Mistress Memory: the Mother Mime

image

An undeniably aching yet slumbering craving, she must fall back endlessly, eyelid-enwrapped orbs unable to keep her consciousness, which slips down into the darkness with claws still clutching and inscribing their twitching seismographic indentations in the eyeballs as the arms of it, consciousness, stretches wincingly, impossibly lengthened for the body to lie in the depth of darkness. She goes deep.

I speculate that she is not falling, implying a misstep, away from her conscious self but has turned and run. Who wouldn’t? Her life has been hard. She was neglected by an unloving mother, one who was abused herself by cruel parents. Her father was a specter who haunted the apartment, manifesting a physical man on payday. Her mother rarely cooked for her or comforted her or advised her of the dangers of the world. No, she was left on city corners at 4 years to find her own food, hoping that the mothers and men entering the five and dime would offer her something without her having to ask. And they would ask her with irritable concern, “Where is your mother?!” and feeling ashamed, she would make up a story that her mother was sick.

But no documented illness kept that mother from cleaning and feeding her baby. Embarrassed and unkempt that child was with untamable kinky hair that refused a brush even if one were offered it, and a sizable gap in her two front teeth. She was scrawny and sallow, though with sharp, slit-eyed hazel-glistening maturity and wit. She was a meerkat.

Eventually poking her head above the layer of grimy gutter life, she cleaned herself up and then mistook love for sex. Knocked up and married at 16, she merely survived a childhood of neglect to enter into an adulthood of abusive banality and benign ignorance. She married, like her mother before her, a ghost of an unfinished man, a workaholic incapable of appreciating the finer things in life–books, art, mystery, passion, and romance, namely: her.

But he gave her a family. Children salved the sore of scooping up in arms love she missed out on. Only, to overcompensate for her own shadow life, she spent every moment caring for, thinking about, worrying about and attending to her inevitably affected children of greed, helplessness and jealousy. She fed them too much, cleaned them overly, loved them enough but not enough for the canyon of need she created in them to be the sole capturing eye of the gaze of her great giving.

She raised them. They came to visit on weekends with their growing families when they themselves grew up and away, but she, heliotropic, contorted her body reaching for the circling sun of her prodigals who, in turn, rounded back to her, their heat center for hot food, unconditional love and sound advice. Warmed and wiser, they left her withered in the waiting for their eventual return. Until they didn’t.

So long as she could give, they came. When she could no longer give–her core cold like the moon’s with her shine a borrowed reflection–they stared and stammered and shivered in unimaginable loss and fear.

She forgot how to make the dishes everyone loved from the recipes passed down from her grandmother, the only woman who cared for her but left her only too soon, days before her fourth birthday. Dishes that made home–their home–like blintzes and pirogies and beef stew, were irretrievably lost because her children forgot to ask her how to make them. She couldn’t remember how any of them started, though she made them hundreds of times over her 75 years.

Nail biting in isolating anguish, her children suffered alone, for she did not understand what everyone noticed. Her husband alternately shrugged and shook fists at the sky. No one knew what to do with her. When she could no longer speak, they stopped coming. But she could see; she could hear. And for many years she still could.

Trapped in her muddled thoughts so long, wasting away, her body dis-remembering how to process food into fat or even how to chew and swallow, she closes her eyes now like no one has ever closed a pair of eyes before–her face drawn in by the corners of its angles of cheek bone to chin, skin sucked tightly to skull–and exhales.

No, she is not expired. She is pure unconscious desire now, streamlined to her essence and sinking into the only place she was ever going to anyhow. She succumbs to the lure of the lover and beloved, and it is a release like no other in her candlelit dusty life.

She opens her eyes again, and the illusion is gone. I can no longer see the purpose and direction, imagine the lilting lie of the siren’s song, “Come to me, my mistress and be my Penelope awaiting her king’s return. Rest in my bosom, my touch, my caress.”

This is how I cope these days with the agony of her slow decade-long disappearance.  I imagine she is on a mythic sea voyage, sailing the still waters of slow afternoon noddings, drifting down into the arms of her self-embrace and so engulfed in the arms of the loving mother that she was born to be and always will be.

I stare into the searchingly bewildered eyes mirroring a woman focusing her lenses, and see me. There it is! The three second connect, her recognition marked by the eye twinkle and quick spasm flash of an upturned corner of her mouth, the missile memory launched in my direction absorbed by the heat of my desire. “Hi Mom.”

The sound distracts her. Her eyes move off mine in the direction of where she thinks the sound came from, the cataract gaze returned. I look away. I pick up my keys and move to the door, glancing back briefly before touching the handle. Her eyes cannot follow me at this distance. I walk out the door. It’s time to pick up my daughter from school.

Solipsistic Bullshit

credit: toptenz.net

Having a meta moment, I sit crouched outside the bathroom door opening up to the backyard, seeking shelter from the firm sprinkle of rain, and sneak a cup of coffee and a cigarette. My children–my progeny–are still asleep inside the house. I don’t want them to see what they already know. I smoke–sometimes, today anyway. Shame and secrecy, they are the byproduct of the perception that mothers model what they want their children to do and be; they distort intuition. Isn’t it better to be the canvas of a human painted with flaws illuminated?

Maybe it is the product of a Southern California rain on November 1st, a clearing of the long-settled dust of many months, but I am acutely able to watch myself watching me. My crouching self–avoiding and inviting the cool, clear drops that promise to enliven with a crisp penetrating sensorial incitement and also punish with its shivering collateral damage of the body’s heat colliding with the steely shrapnel of the cloud’s burst–battles the storm that is me at this moment, ambivalent and aware of the torture that self-division inflicts. I watch the watcher that projects the image of a writer at work–thinking, sensing, anguishing and yearning.

At this moment, I am not a writer. The bloated title comes, historically, with a delusional job description: write the self. But producing self–whatever that means–in words is terrible and writ with horror, even as it is mundane and ministerial, the process a struggle of expression and impression. Which sentences will crackle, crumble onto the page, and will they make or give me sense? Am I controlling the craft, manipulating my readers to go where I want them to go? Hardly. I drive the machine even as it marionettes me. The parcelized being of person and persona is a schizophrenia that refuses medication to ameliorate symptoms of the madness that is creativity and desire, perception and reflection, subject and object. I gaze at the gazers.

They stare back. But each placed word on the page paralyzes me with its uncertainty and finality, each a declaration of intention that slithers past the page and is collected by greedy eyes waiting to filter, covet and reformulate me in the conceit of collusion with them. The bound nakedness of that truth evokes a howl of self-righteous anger and vanquished surreptitious surrender. Maintaining possession, control, gives way to the inevitability and yet the desire to be roped, imprisoned and silenced, and therein lies the eroticism of writing, which has always captivated me.

Words that pour, violent ejections from the loins of the abyss, are urgent and unconscious. The onset of these emissions are unpredictable even as they are inevitable expulsions evoked by exterior impetuses, events that seize all that has ever been known as life. Jail, for example. Imprisonment causes a vacuum of words with which to reproduce a reality. However, if not too long, the sentence (time) can pool the river of artifacts of the taken-for-granted daily distractions of driving, feeding and sleeping, still its flow to near evaporation, to a distant shade of memory, so that when released, the force of the cascade into the stream of the overground is formidable and unrelenting–impossible to swim to safety. I had no choice but to write then.

So how does one go back to jail when the fount runs dry and the words eke out painstakingly, letter by letter? How to not merely reproduce and occupy but inhabit and transform that space inflicted by powerlessness is where this morning’s meandering mistress muse takes me, as she often does.

Surely what we do–what I do–purposively, what I enact and deliberately create in and are imposed upon by the world, will summon up the cell. If I confine myself to others’ expectations in order to silence the gut-craving screams to be alone long enough to hear my own voice, the words may once again spill from my ears and eyes. If I convince myself that there is no other path but the one I am on, which is fated, inevitable, and irreversible–limiting my career choices, feeding the money hunger, slaking the pleasure deficit with sweets and sex and the many, many mindless patterns of performing an existence–really focus on that doom, perhaps then I can float the rapids of rhythmic type-tapping onto dry-land highways of unending sentences.

Tedious metaphors incarcerate. This miserable musing is nearly over. The irony of enslavement and freedom is the parody that we enact in fantasy scenes of the mind, bedroom and theater. Creation (and sometimes a helluva good orgasm) is born in the suspension between these two states–my banal conclusion. The only question left to answer: do we let others watch?

Playing at Gender: Wonder Woman, Lady Gaga and Mr. Rogers

credit: infinitecomix.com

Despite what you may think, a real friend is not someone who will stand by you in hard times or beside you in good times or even your dog. A real friend sends you stuff to read, knowing what you like. Well, maybe that isn’t entirely true, but I do appreciate when someone pays attention to my ideas and tastes. Take, for example, the article a friend sent me by Jill Lepore entitled “The Man Behind Wonder Woman Was Inspired by Both Suffragettes and Centerfolds,” appearing on NPR three days ago that starts off this way:

The man behind the most popular female comic book hero of all time, Wonder Woman, had a secret past: Creator William Moulton Marston had a wife — and a mistress. He fathered children with both of them, and they all secretly lived together in Rye, N.Y. And the best part? Marston was also the creator of the lie detector.

Only someone fixated on the subject of the “mistress”–all we own and are enslaved to–as I am, would not only find that opener giggle-in-excitement enticing, but would find the hallmarks of a true friend in sending me such a tasty morsel. Unfortunately, that was really the best part of the write up until the end, when the writer mentions Lady Gaga. The in-between was information-light on Wonder Woman, her story, and the author’s influence by First Wave feminism and Vargas pin-ups in creating the character. Anyone who has seen her knows that she is, in part, an early feminist cultural production (freeing others and herself from the chains of bondage in the name of justice and truth) while socially palatable as traditional object of fantasy female–the voluptuous dominatrix (but sometimes submissive) with American good looks.

Despite my disappointment, the subject did inspire a meditation, once again, on gender performativity and camp, especially after the ending citation of modern day’s most notorious, campy pop gender-sexuality blender–the Lady G. Of course, for me, all roads lead back to Judith Butler. Gender role playing and displaying–what Lady Gaga capitalizes on–with its concommitant effects is Butler’s preoccupation in much of what she writes. In her book Gender Trouble, Butler posits that gender is not merely a biological category and gendered behaviors are not natural; gender is a learned performance of the role female or male in a given culture that has been repeated and imitated throughout a society, performed roles passed down from prior generations. Gender is performativity, not a binary–male or female–but a fluid space on a spectrum of culturally produced notions of the “norm.”

In other words, if you take Barbie, on one extreme of the scale of “girlness” and Superman as the opposite extreme, of “boyness,” most people fall somewhere in between those apogees, closer to or farther from society’s picture of the ideal girl or boy. There are Barbie doll models and there are androgynous indecipherables walking among us. I remember reading in graduate school this passage, which struck me with its truth:

The act that one does, the act that one performs, is, in a sense, an act that has been going on before one arrived on the scene. Hence, gender is an act which has been rehearsed, much as a script survives the particular actors who make use of it, but which requires individual actors in order to be actualized and reproduced as reality once again.” (“Performative” 272)

Until today, years after graduate school, I respect her concerns with the politicalization of gender, the reiteration of gender norms that marginalizes those outside the “norm” and her advocacy for counteraction through exposing the nature of gender as an inherited role. Getting folks to realize that gender is produced, not fate, is the first step to understanding it as arbitrary and a choice, neither a prison nor a target for shame and isolation if performed “incorrectly” by society’s standards, i.e., girls who are too much like boys and vice versa. Butler believes that to allow for an inclusiveness of those traditionally marginalized from the heteronormative gender actualizations–homosexuals and transgendereds–alternative performances need to be disseminated in the population, ones that perform alternative gender iterations.

Here’s where Lady Gaga comes in. She mixes up the gender space with non-normative gender depictions. Whereas Wonder Woman is the straight laced asexual power house “feminist” constrained by imagination and norms of her time (created in the 40’s) and those of her creator, thus her bondage to men (See Lepore’s article), Lady Gaga is a shotgun approach to blasting traditional notions of gender and sexuality in her outrageous meant-to-shock live and video performances of vixen lover, lesbian or straight, mistress or chained submissive, engaged in violent or passive poses of gestured gender and sexuality.

Wonder Woman’s feminism is one focused on proving that a woman, in her mixed portrayal–beauty, chastity, submission, virtuosity, strength, domination–is powerful and worthy of respect, can even save society. She competes with men on a man’s level, physical powers, though hers are emitted from material adornments and tools, her bracelets and lasso, harkening bedroom S&M exploits.

Lady Gaga, on the other hand, is a mesh of exaggerated, contradictory blends of the classic and “aberrant” imagery, the socially “non-normative” gender performances such as gay, lesbian, and transexuals. She thematizes gender as a performance. Camp productions such as those of Lady Gaga in her live and video performances do not merely challenge and expose–something Butler might nod to–gender stereotypes, but they also question heteronormative performances of more sedimented institutions such as monogamy, in addition to alluding to the political history of violence against women. Her Telephone video is a gala explosion of deployed gender, sex and violence.

Whereas Wonder Woman as precursor served as the mixed-gendered asexual icon of the truth about gender and role playing, Lady Gaga overplays and performs a cacophony of gender, sexuality and feminist history.

Exposing the inherited cultural reproduction of gender as well as the strategy to deploy alternative social productions of gender is important not only for little girls who want to grow up to be paid equally to their male counterparts and for anyone who wants to love freely and openly without fear of homophobic hate crimes, but also for breaking up the binary that gender has been, historically produced and transmitted from generation to generation. Wonder Woman needs to break those chains, invisible and hard to grasp. Or perhaps we need a man to do it, someone like Mr. Rogers, who, on one of his shows, exposes the Wicked Witch of the North as mere costumed grandma–a performed role; nothing to be afraid of kids (click on the link to view). And just in time for Halloween.

So, who kicks ass, Wonder Woman as suffragette foremother or Lady Gaga (click on the link to find out) living off the capital of her inherited legacy?

credit: ladygagaexplore.com

Shameful Justice: Does Shame or Guilt Punish Fairly in America?

IMG_0237.PNG
Credit: vergenetwork.org Justice

A time for telling truth has come upon us now.
We needn't lie to get us through these times
You see it in my slain eyes and tensioned brow.
I don't pretend freedom's guilt in these rhymes.

What is guilt of freedom but knowing another suffers unjustly or that injustice exists and society closes its collective eye to it? I am not a proponent of guilt as one of the healthier emotions and certainly not as an effective tool of justice. I do, however, live in a guilt and shame justice culture.

Cultural anthropologists define a shame culture as one that controls its populace or maintains social and familial order through shame as opposed to a guilt culture which controls its populace and maintains order through guilt or fear of retribution (Wong & Tsai).

China, with its Confucian-infused culture, as well as Japan are shame cultures whereas the United States is clearly a guilt culture with punishment the primary tool to deter crime and slake the revenge thirst of victims and their families. Shaming is sometimes used in the American judicial system, though sporadically and sometimes tyrannically. Particular judges, exasperated with repeat offenders, look for alternative ways to stop criminal behavior where incarceration has failed to deter.

Thus, there have been news flashes old and new of shaming as justice. For example, the earliest one I recall is the repeat offender of child abuse/neglect, pregnant with her fifth child, who was given the choice to do time or do Norplant, the contraceptive implant. Holy hell broke loose in the media and public opinion as to bodily rights, Nazi judges, and the like. People do go on. Funny thing is, if memory serves me, the woman took the Norplant, but later reneged and hired lawyers.

Then there were the cases more recently of people having to stand by crowded public thoroughfares carrying shaming signs, like the Ohio woman who was sentenced to hold a sign that said, "Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus." While that strikes me as a fair amount of burning shame and better than going to jail, other signs are not such a measured singe. Around the country, convicted sex or violent offenders, as conditions of parole or terms of sentencing have been required to post signs on their property that warn the public of the danger of entering the property of a convicted felony rapist, batterer or child molester.

However, the ostracizing as well as the collateral damage to innocents in cases of more severe crimes, ones deemed morally reprehensible and not a mere moving violation on steroids, may be too disruptive and destructive. One can imagine angry communities burning down houses with those signs or children of offenders suffering the crimes of the father or mother.

Some offenders suffer enormous shame and abuse in prisons just by the conditions of unending days of boredom, violence, degradation and isolation. So, the result, to some, of those conditions-of-parole shamings or shaming sentences may be an unending prison of ostracization. One might think certain offenders should be forever imprisoned--or capitally punished--but it depends on the offense and the offender, doesn't it? Some offenders can be rehabilitated and returned to the community as productive citizens; some crimes are worse to the community and in their heinousness than others.

The competing concerns of the community, the larger society (for revenge, retribution and safety), and individual offenders (punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation) are always at the heart of the debate, the two always in tension. What role should shame play in mediating the two, from both a retributive and communitarian perspective?

The communitarian view of punishment endorses the use of shame by the community as an alternative solution to incarceration with rehabilitation back into the larger community as the aim. In communitarian-inspired programs, community members, including victims, express their concerns, experiences and feelings to the convicted in hopes of yes, shaming, but not with blame as the terminal goal but reintegration. Retribution advocates, on the other hand, put the responsibility of punishment in the hands of the state to mete out just punishment based on proof of culpability or responsibility and the sentences appropriate to same, largely incarceration and fines.

Shame justice anticipates that an offender is motivated by or demotivated to repeat offend to avoid the loss of status in a community. Retributive justice focuses on society's rights to be unmolested and protected. Retribution is the root of an individualistic society founded on guaranteed freedoms as opposed to a more communitarian-minded society that uses shame not to ostracize but to exercise empathy, identity with the victim, and a sense of honor, in order to reintegrate the offender into the community.

Shame and remorse are the primary motivators in communitarian programs geared toward battling recidivism; empathic ability is a prerequisite. This obviously doesn't work for the sociopath or the disassociated from the main community, such as some ghettoized populations that adhere to the values of subcultures or anti-cultural creeds rejecting the larger cultural norms (See shame prediction for felon reoffending)

Shame is always present in meting out justice, conscience, empathy and guilt its associates or core components. But its effectiveness as a deterrent is certainly debatable precisely due to its power to destroy and deflect. Shame, which is a potent emotion, focuses on the person as bad whereas guilt is more targeted toward the act. In other words, an offender might think, "I am a bad person" instead of "I did a bad thing."

According to Ryan Jacobs, Associate Digital Editor of the Pacific Standard, in an article exploring shame's role in predicting felon recidivism, shame is less effective in diminishing recidivism than guilt. He claims that is because shame is so potent it produces in many the defensive reaction that blames others for the offenders' transgressions rather than directing shame upon themselves; it is hard for them to accept that they are bad people.

Jacobs notes that "blame transference" is a coping mechanism for "the intense self-doubt" caused by shame. He concludes that rehabilitation by shame is dicey due to the susceptibility of any program to this transference tendency of its participants. He recommends "goal-oriented" programs like those of the German and Dutch who allow prisoners to channel their energies into productive work--unlike the American criminal justice system.

"With excessive sentencing, extreme isolation, and little in the way of structured re-entry programs, inmates are practically invited to blame the system and believe that the forces of society have conspired against them." He concludes that this sort of system does nothing to reduce recidivism: "Once released and faced with lower economic prospects and no voting rights, U.S. ex-convicts are treated to the same sense of shame and worthlessness they encountered in prison. Full of blame, that’s probably where they’ll return."

Richard Lovelace, the poet who wrote from prison more than 350 years ago states that "Stone walls do not a prison make, / Nor iron bars a cage."

While social justice, its efficacy and humanity, is and has been a concern of mine, from both sides of the law, my larger preoccupation has always been on the personal, individual level. A society is nothing more than an aggregation of individuals contractually living. I also subscribe to the beleaguered notion that social change begins within each society member, his or her ability to be compassionate, loving, accountable, responsible and forgiving.

So what about personal relationships? How do individuals exact justice in their familial and love relationships, and what role should shame and guilt play? One doctor, Dr. Dan Gottlieb of WHYY radio in Philadelphia believes more in the communitarian approach to personal justice, restorative justice in the family, community and larger society, and his general principles of personal justice lend support to my belief that we affect a society one person at a time to create a more effective and affective, empathic practice of justice in a judicial system--using shame.

This short, somewhat awkwardly but sincerely produced short video elucidates Dr. Gottlieb's psychological interpersonal perspective of shame and restorative justice.
Click here

So what about love relationships? Gottlieb only lightly touches on fair argument-understanding strategies. When lovers claim "unfair," that one thinks "I should be able to cheat if you do," or a spouse believes the I-should-take-up-the-same-amount-of-responsibilities-as-you argument, what kind of justice are they calling upon? What about when spouses or parents use shame: if you loved me, loved me enough, were a good person, you would do x, y or z? Should shame be used in personal relationships to exact justice, revenge, discipline? This inquiring mind would like to know what you, my dear reader, thinks.

Shame and Arousal…Again

credit: bdb3b8.medialib.glogster.com

Serendipity. I was writing about shame the other day when a friend emailed me an article by Jeanette Geraci titled “Unwanted Arousal & Sexual Shame,” appearing in elephant journal on August 7, 2012, with the subject line, “Shades of You.” A reliable source so I read it.

In this article, the young female writer struggles with the shame of her fantasy life, one comprised of debasement and humiliation. The shame, she explains, quoting from Carolyn Shadbolt’s “Sexuality and Shame,” is “the result when the inner meets the outer,” referring to the inner fantasy life meeting societal expectation and the inculcation of “…moral edicts about what is sinful, the chastity of women, the sanctity of marriage, the moral degeneracy of homosexuality, the superiority of male heterosexuality, the deleterious effects of masturbation, gender roles, sexist imagery, biological determinism and so forth…” which form and influence consciousness and sexuality (Geraci quoting Shadbolt in the above-referenced article).

With embarrassment, Geraci admits she is aroused by debasement, images of the female form exposed and humiliated, something she confesses as uncomfortably anti-feminist. She reveals that her former therapist echoed popular social attitudes and normative constructs–as well as the writer’s inwardly adopted critical “voice”–that self-debasement, anti-feminist self-loathing-laden imagery was evidence of illness; she even feared she was a “demented pervert.”

“Reading” her, it occurred to me that she was in a three-way relationship with herself, her fantasies and societal dictates: she (subject) gazed upon her mistress (object), which was arousal, fantasy or desire, both of whom/which (Geraci and her desires) were seen/judged (subject and object) against societal norms, and in this triple gaze, she found shame.

I have to admit my friend was right. I identify. I also enjoy deep, dark, delicious and salacious fantasies about masochistic debasement, cages, leashes, whips, confinement, exposure, humiliation…sure. I have a rich imagination, always have. Why these fantasies? I could psychoanalyze and conclude that my life and my ego-produced self-idol as an overly burdened, overly responsible, overly worked mother, lawyer, daughter, teacher, sibling, community member and leader are the cause.

My life-long focus and long hours spent working for others, trying to solve their legal problems, carving spaces in young minds for some critical thinking and civic responsibility, volunteering my time to build others’ dreams and financial success, care taking of husband, children, parents and siblings (the go-to volunteer and legal advisor) needed counterbalance–a place of rest and surrender commensurate with the output and idol of my own making just shy of martyrdom. Extremely responsible people require extreme fantasies of complete irresponsibility–maybe.

So I could say the body/mind needs balance and self corrects. I could say I have guilt that I believe I need atonement for, something that happened in my childhood and has been buried. Perhaps it was growing up in a Jewish family (enough said) or being sexually molested by trusted family members. I am no psychologist and can only rely on what I have read and heard anecdotally throughout the decades to understand the possible effect.

But I am not going to concede my fantasies as deviant or the result of psychological trauma and therefore unhealthy. When asked about my theories as to the origin of my masochistic arousal, I have often responded that I thought my fantasies allowed me to safely dabble in the taboo. Long before me, Freud wrote that the taboo has a complex position in human lives. He defines the taboo in Totem and Taboo as a concept that “diverges in two contrary directions. To us it means, on the one hand, ‘sacred’, ‘consecrated’, and on the other ‘uncanny’, ‘dangerous’, ‘forbidden’, ‘unclean'” (75). So the taboo is extraordinarily both profane and sacred, the apogees in the unconscious.

I recall reading that ancient societies created taboos for organizational purposes, when heredity and genetics were unknown, from pre-psychology days. They served practical necessity: living in tribes where birth defects were observed or jealousies endangered lives led to the conclusion that sleeping with a sibling or parent should be a no-no. Survival of the tribe and society depended upon it. The numerous generations since have swallowed without questioning such practices or forbearance of behaviors deemed taboo, behaviors inscribed in flesh after so long.

However, it is in the human spirit to test limits, to yearn to know all there is to know, even what has been proscribed. There are those who need to go further or deeper than others. To complicate matters, in Judeo-Christian influenced Western societies, the bible with its begats and siblings procreating to get the world kick started confuses matters even more.

So many airy filaments to tie together, all invisible floating conflicting inflections of morality out there in a culture, in the consciousness of a culture. I have never thought of my fantasies as abnormal. Nevertheless, I have not wanted to share particular details of them to lovers or friends because I have a strong need to be liked and respected. Perhaps that need is an offshoot of shame, a byproduct or the source. But I never thought the having of them was wrong. I always knew that it was society’s prerogative to judge but that did not make having those fantasies wrong. That did not cause shame in the having.

I think the biggest reason I didn’t share my fantasies was to preserve that treasure trove of the deeply private, simply for the keeping. It is the deepest layer closest to the core, layered upon semi private space to the all too public space of daily life.

I was gifted time with my daughter today, my sorrowing baby with a broken heart, her first at 15 and 1/2. She reminded me of the beauty of aching sadness. I took her to the beach rather than school, and as we sat on the ridge of a small bank of sand overlooking the ocean, two dolphins slowly passed by, swimming leisurely, sometimes in sync, sometimes not, but they cruised the shoreline easily. She seemed to know what it meant.

There is texture to a day when the sky and the sea are only a few shades apart. Despite the subtle sameness of the two, the horizon is in sharp relief. The outline of each tittering tern or gull is charcoal black.

This was the backdrop of my soft discussion with her, both of us on the edge of tears for the pain, holding back the overwhelming flood of feeling, the sublime, the knowing that there is something more, as I spoke into the horizon of what I knew about staying with someone who pushes you away despite his needing you, the nature of depression and feeling.

There is a pain that measures and balances pleasure that reaches perfection. We need to go where there is no holding back sometimes–we practice the path in our dreams and fantasies.

I never felt that I wanted to live out all of my fantasies. Some are going-solo utilitarian, some are sexual enhancers, some I don’t want to experience and some I do. The striata is based on acceptability to myself and society, yes. But there are so many communities within which to be accepted, one to fit every fantasy one could possibly have: bdsm, bestiality, scatology, fetishism, necrophilia, you name it. There are societies of all flavors of the erotic or pornographic. The key is to uncover, recognize and deconstruct the “normative” voices in your head. Undoubtedly, some fantasies, if enacted, would injure me so survival instinct and pain threshold define my boundaries.

Trite, but we all come to this subject of fantasy with all that we have been and all that we are. The internet teems with those who have weighed in on the subject of so called “deviant” fantasy and arousal, professionals and lay people alike. The consensus seems to be that such fantasies are “normal” and instrumental to a healthy sex life, improving, enhancing and enacting sex with them in the safety of a relationship or the mind.

Unfortunately, it appears Geraci did not have the benefit of internet assurance and validation, or a bereaved daughter to show her the horizon on an overcast day. But she figured it out nevertheless. Her conclusion to an intriguing subject and a touching vulnerably written piece is that with age and support she learned not to judge herself and that others should not do so either, not on one’s sexual cravings and arousal source; she concludes that all is fine so long as no one gets hurt. Of course, the self is a someone, and I bristle a bit at Geraci’s title after such a conclusion. “Unwanted arousal” still implies a critique based on social mores. She apparently wants her arousal and to not be judged for it, enough to work hard to un-sublimate it, discuss it and defend it.

Arousal and shame have a rocky relationship. It’s like society and the police, necessary evils we want, support and hate–hate that we need them. They impinge on our freedom and remind us that we are susceptible and un-free. But anarchy is less predictable. We trade off. Our fantasies are trade offs too. We keep them to police, uncover and secure our socio-genetically formed psyche. But we also need them to give us, some of us, pleasure and rest, profound desire–and a rich sex life. They teach us who we are, ever mediated in the gaze.

Freud and the Taboo

A natural corrollary or perhaps foundational exploratory precursor to the analysis of sex and shame is anthropological and historical–the taboo. 

I remember reading Freud ‘ s Totem and Taboo as an undergraduate Comparative Literature student.  Thought bits have remained with me in the succeeding decades since that first read and have returned with the advent of my current meditations on sex, shame, arousal and discipline, the text, though ancient by modern standards, warrants another look.

The following excerpt begins a delving deeper into that relationship, which I will continue in fragments as they multiply and mature:

Chapter 2: Taboo and Emotional Ambivalence

2.1

Taboo is a Polynesian word. It is difficult for us to find a translation for it, since the concept connoted by it is one which we no longer possess…

The meaning of taboo, as we see it, diverges in two contrary directions. To us it means, on the one hand, ‘sacred’, ‘consecrated’, and on the other ‘uncanny’, ‘dangerous’, ‘forbidden’, ‘unclean’. The converse of ‘taboo’ in Polynesian isnoa, which means ‘common’ or ‘generally accessible’.

p.75

It may begin to dawn on us the taboos of the savage Polynesians are after all not so remote from us as we were inclined to think at first, that the moral and conventional prohibitions by which we ourselves are governed may have some essential relationship with these primitive taboos and that an explanation of taboo might throw a light upon the obscure origin of our own categorical imperative

2.2

p.86 Anyone who has violated a taboo becomes taboo himself because he possesses the dangerous quality of tempting others to follow his example: why should he be allowed to do what is forbidden to others? Thus he is truly contagious in that every example encourages imitation, and for that reason he himself must be shunned.

But a person who has not violated any taboo may yet be permanently or temporarily taboo because he is in a state which arouses the quality of arousing forbidden desires in others and of awakening a conflict of amibivalence in them… The king or chief arouses envy on account of his priveleges: everyone, perhaps, would like to be a king. Dead men, new-born (page 87) babies and women menstruating or in labour stimulate desires by their special helplessness; a man who has just reached maturity stimulates them by the promise of new enjoyments. For that reason all of these persons and all of these states are taboo, since temptation must be resisted.

Shame, Shame on You–and Me


Credit: shame-full.com

Not surprisingly, the article I posted here two days ago about public humiliation of Chinese mistresses has caused a measurable amount of reaction and debate among commenters on the blog as well as in my personal life. The article sparked a long, ponderous mood and meditation for me over the last few days, ranging from the political to psychological, and finally resting, as so often is the case, in the metaphorical and metaphysical.

It all started with the question of the relationship between shame and arousal. What would have caused these women to become violent, a mob of thugs? I thought about the rage, the human condition, biology. Humans are seething animalia and Mistress-dom, in all of its instantiations, brings out all that is human: love, sex, passion, loneliness, family, revenge, disgust, shame, justice, oozing, seeping masses.

I have been attracted to the mistress, intellectually and experientially, for a long while and so write about it in its broadest range and sense. On my blog, I toss the randomly acquired tidbit in with the big pot of stew of boiling thoughts over time, current curious human behavior in the news mixed with the rangy human theoretical concerns of graduate school professors and wannabes, and contribute to the expansive umbrella of my topic. I guess that is the structure of this blog, as much as I claim to have any.

But back to my musings, my next question concerned the relationship between shame and discipline. It is no secret that humiliation and shame are tools of the American “justice” system. Ask anyone who’s been in jail. She knows the systemization of acts, speech and design–from the guards’ avowed disgust, continual shouting and the panopticon vis a vis inmates–of degradation of the human spirit and person, of the human. Martha Nussbaum’s Hiding from Humanity queries the effectiveness of penal discipline performed through humiliation, claiming it degrades human-ness. Nietsche also believed shaming another is a deprivation of his humanity. Might the risk of dehumanization be measured against the efficacy of shame as a deterrent?

And what of the relationship between sex, shame and fantasy? It seems that much of fantasy is about domination and submission, often humiliation being one form of psychological control. What has been learned or experienced in childhood, in growing up in a culture, that compels people, some people, to combine shame, sex, power and control? It is not as easy to see this enactment of the prison guard-inmate relationship in our daily relationships, though it exists. Seizure of control by one or the other in a couple, whether by force or manipulation–or humiliation-is often one sided but also a constant shifting, or something in between. The power roles may be patently obvious, the dominant one apparent as the dominatrix, for example, but the inside workings of the couple-hood is not always clear.

When the drunkard comes home and beats his wife and the neighbors send the police to intervene, why does the wife defend the abuser against the police? One might surmise that she is afraid for herself and her children, perhaps, should the police interfere and the crazed eventually returning man believes it her fault. But one could also postulate that she is used to this kind of abuse and would rather have the father of her children around than have him hauled away, absolutely useless to her. She may know how to put up with physical violence, believe she has him under control because she knows what sets him off, knows what his limits are, and what the resulting damage will be–all of which is known.

Fear of the unknown is greater motivation than the shame she experiences in her debasement by another, in the eyes of her neighbors. But shame is a powerful emotion. Borrowing from a conversation with my recovering girlfriend, shame keeps you from being whole, causes cracks and are the cracks, the seepage. Shame is ubiquitous. Jane Bolton, Psyd, MFT, CC in Psychology Today writes about “What We Get Wrong About Shame,” and lists the following as manifestations of shame:
• Shyness is shame in the presence of a stranger
• Discouragement is shame about temporary defeat
• Embarrassment is shame in front of others
• Self-consciousness is shame about performance
• Inferiority is all-encompassing shame about the self

According to Bolton, these unsuspecting traits or emotions are associates of shame: embarrassment, discouragement, self-consciousness, inferiority and shyness. How often do these come into play? Shame is a powerful motivator and de-motivator and manifests itself in many contexts derived from biology and culture. We are programmed with shame from the stories told to us to regulate our behavior from birth: religious stories with fear and morality, codes of behavior that transform beastie children into civil adherents to a perceived orderly society.

All of those synonymous terms are conceived in the presence or eye of the others. Shyness is experienced in the presence of a stranger and discouragement is experienced as defeat due to shortcomings of the actor in the eyes of others. Embarrassment, self-consciousness and inferiority are all attributions of others’ perceptions to self, unworthiness, incompetence, and unattractiveness, perhaps. The byproduct and/or the foundation of these emotions and assessments is shame.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines shame as “A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” Shame is first a feeling. It is a physical and emotional experience. As Oxford exemplifies, one can be hot with shame, a physical heat resulting from the stabbing emotion that flushes one’s face and felt bodily. The cause of the physical sensation is a realization or “consciousness” of defying or being misaligned with some standard, moral or otherwise, deviated from it.

Notice the definition is devoid of agency. Who is judging the behavior as deviant, self or other? As created beings, biologically and culturally, moral codes of behavior or societal codes of conscience, are dictates that precede human existence. One is born into an ongoing culture with established laws and principles. Those become conscience, form conscience. “Wrong” or “foolish” is a judgment measured against those inherited codes, whether they be right or wrong.

Sex is tied up with morality and behavioral dictates more than any activity or aspect of the human. Everything is about sex and death. Freud got that one right. So, shame (a form of public death) and sex, of course, are integrally linked, inextricably. Think: slut shaming, walk of shame, wall of shame. These are expressions of shamed-sex, deviance, socially unacceptable, judged, and not unsurprisingly, attached to women, harkening back to Victorian attitudes (and long before) of chastity as the creation of desire.

Shame is encoded emotion, powerfully influencing conduct and thought. As such, it is culturally differentiated. And because cultural mores are inherited and amassed over time punctuated with archaic notions of wrong and right, anachronisms, they are often arbitrary and illogical even as they are organizational and self-policing sources for a society.

Take for example, China’s concubine culture historically as well as its modern day mistress culture–the acceptance that wealthy men, at least, have mistresses–(See Jeffrey Hays’ facts and details; the Daily Beast on concubine and mistress culture in China; and chineasy.org)
and juxtapose it against the social “norm” or trend (I claim ignorance) for mistresses to be publicly shamed and beaten for being a mistress. Those two dispositions appear contradictory and hypocritical. Nevertheless, shame is the unifying factor and violence the universal expression in these public beatings.

All parties to this public spectacle are shamed, ashamed or shameful, the beating wives/girlfriends, the mistresses, the onlookers who do nothing and the men who cheat silently turning their eyes from the scenes are all enmeshed in guilt, shame, regret, embarrassment, red-faced and angry.

The wives/girlfriends are beleaguered with the shame of their failings. Why did their husbands find someone else? Where did they fall short? What do they lack? The mistresses are shamed–and guilty–by the laws of marriage and the principles of honesty. Why are they not marriage-worthy? Why must they feel excitement only with secrecy and deception? Who are they hurting? The onlookers regret this public scene and ask themselves about their own motives and derelictions of duty, desire, honesty, guilty about their own inability to act to help the mistress, to take a stand somewhere on the issue, to upheave. And the missing men, well, there are so many questions they ask, don’t ask, should ask, are asked of them. Why do they cheat? Because they can.

So, while there are obvious questions about the dynamics, ethics, morals, justice and character of a society in which mistresses are beaten by gangs of women in the streets while onlookers look away, it is not enough to dismiss it as just a cultural idiosyncrasy as there are human constants underscored here that need recognition: shame dehumanizes and when is it ever acceptable in a society to dehumanize, given the world’s susceptibility to genocide (a hop, skip and a jump away from “mere” dehumanization)?

On the other hand, when judging behavior, the context is important. Part of the strategy to avoid dehumanization is understanding the causes and motivations of behaviors, not necessarily to excuse, but to come to conclusions (and judgments) with circumspection, respecting the complexity of the participants of such a violent practice, for participants and onlookers alike. Sensibilities, of course, are culturally predetermined too, so perhaps the violence of the act isn’t experienced in China to the same degree and in the same way American eyes experience such a display.

When we look upon and judge others, the looking itself is a cause, effect and manifestation of the behavior. Shame is caused by the gaze of others; when we separate ourselves the inner self of desire from the outer self of public expectation, we gaze upon ourselves. Shame is the mistress. Her role is shame-defined by the public but desire is her only transgression, she the victim of the violence of shame. Her “crime” was to consensually engage in love or sex with a man who desired her. She is merely a scapegoat.

The mistress is the metaphoric umbrella for all the dynamics of emotion, psychology, power, artifacts and action called human in this scenario. She is catalyst, container, and contained. In the larger contemplation, she is the metaphor of love’s mind, spirit and body–and is least blameworthy.

Man, Mistress and Object

credit: a.mpcdn.net

She has a lover, she says, who is married and only available for sex when his work and family life permit, which is sometimes frequently and other times scarcely.

According to Kant in his Lectures on Ethics, sexual relations outside of a monogamous marriage leads to objectification of the participants, particularly the woman, as she is used for sexual gratification and afterwards discarded (163).

She describes this relationship as non-vertical, meaning they never meet except in a hotel room or the apartment he leases for sex, a horizontal proposition. She says she has never met him but once in public for coffee, once for a martini.

More specifically, Kant writes in the Lectures on Ethics that “sexual love makes of the loved person an Object of appetite; as soon as that appetite has been stilled, the person is cast aside as one casts away a lemon which has been sucked dry. … as soon as a person becomes an Object of appetite for another, all motives of moral relationship cease to function, because as an Object of appetite for another a person becomes a thing and can be treated and used as such by every one” (Kant Lectures on Ethics, 163).

She must be ready at any time to jump at his call, email or text, when opportunity arises, if she is to see him, and she wants to see him. She believes she loves him and has always loved him since she first met him, even though from the start, it was a utilitarian arrangement. They were both looking for sex outside sexless marriages.

Again, Kant notes, the inequality inherent in the mistress or concubine relationship–the woman completely surrenders her sex whereas the man with multiple concubines or wife does not–even though not for profit is also objectification as she is still used and possessed by the man.

She and her lover have little in common other than sex. In terms of social position, career and ideology, they are worlds apart. He is owner of a multi-billion dollar company and she is an elementary school teacher. His views are diametrically opposed to her own: Tea Party Republican Conservative Evangelical Christian vs. Progressive New Age mystic. His world is black and white, the world of no bullshit commerce and the market: You are either contributing to the economy or you are a drag on it. She is about compassion and communitarianism: society is only as strong as its weakest members who need help from those who have more.

Only in monogamous marriage is the surrendering of each partner equal, each one claiming possession and property the other, and thereby avoiding objectification, mere using. It is the power differential that creates this inequality that Kant deems the core of objectification (plato.stanford).

They have been meeting for nearly 8 years, just this way, little talk, just about the areas they can find common ground like parenting, beer and sports, but mostly sex. Their meetings are always secret, discreet, and sexual. They meet, undress in silence and engage in sex immediately. After the act, they rest in each other’s embrace and only then will he chat about his work and family, tell stories about funny exchanges with friends. She listens and laughs.

By surrendering herself, her sex, to a man who does not equally surrender himself fully to her, she allows herself to be used as a thing and thereby loses her humanity, which Kant equates with rational choice. She is a means to an end, merely.

In between sex sessions is the only foreplay they engage in. They fantasize. His fantasy is to dominate, possess, humiliate and control. He emails her about all the things he is going to do to her, including rape, sodomy and confinement. She encourages him and participates in this fantasy, providing her own desire to be owned, possessed, abused and humiliated.

Feminists Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin claim that pornography perpetuates female objectification by catering to patriarchal socio-sexual objectification, making women the instrument of male pleasure or eroticism, sexual acts performed on women for men’s pleasure, a role constructed by society and perpetuated by pornography (plato.stanford).
MacKinnon writes: “… A sex object is defined on the basis of its looks, in terms of its usability for sexual pleasure, such that both the looking—the quality of gaze, including its points of view—and the definition according to use become eroticised as part of the sex itself. This is what the feminist concept of ‘sex object’ means” (MacKinnon 1987, 173)

She says she has fantasies that she imagines when she masturbates, fantasies about rape, domination, humiliation and control, ones she can never share. He uses a naked picture of her when he masturbates. It is faceless.

But other thinkers such as Ronald Dworkin and Martha Nussbaum attribute objectification to a host of images society perpetuates from soap operas to fashion, women as appearance only. Additionally, women are partly responsible for their objectification, for being objects of the gaze, as they conform to societal dictates for appearance, bodily appearance (plato.stanford).

She says she loves him, that he is a good man, tender and loving. He strives to please her and loves her, wants her to use his body for her pleasure. She gives her body willingly and he takes it greedily, hungrily. He desires her always, tells her she is beautiful and makes her feel beautiful and loved, even consumed, but in that consumption merged. They enter each other’s bodies and through their bodies, their hearts and minds.

Sandra Bartky in her book Feminism and Domination asserts women objectify themselves by internalizing the patriarchal gaze and living life through the eyes of the gazer, regardless of a specific gazer or societal gaze. She, woman, has internalized that gaze and lives under it herself. In addition, women are fragmented by being associated with their bodies rather than their minds and personalities. In Simone de Beauvoir’s words, they objectify themselves to obtain power over men, in seeing themselves as alluring objects of men and engaging in unilateral sexual acts of pleasuring men; this unilateral pleasuring gives women power. Women as ornaments, attention to body size and shape by dieting, surgery, apparel, mannerisms, taking up less space than men, these actions perpetuate and are the result of objectification.

He has said that he would love no other ever again, would go to his grave fantasizing about her, that she is all he could imagine wanting in his life and regrets not having met her sooner, when he was looking for a wife. He makes her feel desired.

Objectification, then, according to Langton, is a process in which the social world comes to be shaped by desire and belief. An objectifier thinks that her or his beliefs have come to fit the world, where in fact the world has come to fit her or his beliefs (plato.stanford).

And he is jealous and possessive. He claims he would own her, on a leash, not let her out of a cage if she were his, but also says he would treat her like the queen she is, if only she makes him feel loved: sex, food, tenderness and home. He wants to own her completely as his, his sperm repository, his lover, his wife, his mother of his children, his body to do with whatever he wishes with or without her consent. And he offers his body to her equally with the same rights and privileges. He believes it is biblically deigned it should be that way. She is not a believer but believes that his desire to possess her is what fuels her imagination and desire for him. She loves him and will always subjugate herself to him knowing he would treat her with respect and never harm her.

Alan Soble and Leslie Green believe objectification of people is not necessarily a bad thing. People in the pornography industry are willingly employed objects. People ARE objects. It is only wrong when people are treated merely as objects, as means and not as ends in themselves, to use the terms of Kant’s Moral Imperative. Martha Nussbaum agrees and expands objectification into categories one of which is instrumentality. Using each other sexually, as objects, can be enjoyable. Equality, respect and consent are the key factors to judge any act of objectification objectionable. It is contextual whether something is good or bad in terms of objectification. People may use each other as sexual tools, as mere bodies for a means to an end, if in other respects or overall, they treat each other with respect and act with mutual consent (plato.stanford).

Neither of them wish to leave their respective spouses but merely to spend time, more time, and sustain each other for the rest of their days.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-objectification/

.

Dream of a Mistress Sex Cyborg


Credit: rarewallpapers.com

When I was five, I suffered from nightmares. I don’t remember of what, but I remember fearing sleep. My mother did not allow her children into her bed at night unless warranting such special treatment or need for vigilance over illness, such as a high fever. I may have had the privilege to sleep with Mom once or twice since I was, unfortunately, a very healthy child. But that may have been the cause of the nightmares or at least the desperation I felt, not having a ready fix for them.

Perhaps I got the idea to pray to God as a solution from school. Back then prayer in school was unquestioned. After the pledge of allegiance, the announcer over the loudspeaker (yes the pledge of allegiance and morning prayer were an electro-communal experience) concluded, “And now for our morning prayer,” which was later re-worded to “And now for a moment of silent reflection,” the signal to pray quietly for a minute. I knew God, a word not frequently heard in my household other than in profane epithets my father would toss about on the infrequent occasion of his being awake the same time as the rest of his family. He worked nights. I understood the word, though ours was not a religious family; holidays were eating occasions, just like for my kids now, only holidays to them are gift-receiving occasions. My parents were practicing appetites. Food was their religion. Still is for my living-with-me father, at least, as he has no question more asked than “What are we eating?”

But when I was five and nightmare-filled, I resolved to pray nightly before sleep, begging God with a one-sentence “Please don’t let me have bad dreams” incantation repeated in quick succession enough times to knock me into dreamland. So, when the ritual removed the nightmares, I pondered the remedy and asked my mother in some randomly fallen into my lap opportunity to chat with my mom, who was always busy with too many kids (4 then, 5 later), “Do you believe in God?” She hesitated. It was long enough for me to slide into a little anxiety before she finally said, “I don’t know.” I cannot remember the explanation after that because those three words were the only ones that mattered to me and affected me long afterward.

I didn’t become an atheist or an agnostic or an adherent of any religion as a result of that encounter. In fact, I tried on many religions over the years: Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as agnosticism, atheism and a touch of the wiccan. Today I am still theologically ambiguous, often ambivalent, but a steady incursion of yoga into my life starting at 15 and flexing strenuously or ambivalently throughout my four decades since has led me to a commitment to certain constants such as life in balance (koyaanisqatsi is the Hopi word for its opposite, a word on a button I wore on an old army-navy supply backpack I have sported since the same age) and a dedication to the mystery. I have matured enough to have acquired a healthy respect, understanding, and awe of science: method, premise, discovery and temperament. Though I still cannot commit to any one ordering principle of the universe or multiverse or kingdom.

I have thought about reincarnation and the afterlife in general. In my musings, I have wondered about the human condition as walking, breathing, pulsing meat but also as anima, what I imagined I witnessed depart from my beloved Copper when he was put to sleep, the light and animation immediately stilled, or imagined while staring at a corpse. I have read enough in my lifetime of philosophy, theosophy, literature and science to conclude: I don’t know. Thanks Mom.

So, I have decided that when or if I do come back, I will come back as a sex cyborg, not purely utilitarian machinery like Woody Allen’s Sleeper orgasmatron or orgasmic orb, nor sex kitten destructo agent and object like Vanessa the fembot in Austin Powers’ The Spy Who Shagged Me but more like Star Trek’s Data from The Next Generation, who is a participant and observer of human behavior, learning to emote human style. He is a scientist of human behavior and emotion, both distant and involved, objective and subjective. His capability is not merely a marvel of advanced robotics but of his own capability to learn and grow. I want to come back as Data-fied sex cyborg (not of the Borg race, mind you, more generically cyborg). Probably not the first to imagine this. Think: Donna Haraway’s Cyborgs.

The sex cyborg or sex-bot I imagine is an automaton that charges not from battery or electricity or kryptonite, but from sexual energy, that which is produced in the mutual sexual act–the one most electric–from foreplay (for those willing) to final orgasm or beyond, wherever the sexual activity of a particular session ceases. To keep alive and charged, this sexual agent must connect to its energy source at least once a day for minimally an hour, which means she/it is a once a day every day gal-bot. It also means she must be a multiply-relationshipped, mistress-type bot to obtain quality and quantity of sex and thus charge; long time committed relationships generally contain floods and droughts. Masturbation with imagined mutuality is a weak source so provides little life and would take longer charging time.

The intake of sexual energy is a logical source for a sex-borg because sex seems to be where much of human energy is spent: thinking, chasing, scheming, doing, cheating, excavating, mining, imagining and experiencing. So, the sex machine never fails to find a charge and lives indefinitely, especially if she is styled after the computed universal consensus of what is called “beauty” for a given culture, whether that is symmetry of features, youth, voluptuousness, waif-like body and demeanor, wherever the society is in terms of its constant flux of aesthetics.

Why a sex-bot? Well, besides the obvious, a constant life source and well, fun, I think the mistress-as-robot position is one most amenable to great and constant learning about human nature, what makes people really tick, the underside and bowels of the deepest, darkest (in the sense of not coming into light) guts and mystery that is human. In its many carnations, sex is experienced by and connected to all that humans started out to be, became and ended up to be. I don’t mean gender. I mean the genetics we are born with accented by environmental influences–loving father, mother, absent, cruel, war-torn world, whatever life brings–forms who we are consciously and unconsciously.

Why do some need more sex than others? Why do some not need it at all? How does one get off on eating shit while another doesn’t even find Johnny Depp sexy enough to “do”? It is thus with humans that we experience sex as a repository for all that we are and all we decide in life, our tastes and life choices and everything else. What we get off on is directly correlative to something we were born with or were shaped by in my non-scientific, non-professional home grown logic culled in my experience as a lifetime mistress and story collector.

As a distant observer and participant with a beyond human memory capability, I could do a lot of data collecting and pleasuring. I could potentially be pleasured myself, but I don’t think in the same way as a human experiences pleasure, more like mind-fucking empathy, not voyeurism, empathy. That’s why the cyborg as mistress is effective and intriguing. She is interested in the human species as a wannabe but dispassionate enough to be effective. With the right programming, she could be multi-skilled, adaptive, flexible and if not genuinely at least convincingly compassionate enough to perfect, satisfy and effectuate a wide range of scenarios and partners. She is far more gifted, less cynical and more professional than the human professional of the oldest arts. She is able to collect and provide gem-fuls of information about human nature, desire and need. She is Mistress Hum-bot, potentially something for everyone, who cares, in her fashion, to the extent of her capability, a post-human humanist. Wait, I think my mom already produced one of those. Okay, not really but fun to imagine.