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."

Tables Turned
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.

Role Reversal
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.

Lolita stories
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?


Sar said...

Wow, that was a long post, Indie. Colorful and intriguing though I confess I didn't get through all the links.

Moving beyond the fascination of woman for a moment lest anyone think my motives questionable, let me just say that I've got the cure for winter doldrums - my place, Friday!

admin said...

With this article you are showing how mutual apreciation and dialogue among the sexes can lead to a harmonious and promising co-existence. I cant imagine any woman reading this and not being flattered, but then again your whole blog is an ode to the female, to the creative, to the aesthetic; your Synchronicity is obviously about ART.

Btw you are welcome, but I didnt do anything.

The Mushroom said...

That's a fitting tribute to the people who hold up half the sky.

It's up to the specific feminist as to whether a male can write feminist literature. Take heart that penis-owning Geoff Morgan gets filed under "women's music" with his fine album It's All In The Plumbing. (I'm not sure if they categorize Tom Wilson's "Fly With Me, Lesbian Seagull" that way... it's just too weird, but touching.)

Sometimes the story is about the story-teller. No shame in that.

Indeterminacy said...

Sar: Thanks. You'd probably need a winter to get through all these. What we now need is a woman to start an indeterminacy blog from just the opposite perspective as mine. I'll stop by to read your Friday post, but I won't move beyond the fascination of women, if it's all the same to you.

Viruswitch: I have one weakness and that's judging how something I write will come across. That you felt this way about what I wrote just overwhelms me and makes me very happy. You know you helped me a lot. You read through all the drafts, you even suggested how certain passages might be rewritten (and you were right), you told me how certain passages left you wanting more and I put in more. This wouldn't have been the same without your help.

Mushroom: Thanks for your take on this. I never wanted to write about myself at the blog, or even tell too much about what the stories meant to me, but now I've gone and broken my rule. Think of this as some kind of retrospective post, for people who like the stories but are just getting to know them.

Young at Heart in San Diego said...

Indie, you fascinate me! I was tempted to start a women's blog styled after yours but I've seen how much time and energy you put into it day after day and I'm obviously out of my league here. I celebrate you art and thank you for sharing it with all of us!

The Mushroom said...

Young at Heart: Every journey begins with the first step. If you stand overwhelmed by the monument you find inspirational, you never build anything.

Indie: It's inevitable, no artist can make something about someone or something else without their own psyche interweaving at least a little. Even photos aren't accurate to what was there because an artist used his/her style to capture the image (in their opinion) right. It is a good primer post, yes.

I find it easier to be snarky or glandular. Sometimes I can find 'heartfelt' or 'creative' but as one can see from what I post monthly on Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul I usually only touch the heart in passing while trying to grab for the funnybone. You admire my brevity, Indie, and I admire your loquaciousness.

Young at Heart in San Diego said...

Well said, mushroom! Thanks for the inspiration. Baby steps, that’s what it takes.
Indie, I am going through all of your links, and you truly have the gift of introspection and empathy for women. I took VirusWitch’s test and was scored as INFJ, so I know these things. I really admired your writing on fantasy and rape vs. sexual abandon. There is a thin line between the two but you honor us all by addressing it. Very good food for thought here. I’ll be reading on through the night…

Indeterminacy said...

I always love waking up in the morning and running to see who commented while I was asleep.

Young at Heart: First of all thanks for all those encouraging words. Of course I wondered how my exploration of the rape thematic would be taken, and I'm certain there will be women who are deeply offended by it. And I'm sure there are others who will look at this whole paper and say what a weirdo I am. But I'm really happy I reached you.

Second, you really shouldn't be intimidated by what you see here. I know this probably would have intimidated me in the beginning to know there would really be so many stories. It would also be intimidating for me to have to sit down and produce many stories at once (as David did a few times). I can seem to do no better than one a day. I need that time to recharge. And knowing there are so many stories already does tend to intimidate me now. Just don't think all I can say. Think one step at a time as mushroom says. The first 30 or so stories came very easily, after that it became gradually more difficult because I put more pressure on myself), but I stuck with it and am glad I did. Though now I put a really lot of pressure on myself to make stories that "top" the other ones rather than repeat the same themes. That in turn makes it difficult again.

Find a few photos that you like, carry the images around with you in your minds eye, wherever you go. If you have a sudden idea, write it down, work it out. Use those moments when the inspiration is there. Then it won't be as difficult.

Mushroom: I know you have a different style, but I love to read your captions just the same. They generally are very funny and make me laugh.

The Mushroom said...

Indie: Thanks! Laughter is the spackle of the soul, so you have been patched for the moment. :)

Young at Heart: You're welcome! I saw this written somewhere -- "If you've bitten off more than you can chew, keep chewing!"

Synchronicity Diva said...

Beautiful blog!

admin said...

Young at heart: If you wont do it on your own, maybe you could use the help of mushroom ;) oh but mushroom is a man I think, so he is out of the question. If all Indie-fans get together in a indielike-blog, it would be much less work. 7 people, one story each, a week filled with stories. ;)

Young at Heart in San Diego said...

Mushroom, Thanks for the encouraging words, and I love your site too! The one about Uncle Elfie was especially great.
Indie, you have proved that if you write about what truly moves you, it can only be good.
Virus, great idea! I'd love to get together with all of the Indie-fans (huge crowd I'll bet) and collaborate on some stories.

The Mushroom said...

VW: Yes, and I can prove it. My role is to inspire others, not to actually do anything myself. ;-)

Young at Heart: I enjoyed writing that series (which was co-authored by Ariel over the course of a year), and am happy to see someone beside myself and her thought Elfie's story was worthwhile... the series was out of character for me because I wasn't making fun of the pictures for once.

Fridays are our usual "everyone collaborate on stories day" here. Other places are welcome too. :-D

* said...

that was very nice to read...similar as for the Tucholsky, I look forward to what you figure out next....

Indeterminacy said...

Full of Love: Thank you for such a lovely comment. We've since exchanged links, and I want to tell everyone to pay a visit to your blog: it's a wonderfully spiritual place with some very special posts:

Viruswitch: That's cool, can I contribute, too? I have a few domains hoarded under another blogger ID. If anyone likes one I'll be happy to donate. I'll go find the list and post them here.

Young at Heart: I don't know if I've proven that, though I believe if you write about something you feel passionate about, it will be much much better than if you don't really care. Thank you for thinking so highly of my writing.

Mushroom: Michael at had Friday stories going - and I think he still does. I found last week's story this afternoon but couldn't find his picture for this week.

Antonia: Thank you, and for your comments at the Tucholsky blog. I'm happy you took the time to stop by here. I sure wish I knew now what I'm going to figure out. It's more like sweat out in the last minute, actually.

Indeterminacy said...

Here are some of the domains I set aside ages ago. Maybe some of them have a "coming soon post" from about two years ago...

* said...

"I sure wish I knew now what I'm going to figure out. It's more like sweat out in the last minute, actually."

isn't it charmingly not always this way?

Indeterminacy said...

On Saturdays I post a picture without a story, and everyone is invited to write their own - then I post mine version on Monday. You're welcome to contribute. I'll post something in about 10 hours.

Unknown said...

As much as anything, Indie, this post shows what a massive opus this site is, to be able to pull so many perspectives on a topic.

On the other hand, EWww! girls! Gross!

Indeterminacy said...

Thanks Doug, and don't worry about the girls. You get used to the cooties after awhile.

admin said...

@Young at heart: If you like it we can do it! Who else is interested?
@Mushroom: Thats a very important role as well Mushroom. :D

@Indie: The "council of Indie-fans" has to decide whether you will be able to contribute too, but I think we will let you :)) *kidding*. It would be great if you contributed. I really like this one

Jamie Dawn said...

Women appreciate being respected & treated gently.

It's good to write about things that interest & inspire you.

LiVEwiRe said...

There is a good chance after reading this that women everywhere have a new love and respect for you. =) Thanks for stating your thoughts, views and outlook so clearly.

Indeterminacy said...

Viruswitch: Thanks for the permission. Maybe with this new blog I can discover my feminine side ;-)

Jamie: I hope I did show the proper respect and appreciation in my post. We agree. If your heart is in what you do, it has much more chance of standing out.

Livewire: You're welcome for those kind words. Once again, I had no idea how this would be received. Viruswitch was a big help in giving her opinions before I posted this. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

inde, dear inde! this is why we wimmins love you! :o) that was a well-thought piece, thank you. but your eyes give it away, sir. i already knew all that about you...

regarding the rape scenarios...having been on the wrong side of that, i would venture a distinction between rape and domination. to be ravaged/ravished is different than to be raped, and i believe the word rape is often used in lieu of a better term. but then, when in the throes, who's thinking clearly, right? ;) i want to be clear that i'm not criticising, simply clarifying with my particular lense.

btw, i've missed this place!
the former alix in wunderland

Indeterminacy said...

Alix: You have been missed, as well. Thanks for your comment on the rape/ravishing issue, which I do learn from. I can't argue with your experience. I had always thought of ravage as almost a euphemism for the word rape, a more poetic way of expressing the concept, if such a concept can be expressed poetically.

Anonymous said...

after a bit more thought -- i always rush in too soon -- you are correct. :)
ghostie alix

Cooper said...

I'm dying cuz I just remembered late this afternoon that I had signed up to blog against sexism and had to post a little ditty with not time to think.

Then I read this. I'm sorry I haven't been around much this week due to mid terms.

It was great but some how I already knoew you loved women.

Some men just do and that is a fact. I knew a long time ago that there were men and then there were men who truly loved women. I was pretty sure you were in the later category.

roachz said...

Thanks for the wonderful article, Indie. I LOOOOVVVVEEEE being a girl. More so after reading your gem here.