Tag Archives: personal

Sinful Sunday: My Hands

My hands aren’t beautiful. They’re smaller, female versions of my dad’s massive paws – strong and wide, not elegant and long. But that’s why I love them. They’re good and reliable. They’re sensitive and brave. They express things I don’t have words for. I love the way they touch. They aren’t pretty but I trust them and that means a lot.

And following on the theme of Favorites, this photo was taken while I was thinking about one of my favorite things…. I’ll leave it to you to imagine what that is. (For I am a kind and gentle, heartless tease).

Picture of Malin James's hand for Hand post Sinful Sunday

To see more Sinful Sunday Favorites, click the pretty lips.

Sinful Sunday

Unbearably Sexy

Black and white photograph of Michael Fassbender for Vogue issue April 2012 for Unbearably Sexy post by Malin James

Michael Fassbender & Natalia Vodianova for Vogue, April 2012

I should preface this by saying that this isn’t what I’d call a proper post. It’s more of a message from my id…. Carry on.

Yesterday, I stumbled over this photograph of Michael Fassbender and Natalia Vodianova from the April 2012 issue of Vogue. It’s gorgeous, dramatic and ambiguous – just the sort of thing I love. But “gorgeous, dramatic and ambiguous” makes it sound like my response to it was  dreamy and appreciative in a purely aesthetic way.

It wasn’t.

My response was an immediate shot of violent arousal. It’s the sort of feral jolt I don’t usually get unless the source of my arousal is either very personal or touchably in front of me.

In the wake of this fantastically primal response, I tweeted the photo with the caption “This is unbearably sexy” because that’s exactly how it felt – unbearably sexy. This image is so sexy that it was literally difficult for me to bear. For some reason, it taps into every dark, delicious, predatory instinct I have. Even as I type this, I feel sharp and edgy.

I ended up DM’ing a bit later with a couple of women who had similar reactions – similar, but not quite the same. While we all got that holy hell, FUCK ME shot of arousal, the women I chatted with were pretty open about the fact that it was because they identified with, or wanted to be, Natalia Vodianova.

This is very much in keeping with what I assume to be the intention of the image given that it’s part of that issue’s cover feature on Michael Fassbender. Of course, the female reader is meant to identify with Vodianova. Who wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of Fassbender’s sleek concentration?

That’s what underpins the image’s visible cues – his control and her softness, the way he’s holding her still, her pretty glove on his sleeve, the precision of his hand vs. the carelessness of his writing…. I see all of those things and feel the pull of the same response – the one I should be having:

Let it be my hand on his sleeve and my temple he’s writing on. 

But it’s not. I’m reacting to something else – something I’ve manufactured in response to the image. Yes, it’s fed by his apparent control but it’s not because I want to be the lovely, pliant recipient of that attention. I don’t want to be the woman he’s doing it to, I want to be the woman he’s doing it for. I want to watch him while he does it and know that I’m under his skin.

Despite how that probably sounds, that desire doesn’t come from a place of dominance. It comes from the fact that I love power and confidence and force of will. I love prowess, and I love watching my partners exercise their prowess. It’s intensely exciting to me because equality is exciting to me – there is nothing as intimately hot as knowing that I am with someone whose will is as strong as mine, someone who can meet me step for step wherever we happen to go, especially when he trusts me to take the lead.

This photograph is not an image of that equality – it’s of a magnetic man exercising his prowess. Fassbender’s control, his focus, intensity and aloofness, the way he makes an object of her…it’s beautiful in the way a painting is beautiful. And so is the softness of her compliance. They are the picture of a dynamic that I would love to watch unfold…and, more importantly, that I would love to control.

So, where would I be in this picture?

Under his skin and in the back of his mind. In the pressure of the quill and his furrowed brow. In the drop of his shoulder and his barely parted lips.

He would bring me the taste of her perfume, like a token or a gift. He would bring me smudges of India ink, and I would lick the ink from his fingers and the perfume from his skin. I don’t own him. I wouldn’t want to. I love that he can’t be owned. But I’m in him; and in the ink; and in his impulse to write – by choice as much as will. And were I in his place, he would be in me too.

Muscle Memory

Earlier this week, I realized that I’ve run at least thirty minutes every day (often more) for a month. I’m not doing it to challenge myself, or even meet a private goal. I’m running every day because I’m dealing with quite a lot right now and running is, quite frankly, one of the ways I cope. I’m also doing because my body wants to, which is curious and cool. I haven’t felt that kind of habituated craving for movement in years, but it’s settled over me like a cozy, comforting sweater because so much of my early life was spent feeling it….

Partial of image of Malin James with feet in fifth position for Muscle Memory postI took this photo while I was playing with ideas for a Sinful Sunday, but this shot wasn’t intentional despite how contrived it looks. In fact, it wasn’t until I saw myself that I realized I’d inadvertently put my feet in fifth position and held my body in a way that was standard for me when I was dancing. Something about the corset reminded my body of my old training and my muscles obliged by putting me in that position without my even knowing it.

That subconscious physical response got me thinking. My dance training, though dormant for more than twenty years, surfaced unconsciously in what looks like a very unnatural pose, but which was, in fact, extremely natural for me ages ago. In a similar way, my running every day has woken up my old craving for movement, rhythm and that headspace you go into when your body is working like a well-oiled machine.

With all of that milling around in my brain, I started thinking about sex (of course). Aside from the obvious—that thinking about sex is lovely—sex is super relevant because the development of muscle memory is a feedback loop, and sex is full of feedback.

Think of the things that work for you every time – the way you spread your legs extra wide when someone goes down on you or rub the underside of your clit when you really need to come. All of those tiny movements that you instinctively know feel good? They’re anchored in muscle memory, honed with huge amounts of positive feedback –>

If I do this I get that crazy, awesome pleasure?? Goddamn! I’m going to do it more!

So you do, over and over again, until your body associates that movement with some crazy, awesome pleasure. Then, BAM – muscle memory becomes your sexy little friend.

It works in the converse too, unfortunately. Trauma gets physically internalized as surely as pleasure does. It’s one of the reasons people flinch if they’ve been hit in the face too often. Those negative physical memories play themselves out even more powerfully than the positive ones, which is part of why recovering from trauma is such a challenge.

Having said that (because it’s important to acknowledge that muscle memory can cause as much pain as it does joy), I want to drift back towards the positive, if only because that feels important right now.

Everything we experience physically, from running and dancing to stress and sex, impacts us in ways that may not be obvious at the time. I haven’t thought about tilting my hips since my first orgasm, but my body remembers how good it felt the first time I did, just like it knows that, if I do it, I’ll come twice as hard. Down in our cells, our bodies store experiences, almost like a physical archive. The lovely thing about it that, when those memories engage, our bodies let us feel good all over again.

We get that connection to our bodies for free, thanks to instinct and evolution. I haven’t thought about muscle memory in years despite having it drilled into me when I was young. Now that I have, I want to be more aware of it again. If reinforcing the physical memories we want (and gently disengaging those we don’t) means more joy and pleasure, more keenly felt, that can only be a good thing.

Love is Not a Pie

“Love is not a pie, honey. I love you and Ellen differently because you are different people […]. I don’t choose between you. And it’s the same way with Daddy and Bolivar. People think that it can’t be that way, but it can. You just have to find the right people.”

-Amy Bloom, Come to Me.

Art deco ad for a German cabaret for Love is Not a Pie post by Malin James

What if the woman in red were his wife?

Reading Amy Bloom’s story, “Love is Not a Pie”, was my first encounter with something like polyamory. Bloom didn’t call it “polyamory” or even “non-monogamy”. It was just a woman’s relationship with her long-term lover—a relationship supported by her husband because, for those characters, “love it not a pie”—there’s enough to go around.

In the scene that most stayed with me, the narrator’s father and her mother’s lover take a nap together, exhausted by grief over the death of the woman they both love. They lean on each other because they are the only two people in the world who can understand the immediacy and depth of the other’s loss. That, to me, makes sense. Those are good, healthy loves.

Sometimes I forget that what I experience as normal is not, in fact, the norm. When I look at the image above, I don’t see a man checking out a hottie behind his wife’s back. I wonder if the hottie in red is his wife…or the woman in black’s mistress. It does me no credit, but I tend to walk around in a sort of bubble, protected against the unconventional nature of my relationships by a community that is fundamentally accepting.

As a result, I get lulled into a false sense of normalcy. Of course, my husband has had girlfriends (one of them even became my bridesmaid). Of course, I go to London to see my boyfriend-partner-person. Of course, my boyfriend-partner-person has other emotionally committed relationships. It’s a lifestyle that feels healthy, honest, and stable because, to me, love is neither a pie nor a competition. In fact, The Other Livvy wrote an excellent piece about precisely that.

For all that though, sometimes I’m reminded that what I take for granted is, for some people, unconventional, unhealthy, and pretty confounding. I bring this up because I’ve gotten a surprising number of questions about the status of one of my relationships recently. After talking it over with Exhibit A (my partner in that relationship), I’ve decided to write a post addressing some of the questions / curiosities people have put to me.

Without getting into specifics, the issues are generally this:

  1. How can you love two people at the same time?
  1. How can you maintain different, emotionally connected relationships without one of those relationships suffering?

Before I launch into my thoughts, Exhibit A has been good enough to let me share his take on the subject….

Most of us are brought up with pretty traditional – and narrow – ideas about the nature of love and relationships. We’re taught that romantic love at least is finite, and acceptable only when focused on one person at a time. I struggled with that perceived constraint for a long time – it didn’t fit how I felt, but I also couldn’t see a way around it, and the relationships I formed suffered as a result.

Over the last few years, I’ve learned to take a more fluid, open view of love. Forming a primary bond with one person doesn’t preclude maintaining equally deep, valid, loving connections with other partners – indeed, as long as there is good communication, openness and honesty, each relationship actually supports and enhances the other. Not only am I much happier as a result of finding that out, I’m a better partner too, and finally feel like I’m able to express my feelings in a way that works for me.

-Exhibit A

The notion of fluidity that Exhibit A mentions is important. There are no guarantees in poly relationships, just as there are no guarantees in life. There is only the desire to take care of the people you love, and part of that care is allowing your relationships (and those of your partners) to change and grow.

For example, while my husband, James, and I have always been non-monogamous, we temporarily closed our relationship once. Of course, it helped that neither of us were in serious relationships at the time, but even if we had been, those other relationships would have been considered in that decision and quite possibly maintained, even if new relationships weren’t started. The key is open communication with everyone involved so that each relationship is allowed to grow and shift naturally.

Now, to bring it back around to the first of the two questions –  how can you genuinely love two people at the same time?

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure—it’s a bit like asking the caterpillar how it walks. All I can say is that it is possible though I think it has a great deal to do with how a person is wired and the nature of the relationships they find themselves in. Some relationships are safer and more emotionally supportive than others. I’ve been very lucky in that all of my serious poly relationships have been, with one exception, remarkably healthy, so my natural tendency to love / lust simultaneously has been positively reinforced.

The second question is easier to pin down. In fact, I suspect it might be simpler to address the first question through the second. The way you maintain two (or more) relationships without letting one negatively affect the other(s) is to engage your relationships honestly. Not every relationship will be a long-term love – some will be casual and some will run deep, but they all deserve respect and a certain level of investment. In other words, you need to feed the connection you have to each of your partners regardless of what’s happening in your other relationships. Here’s an example….

My roles as a wife and mother, while being an integral part of who I am, don’t negate my role as a partner in my other relationship. My relationship with Exhibit A doesn’t threaten my marriage (or vice versa) because James and I laid a foundation of trust and communication very early on. My marriage doesn’t threaten the health of my commitment to Exhibit A for the same reason, and it’s for that same reason that his other relationship(s) don’t detract from mine with him.

A lot of how polyamory works (or fails to work) has to do with a person’s motives for being in an open relationship to begin with. I’m not with Exhibit A because of some lack in my marriage. I’m with him because we share a genuine (and pretty fucking awesome) connection. That’s important because if I were using our relationship as an escape hatch for problems at home, both my marriage and my relationship to Exhibit A would be on pretty shaky ground. Instead, both are rock solid, existing side by side without one detracting from the other because one isn’t supplementing a lack and vice versa.

To that end, feeling secure in both of my relationships is the critical factor. That sense of security makes accepting and embracing Exhibit A’s (and James’s) other partner(s) a natural and happy thing, because I trust that our foundation is solid regardless of who or how he loves.

Admittedly, the only reason any of this works is because there is genuine love, attraction and connection on all sides, and because the principle relationships involved are emotionally committed and have been for some time. In addition to honest attempts at communication, everyone involved has genuinely good intentions. No one is angling, lying or undermining. While we don’t exist in a utopia where birds talk and mice do your laundry, everyone is honestly trying their best, and that counts for a lot (don’t ever discount how important awesome metamours are).

So, all of this is a long way of saying that you love whoever you love and the loves you feel are specific to each person. Sometimes that means falling in love with two (or more) people at the same time. If you’re, lucky, you’re able to love without losing anyone. And if you’re extremely lucky, you’re able to establish healthy, honest relationships that change and grow (if a relationship is what you want).

I know that isn’t normal. In fact, it’s rare enough that I’m extremely grateful for it, but it’s also not impossible. Because, sometimes, in some relationships, love is not a pie.

First Loves & Pretty Relics

Picture of the author at eighteen looking off camera for First Loves and Pretty Relics post by Malin James

Me at 18, looking at my best friend’s boyfriend.

I’m turning 38 this week. I’ve been looking forward to 38 since I was 18, which is when that picture was taken.

From my 18-year-old vantage point, 38 seemed like the age of a happy medium – old enough to have gotten a little bit wiser, but young enough to still be young(ish).

18-year-old me never fully believed that 38 would happen. Now that it has (barring unforeseen disaster), it’s hard not to look back.  Eighteen-year-old me feels more like a little sister than my younger self. But she is me, no matter how much distance I might like to put between us. That’s why I remember this….

 

I loved watching you with your too-long limbs and crooked, dimpled smile. I loved watching you too much. You were beautiful and flawed – more flawed than I knew. Nearly as flawed as I was. I wonder if that’s changed….

You had a girlfriend, my very best friend, but I wanted you anyway. I wanted you knowing it was probably wrong but feeling, deep in my heart, that I had a right, as if part of you was mine. I thought of you as I lay in bed, staking claims I didn’t have, feeling all of the everythings that felt so good. I’d stare, blind-eyed, at the ceiling and see your body over mine. That’s when I would come.

I hadn’t seen you naked yet, hadn’t felt our crash and grind. Your heart hadn’t been broken. Our attraction was plump and full. There had been no accidental kissing in your car…accidentally for three hours. We hadn’t made out on your parents’ couch. We hadn’t peeled back our layers til we were raw and tender, drunk on the risk of it.

I didn’t know those wishes would ever come true; that they would leave me thin and wrecked. I didn’t know that we would fuck for years but never, ever date. Except once. Maybee…it might not have been a date. I looked at you and saw laughter and road trips, kids and a cozy life. I couldn’t see our first and only (maybe) date.

You gave me tea and conversation after filthy fucking things. You showed me porn and I loved it; made me love how wet I’d get. Every straining bit of the girl I was – the hungry parts, the horny parts, the rapacious, joyful, sexual parts – found their place with you. We lied and lied and I didn’t care. I could be myself with you.

That was the hook – how I felt with you – even after we got mean. You started going to confession. You’d whisper no, this has to stop… just one more time. Just one more time. Months passed. Just one more time. You’d call and I’d answer from habit, the habit of wanting you. Poor, silly thing. It took me seven years to eat my heart. When I’d finished, we were done.

I remember how his hands shook the first time we kissed, and how well he filled my so-wet cunt. If I try, I can almost feel it…almost but not quite. My eighteen-year-old heart would’ve broken to know that, but my heart is calmer now. My eighteen-year-old self is a pretty relic. I like who I am now…and I’m curious to find out what I’ll be like at 58.

This is What I Mean When I Say I Love You

Black and white photograph of a black cat in a window for This is What I Mean When I Say I Love You by Malin James

Photograph by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

When I was a girl, I said I love you without caution or concern. That changed as I grew up. It’s not that I loved any less. It’s that I loved so hard it hurt.

The reasons for the shift were pretty typical. In high school, I fancied myself in love but, to quote Dorothy Parker, “he didn’t love back”. Telling him that I loved him was a big mistake, but there were valuable lessons to be learned. Unfortunately, my only take away at the time was that saying I love you is fucking dangerous.

After that, I began to hold back. I didn’t totally avoid saying I love you, but I never said it impulsively or without consideration. There were too many things wrapped up in it, including two of my biggest bugaboos—trust and vulnerability. As a result, the deeper the love, the more vulnerable I felt, and the harder it was for me to voice.

That changed when my daughter was born. She cracked me open and everything poured out, soft and slow, like syrup. I found myself loving her in a way that only poetry could frame, and that strangely poetic, pure, clean love seeped right out of me without worry or concern. The experience of loving her so freely made me realize how much I kept hidden from everyone else and, more to the point, why.

When I say I love you, I’m really saying two things. The first is pretty obvious—that I love you. But the second meaning is fluid. It changes from person to person, and even moment to moment. I love you is the container for every feeling in the relationship so, while the fact of my love stays constant, it’s additional meanings flex and adjust depending on our context. For example, I love my best friend with a consistant, ridiculous, Muppet-like exuberance, but that love is shaped by gratitude, protectiveness, affinity or anything else that I happen to be feeling for her. It’s always love + more.

So, what exactly what do I mean when I say I love you?

It means I miss you; I want you; you make my heart happy; you feel like home; please be careful; I worry about you; I trust you; I relax when I’m with you; I feel like you understand me; I want to protect you; I will always be here; you can trust me; I’ll keep your feelings safe; I love your beauties and your flaws; thank you; I’m sorry….

That I’m sorry is complicated though. The other emotions I listed are, for the most part, positive. That I’m sorry isn’t – not in the way I mean it. It’s not the I’m sorry you say when you’ve kicked someone’s dog. It’s the I’m sorry that comes with sadness and guilt, and it says as much about me as it does about the relationship. In fact, that I’m sorry qualifies as a third, subversive meaning, because it’s so often present when I say I love you, regardless of who I say it to.

For the record, this next part was uncomfortable to write.

So, what am I so sorry for that it’s so woven into how I express love? As with love itself, it’s entirely dependent on the person I’m saying I love you to and our relationship at the time.

I love you can also mean that I’m sorry I’m not the person you deserve; I’m sorry I’m not the woman I want to be; I’m sorry things are hard; I’m sorry the price is high; I’m sorry I’m not easy or simple; I’m sorry I need your patience; I’m sorry I always have; I’m sorry I wear my complications like a shell; I’m sorry my love is flawed; I’m sorry I’m a person in progress; I’m sorry I’m a cat and not a dog; I’m sorry I’m not a clean, undamaged slate; I’m sorry I’m not the mother I want to be; I’m sorry I need more from you than I have a right to ask; I’m sorry I’m guarded; I’m sorry I’m not there; I’m sorry I want so many things that I can’t have; I’m sorry I’m not good for you; I’m sorry I’m hard to reach; I’m sorry that my paint is cracked; I’m sorry that loving me hurts….

Some of those feelings are accurate, but most of them are poisoned thoughts, and it’s up to me to untangle the mess and sort out the poison from the truth. Like so much of everything, love isn’t, and has never been, simple for me. It all goes back to my deep, deep need to be good for people, and my deep, deep fear that I’m not. That’s why, even now, I’m careful about saying I love you. It’s why you know, when I say it, that I mean it every time. Because my love, when I give it, is constant, and that’s a good but frightening thing. It makes saying I love you a promise.

It’s a promise that I’ll love you when I am old and gray; I’ll love you even after one of us is gone.

NB: Someone was kind enough to send me a link to a comic that recontextualizes the poison thoughts I mentioned in this post. It’s worth clicking through if any of my I’m sorry‘s resonated or felt familiar to you.

On Complicity

Abstract painting of Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 by Marcel Duchamp for On Complicity by Malin James

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 by Marcel Duchamp

TW: Rape, Assault, Public Shaming

A Quick Note: It’s important to say that my sympathy for Chrissie Hynde extends only so far as the statements she made regarding her own sexual assault. She lost me when she started making comments about women “enticing rapists” by “wearing something that says, ‘Come and fuck me.’”

Last October, Chrissie Hynde published an autobiography detailing her life as the lead singer of The Pretenders. What set Reckless apart from other rock memoirs was that it included Hynde’s account of her rape and assault by a gang of bikers at the age of twenty-one. Although her tone is matter-of-fact to the point of detachment, it’s clear that this was a violent act. And yet, in a number of follow-up interviews, Hynde repeatedly claims “full responsibility” for her assault. That’s when things got interesting.

The outcry against what was seen as Hynde’s self-imposed victim blaming was immediate and intense. Unfortunately, rather than clarify her stance by explaining that claiming complicity in her own assault did not extend to a victim’s complicity in general, Hynde doubled down. That’s where all hope of discourse got lost.

Complicity is a complicated issue. In fact, it shares its Latin root with complicated. (Isn’t that cool? <End geekery>) The problem with Hynde was that her media presence blurred the line between taking responsibility for yourself and asking for it, which is dangerous, especially when a celebrity is doing the blurring. It was a great opportunity for discussion but, unfortunately, the many, many, many ways in which people cope with trauma were lost in the coverage. That’s important because Hynde’s claim of “full responsibility” is one of them.

Coping mechanisms exist for a reason. While they’re rarely healthy in the long-term, in the short-term, they can make the difference between surviving or giving up. Acknowledging one’s complicity can be empowering, but it can also be seriously damaging. What’s even worse is that it can do both simultaneously. Because of that, it’s easy to misinterpret complicity and, even worse, to misapply it. So, let’s talk about complicity. How does it function, for good and for ill?

At it’s most basic, complicity is a way of making something that isn’t okay, okay.

Remember when you were a kid, and you wanted pie but your mom said no? You might have said something like Fine. I don’t want pie anyway. That “fine” is a form of complicity. In this case, you abdicated your desire for pie because you weren’t getting any. BUT I’ll bet your desire for pie didn’t disappear just because you denied it. That cross-section between what you say and how you feel is where complicity gets tricky. At what point does complicity override the reality of the narrative? Put another way, when do you actually stop wanting the pie, just because you said “fine”?

That’s complicity in a nutshell—everything from the moment you say “fine” to when you honestly stop wanting pie. In my experience, it can happen either in real time or in hindsight. For fun and fairness, I’ll use me as an example. Here is what complicity might look like in real time:

When I was 24, I met this man. I wanted him so much I couldn’t see straight. That’s important—I couldn’t see straight. My perception was totally warped by how much I wanted him, so every time a red flag popped up, I ignored it and told myself that it was okay (ie: Fine. I don’t want pie.).

As his demands became more demanding, I worked harder and harder to justify his behavior because I wanted his approval and I loved him (and because the sex was amazing). That’s where my complicity lies—in all the little ways that I chose to stay, even though I knew the relationship was hurting me.

Am I responsible for the fact that he was a sociopathic fuck? No. I’m not. Am I responsible for having justified myself into staying multiple times? Yes. I am responsible for that—just as I’m responsible for having finally chosen to leave.

My complicity in that relationship is linked to my conscious understanding and the choices that I made based on that understanding. Yes, he manipulated me. But I also manipulated myself, which means that, objectively speaking, I was complicit in his manipulation, albeit to a very limited degree.

It’s the opposite of how I feel about the sexual abuse I experienced when I was four. Unlike what happened when I was an adult, I am in NO WAY responsible for my abuse as a child. No understanding. No choice. No complicity. You can’t have complicity without agency—even if it’s the agency you claim after the fact. Which brings me to complicity in hindsight.

Let’s go back to the situation with my ex.

After I left the relationship, I felt horrible—guilty, weak, powerless, vulnerable–every single emotion that had triggered me for years. Needless to say, it was a very difficult time. In fact, it was so difficult that I couldn’t bear to be in my own skin. That’s when complicity in hindsight set in.

I couldn’t stand the thought of my own helplessness, so I internalized a perverse sense of control by twisting my limited, real-time complicity into a massive sense of self-recrimination. As a result, my internal rhetoric hardened. It shifted from I’m powerless to I’m an idiot; I was dumb enough to stay; I’d played with fire, what did I expect?

This kind of thinking is toxic, but it calmed the panic and cut the feedback loop. And it gave me the sense of power that I desperately needed, even if it was false; even if I was hurting myself with it. What I needed was control over the narrative and, for good or for ill, claiming total complicity did that.

It’s important to underscore something here. Accepting my limited complicity for the choices I made isn’t the same thing as flaying myself with the lie of total complicity (something I did for years). That’s important because it’s the difference between taking responsibility for your choices and abusing yourself. If the devil is in the details, that’s the devil that got missed in the discussion of Chrissie Hynde.

Complicity, like coping, is determined by the individual. If evaluated honestly, it can deepen your understanding and (possibly) help you prevent a similar trauma from happening again. If claimed without perspective, it can do a lot of harm. Complicity is, in every respect, a gray area, one in which self-blame and delusion are horribly destructive, but where clarity is an equally valuable gift. It’s a hard balance to find, and even harder to keep.

At a time when victimization and victim blaming have entered our cultural discourse, it would be good to see less emphasis on the black and white, and more focus on the gray. While it goes against the nature of sound bites and click bait, the anatomy of trauma, and of how people cope with it, require more than a quick flash of outrage before the next headline hits.

Sinful Sunday: Cunt

“An ancient title of respect for women, the word “cunt” long ago veered off this noble path.”

– From Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, by Inga Muscio

Apparent 3/4 nude of author holding the book Cunt over her cunt.

I read this book a lifetime ago when I barely knew my own anatomy. Re-reading it now, I’m struck by how deeply it affected my thinking on feminism, semantics and the female body politic.

I love the word cunt. It’s strong and forthright. It stands straight with its shoulders back. It takes your measure and meets your eye. It’s the opposite of an apology. It’s the kind of word that owns itself, and asks you to do the same.

To see more Sinful Sunday, click the pretty lips….

Sinful Sunday

Sinful Sunday: Room with a View

There are two architectural elements that fascinate me. Windows and staircases are so full of narrative (and real life) possibility, that I could literally scroll through images for hours, weaving scenarios and situations for each one, which is why I was so happy about this month’s prompt.

Windows lend themselves to the imagination and, as much as I love looking into them as I walk down the street, I also love looking out of them. I imagine who might see me and what they might think. Or who might be behind me, photographing my body surrounded by light. I imagine what might happen when the photographs are done but I’m still in the window, waiting….

Sinful Sunday picture for windows prompt inspired by Room with a View

To see more Sinful Sunday, click the pretty lips.

Sinful Sunday