A return to the dream. If you haven’t read the first post do so, it will make this one much more understandable.
What is a perversion? One would ask after she dreamt of herself with a penis, seducing a young adult gay man.
According to Louise Kaplan (1991) a perversion is: a mental strategy that uses one or another social stereotype of masculinity and femininity in a way that deceives the onlooker about the unconscious meanings of the behaviors she or he is observing. Were we to think about perversion solely in terms of manifest behaviors without going into the motives that give meaning to those behaviors, we could simply conclude that the male perversions are quests for forbidden sexual pleasures and nothing more. However, since deception is so crucial to perversion, unless we lay bare the lies that are hidden there we will be deceived at once. The perverse strategy works on us immediately by using popular and traditional definitions of perversion to distract us from the truth (Female Perversions, p. 9).
Maybe we can begin with my dream as a female perversion. I won’t get into great detail about my dream as it relates to my sexuality, yet I want to explore these interesting usages of sexuality and gender that symbolize many other things.
Possessing a penis is a powerful thing. It was powerful for me to experience in my dream. I was the exhibitor, outside, slightly pushed back against a wall with a slight shadow covering me and he was in the sunshine, a passerby halted by the displayed sight. I barely had to glance downward to see my penis. It was at the forefront. It was the forerunner of the rest of me. It felt strong and erect as though it would dictate directions and speed and pleasure. The gay male was reduced in clarity since my depth of field was lengthy and my eyes as the lens making the nearest object sharply focused. I acted out some seduction and seized Glee’s prep school boy’s attention. Nothing pinnacled, nothing transpired, just a bout of successful penis parading.
What does this mean, I ask?
I will disclose that I have had a growing appreciation for the male body, not as a threatening tool against humanity, but rather as a beautiful counterpart to the female body. The penis, with such poor rapport, has become a very interesting adornment to the male physique. I believe insomuch as the female body has been blatantly victimized and scrutinized, the male penis/body has been lost–maybe even disowned in society, unless it incurs harm or satire.
This could easily venture into whole other discussions on the ‘disownment of male bodies and a projection in and onto female bodies’ within this culture, but perhaps another day. The point being my growing respect f0r the male stature.
In my dream I sensed an acknowledgment of the penis beholding beauty and glory. And, acknowledging beauty and glory for both types of bodies, including those with less clarity of a specific gender has been a tight-rope-walking-disaster. Often exploitation, hatred or neglect enter the scene. Our bodies become the grounds for which our minds and hearts fight over and against the unnoticed undercurrents–this, the preoccupation with the body and its actions, can be a perversion. A strategy used to distract ourselves from the truth.
Yes, it is about our bodies and yet maybe it is about much more–wherefore we often fail to see. We become distracted by our and other bodies’ grotesqueness, sexualness, asexualness, oddities, inadequacies, appearances, profanities, prudences rather than see with thine eyes what they are expelling. Something underneath the soil is trying to break through the earth, into the wide open space, with words and meaning.
I recall feeling very unencumbered by what I was doing in the dream, almost jovial in my endowments. How freely and proudly I paraded this magical, irresistible device that beckons others to me. It was enjoyable with dashes of giddiness. Yet I did not sense this being about pleasure–it was not serving the purpose of generating a sexual encounter. Instead, it was something else, a partially deceptive use of ‘penis and parade’ for what ails within me.
While my respect for, rather than jealousy of the penis is new, it is also important to know my historical alignment with my father. My father possessed the power to know, to resurrect, and offer the outside world to me as well as the moral and emotional code to abide by. He became my mouthpiece and I unwittingly and sometimes resentfully pulled myself into his shadow. Respect me before you love me. Think reverently of me before you leave me. Share with me esteem and be careful with the critique.
I have been very unattached and unaware of the power, intelligence and need of love and care. This might be understood in how I employed the male symbol in my reverie.
To win affection of the other is equated to being powerful and evidently desireable or useful. Affection is not merely given unconditionally, nor do I want it to be. I feel sloshy and pretty dissatisfied and discomforted when I am loved and cared for simply because I need it. The power differential is seemingly reversed and I am uncovered and consequently, shamed. But still deep down I am so very hungry for affection and yet deep down I still have unbelief, disbelief that I can need it without being toppled and get it through surrender, rather through being powerful and strong and well endowed.
Interestingly enough the person or the character I was seducing is, in fact, quite maternal and caring in the TV show. He is perceptive and attuned often with what is billowing around him. Whether it is carefully and honestly exploring his sexuality or exhibiting kindness when spite was warranted. In his relationship to Kurt, he appears to be strong and tender. He has been in many ways a feminine archetype for me, which is a fascinating commentary on gender and how often it is transcended–not fixed to biology alone; and also his maleness was still clearly important–I did not dream of a female–but yet, he is not limited to just his gender. I found something female and necessarily female in him. Though his maternal demeanor still begot, within my subconscious, the ideology that power captures attention and affection. Ergo, I hired the connoted penis.
(I want to note that I also regard this dream as a celebration of the penis in which it rightfully seduces and brings desire into the world. This dimension is unequivocally true for me and equally important to consider. My sexuality is, as I mentioned earlier, embracing and delighting in maleness instead of viewing it as such a threat or competitor to my existence.)
How often do we disentangle the meaning, pain, and truth on our makeshift facades, posing as dimensional realities?
Are the tangles even evident?
I could have easily shut down this dream and deemed it as too strange and shameful. There was anxiety over the excavation since it might reveal some really disconcerting things about my sexuality or systems of belief and relating. Additionally, the sexual “transgressing” occurring in my dream tempted me to look away as result of the burgeoning guilt over where my mind traversed. However, our default onto disgust and guilt first, prevents us from feeling the anxiety, emptiness, and truthfulness of our sexuality or relational dynamics and secondly, engenders a more forbidden structure–furthering an inappropriate mystification that incurs more harm and rigidity, rather than liberty and understanding. A moral perversion in which grace and mercy have nowhere to go other than cheaply assuaging the brief bouts of guilt and disgust. Relief versus redemption.
And thus, may we bravely speak about the persisting phantoms emerging from our fissures and under our blankets. May our desire and idolatry be revealed because grace and mercy are breaking in, the meal is ready to enter you and I.
I hunger for affection and have found methods in attaining it, insufficiently, but trusting them more than the possibility of something New and of Love to beget me.
I have envied the symbolized penis and trusted its agency to get me what I want and need, I have trusted it more than this glorious creation called female, called woman–both desireable and more importantly desiring– unreservedly, without contempt for being a damn good fool.
I have done many things to male parts as a result of wounds and socialization, thus trusting my cuts and ideas more than the possibility of a Healer and Judge, one who heals and judges not only me, but the transgressor as well. One who imagines new ideas about humanness and recovery.
May we see how we are apart of a struggle that is not just about flesh and blood, but perhaps more so about the principalities and darkness that scheme against redemption and paradoxical healing. That perversely show the facade and perversely say, “this is it, you’re stuck. what are you gonna do, what can you do? Go ahead demand, wail, medicate and trust these silly, breakable gods.”
May we see with new eyes how to understand our languaged bodies; our beautifully unruly minds; our groans for justice and love and humility; our ability to disown and harm what scares and hurts us; and how we are together in this struggle for more. May we bless our brief moments of possessing the misplaced genitalia and “inappropriate” seduction as signs of help and healing…