THE CRAVING AND RELEASE
by Jnana Hodson
As I said at the time: It’s power. As well as status.
There, we’ve said it. The crux of the matter. Power is always dangerous and needs to be curbed, or at least channeled. Dynamite. Gasoline. (No smoking around the pumps, ma’am.) Nuclear fission. Story of all Greek mythology, for that matter. With sex, it’s something that everyone – or nearly everything – has, in theory at least. In reality, well, we could start with one great mystery: why we are attracted to certain people but not to others. And then there are all of those mysteries involving male/female differences, as well as the daughter-father bond and the son-mother bond and the natural growth of struggling into freedom – the classic Oedipus Construction and its parallel Electra Construction. And I want what you won’t give me. Rape. Or don’t want your advances. Frigid. Or what you now threaten to take away from me. Story in the newspaper every day. Bang, bang. Especially when the balancing mechanisms break down – the commonly shared values, the commitment, spirituality, whatever. Or the out and out growing apart.
Even the religious foundations of sexuality and marriage itself can be quite different. In the Catholic and Episcopal mode, it’s procreation, pure and simple. You’ve seen the papal edicts. The best man and groomsmen in the ceremony as a vestige of forcibly seizing the bride. The ring itself as an emblem of possession. Which is why we have neither in traditional Quaker ceremony. In contrast, in the Quaker and Congregationalist/Unitarian strands, marriage embodies the sense of helpmeet or soul-mate in which Adam and Eve were created as suitable opposites for each other: deep companionship, with full equality and mutuality (no, eating the fruit is not Eve’s or the Serpent’s fault, no matter how Paul of Tarsus interprets the matter – it’s the beginning of human awareness and freedom, actually; and if God hadn’t wanted them to eat it, he wouldn’t have put it in the middle of the garden in the first place or told them, in the second, not to touch it!). (A point one of my fifteen-year-old Religious Education students argued convincingly. Kids can see through some of this stuff.) And then there’s the Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon; look up the Marcia Falk translation and explanatory notes – passion, overriding all convention.
As a sister (younger? older?) asks, as we turn the phrase, “Are you a slut?” I suppose a lot of it has to do with one’s perspective – long-term, or short? Immediate gratification, or something in which every experience builds into a sustained, shared history? Put another way, will the Other still be there when your raw physical beauty isn’t? When your health has you in a wheelchair and needing the committed partner? Or when the care of children requires joint sacrifices? The fear, of course, is that once the pleasure’s gone, so is that other person. And we both know that we have down days – bad hair or lack of it, whatever – often for long periods. Period.
My last girlfriend also used to accuse me of having been promiscuous. Of course, when you add up the numbers and divide them over the years – plus all the time in between – it really becomes rather monkish. As I said, it’s perspective. And what the others’ values come out as.
If others express their fears about your adventures, there are many reasons. For one thing, your feelings are on the line. Often your deepest feelings and desires and needs. Out of which can too easily arise the How On Earth Did It Come To This you write of. The epithet of “bastard” itself. The protectiveness of keeping predators away from Mine. Hence, all of the taboos. It’s not always “moralizing,” especially if you watch the matrons at poolside closely. And the rules aren’t always written by a patriarchy, but by the matriarchs. They know a good thing when they have it. Queen Bee, Queen Bee, one per hive. One of the most difficult things about trying to date women my own age, in fact, was that most of the available ones are so bitter. There’s no lightness in their dancing, either – and I link those two. Maybe it was that the ones who can make a relationship function successfully were in faithful marriages.
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How much of this, fortunately, now stands as ancient history!