My eyes are full of tears today. I am longing to tell a new story. It is one my nimble fingers do not yet know how to type, and so my hands lay unusually still over the keyboard. My finger tips are like seeds dropped carelessly over fallow ground. They have landed on a place not yet prepared for them, and so, cannot seem to blossom into words.
In the meantime, 50 Shades of Grey!
I had largely ignored the books and the movie as a watered down, semi-worthless, failed depiction of BDSM. But this week, a rash of articles have drawn me back into considering the 50 Shades message and so many other things I truly wish were not a part of our world.
Other writers have done a masterful job of tearing the books and the movie apart as nothing more than rape fantasies and codependent abuse dressed up as romance. So, I will leave the critique to those better qualified to make it.
With this film and the surrounding hoopla as my backdrop, I want to talk about something else.
A few months ago, I started to have a strange erotic fantasy. It excites me like no other.
I am in a stadium. It’s seats are occupied by men – thousands of men. They are here to give me pleasure and to witness me in my pleasure.
The anticipation is palpable.
Everyone is fixated on whatever they imagine might arouse me to the heights of my desire and its fulfillment. The spotlights are shining on me from every direction. Everyone in the room is either attending me or watching with bated breath for the moment, the money shot, if you will.
The look of absolute rapture on my face.
I contrast this picture with another one.
I am 16 years old. A man, my lover, has me bent over the arm of the couch. I will spare you the details. It is enough to say that we are lost in a haze of methamphetamine induced insanity. We are in hot pursuit of, yes, you guessed it, the money shot, albeit one of a different variety.
He is hurting me. I cry out. He says, “At least you are crying and wincing in pain and that is some semblance of a turn on.”
Those words are etched on my brain, the indelible mark of my loathsome initiation into an alternate reality. They represent the moment when I realized a man could delight in my pain, and that, in fact, it could turn him on. I simply did not know how to process that moment, that realization. I also could not process that this same man professed to love me.
Something inside of me broke. It has taken the better part of 25 years to bring what was broken back to wholeness and to destroy the legacy of that moment. Only now am I beginning to dream of a different experience.
This recent fantasy is significant. It is the polar opposite of what I have just described. It represents the first moment when I am actively imagining that a man, or perhaps even a stadium full of men, could hunger for my pleasure, my absolute ecstasy. In this fantasy, my delight is not a matter of conquest or accomplishment, but the product of a sincere desire to give to me, to please me, to escort me into the heart of my own sweet carnal indulgence.
This is the beginning of a new narrative, one I wish could make its way into a Hollywood screenplay and into the consciousness of our world. I wish this idea of men reveling in the moment of a woman’s absolute rapture could become a mass cultural reality, a blockbuster hit to rival all blockbuster hits.
Even still, this new fantasy is incomplete. I remain an object as do the men. I have simply changed up the stimulus. Pleasure has taken the place of pain and giving has replaced taking.
The story I yearn to write, the one my fingers do not know how to type, is one of reveling together, of men and women frolicking in gardens of love and delight. But really, it isn’t even a sexual narrative I wish to tell. It is a societal one of people coming together in pursuit of dreams realized, pleasures shared, and potential fulfilled.
I am struck that most presentations of Utopia come to us in the form of things like The Giver, a Utopian dream gone awry as society tries to bury its worst tendencies beneath a totalitarian insistence upon niceness.
What we never see, what we, perhaps, have yet to invent, is the depiction of a society founded on both the truth of our history and the idea of creating relationships based upon the sheer joy of relating and of being human together.
I do not yet know how to write this story, or even to imagine it. I am a woman standing on the edge of the only world I have ever known. I am looking out into the great unknown. There isn’t even a bridge to be built between worlds. In reality, there is only the faintest hint of something new and the certain knowledge that I must pull it through me.
In order to do so, ironically, I look back to my past for the wisdom that will see me through.
When I was 17 years old, in the midst of the drugs, violence, and pornographic sex, the time came for me to graduate from high school. I had to choose the quote that would appear under my picture in my high school yearbook. I chose from Irving Stone’s The Agony & the Ecstasy (a biographical novel regarding Michelangelo Buonarroti who created the now famous statue of David and painted the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel):
“There is no thrill of mortal danger to surpass that of a lone man trying to create something that never existed before.”
Today I know the full meaning and import of those words gifted to me by my battered and bruised young self.
Here I am, the lone woman trying to create that which never existed before. I have the chisel of my keyboard in hand. I stand before the untouched stone of a blank page. I have only the slightest vision of what is crying out to pass through my fingers. Mercifully, I have also been given a phrase to guide me as I initiate myself into yet another alternate reality:
I abandon myself to the thrill of this mortal danger and to my own dangerous desire. As I do, I feel the world I have known crumbling behind me. I stand in the stillness, in the absolute void of that which has yet to be spoken. I am waiting to utter the words that will usher in a brave and brilliant new world. There is not even a whisper, not even a hint of what is to come and I revel in the freshness of this untouched space. I am free.