the slow, deliberate way he kissed my neck, collarbone, arms...
noted the symmetry in the way my neck turned to meet his lips and the arch in my back.
he was doing everything right,
and i didn't feel a thing.
i alternated between watching this scene and actually being a part of it, but my skin was a barrier, not a sponge. there was no electricity, no spark.
a perpetual motion mannequin.
i don't know if he entered me or just played at it.
it doesn't matter.
i never felt naked anyway.
like this. and how i still can't bring myself to tell my mother about it.
how i'm struggling to reconnect with my womb.
how it brought he & i together for a brief, shining moment--and how that moment didn't last.
how much my life has changed. and how much it hasn't. how the stagnation sticks in my throat like peanut butter.
how desperate i can be to feel loved sometimes.
how part of me seems to like being kinda fked up every now and then.
and how i'm gonna be 30 soon...
i rarely get a chance to watch the show, but i remember you from your years on jerry springer. usually i appreciate the way you confront folks with difficult questions, but i have to call you out on this one.
it's painfully obvious that alicia abraham is not mentally well. she behaves like someone with severe depression, maybe a personality disorder.
going after her as you would, say, an abusive spouse, is ineffective. it's something of a feel-good moment, but it smacks of a complete lack of understanding of the issues surrounding mental health, motherhood, etc. calling her a "selfish bitch" and hoping she "rots in hell" were reprehensible and unproductive actions.
maybe you were trying to get alicia to break down in an effort to make her seem more "human", but it's kind of sad that we have to see someone show what we think qualifies as genuine emotion before we can sympathize with them.
where was the sympathy when her child was alive and she needed help mothering? what kind of prenatal support did she have? who could (or would) have helped her when she needed to make good choices in choosing a mate?
there are LOTS of people out here who were never taught to feel, who, while adults to the naked eye, never came into their own as fully actualized, sane human beings. of course the extremes of child abuse, battering and neglect don't always happen in their lives, and you may never notice until you try to be a friend or spouse to them. but they're out there. in droves.
we have no way of knowing what alicia's childhood was like, what got her to the mental state she's in now, whether or not she was on medication at the time of the interview, if she was on and/or off meds when all this happened to her baby (she was 28 at the time). it's not about her being selfish, it's about painting an entire picture of her life, the lives of her children, and what led up to those moments where she was a passive witness--or participant--to these horrific happenings to her child.
i appreciate your background in law enforcement--my father and grandfather were in that field as well. my mother's an educator, so i know what it is to grow up with people who love & value children. i adore and value children myself, and it breaks my heart that this happens to any child, anywhere. having it happen to a black family makes it even more personal.
i remember reading about a toddler who was killed in the last year or so because a grown man--stepfather, i believe--thought he was "gay". all of this opens a totally different can of worms regarding the ways homophobia and compulsory heterosexuality work in our society.
i'm not even going to TRY to digress into the many, many levels of race, class and gender issues inherent in your judgement of this woman and her situation.
my point is this: you are not a therapist. that fact is painfully obvious when you handle topics like these. you also don't appear very sensitive to the needs of those who might need that sort of help unless they fall into the narrow confines of your moral code. i understand not wanting to waste your time and studio money with folks who aren't ready to receive a helping hand, but you berating alicia abraham felt like watching fish being shot in a barrel.
i'm sure it makes folks feel good to know that they're "better" than the people they see on your show, but to someone like me, this kind of foolishness simply serves to perpetuate the stigmas around mental illness, the myth of the perfect parent--particularly the perfect mother, and disregard for the vast range of human experience and emotion.
i'm glad you can afford to be so righteously right and wrong, but, to me, being able to acknowledge and process nuance is what makes us human.
if your only intent was to make alicia look like a monster, i suppose you succeeded in the eyes of some, but i never met a bully i liked.
one caveat: i ain't excusin shit. alicia had an older child who was also abused and probably wasn't in any state to have another.
she mentioned not knowing that her 4 year old had bruises and burns because he was "old enough" to give himself baths. wtf?
but the fact that she could not articulate feelings when asked questions like, "what did you feel when you gave birth to your son?" highlights that there were a slew of issues an almost-trash tv show, however backwardly helpful, could not or would not touch on.
they just wanted a witchhunt.
but this reminded me a little too much of sethe and schoolteacher...
now that i've done it a few times, no matter how long it's been, the very intent to purge and renew--particularly when i'm long overdue for it--pushes me to focus in surprising ways.
case in point: the house has been a mess for weeks. work had me in and out of town all through january, and i simply had neither the will nor the way to get myself or my space together--some shrine maintenancce notwithstanding. i'm sure that the miscarriage (which still feels unreal...) had something to do with that as well.
in any case, i finally picked up my bedroom last night, changed the linens, etc. i still need to remove the random books from the side of the bed.
but once the space was clear, i felt the need to do a few things.
a full moon will arrive towards the end of my cleansing. my intention is to renew the practice of burning obstacles on the full moon and giving thanks/filling space on the new moon. this serves to fine tune and clear my ori, putting me in a better position to work with my traditional shrines and maintain an overall sense of well-being.
in preparation, i wrote out my stumbling blocks and put a couple of prayers on the back of the paper. i left the list on the goddesspace with guadalupe, covered in stones (quartz, moonstone, aquamarine).
working with the goddess cards was another enriching exercise. some ancestor must have been a card reader, because i have fallen in love with them and my tarot deck...i am so glad my intuition led me to begin that learning. but i digress.
the response to my first question, what do i need to know about my womb?, wasn't surprising. selfhood--personified by artemis--is the ultimate goal. i need to renew and rediscover myself. find out who i really am now, and what she wants.
consequently, i've also been feeling very protective/insular about sex. rarely am i so protective when i'm functioning in relationship...or maybe i'm more removed from that than i realize? skimming through sacred woman, queen afua's words resonated: "if the womb has been damaged in any way, a woman's level of creativity and inspiration, stability, success in relationships and fertility levels is potentially impaired."
i am wounded. i require healing. i'm owning that.
responsibility also showed up. i wrote:
i do accept responsibility. i have lingered on distractions too long, dealt with some of the wrong foods, etc. i have not given my body [or spirit, for that matter...] the appropriate breaks. i have not honored the wild, free parts of me. i have lost my way.
next, i asked, what are the signs of healing? the answer: justice (ma'at) for my wild/wise woman, creativity, and assertion and fullfillment of my sexual/sensual needs. i need to feel, be surrounded in sensation; i need to be inspired--things i've been saying for months.
i need to have a temper tantrum, then examine what gets tossed around. figure out what's broken for good and what can stay.
i know my relationship with honey isn't going to give me that in the megadoses i need. i don't know how honey will hold up through all of this, but i'm trying not to worry over that. i will never be satisfied if i keep falling into the trap of trying to scour his depths and mine simultaneously--at least when i'm not well.
my usual partner in these matters, cosmo, is too wrapped up in his own healing/reorientation and unavailable to me. and if he were available, i'm not sure i would want to deal with the fallout of wrapping myself around him.
this journey is a solitary one. i can deal with that, but it's not what i'm used to, particularly when i'm already feeling like i've lost community in so many ways.
to be continued. as always.
...keep reading the list...
without face-hugging bandanas.
i'm struggling to find my voice.
to define myself.
and love what i find, fiercely.
to clear my mind
keep my house clean.
this struggle will not define a people
or unite a nation.
it's just me trying to grow into myself.
a struggle to wean myself from apathy
and reject womb-damaging things
and broken hearts.
allowing time to indulge my fascination with the saints.
a fight to pray like i should
take my time
be easy on myself.
i aspire to define my addictions.
to court sensation, passion, fullness and adoration.
to flirt with lust.
a blissful battle.
my response follows (cleaned up a bit from the initial posting):
it's true. here's a blog entry i wrote w/ some more background on that...
it's just like bootzey said: africans come here, see that blacks are on the bottom of the ladder economically, socially, academically, etc., and choose to befriend the white folks. in their own countries, many of them were taught to uphold the ideals and morals of the british/french/etc. more so than their own.
many of them have rejected ages-old languages, traditions and spiritual systems to embrace evangelical xtianity and islam because those are the groups with the money and the schools and the missionaries who can give them scholarships to american colleges.
all in the name of "bettering" themselves.
many of the staunchly pan african folks (think: kwame nkrumah, fela and femi kuti, the groups that fought apartheid in south africa) and traditionalists stay in africa, so we don't see that alternate POV.
they see black americans starving spiritually and beginning to reject and question christianity for traditional african spiritual and metaphysical systems. to them, the "cleaned up, acceptable" africans, we're going "backwards".
they wonder why our children can't learn and are belligerent when they don't understand lead poisioning, criminalization, and the ancestral pain of having one's original language/culture/understanding ripped from them.
they understand the effects of hiv/aids, but not drug addiction (some africans make money from illicit drugs, but drug addiction in & of itself is not a huge social problem...at least not to my knowledge), the psychological effects of poverty in a consumer society, and so on.
so, yes. when ppl from other countries come here with a different understanding of what it means to be poor (when EVERYONE'S poor except the govt, police and other bribe-takers, it makes for different communities...), being able to take culture/language/clan-ethnic ties for granted and see the "boundless opportunity" all around them and us, and call us "lazy" and "stupid".
also remember that we're seeing largely middle class africans complete with the notions of bougeois privilege & propriety. i'm sure people probably think a bit differently in the "hoods" of nigeria and ghana.
it takes some education to figure out that, internationally speaking, any forced labor migration population has the same issues we do. most folks don't get that far. easier to just see what you want to see.
i get hype about this. i don't mean ANY of it, not one word, as an excuse or a shield to hide behind. imo, what black folk NEED to do is do better. stop complaining about the system and refuse to perpetuate the systems and mechanisms that keep feeding our babies to the lions. period.
understand your history and the nature and reasons behind your oppression and rise above it. use the pain, don't succumb to it. too many angry black folks fall into that snare of using pseudo-science and other tenuous ground to root themselves in. they stay stuck there, hating everyone when it's not necessary. history has bourne us out on its own; there is no need to make shit up. even national geographic finally had to admit we ruled kemet...
that said, i will stand down anyone who refuses to see the strength, beauty, and heart of my people. yes, we can be fucked up. but this whole culture is fucked up.
don't get it twisted: i'm here by accident. had our ancestors' places on goree island been switched, i may have stayed in yorubaland or wherever and you would have been raised in west baltimore or philly or...
i ain't gonna be flyin the stars & stripes anytime soon, but i'll be damned if i'll sit back and let folks look down their noses at me out of ignorance of what we've been through.
i want it NOW,
and i want it done RIGHT.
no substitutes, no exceptions, no excuses.
nothing half assed.
be present or stay outta my fking face.
i do not intend to be loving, nice, amorous, or sweet if you're not doing your job. i do not want to coddle your ego, quell your insecurities, or lick your wounds. you need to understand that your 100% may feel like 20% to me.
so where's that other 80% coming from? me, right?
so why are you here? what's your role? purpose? intention?
what's your contribution?
The world brought me to my knees, what have you brung you? / Did you improve on the design? Did you do somethin' new? (c) lupe fiasco
don't mind me...i'm just a little pleasure starved and bliss deprived. i'll figure out a way to fill up sooner or later..
my relationship is part of that. it's to the point where i'm either going to be a free (read: erotically unattached) woman, or i'm going to have some babies and settle down. there's not much room for a compromise. i have no desire for single motherhood, nor do i want a long distance or arm's length long term relationship/marriage.
another part is the failure of massage training to come to fruition. yet another, my lack of desire and inspiration to write. this blog is a place to analyze and purge, connect and discuss with others...but i am largely stagnant creatively. there are glimmers, but not much else.
so i'm readjusting.
i don't even know what makes me happy any more.
what kind of people do i want around? what kinds of friends do i want to make?
there are so many age-appropriate demographics i don't fit into:
- i'm not married, nor is getting married the central driving force of my life. if it were, i'd probably be bending over backwards to make this thing i'm in "work" instead of wondering how to wiggle out of it every three months...
- i don't have kids and, again, it is not a central, driving force (see above).
- not interested in clubbing, particularly not as a scavenger hunt for love (see above).
- can't go back to the poetry scene--zero desire for that, and i never got over my stage fright anyway.
- i'm not an activist, and i don't know that i could be. i don't wed myself to ideas as readily as i do to people.
i suppose i didn't think about this much until my spiritual community essentially went on hiatus. we are still intact, but a domestic situation kept us away from one another, and we're just getting back into our regular routine.
in the interim, i realized how much i need different sorts and levels of community, and how much certain aspects of my life have removed me from that.
honey has never really understood that need. he's more of the activist type--he'll work with folks who share his ideas and ideals and get things done, but at the end of the day, he has no problem coming home alone. he might even prefer it.
i, on the other hand, need other people to connect to, bounce off of. i always envisioned my home as a gathering place, somewhere to enjoy good music, food, fun and friendship. and i've thrown one party in, what? six years?
my home no longer even feels amenable to groups or individual friends. it's become a "fortress of solitude", a cocoon i hide in. honey hasn't even left enough things there for me to feel like it's our fortress. what's the use in that?
this is still rolling around in my brain...a painful little nugget.
i'll revisit as i figure things out...
1. find outlets for expression.
3. physical/emotional/spiritual health, comfort, and strength.
4. joy, peace and serenity despite circumstances.
5. clarity in relationships.
6. formulate life purpose and dreams.
7. creativity --what do i need to flourish? make time? focus? find community?
8. stop compartmentalizing. find ways to be whole and express wholeness.
9. discover deep eroticism.
10. cry when i need to for as long and as hard as i need to. let go. don't suppress discomfort or pain. be vulnerable with yourself if no one else.
11. if prayer seems ineffective or difficult, go within. meditate.
12. exercise. dance. move your body.
13. rest fully and deeply.
14. create, manifest, foster and expect bliss.
or back down.
or be quiet.
you're damn right i want you to be bigger, better, stronger--because you can be. who are you not to be?
rise above all that stupid man shit you think you're supposed to do and think and say.
but just knowing it won't work. reading the books won't do. you have to live it, feel it, breathe it.
i love you, and i always will, but life's too short.
i have to be myself, fully and unapologetically (c) olaomi.
if you can't hang, then i will leave you behind, love notwithstanding.
every day i'm bolder, stronger, less afraid of living alone. of not being a mama. of being that woman.
i'd rather be that woman and keep my soul than watch it wither away and call it a home. and i'm not the only one.
it's not that we don't need you.
it's that we're waking up.
and you're gonna catch hell playing catch up.
we all fell for the okeydoke. it's ok.
but now it's time to know better and do better.
what's even worse are the ignorant, racist comments accompanying the clips.
how many of those folks who wanna talk about "just be a big brother", "work hard(er)" and "free will" know anything about what it's like to face some of the circumstances these men have just trying to make it to 18 or 21?
i'll be damned if i judge a man whose shoes i can't wear.
i ain't sayin it's right. we need to do everything we can to stay the hell outta the system, including being smarter & doing better. shit ain't cute.
and blks v. latinos is just...ridiculous.
newsflash: the only difference between us and y'all is that (1) you speak spanish and (2) the white blood y'all got is spanish and/or portuguese, and ours might be scots-irish, french, or german--depending on the state our family wound up in. the rest is african and indigenous, just like y'all.
some of us just got off the boat a little later. feel me?
we've gotta keep our babies out of the cogs of this machine...
in response to my last blog, zia said:
i want to know precisely what you mean by danger: unintended results. you will be freer, more fufilled (if done properly)? who/what unintends the results of such? ah...but then our earth bodies are perfect, hedonistic pleasure seeking sensationalists. children...so, i'm kinda with you, on second thought. maybe you'd never get anything else done...?[before we get started: y'all are already familiar with "honey", but i finally decided on his blog alias: cosmo. as in cosmic. the kramer association isn't lost on me; we're always falling into each other's lives--past and present--the way he fell into jerry's apartment...]
i've found my cosmic fish in male form...
cosmo & i are a long story that started almost a decade ago. i started to write it out--complete with a semi-public blog, gathering diaries both from the relationship and the aftermath, poetry, unsent letters, etc.--but got stalled when he got back in touch with me last summer.
just when i had resigned myself to purging him from my life, there he was again.
not getting anything done is probably part of it. we've always joked that if we ever got married or lived together we'd have to make a pact to tear each other from bed to go to work or eat or whatever else needed to be done.
the love is still there. so are the connections. and the karma. he's got issues--including a couple of dealbreakers.
then there's the fact that i've been with honey for almost five years now.
i love them both.
they both know it.
cosmo, the "danger sign", is the other half of my soul. my muse. my joy and my pain. we have the same patterns in our hands--they're even shaped similarly. his are just a man's version of mine. triple fire, too (aries sun...his moon/rising are in leo and sag--but i forget which is which). we've broken and built each other to the point where there is no more fear, no more anxiety over pain or risks. we simply indulge each other when and where we can.
the cons: all the pitfalls of a "downstream" relationship between two people who fuel one another sexually, creatively and spiritually on both conscious and subconscious levels with little to no effort. insecurities, exposure, a bit of wounded soul dancing...a dependency that threatens to remove me from pursuing my own growth.
honey is good for me in all the practical, pragmatic ways. much better husband/father potential. not that the lovin' is missing...not @ all. but he's got a lot to learn in some ways. still, he keeps me swimming upstream. he's the earth-bound woodsman my water/fire/air chart is missing. that same tie to the firm, hard ground keeps him from flying with me when i need him to.
where cosmo has run when the going got tough, honey has endured and stayed by my side, fighting his demons all the way. that alone has earned him a good chunk of my heart.
...but when he frustrates me, i long for the pleasure and easy rapport i share with cosmo. elementary explanations and prodding are unecessary. we already know.
both remain more distant than i'd like, for different reasons.
cosmo ran from me to a relationship that faltered, deeply wounding him in the process; he's still recovering, and rightly so.
honey is a workaholic who tries to take care of everyone else before himself; sometimes i wind up in the cold while he saves the world or is recovers from his latest fatigue-induced malaise.
so what's more important? which mate can i live without?
my fire--passion, creativity, stellar highs, shattering lows, the sacred marriage of the goddess and her god... or
my water--comfort, family/motherhood, stability, nurturing the garden and watching it grow...
some days, both seem indispensible.
do i have to choose?
maybe i'll always be giving up one for the other...
during a conversation with c., i realized (again) how complacent and sedated i've become; how i have betrayed my wild woman, allowing parts of her to hibernate or suffer from dehydration for far too long.
first, mama audre tells us:
There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling. In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives.
We have been taught to suspect this resource, vilified, abused, and devalued within western society. On the one hand, the superficially erotic has been encouraged as a sign of female inferiority; on the other hand, women have been made to suffer and to feel both contemptible and suspect by virtue of its existence.
As women, we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge. We have been warned against it all our lives by the male world, which values this depth of feeling enough to keep women around in order to exercise it in the service of men, but which fears this same depth too much to examine the possibilities of it within themselves. So women are maintained at a distant/inferior position to be psychically milked, much the same way ants maintain colonies of aphids to provide a life-giving substance for their masters.
But the erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to the woman who does not fear its revelation, nor succumb to the belief that sensation is enough.
precisely. sensation is not enough. my hunger goes much deeper than that.
one of the first steps towards my satisfaction was obtaining fulfilling employment. all praise to my ori, egbe and the orisa, i have done that.
but it's only the first movement. in many ways, i'm still starving.
The erotic is a measure between our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.
indeed. it has touched me, fully and deeply--and not just in love.
It is never easy to demand the most from ourselves, from our lives, from our work. To encourage excellence is to go beyond the encouraged mediocrity of our
society is to encourage excellence. But giving in to the fear of feeling and working to capacity is a luxury only the unintentional can afford, and the unintentional are those who do not wish to guide their own destinies.
This internal requirement toward excellence which we learn from the erotic must not be misconstrued as demanding the impossible from ourselves nor from others. Such a demand incapacitates everyone in the process. For the erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing. Once we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling that sense of satisfaction and completion, we can then observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness.
The aim of each thing which we do is to make our lives and the lives of our children richer and more possible. Within the celebration of the erotic in all our endeavors, my work becomes a conscious decision - a longed-for bed which I enter gratefully and from which I rise up empowered.
Of course, women so empowered are dangerous. So we are taught to separate the erotic from most vital areas of our lives other than sex. And the lack of concern for the erotic root and satisfactions of our work is felt in our disaffection from so much of what we do. For instance, how often do we truly love our work even at its most difficult?
i feel like i would be terribly dangerous if i were so empowered. seeing women like dark daughta making the attempt is a blessing. she and others encourage me to find my own way towards freedom, past the fragmentation and the lies i tell myself to fit in and make it through the weeks.
i am learning that it isn't just my creativity that's fallen away from the nucleus of who i am--parts of my sensuality, sexuality, even parts of my spirituality feel incomplete.
i don't just have writing blocks these days, i have prayer ones as well. what can i say to my shrines when i can barely speak to my ori? what once seemed so simple has become a chore.
As women, we need to examine the ways in which our world can be truly different. I am speaking here of the necessity for reassessing the quality of all the aspects of our lives and of our work, and of how we move toward and through them.
The very word erotic comes from the Greek word eros, the personification of love in all its aspects - born of Chaos, and personifying creative power and harmony. When I speak of the erotic, then, I speak of it as an assertion of the lifeforce of women; of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.
somehow i have been cut off from the source.
i'm wondering what part the last month has played in this drama, how much i've dealt with and how much i haven't.
...but that'd be another blog altogether.
Beyond the superficial, the considered phrase, "It feels right to me," acknowledges the strength of the erotic into a true knowledge, for what that means is the first and most powerful guiding light toward any understanding. And understanding is a handmaiden which can only wait upon, or clarify, that knowledge, deeply born. The erotic is the nurturer or nursemaid of all our deepest knowledge.
this is going at the bottom of the blog as my newest quote. maybe posted above the goddesspace. a new mantra.
The erotic functions for me in several ways, and the first is in providing the power which comes from sharing deeply any pursuit with another person. The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.
...and this is why i like DD, despite her insistence that many of us (whoever the "we" happen to be who stumble upon her musings) won't.
i don't need to nitpick with her about the different ways in which we see the world. i respond to her as my heart and mind dictate, and she responds to me in kind. in that, we don't bicker, but find common ground. when we disagree, we don't polarize one another--we teach each other.
that's the way it's supposed to be.
mama audre had so much to contribute in the way of the conscious acknowledgement and acceptance of difference...it breaks my heart that we didn't have her for just a few more years.
Another important way in which the erotic connection functions is the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy, in the way my body stretches to music and opens into response, harkening to its deepest rhythms so every level upon which I sense also opens to the erotically satisfying experience whether it is dancing, building a bookcase, writing a poem, or examining an idea.
That self-connection shared is a measure of the joy which I know myself to be capable of feeling, a reminder of my capacity for feeling. And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible, and does not have to be called marriage, nor god, nor an afterlife.
This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.
this is why my relationship with him was and still is so important; we lived and breathed this essay before i even knew it existed. we still do.
now that our love is shifting and transforming into another form of being, i'm wondering how it will still be capable of feeding me, how my current situation may need to shape shift.
how fear has factored in to my desires and loves.
the walls are getting thin.
During World War II, we bought sealed plastic packets of white, uncolored margarine, with a tiny, intense pellet of yellow coloring perched like a topaz just inside the clear skin of the bag. We would leave the margarine out for a while to soften, and then we would pinch the little pellet to break it inside the bag, releasing the rich yellowness into the soft pale mass of margarine. Then taking it carefully between our fingers, we would knead it gently back and forth, over and over, until the color had spread throughout the whole pound bag of margarine, thoroughly coloring it.mmm hmmmm...
I find the erotic such a kernel within myself. When released from its intense and constrained pellet, it flows through and colors my life with a kind of energy that heightens and sensitizes and strengthens all my experience.
We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. But, once recognized, those which do not enhance our future lose their power and can be altered. The fear of our deepest cravings keeps them suspect and indiscriminately powerful, for to suppress any truth is to give it strength beyond endurance. The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our own oppression as women.
...But when we begin to live from within outward, in touch with the power of the erotic within ourselves, and allowing that power to inform and illuminate our actions upon the world around us, then we begin to be responsible to ourselves in the deepest sense. For as we begin to recognize our deepest feelings, we begin to give up, of necessity, being satisfied with suffering, and self-negation, and with the numbness which so often seems like the only alternative in our society. Our acts against oppression become integral with self, motivated and empowered from within.
In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.
i believe that this is the message mama gena intended when she, essentially, watered down and commercialized this lesson for her school of womanly arts.
it's definitely a wonderful beginning--if that's the level you need to be reached on--but i hope that the actual classes touch on something deeper and more critically minded than what glitters on the surface.
back to the essay:
And yes, there is a hierarchy. There is a difference between painting a black fence and writing a poem, but only one of quantity. And there is, for me, no difference between writing a good poem and moving into sunlight against the body of a woman I love.
This brings me to the last consideration of the erotic. To share the power of each other's feelings is different from using another's feelings as we would use a Kleenex. When we look the other way from our experience, erotic or otherwise, we use rather than share the feelings of those others who participate in the experience with us. And use without consent of the used is abuse.
In order to be utilized, our erotic feelings must be recognized. The need for sharing deep feeling is a human need. But within the european-american tradition, this need is satisfied by certain proscribed erotic comings-together. These occasions are almost always characterized by a simultaneous looking away, a pretense of calling them something else, whether a religion, a fit, mob violence, or even playing doctor. And this misnaming of the need and the deed give rise to that distortion which results in pornography and obscenity - the abuse of feeling.
The erotic cannot be felt secondhand. As a Black lesbian feminist, I have a particular feeling, knowledge, and understanding for those sisters with whom I have danced hard, played, or even fought. This deep participation has often been the forerunner for joint concerted actions not possible before.
But this erotic charge is not easily shared by women who continue to operate under an exclusively european-american male tradition. I know it was not available to me when I was trying to adapt my consciousness to this mode of living and sensation.
...and it's still not available, mama audre, not even for a heterosexual black woman--whatever scraps of privilege that offers me.
i am built for this kind of life.
it is always on the tip of my tongue.
the rhythm of it guides my heart...
whether i'm loving someone
designing sacred space...
it's there. it's waiting. it's mine.
but i still have plenty of work to do before the erotic is fully fused to my life.
maybe that should be my new prayer...