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Men in Love

by N. Frideay

  • ISBN: 9780385333429
  • ISBN10: 0385333420

Men in Love

by N. Frideay

  • List Price: $18.00
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Bantam Dell Pub Group
  • Publish date: 08/10/1998
  • ISBN: 9780385333429
  • ISBN10: 0385333420
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Description: Chapter 1 THE MASCULINE CONFLICT This is a book about men who love women. Women may not easily recognize that emotion in these pages. These are not conventional valentines. His secret garden is not like mine. A contemporary confusion is that if the sexes are equal, it must mean they are identical; men often predicted I''d find their fantasies similar to women''s. We may seek the same goal in fantasy--sexual excitement--but men and women get there by different paths. A fantasy is a map of desire, mastery, escape, and obscuration; the navigational path we invent to steer ourselves between the reefs and shoals of anxiety, guilt, and inhibition. It is a work of consciousness, but in reaction to unconscious pressures. What is fascinating is not only how bizarre fantasies are, but how comprehensib each one gives us a coherent and consistent picture of the personality--the unconscious--of the person who invented it, even though he may think it the random whim of the moment. A man has a reverie of meeting a blond woman in a purple nightgown. He doesn''t know why the colors are exciting; his unconscious does, but doesn''t bother to explain. The man only knows the blonder, the purple-ier, the more heated he grows. Soon he is inventing scenarios of bare-breasted models hired to test new peroxide hair bleaches, supplied by a company that arbitrarily orders all contestants to wear purple underwear. If the plot seems silly, what does it matter? The erotic has its reasons that reason doesn''t know. Like an Einsteinian equation whose logic would take hours to unravel, a fantasy appears in the mind with the speed of light, connecting hitherto seemingly unrelated and mysterious forces in the internal erotic universe, resolving inconsistencies and contradictions that seemed insuperable before. Nothing is included by accident. If the woman is tall or short, if she forgets her birth control pills and so intercourse carries the risk of pregnancy--if there is a cuckoo clock on the wall--it is all meaningful to the inventor''s heightened sexuality. In real life, ambivalence abounds. Women want men, men want women; our dreams of one another, fantasies, not only express our most direct desires but also portray the obstacles that must be symbolically overcome to win sexual pleasure. Fantasy is as close as we will ever come again to the omnipotent joys we once knew as infants. In a moment of rage we say, "I''d like to kill you!" This is a fleeting fantasy, a satisfying violent image which expresses the overheated mood of the moment. But how likely are we to pull a gun and do it? It is important to recognize that not all fantasies are frustrated wishes. This is one of the most common misconceptions about fantasy. The very courage of fantasies in facing up to, and giving relief to, unconscious horrors, can sometimes make them hard to take. In 1975, I met a man who had written a book on men''s sexual daydreams. "The material was so awful and creepy," he said, "I couldn''t even talk to my contributors on the phone. I made them speak into an automatic answering machine, and then had the stuff typed up. I couldn''t even bring myself to correct the galleys." I had not read his book and was not surprised never to hear of it again. Beneath their locker room camaraderie and famous mutual support systems, it appeared, men were as sexually restrictive and normative with one another as women have traditionally been with their sisters. Wouldn''t a woman who does not see men as competitors or sexual rivals have fewer hurdles in accepting male sexuality, no matter what turns it might take? All my life I''d dreamed of men and sought their company. Even more than the eight years I''d spent researching two books on women''s fantasies (My Secret Garden and Forbidden Flowers), I believed this simple, uninstructed love of men was my best credential for undertaking this work. I found I had awarded myself the palm too easily. While the sexual fantasies of many men were a pleasure and easily available to my emotions right from the start, others disgusted or frightened me. Many seemed outpourings from macho braggarts out to shock or trap me in filth. I was like the Victorian husband who encourages his wife to tell all. When she does, he leaves her. Oh, I''d had a few difficult moments in my earlier books with women who were aroused--for instance--by a loss of bladder control; but on the whole I was able to accept any feminine notion, if only on grounds that it came from a woman. When a woman called a cock a cock, talked of being rammed or reamed, described her cunt juices or the sensation of sucking on a dog''s erection, any trepidation I might feel was outweighed by admiration: Our side was breaking through the centuries of female silence at last. But when men used words like cunt lapping or pussy, they aroused early, primitive fears. Louder than the unabashed sensual love the words were meant to express, I heard the harshness and disdain of the street slang. Long before sex and men had entered my life, a woman had taught me to be a lady. "Excuse my vocabulary," more than one man wrote me. At first I would smile at these apologies. I have come to see that my contributors knew me better than I did. Ladies. Gentlemen. Cunts. Cocks. To put the four words together is to show how little they seem to have to do with each other. How could I respect a man who wanted to be pissed or shit on? While I felt it was life-enhancing for a woman to dream of sex with two men, I felt compassion for the unfortunate woman married to a man so low he ejaculated to fantasies of showing off her cunt to a stranger. Something in me could not accept men unless they conformed to dreams of my own. The Fantasy Queen had opened a Pandora''s box she could not handle. I do not necessarily expect sex to be pretty; that is to demean it, attenuate its primitive force. But many of these fantasies were more than I wanted to hear. Why, they were filth! Letter after letter left me with a feeling that I wanted to wash my hands. I often did. Even as I reached for the soap, I had to laugh at myself. Where was my vaunted objectivity? I watched my disgust with fascination. When my editors suggested I clean up my copy, substitute "excrement" for shit, "sex" for fucking, I objected; if I latinized my writing, drew a sharp line between my text and the four-letter language of fantasy itself, I would be joining the very army of inhibitors I was protesting against. And yet, demanding this freedom for myself, cheering it enthusiastically when it was exercised by women, here I was, objecting to it in men. Today, while I still find some of this material difficult, I no longer see it as a personal affront. It might be said that familiarity freed me; the third time around, the shock is abated. But that is too simple. It would be more accurate to say I could not come to terms with this book until I had won free of the narcissistic desire to see men in a way that enlarged my own view of myself. All my life I''ve been haunted by a little girl''s voice within that said women needed men--I needed men--more than they needed us. Men could always go off to Singapore or drink alone in bars, but women ceased to exist in their own eyes when men were gone. I watch the ease with which some women today decide to build a life without men (who never lived up to their expectations anyway) in favor of pursuing newly won autonomy. I can understand the sense of freedom born of ridding oneself of the childish--and ultimately false--security that comes from binding oneself to a man; but I do not believe men could ever abandon women so swiftly. In fact, this book has persuaded me that men want women more than the other way around. Toward satisfying their love, need, desire, lust, men will give up more than women will. Women call themselves the loving sex; we are always waiting for men, always dreaming of them. We need them to put to rest the gnawing anxiety that comes from never being taught a sense of independent worth or self. Is this love or is it dependency? When men do offer love, why is it so often felt to be lacking: "Hold me tighter, never let me go," women beg, unable to find in any man''s arms the kind of iron security that dependent, passive people need. The point I want to make is this: Is it the man she really wants, or is it the relief from anxiety which he symbolized? When women can get their emotional needs satisfied elsewhere, don''t they often forget about men? Take the familiar picture of a woman who has found such close-close togetherness with her children that father feels left out. How many men do you know who neglect their wives for their children? Men are trained to find their security in themselves. Women are their emotional outlet, their main source of love. If, as women believe, men are so lucky, so self-sufficient, so free, dominant, and irresponsible, living in an option-filled man''s world, why do they give it all up for marriage? Men may resist, but in the end most do marry because they want women more than anything else; if responsibilities, mortgages, ulcers, child care, and monogamy are part of the package they must buy to get women, they''ll do it. The thesis of this book is that men''s love of women is filled with rage. Observation shows that in the end love wins out over rage. In the end, I came to see that even people who wrote in an attempt at aggressive sexual contact with me were also moved by a kind of love and desire for connection with, no
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