How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘femininity’

Love and the Androgynous Man

What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine.
Susan Sontag

Coleridge maintained that “the great mind must be androgynous.” To that, we must add that great lovers must be androgynous as well. The man who is most desirable as a lover must have some of the traits which are usually thought of as belonging to women; the woman who is most desirable as a mistress must have some of the traits which are usually thought of as belonging to men.

Androgyny is a complicated concept. From its roots, you can tell it refers to a combination of the sexes: “andro” meaning male (as in “androgen,” the male sex hormone) and “gyn” meaning female (as in “gynecology,” the branch
of medicine devoted to women). Androgyny refers to a kind of personality which combines both male and female traits. The combination can result in a person with a wide range of these kinds of behaviors with which they feel comfortable. The androgynous person is flexible and versatile and, more than most people, is able to escape the limitations of rigid sex roles.

Androgynous (song)

Androgynous (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The man who is androgynous is not someone who is effeminate or womanlike. However, he may have some of women’s better features, such as a capacity to feel and to express tenderness. The woman who is androgynous is not someone who is masculinized or manlike. However, she may have some of men’s better features, such as a healthy acceptance of heightened sexuality. In either case, androgyny does not necessarily have anything to do with being homophylic (being of the same race or having common ancestry), or with having homosexual tendencies. Some homosexuals may also be androgynous, but most are not.

Why seek an androgynous lover? In the first place, such a man is quite secure in his own masculinity: secure enough to ignore the exaggerated demands of macho culture and to create his own style. He can admit to a wide range of emotions—wider than the typically macho emotions of lust and rage—and he can express them in a variety of ways. In the second place, the androgynous man, who is in some ways like a woman, can understand women better than his macho brother ever will. He is therefore more sympathetic to women in general and to you in particular. He can be assertive without being aggressive; he can be dominant, in some circumstances, without being a bully; and he can follow, in other circumstances, without being a wimp.

The androgynous man is as handy with a mix master as he is with a chain saw, as concerned with table settings as with the Dow Jones; he is as interested in poetry as he is in the World Series. He is, truly, a man for all seasons.

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Women in Contemporary Relationships

I think we can all agree that romantic relationships have changed dramatically over the past 50 years.

A mere two generations ago relationships and marriage were rather vanilla. Couples were heterosexual, of the same race/ethnicity, religion, social/economic and political background – so much for diversity. Also, marital roles were fairly circumscribed – men were the breadwinners and women the homemakers. There were shared expectations about sex roles for men and women, which were primarily based on what constituted masculine and feminine behavior. Premarital sex was taboo – at least for women. There were “good” girls and “bad” girls, and I don’t think I need to tell you what made a good girl good or bad girl bad. In any given couple, the man was usually older, taller, better educated, and financially better off than the woman.  All things that defer more power to the man than the women. Few women worked outside the home. And when they did, it was to supplement her husband’s substantially larger income.

Well, so much for the good ole days. Today’s relationships run the gamut of the rainbow – heterosexual/gay, interracial/ethnic, interfaith, binational, older women and younger men, couples from widely different social, economic, political backgrounds. Women have full fledged careers and they are financially independent. For women, being a virgin – or almost a virgin – is no longer a prerequisite to marriage.  All in all, women today have a range of options and opportunities that far outstrip those of our grandmothers or even our mothers.

It all sounds wonderful.  However, as we enter the second decade of the 21st century, many of our social values that govern love, sex and marriage remain markedly different for men and women in many ways. While both men and women may openly and freely engage in the pursuit of love and sex, how they reach their quest is not always the same.

"The world turned upside down" (gend...

“The world turned upside down” (gender-role reversal) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our cultural traditions are strong and differences in the socialization and physiology of men and women remain a reality. And unfortunately, or fortunately – depending on your personal views–many traditional sex roles remain deeply embedded in modern-day relationships – straight and gay. When these traditional roles collide with the realities of modern day – which they often do – couples find themselves in conflict.

While contemporary relationships may be much more rewarding than the those of our parents and grandparents, they are also much more complex and difficult.

Through this blog, I want to explore the relatively new emotional and sexual freedoms that women have gained through their struggle  for equality and freedom of sexual expression in contemporary relationships – including a woman’s option of having a lover(s) if she so chooses.

Each week I will post some specific thoughts about women in contemporary relationships for comment and discussion. Hope you will join in on what I believe will be a fun, enlightening and rewarding blog.

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