These thoughts are dedicated to Anita on her birthday: November 10
Our difference attracted us. Not the difference between ourselves, but the way we are both different from persistent, flourishing stereotypes.
gender stereotypes will forever cage the emotional joy of the sexual stage
The notion that the female is emotionally weaker than the male is perhaps the most ridiculous and the most relationship-destructive of all modern attitudes. The inherent strength of motherhood makes masculine bravado seem like a pompous courtship ritual. Puffed up chests full of hot air are fine for male turkeys not humans. Such gender silliness serves no one in the mating game that can, potentially, produce an enduring love that will expand sexuality far beyond all masturbatory fantasies of youth.
a man’s a man and all that, and all that… and all that what?
Masculine suppression of complex or painful feelings is not a sign of strength; it is an expression of fear. I learned that in a sorrowful, ego-shattering manner as I timidly reached for adulthood at 18. Certainly no sane mind would suggest that a son bordering on maturity gain insight by watching his strong father’s fear in the face of death. For three-years, from his cancer diagnosis to his death, Dad refused to talk of his disease and inevitable demise as he silently withdrew and withered away. He sucked his small family into a void with him. By any male standard he had been tough. Watching that strength slowly, silently vanish was extremely painful. But, at a subconscious level, it forced me to begin a search beneath society’s childlike labeling of men and women.
the silent father teaches his son to be strong by showing him that true emotional expression is wrong
That search was a battle between the prolonged fear I had seen in my father’s eyes and our societal projection of a stereotypical tough male. Consciously, I created a masculine shell. During my college years I spent much more time after class in gyms than studying at home. My father had taught me the basics of boxing. Pounding my fears on speed bags, punching and kicking heavy bags, pumping muscles with weights became a way of life. I buried fear well. My body language said I feared nothing. On a deep, almost subconscious, level I feared everything.
macho silence is only skin deep, underneath is a man desperate to weep
Shading my fears of life was a powerful libido. Luckily, satisfying that urge was easy for a cute, shy, 22-year-old during the ‘sexual revolution’ of the sixties. Girls came courting. For me there was a profound yearning to share much more than orgasmic relief between gentle receptive thighs. I longed for true intimacy in the afterglow of orgasm, in those moments when we are most exposed and vulnerable. A woman had just comforted me, accepted me and some women if given the space become motherly after sex. My own mother was 16-years younger than my father, and she collapsed under the weight of his disease. She returned to the child she was when they met. I had lost my father and my mother in a clouded maze of death that forced me away from childhood into a dark world of pseudo-adulthood.
Surviving that parental loss, I became far more searching than is described in cliché scripts that perpetuate immature attitudes for young adult males. I had no desire to fit an emotionless disguise that in my heart I knew was a facade where men shelter their fears. Stereotyped society projects tough men conquering fear when in fact they learn from their fathers to hide fear in silence. I desperately wanted to be different than my father.
I am alone, I am afraid; I truly want to hide from that scream that calls to me from somewhere deep inside
Anita is an artist. When we met she was studying art. She had left home for Art College at 17 with a deep desire to be different than her high school girlfriends. She was raised strict Catholic, two of her aunts are nuns. Becoming different than the female design Catholicism projects onto women was her essential focus. Understanding the true nature of that difference formed the basis of her artistic studies.
it’s different here I feel at home, I do not want to hide. There’s someone here, she’s with me now: forever by my side
The sameness of our difference instantly united us. Difference being our desire to see beyond the sexism of society projected by ancient religions and perpetuated by social platitudes that feed on self-perpetuating, tedious gender distortions. From the time we met we needed to look below the surface of morality to understand why manipulating sexuality and not condemning gluttony is the ethical essence of our world: A world where sciences expand and humanities stagnate. The desire to be different, while having no clear plan of direction, provided intellectual and emotional grounding to our, remarkably expressive, physical attraction to the differences of our genders. Sauntering, hand-in-hand, down cliché sexual trails may have worked for a time; for us it would have been a very short walk.
We are constantly asked what keeps us so close. This question peaked after friends and patients watched us fuse during the years following our son’s death. We still flounder when considering our answer, a response that constantly evolves and reshapes according to the question’s source and depth. We have no simple explanation. There is no relationship formula. There is, however, a common factor to all our modified answers: If a couple truly desires to fulfill the plan they intended when they first committed to each other, they must constantly redesign their expressions of intimacy. They need to build and define a personal morality guided only by legal boundaries and mutual cravings. It is not easy, but it is incredibly rewarding to create togetherness by searching for difference.
The difference between men and women creates the attraction. Separation is an intellectual fault. It is not a gender reaction.
Next blog: Our sexual intellect must meet its match or we’ll forever search for that illusive catch