Some Musings On Sex, Dogs, and Androgyny
There are some topics nobody talks about, even these days, in the time of Facebook, when everybody’s life is presumably an open book.
Take the joy of having sex with animals, for example.
No, I’m just kidding, really I am. But there was a workshop in the 70s and 80s called Actualizations, where leader Stuart Emery suggested we each held a secret about ourselves deemed by us to be so shameful, that if word ever got out, we were sure we’d be rejected by everyone for life. He believed we are all hiding some shameful little secret.
“We’ve all fucked the family dog”, he said. Metaphorically speaking, I presume.
Anyway, growing up, my family didn’t even have a dog, ok? And if we did, well, if it was a bulldog, like, no way. But a cute little Cocker Spaniel…?
Which brings me to androgyny (don’t ask me how). Which is an aspect of sexuality that to this day, at least in the heterosexual world, few speak of.
Oh yes, it’s brought up when writers note fashion trends. But the open secret is that what’s behind such trends is personal attraction. And to this day it’s still more acceptable for a woman to say she’s into androgynous men (ever since Mick Jagger crossed the Atlantic) than for a man to say the same about women.
But when I was a younger man I was very much attracted to androgynous women. And androgyny has been a part of my consciousness for most of my life. When I was younger I wasn’t very much in touch with my masculinity. As a hippie, I was questioning its value, and encouraged to do so by my feminist girlfriends. And I just wasn’t aware of my solid, confidant, assertive and aggressive male core. So, being heterosexual, I sought to get close to maleness via women. Sounds funny, perhaps, and it wasn’t conscious. But I liked women who wore no makeup, and who didn’t shave their legs or underarms (Shelley, please don’t get any ideas; it was the sixties, ya know?), and who filed their nails down.
If they looked at all dainty, too soft, too…feminine, I really wasn’t interested. I had an abundance of feminine energy myself, and so I sought balance by seeking women who had an abundance of male energy. This made for ridiculously convoluted and unhappy relationships at the time. But I guess I was looking for someone who, like the guy said in that movie, “completed” me.
One of my lovers back then, a tough and tender Irish dope dealing single mom named Jeanne, told me the story of being picked up hitchhiking once by a trucker.
“Hey, you a guy or a girl?” he asked, as many truckers were asking hippies at the time.
“Why does it matter?”
“Well, I donno, you’re kinda cute. If you’re a girl, I’ll be more into you, ya know?”
Meaning that he was attracted to someone he couldn’t make out the gender of, and wanted to protect his sexuality before making a move.
After I grew up a bit, and did the Sterling Men’s Weekend and Robert Bly’s work and got to re-own the deep masculine I’d banished, I found myself turning to more traditionally feminine looking women. There was little attraction left in getting close to someone who was masculine like me.
These days, the truth is, sometimes I’m more interested in Shelley’s soft, feminine side (which she deliciously has) and sometimes I like her more tomboy aspects (her usual preference for jeans rather than skirts, for example). I don’t know if I’d call her androgynous per se, but one thing I’ve always liked about her is that she’s not ultra-fem (which I’ve always found to be exasperating in a woman, and something of a hornet’s nest), but that she embodies the spectrum from soft, sweet and cute to tough-minded at times and refreshingly direct and uncomplicated, which, I’m sorry, but most women, in my experience, just aren’t.
And I know I might get responses to this post that say, Oh Charley, why do you have to label these aspects of personality as masculine or feminine? Why can’t they just be human? I can understand how most men and women these days don’t want to be straightjacketed into a role. I don’t want to be either. I’m aware I’m speaking in stereotypical generalizations coming from very traditional ideas. But for me it’s always been the best way for me to organize my world and understand these things.
I’m noticing these days – especially this month of moving everything from one apartment to another – how much I’ve gathered in the way of clutter. And not only physical, but, after more than six decades of experience, accumulated mental clutter as well.
So when I’m all in my head, and I spot someone like this on the street…
…I start to wonder what it’s like inside her head, and imagine someone clearheaded and happy like a young, unfettered boy. Of course, this is all just projection, but it wakes me up somehow, especially when I then realize I’ve got an unfettered boy inside of me.
Am I the only one who thinks about these kind of things?
The continuous presence of androgynous fashion models, and the on-again, off-again media obsession with gender benders going all the way back to Boy George and Grace Jones, suggests to me that such attention is not just because of the novelty of it, but because it also touches a blue nerve that runs across many demographics. No longer are all of us attracted to only manly men or girlish females.
So the question is, is all this androgyny a symptom of guys retreating from their masculine essence and women rushing in to fill the vacuum? Or is it a striving for some sort of personal balance while we reject traditional gender roles and expectations?
Whatever it’s about, and in spite of what Stuart Emery said, I still prefer a human to a dog.
I mean, unless it’s a very, very cute one.
Note: I know I promised a piece about my parents, but I haven’t yet been able to hook up my scanner in my new apartment and want to show you a few pictures, so it will have to wait. I’d fret, but, as one androgyne said, La Di Dah, La Di Dah…