Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Is it okay for an intelligent, fully adult human woman to feel pleasure?

A question dealt with in "Sleep, Pale Sister" by Joanne Harris.

Answer, yes, okay and much more than okay, but some people really don't like it because they are themselves underdeveloped.

Joanne Harris wrote "Chocolate;" she's good at pleasure.

"Chocolate" is about a woman who moves to a small uptight, shut-down to enjoyment town in France and opens some of its residents to the possibilities of pleasure by running a shop where she sells all kinds of chocolate.

Before I read "Sleep, Pale Sister," I had wondered about two things in Victorian England which Harris puts together in her book.

One is John Ruskin, big-deal art critic, who didn't consummate his marriage with Effie Gray on their wedding night because he was surprised and repelled that she (or any woman) had pubic hair. He came up with various other reasons to not consummate their marriage for the six years they were together, and later fell in love with Rose La Touche, when she was eleven. He never remarried. Effie Gray left Ruskin for an artist they both knew, John Millais. She seems to have been then happy in body and mind, both of which Millais seemed to like.

Another thing I wondered about that's in "Sleep, Pale Sister" is how dead some of the women in Pre-Raphaelite paintings look. The Pre-Raphaelites, a late Victorian movement in painting and writing, thought they were going back to medievel art values, but people in medieval art didn't look like that.

A lot of the women in Pre-Raphaelite paintings look the way fashion models look now when fashion is going throught one of its heroin addict chic phases.

Many Victorian woman of privilege were addicted to heroin's close relatives, opium and laudandum, so they might have had that lookd.

The look is unhealthy looking pale skin, dead eyes surrounded by darkness and staring straight ahead at something that looks to be awful to stare straight ahead at.

In "Sleep, Pale Sister," a painter of images like that falls in love, he feels, with an orphan girl taken care of by aunts. He paints her repeatedly in passive child ways, and marries her, with her aunts blessing as young as he can get away.

When she respond in bed like she's having pleasure and wanting more, he freaks, or reveals what a freak she is.

The very special Vicotorian situation doesn't feel, underneath it all, very far away.

Are we free to? Are we free to go through? Are we free to go through the whole way?

We're more free than we were in many places. However, how much do we cover up and contain to avoid freaking someone, to avoid finding out what a freak they are?

In English, the word for love shared two letters with the word for control. Evolve has all the letters of love, with victory and the most common letter in English left over. Love, change, and growth, together commonly--victory for all. Meet you at I-level, where we both have fully developed I's that are fully alive.

Muriel Rukeyser wrote, "What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split apart."

I think that's true both ways. If one woman told the truth about what has felt bad, if one woman told the truth about what has felt good, we're in a different place.

Approaching either kind of truth can get freaky reactions--"Are you okay?" the woman is asked when she's speaking of, being, far better than okay, and the questioner, perhaps feels the routine low okayness widely accepted as the best we can do going away.