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Loving Lessons: Full Circle Loving

I had an extraordinary English teacher in my senior year of high school. Her name is Frankie Rubenstein. I saw Mrs. Rubenstein recently, looking all of seventy, although she claims to be older. At the time she was shy about her feminine appeal. She has nothing to worry about. Her blue eyes still sparkle with interest in life, her skin glows with a radiance rarely seen in either man or woman and it doesn’t come out of a bottle. It comes from an open heart.

In today’s educational environment, Mrs. Rubenstein would have been in peril of losing her job because she was not only our English teacher, she was a role model for radiant, powerfully sexual femininity in a high school dedicated to elevating young women to the height of their intellectual and professional capacity. She talked to us openly of the wonder of men’s testicles, eating pomegranates in the bath rub, the blood red juice running down between her breasts, and the ridiculous literary notion of women dying for love. She admits to being a woman who loves men, and she is not the least bit ashamed of this. She had no children in her long, happy marriage to a university professor, but she did have us in class everyday.

Mrs. Rubenstein taught me sensuality and intellect didn’t have to be in opposition or compartmentalized in  a woman, that a woman can  live a vibrant intellectual life and be grounded in her sensual self, as well.

Many years later, decades after the feminist gains of suffrage, bra burning protests, throwing down the gauntlet of the Pill in the war between the sexes, beyond Roe v. Wade, AIDS, and there now being very little social stigma associated with being an unmarried woman or an unwed mother, I am contemplating the notion of  full circle loving. I want to thank Frankie Rubenstein for being a role model for strength and independence melted into radiant feminity. I want to bear witness to my return to feminine tenderness, being a woman who would rather cry than fight after mastering the craft of combat, who prefers opening my heart to being right as a form of winning, who will yield to a lover’s devotion rather then yield to an ego that can never bring deep relaxation and peace to my body.

Women have options besides arranged marriages and premature death through childbirth. Our hearts beat faster when we danced in public for the first time without chaperones, feeling sexual attraction and realizing that love-making is more than civic or marital duty — that we might dare to enjoy it. We gave our sexuality over to the birth control pill in exchange for not having to suffer through a back room abortion when we decide it’s not in our best interests to give birth. We transitioned from being sold or dowered, to being assigned husbands within certain social classes, to refusing to marry in preference to having a career, from believing in one life-long partner to experiencing  the tumult of having multiple lovers and/or husbands, to finding it completely unnecessary to have “a man” in our lives at all, especially when the men who found us attractive insisted on being in control, dominant in decision-making, and physically intimidating as often as they might be protectors.

We competed with men, and we excelled. We proved we were as good as men in the workplace, we beat them at their own mind games, we banished them from our feeling lives treating them like dull-witted little boys who only wanted us for our custodial skills and our warm, wet orafices. We stopped nurturing men, and began challenging them. We stopped cooking for them, began buying frozen entrees, and then expected them to cook for us. We learned to masturbate, had the income to buy vibrators, and we stopped needing men to feel sexual pleasure. Men became…optional…often shunted to the sidelines of our lives, in the exact same way in which our own mothers had been made irrelevant. Today’s young woman don’t perform any ‘services’ at all. It’s astonishing to me how our sons have yielded to this ad hoc shift to matriarchy with no social history to make doing so a comfortable state for men to relax into.

We may have forgotten how good it feels to please the men in our lives.  I don’t mean the subservient pleasing of a partner who dominates. I mean surrendered generosity in sensual union.

Many men have actually come to love, trust and respect women’s power. These men have found that the war between the sexes isn’t a war at all, but a playground where deeply intimate and satisfying union can be found with the same partner. Men under forty have discovered that letting go of dominance is a pathway to more and better sex. They acknowledge their feelings of rejection and hold the intention to do better with us, to be more like us without their masculine/feminine balance tipping to the point where holding the feminine pole too much in every day life at home, they inexplicably begin chasing after other women to experience the erotic spark that is sexual polarity.

Our husbands and lovers are not, never will be, never can be our girlfriends. Sometimes, I think women expect men to respond to them as a woman friend would do.

Now what?  Like Frankie Rubenstein, I’m a woman who loves men. I always have, and remember the first time I felt the physical rush of sexual polarity. I was five years old, and completely open to Eros directing my attention. I didn’t have that much else to do and hadn’t yet been socialized into killing those feelings so as not to be identified as a naughty girl. But full circle loving is upon me as a full, luscious transformative force. I can hold Feminist values and no longer need to play out this mind set as if it’s the only game in town:

I am a powerful, capable woman. I compete with husbands and lovers, besting them, so at the very least they know they aren’t in charge and will never control me, my creativity or my financial resources. I hold back my playful, erotic sensuality as if it were a prize instead of my own life force expressing itself with joyful abandon.  I charge my mind with the responsibility of finding a widget to fill my idea of an ideal partner. Strong men aren’t loving. Soft, nurturing men can’t be counted on for support. Any man who needs my praise to be happy isn’t an equal partner. Any man who praises me must think I’m a fool or only wants one thing. I don’t need a man, and I don’t want to be needed by a man.

All that’s left for a guy to do with these thoughts bombarding him daily is occasional heavy lifting, keep a car in good running order, and a lot of screaming at a televison set.

As adult women, we’ve may have  ‘lost’ or will lose at least one  important man in our lives. But what loving lesson do we learn from these losses? Do we learn opening/melting/expanding into our feminine radiance so we learn to let go, and love more fully? Bitterness, regret, recrimination and withholding your playful sensual self to punish a man or to punish the you who chose to be intimate with a man who has hurt you — this is not full circle loving.  This is closing/contracting; it diminishes your spirit and your capacity to give and receive love that will grow you through creative, sexual polarity into a full circle woman. 

Do you find in your relationships with men that you are either pushing or pulling in endless power struggles? Do you know the difference between pushing/pulling/closing and opening/melting/expanding? Can you feel these energy dynamics in your body? Can you with a single breath shift your perspective from pushing or pulling, to melting and expanding? Have you learned how to choose opening with your lover or mate, when your mind would suggest some form of closing would better protect you? Are you aware of the distinction between protecting your ego and serving your self-worth?

Join me, Kevin Keene and Cathy Garner, for an exploration of couples tantra this coming Valentine’s Day.  Find out more about Full Circle Loving for Women.

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