Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Man's View of a Man's World

This is a man's world
But it wouldn't be nothing,
nothing without a woman or a girl

He's lost in the wilderness
He's lost in bitterness

James Brown

It's hard for this man, knowing and loving two beautiful women like Violetta and Sofi to respond. Two such women, two different ages and circumstance, both suffering this harrowing experience at the hands of men, shows how sadly common it is. In the "battle of the sexes," we have millenia of often bad history between us. But it is no longer just a "a man's world." It's the 21st Century and well past time to put this dystopia behind us.

As Vi says, here on Inside-Apostrophe, we've founded a forum for both celebration and serious dialog between men and women.

In so doing, we've blurred many lines: Between fantasy and reality, between monogamy and polyamory, between light and dark desires. I am torn between my own arousal at shameful fantasies and shame for the real crimes of my gender. Yet from Homer to Giambologna to the fabulous Remittance Girl, artists have elevated and eroticized the line between force and consent for as long as art has existed. That's what art is for--even pornographic art. To illuminate the dark places so that we can fantasize and imagine rather than live them. In my own life, I have made many stupid mistakes in my pursuit of love and the sensual attentions of the women I've desired.

But there is one line that nobody should ever blur or cross in real life:

In the real world, a person's body is their own to give, or not at any point.

We all know that the art and language of love is filled with violent imagery. We use words like thrust, heave, penetrate, explode, shatter, quake, stab, plunge, pound, throb, glisten, groan, cry, moan, tremble, shriek, howl ... words, words that as easily describe the actions of weapons and emotional response to war as to the actions and acts of love. Yet we use these words and mean them. We do this. Why?

Most adult genitals, when properly prepared, fit together and slide apart rather easily.

Human males don't have barbed penises like cats and human females don't eat their lovers like fishing spiders. I think it's not what the cocks, cunts, rectums, breasts, mouths and hands are doing that's so violent, it's what's happening in our minds that sets the rockets off.

Yet no matter how inflamed a man is by fantasies, by a woman's beauty or his lust for her, whether in pursuit, in seduction, in the beginning, middle or even at the end of the sex act, when that consent is withheld or withdrawn, he must stop and withdraw. It's that simple and unambiguous. However powerful his lust or frustration, he must never use subterfuge, force, or status to take what is not freely given.

That means, to answer Vi's question, when consent:

* Is not given
* Or even given, then withdrawn,

Then the man must do likewise. Zip it and take a cold shower. Sex is powerful, but it a voluntary act. It may start in the body but it ends in the mind where free will and choice also abide. Some thoughts come to us unbidden. Imagine, fantasize, conceive of any act you want. But turn a shameful thought into shameful action is to exercise your free will.

Any person who says their thoughts forced them to commit a violent non-consensual sex act is either lying or criminally insane.

Perhaps we all have something to learn from the BDSM community who use "safe words" to ensure that only what is wanted is what is done. If you freely consent to be gagged, bound, whipped and stuffed full of unspeakable objects, who am I to judge you? Assuming you play your games and rituals with somebody you trust and your word -- "stop" or "capital" or "whatever"-- your word is your bond.

Perhaps we in the vanilla world need a new word. If "no" is no longer that word, then it should be something else, but as I write this, I realize finally that it's not the word but the principle behind it.

Vi writes sensually and eloquently about the times that I steal to her bed and become inflamed by the sight, smell, taste and feel of her gorgeous naked body. I confess, yes, I become so aroused that I must take from her sleep what she gives me so freely when awake. No, I do not have her explicit permission to do this, yet the consent is implicit in our relationship. She knows that I respect her enough that all she'd ever need do is say "no" or "stop" and I would and I will. Thus far, she has never uttered either of those words when she feels me close or slipping inside her. She either wakes and participates sleepily but enthusiastically in our lovemaking, or remains passive, allowing me to have my way.

Certainly in my fantasies and in hers, there is a powerful element of nonconsent, one of the many spices in our erotic relationship. And Vi knows that Sofi and I share the same dynamic, though Sofi, being young and daring, is as often the "aggressor" as the "victim" in our "sleep-creep" play.

Vi also knows that on at least one notable occasion, she turned the table on me and I loved it as much as I suspect she does. There is something so primal, so powerful for a man to come upon his naked sleeping lover and know that her holes, perhaps already lubricated and accessible from previous encounters are his for the retaking. I make no apology for that, and I don't think Vi expects it.

I am far more concerned that Vi still carries guilt, after all these years, for what was done to her. I cannot wave a wand and banish that guilt, though God knows I would try and try again if it would make a difference.

Vi, darling, you must forgive yourself. You are the only one who can do it.

In neither case did you invite the violence against your person. The men were monsters and if I had a time machine Sofia mia, I would go back and make sure each man or boy who attacked my beloveds paid disproportionately with their own pain.

And Vi, cara mia, having already been victimized and traumatized, there is no court of justice on heaven or earth that would blame you for not speaking out. Your silence, as terrible as it was to you, was and is your right--not your fault. A theoretical sin against a theoretical potential victim is nothing. Perhaps if a prosecutor or state agency had come to you for help in convicting one of these bastards and you still refused, you'd have some reason to castigate yourself. But even in that unlikelihood, it is clear that a rape or near rape changes women in ways we men can never understand, unless it is done to us. And believe me, any understanding I gain, I want it to be through my love and support of you.

If I have helped you to this point, through my adoration of you, body, mind and spirit, you must promise me that you'll both use this man's love and faith in you to take the next steps.

* To forgive yourself for those transgressions done to you.
* To channel your anger into creative outlets.

It is easy for me to say that you hold no guilt, when it is all too clear that you do. You must use whatever gifts of courage and creativity our relationship has given you to absolve and seal your past. Seal it with the unbreakable bond of our special love.

Vi, mio triste e bello, Sof and I miss you so.

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