How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘sexual behavior’

Single Women May Now Seek Lovers and Not Husbands

The difference between an old maid spinster and a bachelor career woman has a lot to do with sleeping on a single cot or in a big double bed.
—Jayson VanVerten

Love is important to most women. With increasing sexual freedom, the importance of love has come to mean granting importance to erotic relationships as well as to affectionate ones. Not all women want a lover. Single celibates do not: Grandma would have called them good girls. Traditional wives do not: Grandma would have called them honest women. Lesbians do not, at least not the male kind: Grandma probably did not include them in her lexicon at all.

Apart from these three alternatives, there remain those who are no better than they ought to be. Grandma would have considered them fallen: she would have called them tramps. When you think of a man who is a tramp, you think of an unwashed hobo, taking handouts, sleeping on park benches, and living hand-to-mouth on the open road. When you think of a woman who is a tramp, you think of one bold enough to have a man in her life without the honorable permission of being either married or at least engaged. A “real tramp” has more than one.

Two Lovers (film)

Two Lovers (Wikipedia)

It is this residual category of women, not a small minority by any means, who are eligible to consider taking a lover or even lovers. They may be tramps from one perspective, but from another, they are emancipated. They are the vanguard of the third wave of the feminist movement, and their ranks are drawn from both unmarried women and married ones.

Unmarried women make up a large part of our population. They include not only those who have never been married but also increasing numbers of those who have been widowed or divorced, sometimes more than once. Some of these women basically believe in marriage but do not want to get married yet. If an unmarried woman in this category were a man, we would say she was sowing her wild oats. All she is doing is having fun. Later, she expects to settle down to one man; and when she makes that decision, she will start husband shopping. Usually, but not always, the basis for her reformation is the desire to have a child and the recognition of the societal benefits of family life versus the single motherhood alternative.

Women of today who expect to remain single for the rest of their lives consist of basically two groups: those who have rejected marriage per se and those who simply predict that marriage, desirable or not, is unlikely. In the recent past, women who never married were assumed to be either the unchosen who could not get a man or those dedicated to a career who chose to work instead of getting married. Such women became the familiar stereotypes of the old-maid teacher and librarian. Since women now do not experience the same career-or-marriage conflict, modern women who reject marriage are likely to do so on ideological grounds. They would concur with Gloria Steinem’s widely quoted maxim: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle!”

Women who have resigned themselves to not getting married include those who have some unsolvable problem which makes them less marriageable than others. Being six feet six inches tall or having six children or being seriously disabled can be genuine handicaps in the marriage market. Other women, who are by ordinary standards attractive to men, may understand that their chances of finding a husband, at least the kind of husband they would want, are slim. This certainly applies to many young and not-so-young widows as well as to the overachievers who are over-educated and over-affluent compared with the men they are likely to meet. There are simply not enough eligible men available to go around for the women at the top. Statistics showing population distribution by age, sex, and marital status bear out that this is more than a perception. As columnist Maureen Dowd, of the New York Times, aptly notes, “Women moving up still strive to marry up. Men moving up still tend to marry down. The two sexes going in opposite directions has led to an epidemic of professional women missing out on husbands and kids.”

If there is a surplus of women in the given category and if a number of them therefore cannot marry, what then? Women who do not feel any significant sexual urges or women who are comforted by a deep religious faith and so prefer to devote themselves to God may be content to live celibate lives. Other women who do not meet these two criteria want to experience, if not marriage, then at least something of the potential to be found in man-woman erotic relationships.

A young woman friend of mine, tanned and glowing and just back from a Mediterranean jaunt with her man of the moment, exclaimed, “I think I’ve found the secret. Being a wife is a drag, but being a ‘bride’ is terrific. I think I’ll skip committing matrimony and just commit honeymoons. They’re probably the best part anyway.”

“All She Really Needs Is…”

The human spirit sublimates
the impulses it thwarts:
a healthy sex life mitigates
the lust for other sports.
-Piet Hein, Grooks

There is an old husband’s tale about what old husbands tend to call “those women libbers,” and the essence of it is that “they’re all frustrated old maids and all they really need is a good fuck.” Albeit misguided, an old husband’s tale, like an old wives’ tale, may have some germ of truth to it.

A full and rewarding sex life is not only good for your complexion; it is also good for your disposition. The contented body predisposes one toward calmness and serenity. Good lovemaking can generate a kind of peaceful euphoria that carries over into other areas of life, creating feelings of placidity and benevolence. Conversely, a bad sex life, or no sex life at all, predisposes either man or woman to a dour, pessimistic, judgmental view of the world. If you are not having fun, there is nothing more infuriating than to watch other people having fun. If you don’t deserve it, neither do they.

Cover of "Healthy Sex (DK Healthcare)"

Cover of Healthy Sex (DK Healthcare)

Whether or not men and women in such a plight are consciously aware of being frustrated, they are more likely than others to view the world with a jaundiced eye. It is not the absence of orgasms that does it. Orgasms are easy to produce or, if necessary, buy. Orgasms are not the point. If orgasms were all that women wanted, vibrator manufactures could not keep up with the demand. Feeling good or feeling bad relates more to the sense of having this vital and revitalizing human experience or of being denied it.

The absence of physical love erodes the soul and dulls enthusiasm. Your skin gets skin hungry, your dreams are troubled, your temper is sharpened, and your body feels malnourished. You may not have a lean and hungry look, but you will have a hungry one, and you will be more dangerous. Dangerous in the sense that you will feel alienated and isolated from the people around you, and your zest for life may be greatly diminished.

Among other things, making love well, with satisfaction and pleasure, dissipates irritation and petulance. It induces a sense of centeredness and benevolence that is difficult to duplicate. The afterglow is like that of a good meal, but more so; like that of a hot bath, but more so; like that of a massage, but more so; like that of a bottle of wine, but more so, and without the hangover. The afterglow is not only difficult to duplicate, it is difficult to do without—especially if you are among the privileged few who know what you are missing.

And so the old husband’s tale may be true after all. Sometimes, a satisfactory sexual interlude does render you less acrimonious. Without resolving basic discontents, it does make you more placid and therefore more patient and reasonable.

Women on Top: The Decline of the Double Standard

Liberated sex means an end to the double standard about who can enjoy sex and who can’t, and how much, or who can initiate sex, and who can’t . . . It means an end to “nice girls don’t” and “real men must.”
—Charlotte Holt Clinebell, Meet Me in the Middle

In Victorian mentality, although marriage vows were considered sacred, they were considerably more sacred for wives than they were for husbands. Adultery for him was more or less expected as a regrettable but understandable consequence of the male sex drive; adultery for her was an unpardonable sin. The major issue of her adultery was the possibility of pregnancy and the resultant suspicion that any child born might not be the husband’s.

With the emergence of recognition of female sexuality and with the birth control revolution, it has become increasingly acceptable for women as well as men to be sexually involved with someone other than their mates. However, it still falls outside the range of acceptable behavior for many people; and like most sexual behavior, it is less acceptable for women than for men.

Married men often had mistresses while remaining attached to the women who were the mothers of their children. The wife-mother, loved as she may have been, fulfilled other kinds of needs than did the girlfriend, who was perhaps also loved but in a more erotic sense. It now became possible to think the unthinkable: if married men could have lovers, maybe married women could have lovers as well.

The sexual revolution of the sixties introduced the second wave of feminism which raised consciousness concerning the unfairness and chauvinism of the double standard in sex as well as in other things. Well, if men could have sex without marriage, they had to have it with someone. Given the new sexuality, why couldn’t that someone be a good girl as well as a hooker? If men did not have to give up all other women when they married, maybe women did not have to give up all other men. Maybe a married woman could have a lover or lovers without necessarily destroying her marriage or her life.

Many wives thought about such things late into the night, but they kept their opinions to themselves. Their fantasies were furtive. They existed in a kind of pluralistic ignorance: each one looked at herself in her bedroom mirror and believed that she alone felt this way, and that, if anyone else guessed the scandalous nature of her thoughts and fantasies, they would be shocked. The outspokenness of the second wave of feminism that washed through the 1960s swept women into consciousness-raising groups where they began to talk. One thing they talked about was the sexual poverty of many of their lives. For every wife who actually strayed, there were many others who thought about it and many others who were tempted and vulnerable.

Cover of "Sexual Politics"

Cover of Sexual Politics

Men and women still tried to divide the good women from the not-so good ones, but sexuality per se did not seem to be such an absolute standard anymore. Instead, there evolved a standard of judgment whereby the good woman came to be defined as one who had sex selectively and for the “right” reasons whereas the not-so-good one had sex promiscuously and for the wrong reasons. It was a distinction very hard to perceive from the outside. Kate Millett, the feminist-activist who wrote Sexual Politics, summarizes this way of thinking accurately when she observes, “Love is the only circumstance in which the female is ideologically pardoned for sexual activity.”

I hope the method of my madness is becoming clearer with each post.  My previous posts have been setting the stage and background for my future posts that will explore women’s ever evolving pursuit of sexual equality and fulfillment and happiness.  More to  come, so to speak.

The Wanton Factor: On Lust and Womanhood

 

The great question . . . which I have not been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is: “What does a woman want?
Sigmund Freud,
The Life and Works of Sigmund Freud

Poor old Freud never figured it out. Neither did lots of women who, several generations later, are still having trouble with the same question.

Over the past few pivotal decades, women have both wanted to learn and learned to want. One thing they have learned to want is to explore and to savor their full erotic potential. And what they want to learn is just what that potential is and how to seize the opportunity to experience it. As women begin to realize the possibilities inherent in sexuality, they feel increasingly entitled to partake of this important element of life. They feel entitled not only to be sexually active but to be sexually active in the ways which are most rewarding to them.

WWW - What Women Want poster

Photo credit: Jonathas Scott

If you asked men why they want to have a mistress, they would reply almost to a man, “To get laid, of course!” They might phrase it more delicately and might hasten to add that that was not the only thing they wanted; but it would be obvious that a prime motivator, if not the prime motivator, was to expand their erotic experience. For many men, especially young men, the desire for sexual expression is a constant urge needing little, if any, prompting from outside stimuli. The desire seems to come directly from the hormones, and it is not only constant but relatively urgent.

It should no longer be very shocking to discover that spontaneous sexual urges may also be a prime mover for a number of women, some married and some not, some happy and some not. The erotic poet Irving Layton makes this point when he opines, “A woman who is attractive, well educated, and sensible has only one thing on her mind—to get laid.” Layton is given to hyperbole and so overstates his point. One can be forgiven for suspecting him of optimistically projecting his own feelings. Even adolescent boys occasionally have their minds on football, hamburgers, motorcycles, and cold beer.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember what should be an obvious point: in many cases, if not most, the erotic component is one factor, and an important one, in what contemporary women want.

 

Brothers and Sisters: The Last Taboo

The incidence of incest is much higher than we thought, and its consequences are much less pernicious.
—Simon Van Velikoff, sexologist

You can learn what is really taboo by looking for those things that nobody jokes about. There are endless raunchy jokes about premarital sex, about adultery, about homosexuality. There are comparatively few about incest. Only two jokes are in common circulation. One defines an Appalachian virgin as “any girl under six who can run faster than her brother,” which may be more of a comment on the fragility of virginity than about brother-sister incest. The other defines incest as “the game the whole family can play.” Most of the books of jokes or quotations do not even mention it as part of the folklore. It is the last taboo.

Lemon Incest

Lemon Incest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although there is no one universal incest taboo, some kind of prohibition against some kind of incestuous behavior is found in almost all societies. The most stringent taboos are against mother-son incest, followed by father-daughter relationships. The emotional saliency of mores and laws prohibiting these kinds of relationships has two sources: in part, they stem from the fact of incest per se; and in part, they stem from norms against the sexual involvement of any adult with any child.

There are many theories of the origin of incest taboos. One important element in their perpetuation is the perception that a child born of a union between persons in too close a blood relation to each other would have an unfortunate genetic structure and would run a higher than average risk of being deformed or retarded or at least of having some kind of congenital defect.

Taboos about incest are beginning to change. One source of change is more effective birth control so that unfortunate genetic consequences can be prevented. A second source of change is the changing nature of the family. As long as a man and a woman married once and only once, it was very clear who was related to whom. Biological parenthood coincided with legal parenthood; and that, in turn, coincided with social parenthood as manifested by living together and by assuming the roles of mother and father, son and daughter.

However, with today’s high rates of divorce and remarriage, who is related to whom and why is no longer so clear. Suppose a woman is married and has a daughter and then remarries a man who has custody of his son by his first marriage. If the remarried couple then has a child together, we can imagine a family of five persons. The three children grow up together as if they were siblings, but there is a girl who lives with a man who acts like a father but is biologically unrelated; a boy who lives with a woman who acts like a mother but is biologically unrelated; and a boy and girl who
seem like brother and sister but are genetically unrelated and have a half sister in common.

This kind of hypothetical family can become even more complex when you add in such ordinary possibilities as children who are adopted and parents who marry more than twice. It is made more ambiguous when such unusual arrangements are made when the children involved are no longer babies but are becoming miniature adults. If boys and girls have been raised apart for some time, they do not necessarily feel like brother and sister just because their parents marry. If a man remarries a much younger woman, his son does not necessarily feel that the new wife, who is close to him in age, is exactly like a mother.

What all this means is that what used to be an absolute and taken-forgranted taboo that clearly designated certain people ineligible as lovers has now become a relative taboo open to interpretation in each new and unique situation.

The kind of incestuous relationship which is least objectionable is that between brother and sister who are approximate age mates. Some research on incest suggests that, perhaps, one in ten of all people have, at some time in their lives, had sexual intercourse with at least one sibling on a least one occasion.

Ask yourself: Who do you love and why? And is one of the young and handsome and affectionate men who you love your own brother? Philosophers using quill pens in silent rooms readily draw the line between Agape, which is spiritual or platonic love, and Eros, which is sexual love. It is not so clear in the real world of the flesh and the psyche.

You cannot marry flesh of your flesh for many good and sound reasons, nor should you have children with them for other reasons that are good and sound. But to love them, that is something else. And if on occasion that love is expressed as men and women tend to express it, then lie down in silence and discretion.

In some cultures, opposite sex twins are allowed to become lovers because it is believed that they have already been intimate in the womb. How could two people be more intimate than that? Brothers and sisters of the ordinary
kind do not have that much in common, but they have been sharing many of life’s circumstances for years. They may understand each other exceptionally well in that they completely relate to one another through their shared background and upbringing. The brother-sister love may be the ultimate kind of self-love in that each sees in the other a reflection of his or her own eyes and features and personality.

A liaison between a bother and a sister is not to be advised as the best choice of a lover relationship—but neither is it necessarily as traumatic or as unfortunate as is commonly believed.

Tag Cloud