Say what we cannot

Nov 13, 2013 at 6:00 am

“There were always in me two women. One woman bewildered … and another who would leap into a scene as upon a stage.” —Anais Nin 

Being a woman in a modern society has its advantages. We have ownership over more parts of our lives than ever before, yet when it comes to female sexuality, we’re still living in a veritable dark age. We remain at odds with and are often afraid of the power that is female sexuality. Because of this, we continue to look at each other with disdain when we perceive the other is uptight or, transversely, lascivious.

Miley Cyrus’ recent performance on the VMA’s is a perfect example. Admittedly, I found the performance lacking and even a bit schizophrenic, but I try to avoid judging her choices. The issue with the act of being judgmental is that often one forgets the will of the person being judged. Miley has the right to show her body, twerk and distort herself in whatever way she sees fit. And, while she may have young fans, she has no real responsibility to make sure they are given the correct messages about sexuality. Hopefully their parents will take care of that.

I spent many of my youthful years covered up, semi-studious and afraid of my own sexuality. Like dear Miley, I came to a point when I wanted to feel alive and even irresponsible. I desired experience, and that came at a price, often emotional, yet mostly not my own — not at this time.


“I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” —Anais Nin

To be drunk on experience was more important to me in those few years. I rejected my walls and gave myself permission to enjoy the control I had over the male response and the pleasure of getting what I wanted. I’d been repressed into an unhappiness, wishing my life had an ounce of the vitality of someone like Anais Nin despite the drama of interacting with humanity and its constant critiques. There was something amazing in the wantonness.

I was ready when my chance arrived — a fellow dancing alone, not the usual fellow I would approach. He seemed like the perfect mark to put my curiosity to test. I didn’t twerk, but I cast a web and he got stuck. For a couple of months, he performed, a perfect circus monkey. He never questioned my morality. He simply gave me what I wanted.

Typing this, I’m amused, because my life now is once again a sort of repressed and covered-up existence. The difference now is I have a son. I’m not concerned that he’ll perceive me any certain way. He’ll think of me what he wishes when the time comes, but I found that routine and functionality is the killer of my final links to this previous “me.”

The current me cannot imagine meeting someone like a latter tryst dubbed “The Candlestick Maker” for his tempestuous behavior before me. Inviting him into my life would become fodder for my scribblings. Today, my writing would consist of issues with diapers, milk, spit-up and more diapers. When I knew the Candlestick Maker, I wrote about seeing him sing, his seedy persona and knowing he would become a great story one day.

Our affair was brief and intense. He grew attached. I did not. He was, for me, an act of amusement.

I wanted then only to know if a woman could love “like a man” without the risk of actual love and just the intoxication Nin speaks of. I wanted to reject the label that a woman who enjoys her body and sexuality was somehow lesser. That includes turning my nose up at someone like Ms. Cyrus for donning a mouse suit and dancing with her tongue out. For me, it was easy. I don’t exist as a commodity of the public space. I don’t have a public body, and my exploration of my sexuality was mine. I was under no microscope.

Assessments of the Cyrus situation infer she was making a “patriarchal bargain.” I’m not sure I agree. I’m not sure she was attempting to gain anything. Like many, I didn’t like her performance, but I’m not so quick to dismiss it as a bargain with the power structure. Maybe she just wanted to have that experience. It happens.


“A man attaches himself to woman — not to enjoy her, but to enjoy himself.” —Simone de Beauvoir

Maybe Miley just wants to enjoy herself, and attaching herself to the crotch of Robin Thicke was just part of that and nothing more.