A Mother’s Birthing Flight

  
credit: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/03_04/lonelyDM2803_468x562.jpg



On a late Sunday she was born early
her mother in teary wondered weary
looked her in the eye and challenged
“Grow stronger and quicker than me
and don’t ever take nobody’s charity.”


Then she laid her baby down to die
her own ailing heart beat-less inside
but that baby survived, grew round,
fed by couple-strife seeking solution, 
by priestly advice for consummation.


“Raise a child in charity’s appearance
and through her grow into one; hence
your conflicts will vanish in loving care
when hours turn into decades quickly
and so save a loving vow’s guarantee.”   


Today she sits on a birthday morning
and stares at the street cars passing,
no one stopping by for cake and gifts;
she regarding the hours of a first light
contemplates a mother’s birthing flight.


Would You Watch This Documentary?

  
The divorce rate for first time marriages in the United States hovers steadily at about 50% according to the Census Bureau’s reports over the last ten years. Yet mindlessly and merrily, Americans march to the altar like lemmings to the cliff, only to free fall over the edge into the depths of that statistic. Despite the concerted efforts of great minds in many fields–psychology, law, medicine, sociology, anthropology, to name a few–there has been little progress in lowering divorce rates overall. 


Except for rate shifts with the rise and fall of the economy, most notably couples choosing not to divorce in a down economy because it is cheaper to live on separate sides of the house than pay attorneys, divorce rates fluctuate little. During some periods, marriage trends toward cohabitation over licensing.


Though there are probably as many reasons for divorce as there are married couples, common factors such as communication, religion, finances, childrearing and roles contribute to the irremediable breakdown of marriages. And while cheating is the last straw when it comes to suffering an unfulfilling relationship and often impels filing divorce papers, it is not so much the cause as the symptom of the bases for disagreement. 


Poor communication about feelings, especially about sex, is a significant cause of injury in marriage. The experts, including Esther Perelman, have written about sex as the communication trouble spot, the sensitivity surrounding sex and the expectations of couplehood, in particular: the beliefs that two people merge and thereby are able to read each other’s minds and that sexual performance critique leaves long lasting scars on marriage sex life, are problematic. 


Though male dissatisfaction is not unheard of, the complaints are more likely by or rooted in women regarding men’s inability to sexually satisfy. Reciprocity in the sexual satisfaction arena breaks down.  When one party is getting satisfied while the other is not, resentments grow and withholding sex or certain sex acts the other enjoys, often results. My evidence is anecdotal, but I am fairly certain the data validates my assumptions.


Why is sex so complicated? I suspect sedimented beliefs and inherited cultural myths about female bodies and leftover Puritanical sexual mores contribute significantly to the complexity.  


And though orgasms are not all there is to sex, they are significant, especially if only one of the couple is having them. In any event, the lack of orgasms coupled with the inability to talk about that lack not only to mates but to friends and family for the discomfort we dysfunctional Americans have in speaking about sex generally, circles the perimeter as well as forms the shadowy core of the divorce abyss. 


Perhaps learning about how women orgasm is a key to lowering the divorce rate in this country. And here to educate all of us, people of all genders, about female orgasm is a documentary by an expert:

“Our culture is obsessed with depicting and idolizing both vag-gasms and intercourse as the ultimate in sexual expression,” says Trisha Borowicz, a filmmaker/molecular biologist who studies orgasm ‘just for fun.” “Everyone acts like there is not a definition for female orgasm when there really is a pretty damn good one.”

Science, Sex and Ladies is Borowicz’s attempt at not only dispelling myths about female orgasm but also teaching how they are achieved. She attacks the accepted model of penis in vagina penetration as the “norm” for fulfilling women. By boldly and explicitly explaining how female orgasm is produced with a real vulva to diagram, she supplies important facts to expose the lies many women grow up believing in the absence of valid information.

5. Contrary to popular belief, most women don’t take “forever” to come. Most women come as quickly as easily as men, given the right stimulation. Men would also take “forever” to come if they were only being stimulated by, say, someone diligently rubbing their pubic hair.

That’s number five of four other fantastic facts needing to be known and provided courtesy of Jill Hamilton’s review of the Borowicz’s documentary in Salon.com (The simple “secret” to making a woman orgasm no one understands). A link to the documentary is provided in the article, well worth the read.

While educating the populace with vulva diagrams is not the antidote to divorce, disseminating accurate information–truths about how women work–improves the health of everyone, especially teens susceptible to the porn industry that fills the gaping hole parents leave when they do not or cannot inform their sons and daughters about the wonders of the female body–no easy task. 

I know my own daughters resist the awkward masturbation and sexual satisfaction conversation that they perceive as foisted on them. Disturbing notions of our mothers as sexual beings haunts the deep recesses of our collective subconscious for centuries, one of many deeply ingrained twists to our sexual proclivities. No wonder we’re screwed up.

Penises in Men’s Fashion

  

Here’s something you don’t read every day? Why the penis is having a moment in men’s fashion. Simon Chilvers explores this tantalizing title in today’s Guardian.


In January, at Rick Owens’ Paris fashion week show, penises swung gently down the runway. The designer – who has a made a career out of creating highly expensive leather jackets – sent out several models minus underwear in tunics featuring peepholes, cut to reveal their genitals.

There is nothing like the mention of genitalia in a headline to draw a reader in. No words other than maybe an f- bomb will pique curiosity as much. Penises, in particular, however, are not often blatantly dangled before the public eye compared to the endless preoccupation over women’s body parts, how they work and why they won’t work when they are misunderstood, in particular. Now place penis in the same sentence as “fashion world” and no one can resist sparing the ten minutes to read on.


Rick Owens’ motives are questioned and critiqued in this article:  Is this penis-peephole style production a publicity stunt or truly thought provoking work? Unquestionably, I am ignorant, but in the fashion world that I am hard pressed to believe values intellectual or activist stances in clothing styles over promoting profit-making, I lean toward the former, not the latter.

Owens, for one, claims his motivations were pure: “I was just questioning why we keep penises concealed and why exactly it’s bad to show them,” he tells me. “The social rule to keep the penis hidden just gives it a power I’m not sure it merits. But isn’t it great when something is sacred and profane at the same time?”

The bigger question: Why do Puritannical attitudes toward nudity still exist in this country? And does over exposure to penises and vaginas desensitize viewers to the intimacy associated with those parts or is that a line just to keep the pornography biz going strong–you know, forbidden fruit and all? The author characterizes “male full frontals” as “the last taboo in an otherwise hyper-sexualised society” with “power to shock and even anger.” Why the anger and whose? Not surprisingly, men’s anger about having to look at other men’s penises or have their own penises looked, that’s whose and why.

McLellan, who also shot the naked story for Fantastic Man, which featured men aged between 22 and 52, and was accompanied by an essay on the ageing process of the male body, said the shoot was about creating characters who were appealing but “not necessarily in a fanciable way”. Jop van Bennekom, co-founder, creative director and editor of Fantastic Man, says that as well as showing diversity, the shoot offered “an unbiased look at the male body without it being sexualised”.

Irony: the fashion world with its built in bias toward women cares about the exploitation of men. I guess this is why I am cynical. The industry’s product is the ubiquitous imagery of women whether exploitive or celebratory and it literally makes money off the backs of often undernourished or photoshopped female bodies. So now designers and photographers are trying to step up on behalf of men and their sexualized bodies while perpetuating practices that reinforce sexually discriminatory practice.

Top female models are often inured to nudity. “If you ask a female model to take her clothes off, you don’t really have to get permission from the agent,” says McLellan. “But if you ask a guy to take his clothes off it suddenly becomes a big deal.” Andrew Garratt, a model booker at Select Model Management, confirms that male nudity is always discussed before a shoot, and no naked shots of the model would be supplied to the photographer in advance. Many male models, he says, have turned down very successful international photographers because they didn’t want to get naked.

In so far as peep holes bring the discussion of objectified bodies into light, any body’s body, I am all for them. Exposing the industry practices, its perpetuation of gender and body myths and the concomitant consequences of stereotyping is enough justification for the collateral cynicism and backfire of turning men’s attitudes toward their own anatomy into gold–clearly commercial objectification. 

The penis shouts: Look at me and look at yourself feeling uncomfortable or amused! Shocking an audience to buy product is nothing new, after all. It’s just more entertaining when the often ironic, illogical yet complex human conditioning and responses are exposed in doing so. 
As men’s fashion continues to break out from the shadows of women’s, there is increasing scope for stylists and photographers to push the idea of what masculinity means. Could we see more objectification, too, bringing menswear closer to the women’s fashion industry?

I hope so.