The World Unchanging
My last reply to a comment has sparked some thoughts and now, because for once I seem to have time 🙂 I am going to seek to give vent to them.
It’s about a decade ago that I began to write erotica, a personal journey which may now be reaching its conclusion. I began to write it because I was a writer and, like most writers, I wanted to be read, whilst the expansion of the web revealed that there was an audience, waiting and willing to read.
And they do say that you should write about what you know, so I gave it a try, soon having short stories published at reputable sites on the internet and eventually, about five years ago, having my first novel published.
I have two more novel manuscripts sitting on my hard drive, and I think they’re pretty good, probably publishable, yet I find it very hard, right now, to put the necessary effort into moving them forward.
When I began to write, the world seemed to me to be changing in positive ways where sex was concerned. There was more nudity in movies and on TV, more sexual references, less fastidiousness in the use of sexual language, and there seemed to be a widening tolerance and understanding, in particular, of the gay community.
Not gay myself (so far as I know), I never could understand the prejudice against them, even as a child, and I have always rather despised it. As a character in yet another unpublished tale (not erotica) observes:
“Is there really so much love in the world that we should despise it wherever we find it?”
I think not, of course. And I’m all about love.
I love the human body and the best of human capacities, and I especially love the female body, with which, happily, I have become well acquainted. It is the most glorious sculpture, the most wonderful engine, that has ever existed.
When I visit one of the London galleries – usually the National Gallery – I am as observant of the women around me as I am the paintings, despite that my greatest favourites – Turners ‘Fighting Temeraire’ and his ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’, a study of a little girl by Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun and Stubbs’ glorious ‘Whistlejacket’ are all there.
Millions of pounds/dollars they are worth. Millions.
Yet were disaster to strike, to place the gallery and everything in it in danger, what would I rescue? A painting worth millions? No. Any human being who needed it, especially if that being was female.
It is people that are irreplaceable, not objets d’art. There are always more of those, even if they haven’t been painted yet, and photographs of them will do if need be.
The writer I am believes that we are in this world to love and support each other to the best of our ability. Not because it leads to some post-mortem reward, but because it is the only thing that makes any sense, especially if you are an unbeliever.
I don’t believe in God. And the rationalist in me may struggle at the lack of evidence for Him, but the greater struggle is the evidence of the behaviour and conduct of the people who do claim to believe in Him. Him – yes he’s possible. It is their actions and beliefs which make him, for me, very, very improbable.
The first punishment for Adam and Eve’s sin, as it is told, was that they ‘knew they were naked’. It must have been pretty boring before. But ‘knowing they were naked’ shamed them, and that was the real punishment.
Why, then, are people who know they are naked and who are happy and unashamed to be so, prevented from living their lives au naturel in all but the smallest enclaves? Why is the sight of genitalia considered so very terrible? Why are bits of plumbing invested with such negative prejudices?
Why do those who believe their gods will punish, for eternity, those whose behaviour those gods disapprove of, seek to punish the same people in the brief span of their lives? Where is the forgiveness, the love that is supposed to be in back of all these beliefs?
I have struggled to find it.
Why is sex, outside of very strict confines, sinful? Whatever ‘sinful’ means.
For centuries, among the rich and powerful and even among many very poor people today, marriage was a form of prostitution, a means of securing wealth through dowries and inheritance. Did religion make a fuss? When the wealthy and powerful, including, I believe, at least one pope, used whores and mistresses, when they infected their kith and kin with the ‘Great Pox’, did religion make a fuss? Not much. And when their servants abused their impressionable followers, did religion make a fuss? Only when it got caught.
And when people write stories or make movies full of the thrill of violence – as some seem to find it – does religion make a fuss? Show a blade or a bullet plunging into flesh, blood spurting, go into close-up, a la CSI, and show the progress of the blade or bullet as it sears and tears into tissue and bones, and that’s entertainment. Show a penis, even recumbent, an act of sex shown through a soft-focus lens, and you are doing wrong.
That makes no sense to me. I would far rather read about or watch naked bodies making love – and I do mean ‘making love’ – than watch violent pretences of bleeding, disintegrating, even exploding bodies.
The preoccupation of the fictional with death causes us real problems. Whether or not it has an impact on the minds of the impressionable has perhaps not been proven, I don’t know, but it does conspire to make us believe that we know what death is.
We cry over the death of a heroine or good guy and we think we have experienced something of bereavement, and when we do meet death face to face it comes as a terrible shock. It is so very much bigger than anything fiction can present us with.
But sex? Where, oh where, is the harm?
There are logical, pragmatic limitations on sex that need to be taught and understood. There’s the issue of unprotected sex, of unwanted births, of STD’s, there’s the vileness of sex without informed consent, the possibility that frequent sex with strangers may lead to cancer of, for example, the cervix, and no doubt other things. But these are things that education and understanding can put an end to.
What is proscribed, however, is far more than the so-called ‘sex act’, far more than penetration, ejaculation, orgasm.
A viable sexual relationship is about far more. Unhappily, for many men, it is about little else. It is about plumbing and the pleasure to be gained from unstopping a blockage in the metaphorical sink pipe.
It should be about, and for women is very often about, acceptance and trust, and about holding and petting (in the broadest sense of the word) and gentling and listening. It’s about hugs and cuddles and about being able to get undressed in front of someone who loves the belly that you’d so love to reduce, who sees the silver streaks of childbirth as works of art that testify to the miracle of the body which gave birth, who sees the breasts descend from their pert origins till they point at the floor and not at the sky and loves them.
It’s about patience, about concern, about liking, about loving.
Two thousand years of scriptural guidance, of bishops and prelates having the ears of monarchs, presidents and prime ministers, even having seats in government, have brought us to a truly awful, truly despicable place.
It includes the sexualisation of children by role models who flout convention not as an expression of an alternative morality but because it sells, because a shot of their bottom or crotch or breasts in tight or revealing clothing will help sell their next performance, next movie or next album. Barely post-pubescent icons sing of a love they cannot understand, have not had time to experience, write biographies of lives not yet lived and model clothing and cosmetics which the markets want our children to yearn for. Three year olds are put into two piece swimsuits. Teenagers kill themselves in trying to turn their bodies into a false, sexual, ideal. Round bottoms, pert breasts and a totally artificial sense of bonhomie sell jeans and tee shirts and other fashions.
Teens, and sometimes younger and older, risk scarring or disfiguring themselves with surgery to make themselves more closely resemble this terrible ideal, and the more mature woman, indeed every woman, is constantly sold the idea that youth is what they need and that youth can be obtained from the contents of an expensive jar.
Beautiful women do not know that they are. Less beautiful women – in their own eyes – know what they themselves are and despise themselves for it. Rail, oh priest, against this!
And this yearning for youthfulness. Why?
Because if you are a woman and if you do not look young and attractive enough your man may stray. And straying, if he finds the youthfulness and attractiveness he seeks, he will probably leave, damaging your self-esteem, your very hope in life, your belief in the power and rightness of love, your belief in yourself. Spiritually, psychologically and financially you will be damaged.
And he will leave, in part, because he feels he has to. Because the one on one monogamous model of marriage leaves no alternative, unless his desires are to be unrequited. Unable to find what he wants in the monogamous, fidelitous relationship with you, he will embark upon a monogamous, fidelitous (at least to start with) relationship with her. The fact that he left a good woman, deserving of his love, for her, will not faze her, until and unless she is left for another.
What, though, is this fidelity?
Perhaps I’ll come back later to try to answer this. It’s time I took a break 🙂