In a recent post, I shared about my introduction to the female body when I was ten years old and encountered hundreds of topless women on a small beach in the Algarve. That was the start of the sexually repressive, Dutch Reformed education of my childhood that blinded me and enslaved me to the unseen, evolutionary force within us all that was shaped over billions of years. Yes, billions. Scientists have established that "the origin of sexual reproduction is around 2 billion years ago."
This is a great example of the power of stories: Only a few thousand years ago, someone actually conceived the idea that if we brandish the mere thought of extramarital sex as 'sin', we could overcome this 2 billion year old force working within and through us all. That didn't work out too well, so only a few hundred years ago, humans conceived another idea that the mere belief in a God that's also a man, that's also a God, would be conceived by a virgin and then die at the hands of men, but resurrected by the hands of God (it's okay if you're now completely lost)... would empower us to overcome our 2 billion year old procreative needs.
The Biblical story, through the immaculate conception, amplified sex and imbued it with a sublime and transcendent meaning, even though it's true conceptual sway lies in our fear of rejection. It was a lost battle from the start. Now Biblical preachers try to emasculate men and subjugate women. Feminists try to revivify women and pacify men. You don't need victory over your sexual needs – You need recognition of its inevitability.
However, you may need victory over the stories that have enslaved you that you've adopted from your parents, society and the media. Now that you are here, it's up to you to seek out more meaningful stories.
Parents, talk to your children. Not merely about the pyrotechnics, but about the beauty of being vulnerable. Talk about the times that you acted selfishly and the effect it had on your partner. Or talk about the times that you experienced the beauty of unconditional acceptance in the midst of your vulnerability.
You may have read about my journey of how I extricated myself from the Christian story, but before that, for half of my adult life, whenever I found myself in seclusion with, and mutually attracted to another woman, we teetered on the edge of what could hardly be considered a complete sexual act. Only to repent for our sins two days later as the lyrics and chords of the worship band uncovered our need for romantic love and acceptance. Inevitably, the only safe space to express my vulnerability, however shameful, would be when I am alone, with the two dimensional, faux performance flickering on the blue screen in front of me.
When I embarked on this photographic project with Annette, I was already aware of how my own perspective on women is inflected by the pervasive 'male gaze.' Would I be able to create something that is honest and meaningful? But Annette radiates love and
and our collaboration presented me with an opportunity to recognize and observe my own preoccupations with the female body, to create a 'safe space' for her to express her femininity in complete vulnerability, and to capture, not merely the erotic quality of the female nude, but the actual patterns shaped by the light that reflect from the cluster of atoms that is her beguiling shape.
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