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Ways of Seeing Sensuality

In some of my classes we often and adamantly discuss various aspects of romance, sex, love & marriage. Of course, this is a family show, so we won’t delve into any of the possible tawdry talk that one could imagine will occur when discussing one or two of these topics. Though in class we do go quite a few places in our examination of the various facets of intimate relationships. Ultimately though, we used a verse of a poem as a point of departure for a conversation about “hooking up,” a topic that Steve Bartlett ( the Press Republican’s education reporter) framed in an article. Perhaps that story served as the catalyst for the discussion in the class, or perhaps I am situating the poem as the catalyst to divert attention from the fact that I am having some pretty hot, no, let me tell it like it is, extremely hot conversations in my classes at times. {Don't hate the player, hate the game!}

Anyway, I gave the students a poem titled “When We Make Love,” and the reactions from the men and women were quite intriguing. When I challenged them to respond to the poem after reading a very progressive article on the influence that music and rap lyrics have on society--especially women, or on men’s perspective on women--it was fascinating to hear them talk about the shift in their perception. The main reason was their initial interpretation of the underlying reasons why we engage in sex, love making, or that other thing--that we all know, often do, but want to call one of the other two things I named earlier--(lsex or love making in case you forgot), when in reality, it isn’t. Yes, that thing! You would be surprised how sexually titillating a philosophical conversation about romance, sex, love, or marriage can be, even when put in a context that includes Simone de Beauvoir and John Paul Sartre's perspectives. You would be surprised how provocative and creative some of the student's papers can be. It is almost at the point where if I want to experience a sexy evening all I have to do is set the mood with music and lights, and then pull out a classic student paper from this course and all my aphrodisiacs are in place. "Holla!" Or a series of film clips from "Bound," "In The Cut," and "Monster's Ball." Feel me on this, if you were to watch those clips and read the articles that provide an accompanying narrative to your interpretation of how the two women in "Bound" stylishly seduce one another while cunningly "jacking" the mob, you would be buzzing as if you had just had two Pomegranite Smirnoffs while listening to Coltrane's "In A Sentimenal Mood" as background music. If you allowed yourself to intellectually engage how extremely sexy, brazenly sensual, traditionally modest Meg Ryan actually is in "In The Cut," it would be very difficult to not get pulled into a physical engagement as well. She takes sitting on someone's lap to a completely different level! And yes, if you were to examine the depths of the necessity for Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton to relieve one another's pain in Monster's Ball you might make a mental note that you may want to keep that in mind the next time you are hurting a bit. My students know what I mean, and if you watch any of those films, I mean really watch them, you will start to have a glimpse of what I am talking about. Wow, it is getting a bit hot in here, don't you think? Anyway, I’m rambling, probably boring you about my Romance, Sex, Love, & Marriage class’ conversations, so I’ll cut to the chase.

The most controversial verse in the poem "When We Make Love" reads like this:

I love the conversation after
As much as holding you tight
I would just as soon converse all day
As make love to you tonight
But that instant that we unite as one
Does hold the upper hand
Because when I am not a part of you
I exist without a plan.

Now someone tell me, what are the things you could anticipate from the verse above that the other gender would say celebrates some stage of romantic interaction? (Be prepared for some mind blowing revelations on this subject, at least that is what I got from the eighteen to twenty-three year aged crowd in my class).

I’m curious though, what are your thoughts about the possible reactions of students to this poem, in terms of the gender dynamic? Are there things you could anticipate from the verse above that the other gender would say denigrates or berates some stage of romantic interaction? Are there some things mentioned in the poem that tells you the sexuality of the poet? Is the author a man, woman, or transgendered person, heterosexual or homosexual. Why do you think that? What does it say about our "ways of seeing" when we do or don't see certain things that other's do or don't see? Well, what do you have to say?


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Interesing that an article on "hooking up" can unfold such intricate thought in students'minds about romance, love, sex, and marriage. I wish people in their everyday lives took more time out of their day to philosophize and expand on their dimensions, otherwise time is wasted.

Great verse from "When We Make Love". There is no indication of the sex or gender of the writer, and the beautiful part is that it describes the human spirit. "I exist without a plan" means to me the human need to find companionship. We are social beings that thrive with the support and interaction of others, regardless whether it is in the conversation or physical aspect. Man, Woman, Heterosexual or not we have the same needs.
Missing discussions.
~Julie Salas

*** Julie, well, well, well, I am flattered that you not only entered the conversation, but even knew about and are reading the blog. As a previous student in both of the classes I mentioned, you had actual experiences being a part of those so-called "hot" conversations. Thanks for your contributions then, and now. Good looking out! *** --J.W.

I dare say, "boring" is not the word I would use to describe this blog!

Interesting- the part of the blog in which you describe your class's conversations and papers was very sexy- becoming progressively more heated as you went on. This was experienced by me in a physical way - call it sexual, or erotic. It was intellectual certainly, but also very sensual and hot. I felt as if I wanted to be a fly on the wall in your classroom and rent those movies right away

But the poem-this held such a different tone for me. It might be sexy, but that would represent only the most basic dimension. The feeling in the poem is so much bigger than sexy- so much deeper than sexy. It's hard to describe it.

The poem blew me away.

To be the subject of this poem would be the most amazing thing.

In my mind I hear a man's voice saying these things to his woman. I hear that because this would be my perfect fantasy. These words would be the words I would most want to hear as a woman from her lover, or partner - a man, in my case, It is for me, the most romantic notion, that someone could revel in words shared with me as much as in the physical union, but, at the same time, would see the physical union as having so much meaning as to give his life a "plan". That would be almost too much to take in.

That said- There is room in this life, for it all, for-"hooking up" (if that is defined as sex outside of a romance or love relationship- sex for sex's sake alone). Why not? It is raw and it is all about the senses- and it can be uncomplicated (or can it?). There is room for sex within romance or "making love" where it becomes one of many ways of communicating with one's partner- or when, in that "instant (we) unite as one" a person fulfills that search for merger that is the antidote to the solitude, isolation or alienation that we all experience as human beings. There is room for all of it, but it is important to know which it is. What is tricky is when one person is defining the sexual connection one way- and his or her partner is defining it in quite another way. This is where I think the gender piece comes in. I think that men are seen as wanting to "hook up"- if I am understanding how that is defined (haven't read the article). The stereotype of men wanting sex for sex's sake, sex without attachment or obligation, sex without "feelings". Women are seen as more emotionally attached- needing to be held, needing to hear the words that make them know (or believe) that sex was not just sex, they were not "used" for sex alone, but are cared about. All of this is changing as the boundaries between "male" behavior and "female" behavior continue to blur- as men are allowed to be "romantic and emotional" and women are allowed to be sexually aggressive and independent. I would imagine these differences become even more complex in gay and lesbian relationships.

Now I feel as if I may be rambling. Oh, I haven't even addressed the "marriage" part. That is way too complicated. Can the sentiments in the poem sustain the bumps and bruises that society - and time -subject them too? Can you legislate a relationship? If not, how can we begin to let go of our collective illusions of lifetime commitment? With what would we replace it?

*** AMW, so, you like it a bit heated, eh! And for the record, I have already stretched the boundaries of what the P-R probably considers a PG-13 blog site. So, don't you go talking about your fantasies, at least not in public! Shhh!!!

I am feeling your analysis of the acceptable intimate practices that two lovers should be able to share. In a contemporary Judeo-Christian reality if that intimacy isn't about procreation, then it better be about situating the relationship so that one day the two people involved in the positioning (did I just say that) would at least be positioned to one day procreate. You just ripped the lid right off of that notion though, qualifying "the action" that transcends notions of traditional sex (intimacy between two friends or not in-love lovers) and love making (intimacy between two people "in love," or two people who can generate that type of "in love" intensity in their sexual act when they simply love or greatly respect one another).

Hey, that "other thing" doesn't necessarily have to be aligned for either gender I would think. If it happens amidst either sex or love making and the lover is thinking love making while they are receiving sex, if they are misaligned, it shouldn't take two people deep in their own unique form of communication any time to get on the same page.

I could go on and on here, but then I'd be profusely sweating at my computer at 1:54 in the morning from the intensity of the thought I am putting down, as well as a response, in a philosophical conversation about intimacy.
I can't go out like that though! However, I'll get back to you, believe it! *** --J.W.

College students often take courses on biology, economics, anthropology and an array of other subjects that examine the universe within the university. Today, students rarely find courses that deal with some of the quotidian and intimate activities that people engage in like sex, love, romance and marriage. I commend you J.W. Kinsey…sorry, J.W. Wiley, for having the courage and the intellectual dexterity and flexibility to put it out there. These topics are at the heart of the human experience and need to be central in the examination of the universe within the university.

Most of us have been spoon fed ideas on romance, love and marriage since we were in kindergarten. Our fascinations with the Lion King and Cinderella and other kid movies only facilitated the conditioning of our romantic perceptions, as well as our heterosexual inclinations at an early age. Some of us knew that there was something more to Nala and Simba’s tumble down that hill. What did they do at the bottom of the hill after their flirtatious battle? Curious to hear a response and yet having vague knowledge on the subject, some of us were downright direct and asked our parents how babies were made. What society tried to keep hidden from our virgin senses often managed to seep into our imaginations and titillate our curious minds. As our parents went to bed after a night of flirting, it reminded us of Nala and Simba going down that hill and of course that song…“can you feel the love tonight?” These innocent images became the stepping stones from where we were to discover our romantic inclinations and sexual temperaments.

But Disney and mainstream conceptions of romance, love, sex and marriage have mostly been patriarchal and homophobic in their scope. They have given us no room to experiment and have cast us into predetermined romantic and sexual roles that often disable our imagination. The idea that Cinderella would find a lovely prince charming reinforces female inferiority and their dependence on male approval, which stunts female erotic and sensual development. The idea that Simba and Nala were meant to get married reinforced heterosexual marriage and completely denied the possibility for same sex relationships that are as romantic and passionate as “normal” ones.

With this said, I think it is not unusual to read the lines of the poem “When We Make Love” and assume that it involves a heterosexual relationship or that it was a “straight” person who wrote it. There often is no room for the experience of the “crooked” in the mainstream. With the idealistic, rigid and intransigent conceptions of love and romance we swallowed from kindergarten to puberty, it often becomes impossible to consider alternative possibilities. So what’s the challenge? The challenge is to engage in intense, sensual and sexy conversations on sex, romance, love and marriage in order to re-conceptualize our ideas on such matters. Some of us are happy with the normalized and accepted ideas on such matters but we need to be aware that as we reinforce these ideals and posit them as generic and universal, we become complicit in the oppression of others who act and think in romantically different ways. The last thing I’ll say is let the convo begin. And by the way, don’t forget the Smirnoff.

~Enigma AA

*** Enigma AA, first, undoubtedly, you brought it! Now that is how I really feel. However, as the blog master I must censor you because I probably shouldn't publicly condone anyone attacking one of our most precious institutions: marriage, or its cousins, romance, sex, and love. So, my other thought is that you need to chill the hell out!!! You can't go around ruining people's conception of romance, sex, love and marriage by telling them they are succumbing to their socialization. They will get very upset with you. Our responses to R, S, L, & Marriage are conditioned, even by unassuming though insidious mediums like the so-called wholesome Disney films, love songs we sing as we gaze into our first love interest's eyes, and Harlequin Romance novels (of course, except your's Joanne).

Most of the people who may read this blog and read your response would want to fight you over your accusation of them being blindly bamboozled, cleverly coerced toward a manipulated market driven reality of romance. Though the same crew denying their socialization on the R,S, L, & Marriage front then would probably receive news of a woman leaving her family to relocate in a different city to advance her family somehow as that woman deserting her family. However, let her husband get the same opportunity and he is just doing what a man should do to advance his family.

Lastly, your assertion that the poem WWML or other sexy or sensual vehicles like it could be the catalyst for our escaping some of our puritanical posturing is right on point! Maybe you, AMW, and some of the others in this conversation need to kick off a spoken word night (similar to the lyrical lair in my favorite romantic film Love Jones) where we can put this type of thought out there for more broad consumption. Oh, who am I kidding! No one really enjoys talking about this stuff, right! *** --J.W.

I think the blog is great. So cool that people can actually have conversations about sex, love, and romantic relationships. People should have more of these conversations. Maybe then more people would feel comfortable with their sexualness and sensuality. This would make for healthier marriages, relationships and less divorce and violence. As for the poem and the class it makes me want to read the rest of it and take your class. Wish there were more than 24 hours in the day.

*** M&L, of course I agree that we don't discuss these topics enough, which is why I designed the course. I can't begin to imagine how much differently I would have handled my relationships if I had been privy to these types of conversations when I was entering full fledged adulthood. Oh well, it is never too late to mature, I guess!

Maybe to put a smile on your face, if others ask for it as well, I might continue to drop other stanzas of the poem onto the blogsite. However, some of the stanzas are far too hot for general consumption, believe me! *** --J.W.

I think Enigma AA is quite accurate in stating the challenge that exists in breaking sexual, romantic, and marital boundaries that prevail in socities patriarchal, heterosexual norm. The challenge is indeed discussing such topics with a diverse array of flavor in order to reconceptualize our meanings of sexuality, romance, love, and marriage.

I think that the problem in truly overcoming such a challenge on a personal or societal level is that people become complacent with the meanings ascribed to the concepts of sex, romance, love, marriage. No doubt there is a human tendency to conform to what we are taught and to narrowly see it as true, as right, as definite. So long as one fits into the norm on such matters they absorb no friction or ostracism and slide on down the slippery slope of patriarchy and heterosexuality that inherently delivers discrimination and prejudice to the doorsteps of those with creative sexually romanticized loving marital ideas. In fact, the "construction of normalcy" has such a profound effect on individuals that even those who are outside the said norm can develop the ability to oppress themselves and to perpetuate societies strict conceptulizations of sex, romance, love and marriage. For instance I know an individual who sexually and romantically loves men, or if you would so rigidly prefer to categorize him, he's homosexual. What concerns me is when I hear him deliberately use words that are negatively associated with homosexuals in a degrading fashion. Perhaps this is an example of internalized oppression instilled by an oppresive society?

The key isn't reconceptualizing such subjects into categories and definitions. The true reconceptualization of sex, romance, love, and marriage would involve a genuine understanding that each and every individual ought to necessarily have the right to define and give meaning to such concepts as they see appropriate. Unfortunately I think our capitalistic and judeo-christian background deters us from establishing our own meanings of anything. We live in a world where everything already seems to be figured out and with meaning, even if it is only illusionary and vulnerable to deconstruction.

As a heterosexual male I read WWML and whether I like it or not I automatically paint a portrait of a man writing a poem for a woman. This isn't to say I don't stop and tell myself I could be wrong and that the poem could be for a man by a woman, for a man by another man, for a woman by a woman, for a transsexual by a man, for a transgendered by a woman, etc.... However it goes to show the power that lies in our conceptions of sex, romance, love, and marriage. I don't think its necessarily wrong to see things through the eyes of your own sexual preference so long as you acknowledge the ways in which other eyes are dismissed and the ways you could potentially be contributing to that dismissal. So long as you actively pursue a path that encourages these "other" eyes to remain open and no longer be the "other".

With a male perspective, for some reasons which I will explore, as soon as I read the lines, "But that instant that we unite as one, does hold the upper hand", I can hear SOME heterosexual women saying "with men it's always about the sex". Could this be a double-standard that exists in society? Do some women connect men's sexuality with the idea that men exploit women for sex and aren't capable of being the intense lovers that women are? Do some women become preoccupied with men's seemingly overt sexuality as a flaw of all men because they have been told to condemn and denounce their own sexuality? Certainly more women today are becoming much more liberal and taking their sexuality back. Realistically women exploit men sexually also. Is this a good sign? Will this help diminish the double-standard that a man who gets his is a pimp but a woman who gets hers is a ho? Everyone ought to have the right to sexuality but is exploiting people sexually ever ok? Isn't there such thing as just mutual sexual satisfaction, or exploitation if you wish to call it, outside the realm of love, romance, and marriage?

Furthermore what does my own interpretation of the poem show about myself? Do I buy into an often underlying idea that men exploit women sexually? Certainly I exemplify a line of heterosexual thought considering I can't as easily try and interpret the dynamic of such matters pertaining to homosexuality. Perhaps I'm acknowledging that I have questioned my sexual desires towards women and sometimes try to interpret their morality. Perhaps this is a problem in and of itself. In the movie "The Shape Of Things" an art display wall reads "There is no place for a moralist in an art gallery". Should the same apply to sex, romance, love, and marriage? Should there be no place for morals and the judgements they bring in discussions about sex? How about romance, love, and marriage? I think our entire normalization and conceptualization of sex, love, romance, and marriage stems from a belief system. A belief system that follows certain morals perpetuated by a judeo-christian background.

I think that certain morals only exist because we create them. Sure, I won't try and advocate absolute relativism, it's just something I'm convinced musn't be commendable. Pedophiles and the likes aren't ok, they are indeed reprehensible. However, I think there must be a level of relativism that is allowed and tolerated in people's meanings of sex, romance, love, and marriage. Certainly there are no universals when it comes to sex, as long as its between two consenting adults. It's interesting though to see how the prevailing and ruling heterosexual idea of sex really solidifies and universalizes the concepts of love and marriage. Just look at the debates of homosexual matrimony. People are literally up in arms about such boundary breaking ideas. They deserve meaning just as heterosexuals marriages have been legitimized.

I think I may have rambled and been all over the place.... but come on man and woman, come on homosexual and heterosexual, come on transgendered and transsexual, come on! "Lets talk about sex baby, lets talk about YOU and ME"....and also ROMANCE, LOVE, and MARRIAGE!

For a more realistic discussion of 'hooking up,' see Tom Wolfe's essay of the same name, or read Barret Seaman's "Binge." Many college students of the past 20-30 years are focusing on physical pleasure and personal gratification.

I wanted to comment on THAE's posting. I was confused as what was meant by "a more realistic dicussion of hooking up". Perhaps I'm wrong and making a false connection, but it seems to me that there was an implication of unrealistic dicussions of "hooking up" occuring on this blog. I read bits of each mentioned book and they seem to hold at least some valuable insight into the ideas dicussed about sensuality. However, I hold all opinions and thoughts dropped on this page to be completely realistic. I also would like to understand how college students are focusing on physical pleasure and personal gratification. Care to explain, I'm intrigued.

Oh, J. W., as I peruse your piece and those of your bloggers, I shutter to think how I would fare in your class. I am neither an "intellectual" nor am I analytical. Intelligent, dubiously: direct, absolutely. I suspect I’d receive a D- in your class, and, that, because I’d warm a seat in all your lectures, add my remarks and you might consider that worthy.

As the old grandfather in Moonstruck said, “I’m confused.” Although I do admire the keen analysis of all the respondents, over-examining sensuality and love is beyond my ken. I’m a simple gal … I’d be a candidate for the asylum if I had to dissect every relationship I’ve had in my more than eventful and fairly long life.

If anyone says, as was popular in my college days “love is a feeling.” I’ll scream! But, love and sensuality, in essence, cannot be overly scrutinized to the point of negating the power of natural physical and intellectual attraction.

My range of poetry is limited. John Donne’s Daybreak, I understand. It’s sweet and lovely … simple and to the point.

STAY, O sweet and do not rise!
The light that shines comes from thine eyes;
The day breaks not: it is my heart,
Because that you and I must part.
Stay! or else my joys will die
And perish in their infancy.

Or, jocular

It was a Lover and his Lass by William Shakespeare
It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o'er the green corn-field did pass,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Or, my favorite “love” piece … analyzing Robbie Burns's love affair with the haggis. Such words of devotion to this Scottish dish might be misconstrued and banned in Boston! But, fun at a Burns dinner!

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
Aboon them a' yet tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin was help to mend a mill
In time o'need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin', rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Bethankit! hums.

Oh, there’s’ more, but, enough’s enough. Perchance, I'm comic relief. I’m having such a good time reading your words and hope - one day - to meet you in person.

*** Lynda, the pleasure of meeting you I am sure would be all mine in comparison to what you would get in exchange. But thanks for the compliment!

A "D" in my class would only be given to you if you succumbed to the poetry of someone that motivated you to miss to many of my classes for some form of a tete-a-tete with the poet. Your representation in the discussions within this blog has you situated deeply in the crew. When someone is in the crew, they help set the pace. You wouldn't have any problems being in the game in one of my classes.

I do agree! Overanalyzing anything is problematic, but romance, sex, or love even more so in certain contexts. This may be one of our rare disagreements or perhaps we just hadn't provided one another with the details. You see, I don't think an analysis should be underway when lovers are themselves underway. While the conversation can be whatever the lovers designate as comfortable (and analysis of some sort or other could garner that designation), generally speaking, an immediate analysis of the last move one of the lovers made on the other is a huge mood killer. With you about this I do agree. But I think it isn't overanalysis to analyze while in the afterglow, or upon retrospection about those moments. Analysis and engagement can elevate the next intimate moment and/or moments beyond that to a level that isn't safe to articulate in this PG-13 /R conversation. But believe me, it is another whole level to the phenomenon popularly known as the verbals. *** --J.W.

J.W. could you please explain to me what the "verbals" are?

*** NJ, sure I'll explain the "verbals." First, it is urban slang that is directly related to pre, actual, and post coital conversation, not too dissimilar from pillow talk. Just as some aspects of contemporary society have developed an affinity for rap music because of its beats,rhymes, and gritty realism, the "verbals" have been popularized as an essential ingredient to erotic engagement that is desirous of added style or (to use urban slang again), "flava" to what has often been portrayed as a physical, yet silent act. As a matter of fact, Hollywood depictions of sex or love making seldom provide an audio, beyond certain sighs of satisfaction or appreciation, or the stereotypical acknowledgements of love. The verbals to sex, love making, and that "other thing" can have an impact similar to the dunk in basketball as opposed to the lay up, though the best analogy probably is captured when you watch an old silent movie and contrast those films now to our language. While silent films have their special place in film history, and quiet, non-talkative intimacy does as well, the popularity of silent films died once people realized how good it was to "actually" hear people expressing their feelings. Need I say more to clarify this point, or do you get the analogy?

"Verbals" are also considered an art form within the domain of urban romantic sexual expression. An individual with good "verbals" can be intoxicatingly poetic with her/his word choices at precise moments, often adding another level to the pleasure received from the emotions being expressed throughout the act. An example of "verbals" being delivered could range from whispering in your lover's ear to shouting at the top of your lungs your feelings about the moment you two are sharing. An example of the types of things that might be considered "verbals" can range from heartfelt sentiments about what is actually taking place that exact moment to creatively articulated thought accentuated with affectionately expressed profanity. The "verbals" are supposedly a thing of beauty to behold, experience, or receive when done well, but like most things, would be an acquired taste and the extreme gangsta version of the verbals might not be for the faint at heart.

I won't go into any more examples because they would range based on the terms of endearment of various localities and regions. In other words, everyone's "verbals" are discretionary and purposeful to their specific and desired goals, but more often than not they are used as an aphrodisiac. I hope this helps! *** --JW

For Freud, it all stemmed sexual. Everyone wanted their mothers and fathers; we were sexual beings, ravished by erotic inclinations that society best restrain, or, to choose a more appropriate word, repress.

Thankfully, Wilhelm Reich, while embracing the concept of sexual beings, opted to celebrate a most basic physical act that, while achieving the goal of continuing life, can induce periods of intense pleasure and energy in this often mundane and even punishing existence.

Reich pointed out that by repressing a most basic instinct and physical act, the human species was choosing a path of supression and subservience that has paved the way for such chaotic conditions as facism. He further theorized that by simply riding the natural flow of our being's waves we would bask in a plentitude of positive energy and be so consumed with mental and physical bliss, we would significantly decrease the pursuit of anything but humanistic aspirations.

Sartre and de Beauvoir were right to state existence precedes essence, and it's unfortunate the blank slate has been bombarded by misguided notions that something as natural as sex has to be so complicated and tainted by perverted affiliations created by the controlling who are afraid of freedom.

I hate to play the cynic here, but, as usual, I will.

The verse in the poem, as I read it now, shows me just how powerful hormones can be. The feeling of unity, and of one-ness that the poem expresses, is not the magical, mystical, divine thing that Aristophanes makes it out to be. It's a chemical response, created by the body, to force us to reproduce. Looking at sex from the biological aspect, it's nothing special.

I think the conversation after may be more important than the moment when two "unite" (in the physical sense). After all, it's wonderful to have physical pleasure, but the pleasure of the mind is more intense, more real, and far more virtuous.

To quote the ancient Greek cynic Diogenes of Sinope, "Love is the occupation of the idle"

Well, that's my take on it. Who knows if I'm right?

For starters, my reaction to the poem itself was startling. I was moderately concerned by the realization that I did immediately imagine a man reciting the poem to a woman. It, of course, isn’t a problem if the couple is heterosexual, however my reason for picturing them as such is. I pictured a man speaking to a woman, not because I placed myself in the role of the one hearing the poem and desire a man, but because it is what I have been socially taught to expect.

I am a bisexual woman, a proud member of SOUL (sexual orientation ubiquity league), and have what one could classify as the opposite reaction of "dislike" to seeing two men engaged in intimacy. Yet, I still imagined a man saying this to a woman whose heart went a flutter at the show of sentimentality. What does it say about my own socialization if my immediate reading was the Disney version of the poem? If my first thoughts are to look for the “social norm” then perhaps my thought patterns need to be broadened. I'm a socially accepting person, but is that to the extent that I accept things that are different but still see them as different even when I personally identify with them? Can we actually get to a point of acceptance that doesn't simply "accept difference" but no longer defines variation as "the other?"

Reactions to other readers:

"The idea that Simba and Nala were meant to get married reinforced heterosexual marriage and completely denied the possibility for same sex relationships that are as romantic and passionate as “normal” ones." –Enigma
>> Though some would argue it just “happened” to be that way, another message that the movie sends to the children watching is that when two men decide to live together (Simon and Pumba) they are exiled to a small island away from the rest of civilization.

"...hooking up ... is raw and it is all about the senses- and it can be uncomplicated (or can it?)." -AMW
>> I think that uncomplicated intimacy is possible if communication is done beforehand. The problem is that communication either goes unmentioned or would be a major mood killer. If two people decide to engage in completely casual intimacy (that is to say emotionally casual and physically intimate, as intimacy isn’t generally defined as casual) it needs to be with the understanding, on both parts, that it IS completely casual. The time when ‘coupling’ is unable to be uncomplicated occurs when the partners want different levels of commitment and aren’t discussing it.

"It is for me, the most romantic notion, that someone could revel in words shared with me as much as in the physical union." -AMW
>> I also had a similar thought to Brennan’s about the poem being driven by hormones. It is clear from the poem that this is “verbals” and that they have just (I would assume) made love. My first thought to reading it was: ‘yeah yeah, he’s got some intense afterglow.’ Tell me you love me six hours from now when my hair is a mess and I have squishy face from just waking up, then I’ll listen.

"...and the lover is thinking love making while they are receiving sex..." -JW
>> Does that mean that if one partner is intimate with someone they love but the other partner doesn’t love them, that the act isn’t making love? If it’s making love to one and sex to the other, where does the truth lie? Does the act become defined by the ‘least emotional’ of the two? Can one single act be two completely different things? Or does it then become some combination of the two; we’ll call it “making sex.” To tangent for a moment, this ties back to our in-class discussion of racism. If one person perceives that someone is racist and the other ‘didn’t say anything remotely racist’ (Me, Myself, and Irene) is it racism? Is it both? If reality is defined by perception, which perception do we take, or can every person have their own reality? If so, can anything ever be truth?

P.s. The new nickname J.W. Kinsey? Awesome.

-Leanne Wilensky

Brennan- I assume that when you refer to the pleasure of the mind you are speaking of pleasure that is a result of intellectual activity and stimulation. If this is indeed what you are referring to I would agree that there is something much more virtuous about this than the pleasure we receive from sex. Perhaps I think this is true because I believe the mind can leave a greater impression on society than someone with an extraordinary sexual prowess. One orgasm, or even multiples for that matter, can't last as long as the contributions of our most influential intellectual beings. And certainly if an orgasm could compete in duration, we would all like to meet this sexual dynamo, probably no matter what our sexual preference. However, I don't understand what you mean when you characterize this type of pleasure as being more "real". How is pleasure of the mind detached from physical pleasure? I can't distinguish between the biological nature of sex that you describe and the way biology can also be applied to the intellectual pleasure you describe. It seems the more I proceed at interpreting pleasure in a biological sense the more meaningless even intellectual contributions become. Yet I already said there is something much more special about pleasures of the mind. Hmmm... what do you think?

Hi, i noticed your blog in the 11 am radioshow on Simply Shaggin LA, these people created a radio show all over writing a blog and web 2.0. Just after that radio show i'll try to hit the road to your article about Ways of Seeing Sensuality (Wiley Wandering). Superb post mate! I hits the point - Its excellent to notice only a single blogger from a whole lot i browse who understands what he is posting about! Stay on your way.

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