Sticks and Stones May Break my Bones… but Call Me a Cunt?


It may have been Christmas time three years ago, when, in the daze that was my shopping misery, I finally reached the cash register after a zombifyingly long wait in a Disneyland-like serpentine line. To my shock and then delight, the young ostensibly female Urban Outfitter employee asking me if I found everything “okay” was sporting a medium-sized (not too small and not overly large) white round button pinned to the left of the top of her left breast with the word in bold black capital letters, “CUNT” printed on it. 

After a bit of an eye widening, I settled into a smirk and complimented her on her pin. She said her pal, the manager, made it for her. I thought it ballsy to wear it in a store, hip as the location is–the anti-mall, a hipster haven–with commercial intent, especially one run by Conservative homophobes from what I recollected reading.


I immediately wanted one. Up to that year, my 51st, I had not encountered the word very often and it had an aura about it, something electric and taboo. The word had never been hurled at me as a weapon til then, though it has been since–by someone I could not have ever guessed would use it against me, yet neither could I have ever imagined that he and I could have ever entered into hideous combat the way he had. 


The initial admixture of discordant discomfort, alarm, and delight was titillating and intriguing. Yes, I understood the neutralizing of such terms through ironic deployment as many other terms have been similarly used:  nigger and queer, to name the two powerhouse terms of oppression that have been turned inside out by the intended targets’ co-opting these weapons. No, one cannot harm another with a word she turns on herself happily, so that the term is deflated, neutralized.


My reaction led me on the usual journey of the philologist (a title one graduate school professor knighted his class of comparative literature students with profoundly):  What is the nature of language?


Interestingly enough, I had this discussion about language with my class just yesterday. We had read Susan Allison’s, “Taking a Reading,” which is a playful essay examining the language of measurement, supposedly a very precise endeavor of linguists long ago. However, in it, Allison wryly asks how it is that her yard, the same word for a measurement of three feet, and that of her childhood–two different sized and located spaces–are both yards. Even the language of precision has so much slippage.


I asked my students:  If we woke up tomorrow and the word for cat was now “dog,” would it matter?  Language is merely a referent to something else, so does it make a difference which sounds and letters we assign to the object in mind, and how do we know the object we have in mind is the same referent for everyone using the same term anyhow? And what of the individual raised without a word for “cat” or any language?  Does a cat exist in absence of a word for it, to recall it to mind and give it form? Pretty abstract for a class during the need-for-a-tea-or-espresso hour.


My point was to consider the arbitrariness of language even as it forms and informs our very existence–makes our world. I am not alone in pondering this phenomenon way too much. Philosophy teems with such obsessing considerations.


But how is it that such words like “cunt” contain all that energy, all that power?  Does calling a man a “dick” have the same effect? No, it does not because of the real life power relations between men and women historically and contemporarily in physical, economical and political disparity of exchange. The magic of the term, however, must be steeped in a rich history of which I am not fully aware because calling a female “womb” or “vagina” or “twat” even does not have the same force or violence in my mind. 


Few females wish to be identified as one part of their bodies, I would imagine, and if they did, it probably would not be their vaginas more than their brains. Though, as the wonderful Betty White, comedic tough ass actress long enduring herself, has astutely joked, the vagina is a pretty damned tough body part for its resilience, flexibility and endurance in light of the beatings it suffers.  


For your viewing pleasure, an entertaining comic strip content of attitudes toward and reactions to the word “cunt” on the Nib entitled “Just a Word,” is offered for discussion. Is it just a word? A weapon? Is it enough to own the word, wear it on a pin to neutralize it? Breeze through the cartoon and weigh in. This inquiring mind wants to know.

Panthea’s Promise



credit:  davidcord.com



A silence in the room drags your corpse, evaporated now,
and mixed with the sand, to my fingertips as gritty smog.
Though a tomb houses bones, the air contains your will.
I will sit, Aurelius, I will sit, wilted before that skeletal house.


When you cut your hair, upon my passing words, notes,
beards having been the shadow of fear and cloaking, you,
fully armored by chest and foot, arms akimbo, wooed me.
A simple heart, won by a penetrated, vulnerable nakedness.


No flattery taken, I am a simple fate, a lover of actions true,
yours, a silent tribute speaking legions in that one cutting.
You bared your face to me, showed me my own eyes’ gaze
mirrored in more than a thousand words piled high may bless.


I will sit, Aurelius, I will sit and wait in the earth, in my recluse,
and silk touch the grapple of his hair stubbled face-memory
blown through to my skin’s reaching, yearning whispered sigh.
I will sit, Lucius, lying by, bathed in sun-dried leaves’ caress.


Married though you be, Aurelius by your side provoking state,
a heart, at Smyrna you shaved for me, seeking limbic highs,
is never buried unceasingly beaten, trampled in dusty smoke.
I will sit, Lucius, as I do and be the pulsing-pure love’s undress.   

“55 Rules for Love”

credit:  http://markhanlin.com


I appreciate this list so much I am re-printing all 55 of the 55 Rules for Love in elephantjournal.com gifted by Alex Sandra Myles. I especially love how the list is framed by 1 and 55, cherish love and don’t take it for granted or risk it for mind games, power plays and other gambles to chase love away.

Some of these rules confirm the successful moments of my own daily practices and disposition toward not only loving another or others but self, such as being grateful, aiming for open communication, disagreement as healthy for cherishing and appreciating difference, forgiving easily, admitting fault and accepting criticism.

So many of them, however, are challenges, ones I know I must practice daily but forget, struggle with or get lazy, like 5, 8, 13, 16, 22, 23, 26, 30, 37, 41, 43 and 45. The rest are either instinctual or hard earned by practice or subsumed in other rules: cherishing love is also being grateful and appreciative.

I hope you enjoy this list as much as I do as gentle reminders how to love yourself too.



1. When it arrives, cherish it.

2. Whatever you accept, you will get

3. Understand that love is a mirror—it will show us who we are if we allow it to.

4. Only we can make ourselves happy, it is not the other person’s responsibility.

5. Don’t say words with the intent to hurt.

6. Accept and forgive easily.

7. Don’t be scared to disagree, it is healthy.

8. Never be too busy for each other.

9. Do not punish.

10. Accept honest criticism, it is good for us.

11. Admit when you are wrong, quickly.

12. Support each other when the going gets tough.

13. Live in the moment—be present.

14. Leave the past where it belongs.

15. Leave drama out of it.

16. Don’t try to control.

17. Allow a small amount of jealousy.

18. Don’t use comparisons.

19. Celebrate differences.

20. Communicate openly and honestly.

21. Listen very carefully.

22. Don’t judge.

23. Don’t manipulate to get results.

24. Learn and grow.

25. Don’t try to change each other.

26. Don’t condemn each other’s family and friends.

27. Lines, flaws and imperfections are beautiful.

28. Trust your instincts, but don’t be paranoid.

29. Don’t compromise your morals and values and don’t expect them to either.

30. Instead of power, aim for balance.

31. Space is needed to breathe and to grow.

32. Accept that you are both unique—never compare.

33. Have fun, laugh and play—a lot.

34. Be each other’s best friend.

35. Don’t play mind games.

36. Do not carelessly throw away love.

37. Don’t waste energy with negative thoughts.

38. Compliment often.

39. Discover each other.

40. Be attentive and understand what’s not said.

41. Do at least one romantic and thoughtful thing every day.

42. Take picnics and sleep under the stars.

43. Don’t just speak about it, show love.

44. Walk together, cook together, bathe together, read together.

45. Do not be afraid, love requires surrender.

46. Be loyal and faithful.

47. Trust.

48. Be grateful.

49. Fluidity is good, accept change.

50. Don’t sleep on a fight.

51. Don’t cling to it, know when to let go.

52. Discover what turns you both on and explore it.

53. Make love, but also f*ck (regularly).

54. Give and receive without measure.

55. Never gamble with what you can’t afford to lose.

On this International Women’s Day, a Dedication to My Beloved Women


Buckets of Love
And yet another bucket of sanitized water to pour splashingly into the machine. I do this two days out of seven:  clean 14 frozen yogurt machines. The other part of my newly-acquired minimum wage job is serving up frozen yogurt desserts to smiling patrons. It sure beats slinging hash to less than thrilled customers in Mel’s Diner.


Having served my time as a stay-at-home mom, I recently decided to venture into the working world after a 15 year hiatus unarmed with updated certifications or skills. So an opening, a relative, and a few training sessions later, I work five days a week with my oldest daughter, cousins and sister-in-law at a frozen yogurt shop where almost everyone is happy to see me–a clear departure from serving up three meals a day to the takers-for-granted at home.


Working at a store stocked with food items, most of them perishable, cleanliness is more than godliness:  it’s health inspection proof. As such, machines that pump out dairy products all day need serious rinsing, not the kind my kids do on those rare occasions–meant to shock more than help–when they “rinse” their crumb and goo-filled dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. I’m talking serious wet-downs and wash-throughs with two-gallon buckets of water coursing through two, three, sometimes four times each machine. It’s a laborious task, one that has allowed me to eliminate the tricep/bicep machine from my gym workout as well as sufficiently drenched me in plashy carelessness.


The labor of pouring water or yogurt into the top of machines parked behind the store front only to pump those liquids out through the faceplates levers of those machines in the store remind me of more than a few clichés hatched from Disney movies my growing daughters gaped at, rewinding the videos repeatedly until I could recite every line in perfectly imitated voices and gestures, the circle of life being only one of them. But seriously, this mindless seemingly endless exercise reminds me of how life moves.


When I stayed home with my children, I thought of the endless cycle of food in–food out with diapers and toilet training, washing dishes and clothes, making and cleaning up meals. It seemed like child-rearing was an endless cycle of buckets poured in, through and out–just like my children themselves, the buckets of little lives running around me, seemingly mine to scoop up, fill up with love, wisdom and knowledge, only to have them pour into life, equipped, ready and strong.


But in the end, as I stare at another empty bucket, just having poured all I had into the machine, I realize that is all we are: buckets to be filled so we can fill someone/thing else. My children are nearly grown adults now. I’ve poured all I can into them to set them on their paths, hopefully with powerful liquid love they can pour into others.

December 21, 2014
6 Comments

A Misty Mother’s Winter Birth Song

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On a Winter Solstice morning I carry wood to the fire
and stoke the arcing flame’s urge to obliterate night.
Borean breath burns those bones of trees slant ways
fueling gulps of scorching air borne to the sun’s rays.

Mother-child squats and stares her eyes pierced red
wondering where the winds have taken off the dead.
Her child-mother speaks no more of willow branches.
A baby gone old too, a sooty, sallow skinned witness.

Sheltering arms of her wisdom’s rock a bye morrows
I miss, her torch words of smoked images we chose.
Mother mine of childlike mind your birth was foretold.
Alit on Winter’s day, a searing blame to mothers cold.

With spoken mind’s hibernation, a wintry song is nigh.
Buried deep in fiery sleep is sensor twitching sunrise.
Yet a love surrounds her misty eyed daylight slumber
as Elven sprites spark shards shot of ember’d lumber.

She is my meadow lullaby cracking the icy pines now,
a cataract covered window pane framing a faint brow.
The pitter patterned words of incantations made flesh
are a witch’s brood of progeny, a sweep of stony ash. 

The shortest light of the longest night brightens a sky
she never sees anymore in wheel chaired walk a bye.
Maternal flickers of the northern lights in babies’ arms
is left the love encircling a stormy eye’s chaos calmed.

Pinched Green 

 Where is my kelly green, my fern? You have moved back to the pines, and I cannot feel your colors visibly, not distinctly, only slippery shades melding one into the other, making my mind yearn for the malachite forest scene of your coming.
Lately, I hunger green, artichoke, asparagus and avocado, even the one that makes you shudder, olive. I walk hunter, drip sap, and smooth moss, the living greens. I ooze.
Last time, when I stuffed you in a box, you danced me among the seething slits and asses, the indecipherable bodies of flickering light, smoke and sweat, and yours in my mouth, on my tongue, salty and sweet scent of yellow-green sea, the hungering hiss of breath on my lips. We shone, our sheen emerald and gyrated hips of jade.
Those were extraordinary days, that caged time down south, when I watched you walk down the city street beside me, clasping the crook of my arm, or scraping your toes against the heat of the ocean smooth sand and then coming to me in your easeful stride and thin-lipped tolerance. The glint in your eye, teasing out desire, was utterly teal and mint tea.
We have traveled deep in the green of your grass, your trees, you in mine.
In moments like today, when either of us lulls and listens, when your mind is dark smoked with bedeviling thoughts of the other who sometimes sits in that bar stool beside me, the burning that bricks up your walls, dug in deep, show me Harlequin, rifle and army green. I hear silent Screamin’ green. Gut green.
There are places that curve around our minds and make your palms moisten in remembrance of lines drawn with your fingers pressed deep past muscle to bone, firing synapses of wince and grin. Back then, in a commercial cocoon waiting, you cradled the pulsing organ that once belonged to me but now rests full, bleeding warm vital viscous tears of soothing dreams and sighs, painfully powerful pounding love in your hands, your hands that I watched unfold my flesh, uncover the beating mass before my eyes. I crushed down in you, myrtle mine, ensavored, enslaved and succumbed, pinched green.
Mantis, Castleton, India, Persia, Russia and Pakistan, paint the air green, tinting the lens in my favorite hue, you. Courage me green to laurel the winter time til spring, the color of you.

An Acceptance Speech

I accept that inheritance is limiting regardless of the exhortation to exceed expectations by will and drive.
I accept that I am a piecemeal of genetic bits and cultural creep all coursing through my veins without complete conscious adaptation of my ideas, opinions and “norms.”
I accept that “my” ideas, opinions and beliefs are not wholly mine.
I accept that I am mostly reactionary and adaptive to survival.
I accept that I am fortunate that I was not born elsewhere to other parents in a different era.
I accept that I am both capable of change and unchanging, and that I will spend a lifetime learning which changes are possible.
I accept that I have made choices that have and will change the trajectory of my life irreparably.
I accept that it is easier to live than to die.
I accept that I know a far greater number of truths than I am willing to accept.
I accept that I am a human animal with unused and underutilized potential.
I accept that I have greater desire than will, greater intention than action and greater invention than motivation.
I accept that the attempts are all that I have sometimes.
I accept that 99 percent of the time there is nothing wrong in the exact moment of any given moment I take inventory of all that I am.
I accept that I can tolerate nearly anything for 15 minutes.
I accept that I live completely in faith that I am not going to die any time soon.
I accept that every exhale is one expired breath closer to my death.
I accept that I experience life as do-over opportunities each awakening.
I accept that I have my mother’s optimism.
I accept that I have my father’s temper.
I accept that I am not the same person I was ten years ago, or even yesterday.
I accept that I have far fewer fears as I get older but far greater ones.
I accept that I am to blame for something in someone’s mind somewhere.
I accept that I am indebted to someone for something somewhere.
I accept that someone is grateful for my having been born.
I accept that acceptance is not merely writing the words but a knowing practice.



Credit:  https://robmaness-psyclone.netdna-ssl.com

Freud’s Immature Orgasm and Other Myths and Truths

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credit:  http://i.huffpost.com

Every day is a thrill to be alive, to be human–even when it’s not. Nothing pleases me more than settling into my writing routine each day with nothing on my mind. Reading around the Internet, then, is an adventure:  wide open. 

My day’s journey may start with poking around Facebook or Twitter to see what’s shaking in the world, immediate and distant, and then end with a question sparked by something I read, which then drives me to Google or some other engine, and so on until a shaped idea forms.
 
Today’s Facebook scan brought me to elephantjournal.com’s The Top 3 Secrets Women Tell Their Sex Coach. The word “sex” in the title did not pique my interest as I have read enough intolerably reductive “3 ways” articles about sex to last a lifetime. No, I was drawn to the idea of a sex coach.  My first thought:  “How much do they get paid and for doing what?”  All I could think of was my daughter’s soccer coaches yelling on the sidelines, “Move forward!!!  Now move back!!! Cross it, cross it!!” I recall paying them more than I could afford to yell at my kids. So is that what a sex coach does and what type of degree or schooling does that require? Are the final exams practicals? The possibilities are endless.
 
Goofball wise cracks aside, I read with an open curious mind and found the article while yes, reductive, not simplified. The three observations gathered from listening to hundreds of clients (wow, and I never even heard of a sex coach before this except for Masters & Johnson) were, in paraphrase, that women have difficulty having orgasm, they don’t like their partners’ touch but don’t know what to ask for and want to want sex more than they do. These three observations alone are not earth shattering news but the expansion upon each is worth the five minutes’ read.  
 
Summer Engman cites the porn industry, cultural dictates, women and men, the usual suspects, for  women’s lack of orgasm and realistic expectations. Again, none of this is revelatory to me so much as confirmation that my own intuition and vague recall of books I have read and lectures I have attended have not steered me wrong.
 
But the nagging thought persisted after reading this article:  It’s Freud’s fault. And I Googled just that. Aside from some hits I knew would appear, scrolling past Wikipedia and other usual fare with phrases “the immature orgasm”, I landed on Meghan Murphy’s It Happened To Me:  I Don’t Masturbate (But That Doesn’t Make Me a Bad Feminist) on xojane.com. While the title is intriguing enough, her insight and wit make this a worthy read and a nice counterpoint, sort of, to the tonal apogee, elephant journal’s serious arrival at sexual advice.  
 
Murphy’s take is she does not masturbate, does not feel the need, not wired that way, and to each her own. She is not offering advice so much as perspective. And not just that women are all different–duh–with different needs–duh–and different bodies and upbringing and anatomy, yadda, yadda…duh. She includes nod-your-head-in-an-amen tidbits like we know so much more about female anatomy now, i.e., the clitoris is not where and what you think it is because it’s way longer and probably parked in the vagina too, so Freud was operating in a clear deficit of information. He was mistaken. Women can and do have vaginal orgasms. 
 
I blame Freud for ruining everything for feminists who have vaginal orgasms (they’re the “mature, feminine” orgasms, he said, causing us all to rebel by only having “immature” clitoral orgasms).
 
Murphy’s saying so–vaginal dick-initiated orgasm is her thing–is neither proof nor an epiphany. But it is refreshing to read. Women (Hey, what do you know?) are diverse beings with a variety of pathways to orgasm. (Hey, what else do you know?) We don’t hear enough about that diversity.  
 
I am not disagreeing with Engman’s canvas of women’s sexual experience. I believe women of my era, specifically, have inherited a defensive posture toward sex from un or ill informed mothers and surrogate foremothers of second wave feminism, who were just trying to change the course of history, a tidal wave of oppression and missing or mis-information, kind of like steering a cruise liner’s direction with a wooden rowboat oar.  
 
So, I am content with my morning adventure into the too-often disappointing and disgruntling cyber world (maybe it’s just the ebb and flow of my moods) for today’s sea treasures I uncovered for my readers. I hope there is a tasty morsel there to savor (apologies to the non-pescatarian vegans) or something shiny to admire, at least.
 
Peace,
 
Gaze
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For All the Scorned Women…

Just goes to show you I am not the only one who has muttered, “I’m going to kill that man.”  Women have been thinking about killing their men or any man for centuries and leave it to the great artists in Western history to bring that reality to life.  Seriously, the captions to these paintings in Gleeful Mobs of Women Murdering Men in Western Art History on the toast.net are the best part, unless you really do get off on cathartic dramatic renderings of raging women tearing men to pieces. Have a laugh and maybe pick up on technique 😉



Guest Post: Telling Everyone



credit:  http://f1.bcbits.com

The week after my husband told me he thought he was in love with someone else, I emailed a
group of close girlfriends with the news. My words must have been hysterical because the very next
night they stopped their busy-lives-kids-husbands-making-dinner-supervising-homework and told me to
meet them at a local café, which I did, where we sat and drank tea and I wept and wept and wept. And
they listened.

After that night, I decided that I simply had to tell people. Everyone. Anyone. My friends, my
family, his family, a few co-workers, the woman in front of me at the supermarket, the moms of my
daughter’s peers. I remember thinking that if I tell enough people, it won’t hurt so much. If I tell enough
people, no one will blame me. If I tell enough people, they will nod knowingly when we get divorced (or
when I kick him out, which I inevitably did, in my rage. He came back though. That’s for another blog
post).

And soon, hearing the news, friends and family began to react in ways that told me more about
them than about me and this infidelity experience. My closest girlfriends started to call, phoning to tell
me they love me, they are here for me, an invisible army out beyond the house where I can’t see them,
rows and rows of people who support me unconditionally, waiting there to hold me in my arms if I
needed holding or walk with me to happiness when I was ready to walk. My mom, in an atypical
expression of outward emotion, told me she would be there for whether we got divorced or stayed
married. A few friends, both male and female, told me they’d happily get in line to kill, maim, or
strangle my husband (one of them sounded uncomfortably serious). A couple of girlfriends admitted
they were so angry
with him that they didn’t know how they were going to work through that (they are
still struggling, I think, because their manner is different around him now). One friend never mentioned
it, not for the entire five months of the affair nor the following two years of marriage recovery; to this
date she does not bring it up or ask me how I am.

I know that my story, and my telling everyone so openly and forcefully, was terrifying to many
of our friends. “If this could happen to her, could it happen to me?” went the unstated refrain. “Would
my husband do this? Is he capable of such a choice?” No one ever spoke those words but I knew they
were there. My experience was a threat, something “other” that loomed on the edge of our nice middle
class world.

And yet. While this support was so beautiful, so unwavering, and so key to my eventual survival,
there was something missing. No one said, “Hey I’ve been there.” No one ventured, “My sister has been
through this.” I felt as if I was the only human on earth whose husband had betrayed her. Of course I’d
heard about infidelity in movies and books, with celebrities and politicians but I did not know
anyone else like me who had been through it. Anyone else like me: educated semi-suburban wife and
mom, married 20+ years, seemingly happy (though the marriage bore cracks) and basically successful.
Feeling so uniquely marked in this way was like a scarlet “I” (for infidelity) worn, invisibly, on my
forehead for an entire year. It was only later, once we began to rebuild our relationship and I started
sharing with people too about that effort, that three girlfriends came to me with their own infidelity
stories. Suddenly I was not alone.

Cross-posted on http://betrayedwivesclub.blogspot.com/, http://counselingwithcaroline.com/blog/, and
http://eldamlopez.com/category/blog/

Laura S.
Executive Director
Infidelity Counseling Network
www.infidelitycounselingnetwork.org 

Who Has Affairs and Why – Dr. Peggy.com



credit:  http://assets.nydailynews.com

For a compressed (succinct but thorough) breakdown of the profile of an affair with all of its moving parts and consequences, read Who Has Affairs and Why on Dr.Peggy.com, which includes this section that I particularly appreciated because the author, Peggy Vaughn, details data I have merely passed off in summary in prior posts as the various ways we inherit our cheating disposition:

Societal factors

Affairs are glamorized in movies, soap operas, romance novels, and TV shows of all kinds. Public disclosure of public figures having affairs is headline news because we are fascinated and titillated by hearing of others’ affairs.

People are bombarded with images of women as sex objects in advertising and marketing campaigns. Over and over, the message to men is that the good life includes a parade of sexy women in their lives. Women inadvertently buy into this image and strive to achieve it.

The lack of good sex education and the existence of sexual taboos combine to make it difficult for most partners to talk honestly about sex.

As teenagers we get conditioned in deception when it comes to sex—engaging in sexual activity while hiding it from our parents.

The code of secrecy is a major factor in affairs because it provides protection for the person having affairs and leads them to believe they won’t get caught.

She concludes that there are many factors that contribute to having an affair including “pushing” and “pulling” factors, drawing to or pushing toward it.  

In addition to causes and effects of affairs, there is a brief rundown on the naturalness of monogamy–or not–as well as advice on preventions, which is…guess what?  Right.  Honesty.   

There are other similarly succint, informative articles on the site to peruse for everything affairs related, Dr. Peggy’s specialty. Most are quick reads with easy-to-read and track headings, subheadings and bold font. It took me no time to read through the site and pick up on some of the advice and factual goodies she offers.  I hope you enjoy the site as much as I did.

Mere Mortals We Cheaters Be



Of course, Anna Jorgensen’s 4 Stages of Cheating & When it’s Warranted in elephant journal grabbed my attention, but, after reading it, I feel a bit betrayed myself. First, the title is terribly misleading:  “when it’s warranted”, according to Jorgensen, is never…unless your life warrants it. In other words, it’s complicated, not surprisingly.

Second, the 4 stages of cheating she outlines are pretty obvious. No, the most interesting insights of this article are found in her off-the-cuff wisdom culled from personal experience. Mentioning her three observational points of view, conspirator, cheatee and cheater, she confesses the following about being cheated on (the cheatee):

I also don’t know if I was more bitter about the cheating or the lying. Lying makes me pretty bitter.


Lying makes most people crazy. Social brainwashing and the human tendency toward compartmentalization are partially to blame for that toss up, deciding which is more insanity-inducing. One may eventually understand the cheating, sexual urges and all (media reporting cheating is a fact of life), but the lying is almost always interpreted as conscious, decisive and lacerating. Lying is a knife in the heart of trust and often taken as a sign of a deeply flawed character. 

An insane world is one where truth and falsity are in constant flux, making for a meaningless existence. When the lying is revealed, it not only induces shame and blame, punched-in pride and cries of victimhood, none of which help to expedite healing, but turns the world upside down, leaving the “victim” paranoid about her own failure of instinct and understanding. She often becomes defensive and mistrusting. 

In truth, cheating IS lying–to self and others.


Jorgensen avers cheating is never warranted and argues an either-or fallacy:  fix it or forget it.
When Cheating is Warranted

It’s not. Cheating is never the answer; if only because it ultimately won’t make us feel good. We’re far better off to figure it out or part ways peacefully. Of course, that’s way easier said than done sometimes and all my experience and those of others will never replace your own experience. That’s how life works.

Strikes me as a rational imperative: work on the relationship or get out of it if it cannot be worked out. And yes, easier said than done, especially when children are involved. Balancing the needs of two people is incredibly challenging. Three, four or more components to the equation is far more difficult. Now add some children or parents with all-consuming special needs or a spouse with a congenital, contracted illness ten or twenty years into the relationship and see how the formula of fix it or forget it comes out. Jorgensen acknowledges the fallacy and backtracks from her hard stance to a more philosophical one.

If the issue were black and white, the conversation about cheating would be over.

The Blame Game: We Lose

Also, never blame the cheater. Or the other person. No blame, or blame both parties in the primary relationship. No matter how perfect one partner may seem to be, it’s a two way street. Ladies, if we hold out on giving our man the cookie, we’re asking him to cheat (eventually). Men have very few needs (primarily freedom, respect, appreciation, food, sex) to be content, but they will even put up with a lack of most of those to a large degree if they’re getting sex gratefully. Put out (happily) or put up with a cheater. I’m aware this will ruffle some feathers. I’m not saying we can never say no, but I am saying we’d be best off to not use sex as a weapon or bargaining chip. As a bonus, working out differences between the sheets is a lot more fun for both team mates.


Again, I like her homespun advice imbued with personal experience. My head nods when I read this excerpt, but my knee-jerk doubt scoffs at such an assurance of life operating in neat little stereotypes. If it is that easy to appease men, then there wouldn’t be much to write on cheating. Psychologists would go broke. 

Though, I have been told by many men that this is what wives must do to avoid infidelity: be an avid sex participant. However, each man defines “avid” and “participant” vastly differently: once a day? a week? smiling?  Most men, I suspect, are more complicated than “just feed, bathe and sex me.” 

Some men have emotional cheats that remain purely emotional. Others may have been drawn initially by the emotional support, recognition and respect perceived as missing from their relationship, appreciation for which they later translate into physical contact. Or some men are drawn to outsiders because they are outsiders, plain and simple. 

There are innumerable sources to the cheating complex just as there is an unlimited spectrum of flavors of men and women, combining in infinite ways. Hyperbole, maybe, but so is reducing men to primates.

Some humans are excellent comparmentalizers. They see the world in boxes and parcelize people into um-teen utile categories. The impossibility of the composite picture, of the ideal fed to a population, is culprit, in part, to infidelity. 

Think of June Cleaver with her clean white apron, Laura Ashley styled cotton dress, string of pearls and freshly swept up-do. She stays home all day scrubbing floors and baking cookies for the Beav, but keeps herself on-the-ready attractive with her pearls and dress for her husband’s whims and desires. She is saint and sinner. She is a symbol of the impossible ideal of an era. 

We aim too high, are fed too many fairy tales and told too many lies from birth. Thus, I say the aggregate behavior of a culture is partially to blame for cheating. We are inculcated to it. 

It is complicated. I have been beaten down from my high horse long ago. Personal responsibility, determination and justice used to be the cure-all in my mind. Judgments flew from great heights. But there is nothing like life to equalize: nothing like getting my ass kicked up and down the halls inside and outside of courthouses, by attorneys, judges, clients, business associates, trusted friends, lovers, brother, sisters, children, strangers, parents, spouse, and nature at one time or another to afford me humble perspective.  

The conversation is critical. Keep talking, observing, listening and starting anew, I silently affirm daily. Be flexibly firm, empathic and self-doubting while amused, I often think. Aspire to be the acme–saint June Cleaver–knowing the inevitable shortfall. It is all anyone can do in the face of the mystery and misfortune of mere mortality.