Posts Tagged ‘sexuality’

Men and Women on the Couch

January 25, 2011

Greetings on a Tuesday.  Recently Big Little Wolf was kind enough to invite me to offer up a guest post on the topic of men and women.

While most of you undoubtedly know BL Wolf and her writing, as we are good blog buddies, if you are not conversant in The Daily Plate of Crazy you are well-served to check out her blog—as she writes, rather elegantly, on topics ranging from parenting to culture to sex and relationships… and much more.

In addition to being an intrepid and generous spirit, Wolf also happens to be an exemplary single mom in the final heroic stretch of launching her second son off to college in a scant few months—a heroine carrying a torch and lighting the way on something I have already shed a few salty tears around (and I’m a year and a half away from the first one potentially heading off to school).

So please accept my invitation to Big Little Wolf’s today where we dish up some thoughts together on some potential reasons that men are, at least sometimes, so hard to love.

Unflagging in my wish to make this year about increasing calm and connectedness, feel free to dedicate your visit to chez Wolf to being our best, calm, lovingly kind Selves together—placing any increased understanding we may gain in the service of all of us and our collective children.

Namaste (and thanks again, BL Wolf), BD

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“All I really want our love to do…

July 21, 2010

…is to bring out the best in me and you” Joni Mitchell “All I Want.”

After declaring Please Give to be the best movie I’d seen this year, along comes another small movie with a big heart, The Kids Are All Right, to serve as a perfect west coast companion piece to Please Give’s New York City.

While Please Give captures the texture, tone and spirit of the rather specific slice of New York City in which I have lived and loved in an earlier chapter of my life, and through which I wander in my imagination when I read about plays, restaurants and exhibits in “the paper of record” (but from which I am currently blocked from fully savoring by economics and time zones), The Kids Are All Right is a movie that would probably make me miss the very specific LA in which I live, wander and wonder… if I were sweating this summer out in New York.

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The Postman Hardly Rang Once

May 17, 2010

Nearing the homestretch of Momalom’s five-for-ten challenge, the theme of lust knocks furtively upon Monday’s door…

It was late in seventh grade when I was invited to my first “boy girl party.”  I was thrilled to be included, but the murmuring rumors about what might happen there echoing along the green linoleum corridors of Lincoln Hall put a lump of fear in my throat.

I had heard that at a recent party, one of the many to which I had not been invited, one of the cool boys put his tongue in a girl’s ear.  I’d never heard of such a thing, nor could I imagine why George or the girl would want anything to do with that, but George was clearly someone who knew what he was doing and I clearly was not.

In the Wednesday fish-stick smell of the cafeteria we sat nerdily discussing if there would be spin the bottle at the boy girl party.

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Grapes of a Mom’s Wrath

May 16, 2010

As Momalom throws down the gauntlet on the theme of lust, my mind drifts back to a time of innocence on the cusp of carnal knowledge, a time before men were from Mars and women from Venus, a time when more than one or two languid high school afternoons were spent with my girlfriend, listening to Paul McCartney’s Venus and Mars, literally barricaded in her sister’s bedroom and trying to figure out just how far we should go.

Being a fairly clueless kid, but with strong feelings of loneliness and water-wings of desire, I’m not quite sure how I ended up having a kind and sensitive girlfriend, but this was the first time that I started to feel hope and joy again in the years after my best friend’s death at my fourteenth birthday.

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Mergers and Acquisitions

April 21, 2010

Twenty-one years ago, Bret Easton Ellis hit a collective chord (at least for my generation) with his novel, Less Than Zero.  It begins:  “People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.”  A follow-up check-in on the state of intimacy amongst twenty-somethings twenty years hence might be that people are now simply terrified to merge.

A book about alienation and emptiness in the context of glitzy LA, Less Than Zero was the west coast bookend to Bright Lights Big City—Jay McInerney’s look at the coke-infused emptiness of the New York scene in the 80’s.  I lived in New York, and partied at the same clubs as the scene set in Bright Lights, and when it came out in ’84 all my friends read it, and we all wished we had written it because all we’d have had to do was take notes on our lives.

I moved to LA in ’88 and Less than Zero came out in ’89, but the scene in LA was so bizarre and elusive, almost unreal, that I never felt the insider, although I recall underground clubs and dancing to Art of Noise and Jesus and Mary Chain and never really knowing where I was, or how all these cool kids got to be so cool—it took a while longer to realize just how miserable most of them actually were.

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Missing Miss April

April 15, 2010

The year nineteen-seventy marked one of my worst (see “My Scariest Teacher”), but one of the few bright spots was when a Playboy truck tipped over on the North Side of Chicago, spilling thousands of Miss Aprils onto the streets (it might have been Miss March, but let’s not let a month get in the way of an erotic and evocative story).

I cannot honestly say that I got one of those centerfolds (oh how I always wished that we lived closer to the city), but when you’re ten and it’s 1970, just the idea of Miss April flying all over the streets of Chicago in her birthday suit is a highly charged image.

After years of reading much in the way of archetypal symbolism from alchemy to Zarathustra, I am struck by how my own memory of an incident of Teamster premature dissemination also serves as apt symbol of the return of Persephone from the underworld.  I know that the equinox is the official return of Miss Spring, but after atypically ample rains this year, the wildflowers in California are just now dancing in a Dionysian riot (along with their raggy-weedy sisters’ allergy assault).  And so I think of multiple Miss Aprils once and eternally swirling about the City of Big Shoulders, presaging the Animas in their summer dresses, and I think about how lonely I was then in 1970.

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Slow Times at Ridgemont High

April 11, 2010

Andy recently picked up a marked-down copy of Fast Times at Ridgemont High as a bit of a joke and so we all cozied in together for family film night last Saturday—a rare window with no sleepovers or plans and both kids willing to do the same thing as both parents (for example, they all like House but I can’t watch without thinking that I have the ailment of the episode).

Fast Times hit the theaters in 1982.  I had just moved to New York City and started in graduate film school—and it was a film I fell in love with as an aspirational possibility because it was funny, edgy, intelligent, subversive and at the same time a commercial success on a relatively modest budget.  It was the sort of film an up and coming filmmaker could hope to emulate (as opposed to say, Blade Runner, E.T. and Gandhi as other “big” movies that year).

I always appreciated Fast Times as a seminal work in the teen genre, feeling that it drew from films ranging from Grease to Rebel Without a Cause while making everything from Valley Girl, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the entire John Hughes oeuvre to American Pie and Superbad possible in its wake.  One thing I always particularly appreciated about Fast Times was that Amy Heckerling’s direction brought a woman’s touch to teen sex and social relationships, adding layers of pathos, melancholy and verisimilitude while keeping things funny.  Back in ’82 it was still a big deal for a woman to be directing… very much paving the way for Katherine Bigelow’s Oscar this year with heavier fare.

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Vampires: chick magnet, mirror or animus?

October 28, 2009

The old Abbey“Animus” is a Jungian term for the masculine aspect within the feminine.  Its counterpart, “anima” is the feminine within the masculine (for more on the anima see “The Animas in their summer dresses” http://tiny.cc/eaccp).

While “animus” is just a word it points to a concept that, when not integrated, contributes to everything from abuse in the bedroom to the glass ceiling in the boardroom.  Better understanding the animus can help women have better relationships, it can help parents raise more empowered and healthy daughters and it can help men better understand and relate to women as real others (rather than as anima projections). 

Many a woman, perhaps due to the way she is raised, is initially uncomfortable to recognize and accept her own aggression, desire and power.  As a result, she may project her animus out onto the men she meets, onto fantasy figures in books, films and TV shows as well as meeting “him” in her dreams—often as the nightmare rapist, intruder or kidnapper.

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Sleeping Beauty and Precocious Barbie, bff?

October 17, 2009

quilt girlA cigar may sometimes be just a cigar, but when it comes to fairytales there’s almost always interesting subtext to be found.  Take Sleeping Beauty for example:  a princess has been cursed at birth to die when she comes of age by pricking her finger on a spinning wheel.  Spinning wheels are banned from the kingdom, but an old woman in a tower has one nonetheless and the princess, just coming of age, tries it, pricks her finger and falls fast asleep but doesn’t die (due to the effects of a good fairy’s counterspell).  A hundred years pass before a prince hears of the enchantment, braves the wood of thorns protecting the castle, and plants true love’s kiss on sleeping beauty, awakening her (and everyone else in the castle) to live happily ever after.

This story is really about sex and waiting.  The wicked fairy represents jealousy (and could be read as a projection of the queen’s Shadow side, unconsciously jealous of a potential rival for being fairest in the land).  Spinning connects to storytelling, and transformation (i.e. straw into gold in Rumplestiltskin), in this case the transformation of the girl into a woman.  The pricking of the finger and the blood is a symbol of the onset of her period and of sexual maturity.  Just as desire comes potentially into consciousness, the princess falls asleep—thus dodging the whole sex issue.  A hundred years is just about how long it would feel for a girl to wait from fifteen to sixteen or seventeen to begin dating.  The thorns that grow around the castle are an apt symbol of the rose as the symbol of love (in this case the princess is the flower, her maidenhood protected by sleep of her self and all potential suitors in the castle) and the thorns, which tell us that love always includes some suffering.

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Girl Power

May 16, 2009

IMG_0515I was talking with my friend, Kathy, about how even liberal and forward-thinking parents may be blind to a certain issue related to sexism:  Why do we frame sex and dating generally in terms of what to do when a boy asks you out, or wants to do this or that?  Why isn’t it okay for girls to ask boys out, including just as friends?  

Now we parents may think that we are cool with this issue and carry no sexism, but if we ask our emerging-into-adolescent girls what they think, we may find out that they are more old-school than we are on this issue (i.e. they would never ask a boy out).

In any case, getting them talking by really listening, is always a good plan as they start to separate and distance from us, (especially daughters from mothers).

Our key message on this issue is to empower girls to know that they are truly in charge of their bodies—and their destinies.  Every boy and girl, and every man and woman, is a sacred spirit who happens to have a body; and that body is their body.  None of us are mere objects of use, which is an important message in a culture where there are too many “things” and not enough recognition of spirit.  When the sacred in us sees the sacred in the other, we are truly relating.

Namaste, Bruce