Thursday, February 23, 2006
The Indeterminacy Girls
Women fascinate me. I love women. I love their smiles, their hair, their eyes, the soft parts of the neck that seem to invite a kiss, the curves of their shoulders, and there it only begins. I'm in love with the feminine imagery I find randomly all over the Internet. I have wondered whether this makes me a pervert or a lecher. But I feel that I respect women, and I think I have always been caring towards women. I hope that this shows in the stories I write to the pictures and in my attitude towards these characters I've pulled out of the two-dimensional aesthetic. My esteem for women is not just for the physical, but for the playfully smart glances, for the charming wit that can make a conversation so stimulating and pleasant, for her refreshing intelligence. Women fascinate me.
It is not easy in life for a gender that is dominated in so many fields by the male. This domination is not fair nor is it right or just. I have been outraged over the fate of women in areas where order has broken down, or over the sexual exploitation of women tricked, beaten or sold into submission. It is such a tragic destruction of human potential. Perhaps that is why, in many of my stories, I turn the tables. It is the woman who is the predator and the man who is the victim.
Some of my stories have tried to explore the psychology of the female or ventured into the realm of female sexuality. Others have dived into the concepts of beauty and fashion. Still others have speculated what it would be like if the tables were turned, if women were in charge. Again and again I've written homages to the natural beauty of the women whose images I've found. Perhaps these apply as homages to womanhood itself. Or perhaps they are a mental pursuit of the mother archetype, as Herman Hesse's character Goldmund undertook a carnal pursuit.
I have gone through my stories and tried to make a selection relating to various aspects of femininity and/or masculinity in regard to women. It has become a long list, and sometimes stories could easily fit into many categories. No one, I know, will have time or inclination to follow all of these links. Here they are, just the same, each topic with a short synopsis.
The Psychology of Women
The thoughts and feelings of the women I've been close too were often a mystery to me. But I like the mysterious. I love delving into it, piecing the clues together, and then starting over again with the new mysteries that arise out of the discoveries. So I have as much trouble understanding women as anyone. The stories I selected here are speculatory in that sense. For example, what are the emotions that tear a woman apart? What happens when she is alone or out on the prowl or clowning with a friend? What goes on in her mind when she's deciding which boy to go out with, or how does a guy know whether or not she likes him? I don't know the answer to any of these questions. I'm only guessing. It's easy to make up vignettes to a photo - if it reads well, it is right, no matter how crazy or surreal. But to understand the woman you are with at any given time, is still a mystery to me, albeit a beautiful one. Maybe it all boils down to the wonderful song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."
As I mentioned, females suffer much under the hand of male domination. The outrages go on: the struggles of a single mother trying to work and raise a child at the same time, the trafficking of women, the physical abuse by a violent partner, women raped and forced to bear the child, and rape period. There's very much to be upset about. I feel sometimes that I have mentally abandoned my own gender. I feel closer to women. I like them better. For example, I found myself trusting women physicians more than their male colleagues. I respect and admire their achievement in making it in a male-dominated field. When I had that old Ford that kept breaking down I brought it to a woman who ran her own garage after her husband had a stroke and could no longer continue. She was so engaged for her customers, she was so bright and wonderful to talk to, but she eventually had to close the garage because it was so difficult to find mechanics willing to work for a woman. These things get to me.
In some of my stories I've explored situations in which the tables were turned, in which men have fallen victim to women. Many of my male characters have met with horrid fates, and often they are not undeserving of these. One of my more extreme stories involved a duo of man-eaters. Once I imagined a situation in which the female sex has overturned male domination. Another shows how two girls solved the problem of their love triangle. We find out what a woman might do after breaking up with her boyfriend. Two other stories, but there are certainly more, show why it is neither advisable nor clever, to conquer a woman against her will. It might also be that I dislike the majority of my own gender, this writing of stories being my way of working out the aggression.
Standards of Beauty
Everyone has their own concept of beauty, their standard of aesthetic. For me it is a pleasure to the eyes to see a woman with grace and bearing who presents herself naturally. A woman who can smile, show sincerity in her eyes and be herself is always beautiful. Consequently, I don't think much of cosmetic surgery. I have no fondness for extremes in make-up or the arbitrariness of fashion. Some of the stories I've written have satirized standards of beauty. One of my personal favorites shows to what lengths a woman might go to feel beautiful. Another set of stories is involved with having the right face or legs. Two of my stories have solved the age old problem of acne and what to wear. I call these stories satires because they draw some quite exaggerated conclusions.
I'm all for female sexuality. I think there should be more of it. It's an insidious crime how women in some cultures are held in sexual ignorance, taught to believe their pleasures and sensations are a sin, robbed of the decisions that must be theirs to make. Nevertheless, for a man to write about female sexuality, the feelings of sexual awakening, a woman's attraction to the male or the female or herself, is a difficult thing to do. Maybe it can't be done. But I've tried. Five of my attempts might be the following: a story in which girls satisfy their curiosity about boys, a girl discovering her own sensuousness, a girl whose sensuousness is discovered by others and taught to her, the much lauded first time, and a narrative that might be seen as a confrontation with sexual inhibitions. No one, man or woman, should be ashamed of the natural feelings pertaining to one's own body. In fact, one should never be ashamed of feelings. It's what we make of the feelings that counts.
There's a little known, short-lived German science fiction series called "Raumpatrouille Orion" (Space Patrol Orion) from 1965 - a cool insider's tip today. One of the episodes has Commander McLane journeying to Earth's counterpart on the other side of the sun, a planet where women wield all the power and men are delegated the menial tasks of gardening or science, which suit them best. Trouble is, the women have commanded their scientists to heat up up the sun to provide a more pleasant climate for the gardens to thrive, with the side effect of destroying Earth. McLane is at his wit's end using logic and reason to convince the women to call it off, while they just give him the runaround. It's an entertaining episode and tells much about which gender roles were prominent in 1960's patriarchal Germany.
Several of my stories deal with a reversal of feminine and masculine roles in a similar satirical vein, though the women do not come away as badly as the exaggerated feminists of that TV episode. One story shows how the selection of a suitable mate might be solved if societal norms on women were less restrictive. Another tale explores a woman's choices when she has complete and total control over two men. A future in which men are extinct is a further variation, and two final stories use biblical motifs to explore the idea of a female Goddess of the Universe and a (never tried?) twist to the Adam and Eve theme. I do not think the message of my stories is that women would do things better if they were in charge, but that they would do them differently, and at least no worse than the male has done. Perhaps these stories can also serve to help us reflect over the masculine norms we live with.
The rape of a woman is a very serious crime and an extremely sensitive subject for a man to talk about, or address in stories. It was not an easy theme for me to write about and all the while I had misgivings about it. I see, in fact, two different concepts: actual physical rape and the fantasy of rape. Rape fantasies, I believe, exist in both sexes to a smaller or greater extent. On the one hand, I think actual rape is an abhorrent crime. On the other hand, I have had, and I think every male has, fantasies of sexual abandon in which he takes a woman he wants by force. I have heard the vehemently stated idea that every man is a potential rapist. The statement is just as impossible to prove as it is to disprove. Because of these fantasies I often wondered about myself, how it would be in a concrete situation where rape was possible - until I was in such a situation and found that I could not do it. I wanted the woman, yes, but I wanted her to want me, too. And that could not be taken by force. The actual act would have been as cheapening and degrading to me morally, as it would have been to her emotionally.
Still, I have encountered in women these fantasies to be taken. Long ago I discussed with a girlfriend what her desires might be, and the spontaneous answer she shot back was, "rape me." As I approached her I saw fear in her face and she stated, "No, I didn't mean it" in a voice betraying a horror that it might have been too late to say no. Years later I had a frank discussion with another woman who told me she had erotic fantasies of being raped, but would be terrified of the real thing.
So I believe these fantasies exist, but that most of us know how to separate fantasy from reality. And the existence of these fantasies in a woman does not weaken the crime that such an act represents. All these thoughts were in my mind as I wrote the following stories. Two of the stories might be seen to demonstrate how titillating these fantasies might be, about a girl at a party and a girl in a bath tub. A final story deals with the real concept, suggesting a fitting retribution for the crime of rape.
An exploration of femininity must also address the concept of Lolita. I have two such stories. The first of these was meant as an homage to, and perhaps slight continuation of, Nabokov's Lolita, a book which I read and marvelled at for the poetic use of language. That book has been misunderstood as a glorification of paedophilia. I think it is nothing of the kind. The original Humbert Humbert is not to be envied, and neither are the ones I invented.
As I stated above, women fascinate me. I'm in love with their minds, bodies, hearts and souls. This goes through my mind constantly when I am thinking of stories to write, and makes it no easy task, now, to select three representative homages. The first I share is to a photo showing beauty, pure and natural. The woman in the second picture is more hinted at than seen - that which we cannot see but must fill out with our remaining senses and imagination is often the more erotic. And the final photo is of my own muse, the one who married me, the one I was fortunate enough to marry.
The Male Perspective
Most of the above stories have been presented from the point of view of the feminine characters. A few of my stories have, however, focussed on men. One shows how difficult we men have it, coping with the opposite sex. There's a solution to sex addiction which might not appeal to everyone. Or we see how easy it might be if men had machines to produce their sexual partners. Still another story suggests that deciding between two women is not as easy as it may seem. In a satirical tale we see what might happen if there were ever a man who completely understood women.
I like women, and they are the easiest inspiration for me. A rate of seven stories a week in the beginning, and later five a week, is another explanation as to why pretty, young women are so often represented in my selection of photographs. But I have a trio of stories, a trilogy that may redeem myself among my own sex. In these I show that even women must sometimes pay a price for excesses: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. After all, if one gender is to get along with the other, there must be some give and take.
Note from Indeterminacy: Did anyone read this far? Amazing. That has got to be the longest post I've ever had here. I read at Alice's blog about this bi-monthly "Carnival of Feminists" thing going on. If Alice links it, that's good enough for me. They collect the best current feminist posts, and I was curious whether my stories might interest them, so for that reason, and just to do something different for a change, I decided to put together a serious, non-story post. If anyone thinks this (or some other post) should be nominated for the next Carnival, just go here.
My warm thanks go to Viruswitch for her valuable advice and feedback on how to prepare this article. You didn't think a guy could do this by himself?