself to praise this book as a break-through in women’s consciousness:

As far as I know it was men who invented pornography. Why should women want to follow that route? Is it really that worthwhile a track? Pornography is a mediated sterile substitute that will stimulate our minds, which can certainly effect our bodies. But it will never take us into our bodies directly, will never make us feel at home where, without mental imaging and linguistic stimulation, sexuality can find its real expression and release. Love is not really being made in the head.

Allowing ourselves to trust and relax, allowing our bodies to have sex rather than our minds, maybe we will come to a new relationship to sexuality that is much less charged, much less fraught with illusory ideals and dis-empowering longings. Maybe we will see that our bodies have their own rhythms and that sexuality does not have to be anything to fret over, read expensive magazines about or study in a book. Maybe it is one of the simplest things to untether from the mores of patriarchy. Maybe all we need is a trustworthy partner – and being trustworthy ourselves – and the courage to own up to being very normal, sexual beings.

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A couple of weeks ago I attended a retreat on Evolutionary Enlightenment with Andrew Cohen. A woman raised the topic of women’s liberation. She described, how many of us women are still concerned, first and foremost, with finding a – or the right kind of – man.

Andrew was impressed with her honesty and asked her, why that would be the case. “Do men make you that happy?” he asked. Every woman in the room burst into laughter, proof for how deeply we know that this is not the case.

Why do we live in such a contradiction?

The longing for and the desire for a man emerges from parts of ourselves buried deep within our biology and the history of our gender.

For one, and this is nothing new, the survival of our species depended on us being drawn to men, and them to us. In fact, this is, dare I say it, the prime reason we are drawn to each other, whether we intend to produce babies or not.

And related to that is the fact that for thousands of years, men acted as guarantors for the physical survival and security for women –even if they enslaved, abused or traded them, their power meant they were the source of any protection and safety.

It is sobering –to put it mildly – but also clarifying to look at these roots of our longing and ask the question anew: why are we still spending so much time and energy attracting Mr. Right, while knowing perfectly well, that our needs have changed and that we will not find lasting, profound happiness in any sexual relationship or romance?  (That does not mean that they cannot be beautiful or significant, but the fundamental approach to them would be different.) The current conclusion is that men should adapt to our changing needs – but does that make sense? Is that fair? And even possible?

I think it is a lot more exciting to look at exactly what it is at this point in our history and development that truly gives us fulfillment. In my experience this has to do with a higher creativity, self-realization in the biggest sense and deeper spiritual development – none of which men have the power to bestow upon us in the context of a sexual relationship. What is possible though is that our independence in these matters enables us to meet and come together in new, more satisfying and deeper ways.

Then our lives do no longer run contrary to our intelligence.

Last week, a client told me, that she had mentioned to her husband how much the endless winter up here in Massachusetts was getting to her and how wonderful it would be to spend a few days in the sun somewhere. He did not immediately respond and as a result, she said laughingly, she did not talk to him for a couple of days. Then he finally got it, she reported, got on the phone and organized some tickets to Florida. They ended up having a fantastic four days in the sun together. “He always gets it eventually,” she laughed and I happen to know that the two, being close to 70 years old and having raised 4 kids together, really appreciate being together.

Then she told me another story – she invited all their kids from around the country to surprise him for his birthday. She was wondering how on earth she’d be able to secretly do all the necessary cooking and cleaning in preparation, but realized there was no need to worry. She could have six pots on the stove, and he would walk through the kitchen and not even notice, utterly on his own planet.

Now, such a situation used to go against every idea I had about what a healthy relationship should be. From my postmodern, psychological view point, people should agree (close to) all the time, should always be perfectly straight with each other, everything should be on the table at all times, always voiced, etc etc. Full transparency.

These days, I think differently – recognizing that the other is indeed the other and that that will never change is actually liberating. It eliminates much of the interpersonal glue and neediness that comes with trying to create absolute unity where it does not need to be – in a relative sense.

I don’t think my client has thought through her attitudes – for her and her generation, this kind of acceptance of the guy being the guy and the woman being a woman comes unquestioned and naturally. It does seem though that for those fifty and younger, a whole list of requirements started to accumulate about what our partners should be able to provide – in many ways, these can be summed up to mean: be more like me! I won’t go into the details of the implications of this, but just want to say here that having gone through the futile effort of being equals in the wrong ways, I am much more excited now by what opens up if I do not primarily focus on difference or specialness of being a woman (or him a man) and secondly not expect him to be a woman, my mirror image, in a male body. Learning to trust and focus on the deeper, fundamental non-difference, in an absolute way – makes room for those differences to remain unproblematic.

A friend sent me this article from the Guardian, describing how Iceland, the only nation with an openly lesbian head of state, has now put a ban on all strip clubs. It’s quite moving. We have gotten so used to the idea, that one way or another sex will always be for sale. I could feel the kind of hardness that goes with this idea and that I usually donlt even notice. The article quotes the politician who first proposed the ban as saying:  “It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold.”  Right?

One aspect of the discussion about making sex-work illegal has always been that women want that kind of work and that making it illegal would harm them more than it helps by pushing the trade underground. But after I read this and thought about it for a while, I can’t agree.  It’s a bit like saying we should keep slavery because it provides jobs – I think. The fact that women might not be concerned about or in touch with the larger context of objectification that this kind of service perpetuates, does not make it less urgent to change it. Without a stand like this, a new standard, even if it takes decades or even centuries to become the norm, can not be born.

I am very curious what you think about this!

Women’s love

March 7, 2010

I just returned from a beautiful get together with four of my women friends – utterly energizing and stimulating. We are all interested in consciously developing and have experienced a lot together throughout the years in our pursuit of evolutionary spirituality.

One of the discoveries we made for instance, was about just how challenging it is for women to trust each other and truly be close. At first glance, this statement might look absurd – women are best friends, get together to share intimate details of their lives, tell each other everything. But right under the surface, the picture looks a little less rosy. We had to learn to acknowledge, just how distrustful, competitive and even heartless we can be with each other. There are now more books being written and statistics published about how difficult women can make each others lives, at the office, at school, in the family.

How many women have told me over the years that they have nothing against other women, they just prefer to be friends with men.

So what looks warm and wooly on the surface often turns out to be just that – superficial.

My friends and I certainly never would have become aware of these issues, had we not worked, under the guidance of our teacher, on building a philosophical perspective between us that is free of these mechanisms and built on the understanding, that most of what we call ‘I’ is actually a culturally and psychologically conditioned construct, full of limiting ideas and assumptions.

Tonight, over green tea and butter-brittle chocolate-lemon scones we were again reaching for the objectivity, clarity and freedom of the understanding, that we all are expressions of one process of developing human consciousness. It takes a lot of effort and attention to really listen to each other when we speak about this, to be open to hear something new, to not want to trump the others point and to hold our own, each others and our collective development as the goal. And without fail, through that effort, a larger and more objective perspective emerges that unites us deeply.

I was left thinking that this  kind of meeting between women is at least as fulfilling and thrilling and important as any intimacy with a man. I’d love to hear what you think.

Being the Perfect Mate

March 4, 2010

Eva Schuster NextPaintings.com

Suddenly, this topic is everywhere! This is a great piece, about the Star Trek Episode of the same title. http://champagneb4breakfast.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/perfect-mate/

Check out what he says about the  female alien, who is an “empathic metamorph – an extremely rare and valuable genetic mutation with the ability to perceive the desires of the men around her and adapt her persona to be their perfect mate.”

Does that sound familiar, not very far fetched, close to home, even? It seems built into the female DNA to try to be such a woman. Regardless of my feminist, spiritual or otherwise progressive inclinations, this is how I lived instinctively for a very long time (yes, even post 1960s and being a teenage feminist) and if I am not consciously choosing differently will act out of that same ‘talent’ in a heart beat – this ability to please and change and mold myself to what I think my mate wants me to be. It seems to be one of the building blocks of women’ psyches and involves using sexual power.  It’s nobody’s fault, but to be a real partner is something altogether different. And in order to be that it’s important to let in how deeply I, woman, am conditioned by programs like these.