Book Meme 2012 Week 7: Literary References to Win My Heart

Topic: Which literary references would win your heart?

This is a difficult meme topic for me because I don’t tend to conceive of literary references in this way. I worry about how to woo, not how I might be wooed. There are some references that I dream of using in wooing a woman, and many that a woman could use while capturing my heart, but the effectiveness of any of these would be determined entirely by the context of the relationship and the situation. There is no literary reference a woman could make that, on its own, would cause me to fall in love with her. Some could impress me, perhaps. Perk my interest at the possibility of a kindred spirit, even. Make me want to know more about her. But that hardly means my heart is pounding, my mind’s eye full of her beautiful face, and my mind concocting grand shows of virtue by which I hope to win her admiration.

But maybe that’s it, then. Not allusion as a love potion, but as a revealer of character. What sort of literary reference could an eligible young lady make that would open my eyes to her amazingness and make me desire her for my lifelong lover and companion?

…I think I have it.

The Song of Solomon in the Bible, containing poems of dialogue between King Solomon and his wife.

…for love is as strong as death,
            its jealousy unyielding as the grave,
It burns like blazing fire,
            like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
            rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give
            All the wealth of his house for love,
            it would be utterly scorned.

~Ch. 8:6-7

A beautiful illumination done by a good friend of mine.

The Bible is not typically thought of as a romantic book, nor as one that celebrates passionate, sensual love. And for good reason – most of God’s instructions on the subjects of love and sex are warnings against how not to do it. It makes sense, when you consider what powerful emotions they involve. It also makes sense when you realize that God values them so highly that He designed them for the most intimate of human relationships, marriage, in which two people become as one, and which is the foundation of the family. Romantic love is intended to complement a holy marriage, not to be taken lightly. God goes to great lengths to show us how to avoid screwing it up.

But He also shows us pictures of how it should look when done right. Nowhere is this picture of holy romantic love so prominent – and so unbelievably sensual – as in The Song of Solomon.

There are so many things I love about this book:

1. How Solomon and his wife are best friends as well as lovers.

This is my lover, this is my friend.

~Ch. 5:16

Like a lily among the thorns
            is my darling among the maidens.

~Ch. 2:2

2. How they are so comfortable with each other that they can quite frankly praise each others’ God-given bodies, in such a way that becomes an act of praise to God as well as of each other…

How beautiful you are, my darling!
    Oh, how beautiful!
    Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
    descending from the hills of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
    coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
    not one of them is alone.
Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
    your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
    are like the halves of a pomegranate.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
    built with courses of stone[a];
on it hang a thousand shields,
    all of them shields of warriors.
Your breasts are like two fawns,
    like twin fawns of a gazelle
    that browse among the lilies.
Until the day breaks
    and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh
    and to the hill of incense.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
    there is no flaw in you.

~Ch. 4:1-7

Listen! My lover!
            Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
            bounding over the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag.
            Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
            peering through the lattice.
My lover spoke and said to me,
            ‘Arise, my darling,
            my beautiful one, and come with me.’

~Ch. 2:8-10

3. …even when they don’t match the fashions of the day.

Dark am I, yet lovely,
            O daughters of Jerusalem,
            dark like the tents of Kedar,
            like the tent curtains of Solomon.
Do not stare at me because I am dark,
            because I am darkened by the sun.
My mother’s sons were angry with me
            and made me take care of the vineyards;
            my own vineyard have I neglected.
Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock
            and where you rest your sheep at midday.
Why should I be like a veiled woman
            beside the flocks of your friends?

Ch. 1:5-7

4. How they rest comfortably in each others’ arms.

Strengthen me with raisins,
            refresh me with apples,
            for I am faint with love.
His left arm is under my head,
            and his right arm embraces me.

~Ch. 2: 5-6

5. How they bring peace to each other, describing the effect each has on the other with metaphors of beautiful gardens, gentle deer, dependable towers, pure doves, and shading fruit trees. (skip to any verse at random and you’ll see some such imagery)

6. How they don’t neglect their friends, but their friends are active supporters of their love.

Where has your lover gone,
            most beautiful of women?
Which way did your lover turn,
            that we may look for him with you?

~Ch. 6:1

7. How they sometimes seem hopelessly idealistic with their dramatic declarations of love…

You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
            you have stolen my heart
        with one glance of your eyes,
            with one jewel of your necklace.

~Ch. 4:9 [N.B. No, it’s not incest. “Sister” here is used to emphasize how utterly close in spirit the lovers are—they aren’t just romantic “partners,” but are actual family.]

8. …while still being wise.

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
            by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
            until it so desires.

~Ch. 2:7 and 3:5, both times said by the woman

It’s this last point which impresses me so much. Here are these two lovers – throughout the poem often in each others’ arms and in various states of undress – pausing to tell we readers not to force love, nor to seek it out, nor even to make it an unduly important part of your life. They know well how reckless our passions are. When you fall in love, your logic and good sense may as well just shut up because your heart sure isn’t going to want to listen to them. Which at times can be good, of course – human reason is faulty and often cannot understand what a heart led by God can sense. But likewise our hearts are faulty, and reason led by God can become wisdom, which is not at all the enemy of romance, but rather its protector, and hopefully its cultivator.

God doesn’t just want romance for us – He wants the best romance for us. The kind that leads to a lifelong companionship, a union of lovers who glorify Him and are thus free to glory in each other. God doesn’t give us easy, clear-cut steps, because He knows that each individual is different. But He does give us Himself, and the principles on which He designed life and love. I’m still struggling to understand this kind of wise romance, this God-led approach to love, courtship, and marriage. I want it badly. And I want a woman who wants to struggle to understand it alongside me.

What’s this? Wisdom is sexy? Yes. Yes it is.

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Author: David

I’m a young Christian American reader writer dreamer wanderer walker flier listener talker scholar adventurer musician word-magician romantic critic religious idealist optipessimist man.

26 thoughts on “Book Meme 2012 Week 7: Literary References to Win My Heart”

    1. What I have that passes for wisdom is a God who, sometimes gently, sometimes sternly, holds a mirror to my idiocy and weakness and tells me to trust Him if I truly want wisdom! But that’s as it is for all of us. Thank you for your kind comments. I’m glad to have delighted you so. And I do hope the young lady exists. (*ahem* Looking at You, God, looking at You!)

      1. And so it is for us all–God gives us His wisdom as we seek Him with a humble heart. I am fairly certain that the young lady (you hope) exists or God would not be preparing your heart for her. Something to think on. . .

  1. Bravo, sir. Excellent post. I must say, it’s refreshing to see a male perspective on this post. Your honesty was also very encouraging. I agree with everything in this post.

    You’re right, wisdom is sexy.

    Song of Solomon is one of those books that has come to mind repeatedly during these several weeks with this meme, but I made a decision to save it for Week Nine. I’m glad, though, that yourself and others have written so beautifully about it.

    Blessings to you and to the woman God has for you, wherever she might be.

    1. Thank you! I worry a heckuva lot about my future, so God often has to remind me that He’s much better at handling it than I.

      When I first chose Song of Solomon, I actually didn’t think anyone else would pick it. When Mel did, I purposely didn’t read her post until after writing mine, just in case. And I think it’s turned out very well. That’s what’s so cool about these Book Memes: we all introduce each other to some wildly different literature, and then we also give different perspectives on literature we hold in common.

      And I honestly couldn’t find anything else remotely good enough for this topic. The next two ones are difficult, too, but putting Song of Solomon in Week 9’s context is a fascinating idea…

  2. You made me laugh with “wisdom is sexy,” though I agree. It sounds like a bumper-sticker.

    I’ve seen a lot of marriages, good and bad, and for a long time I have have held the belief that being single is better than a foolish marriage. I’ve seen too many people marry for the sake of being married, and often (though mercifully not always) with bad results.
    I know I do not want to marry outside of the will of God. I’ve seen too much of what marriage in this fallen world can be like if not redeemed by God. Even a godly marriage is not easy. At the same time my heart aches for that unique bond with another person. It is as if there is a war in me between that desire and the sage charge “do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”
    I think the worst part, for me, is wondering whether this desire is something I am meant to overcome with God’s grace, or whether it is a promise that, one day, the desire will be met. I look forward to the time God decides to answer, one way or another, because the struggle is violent and painful.
    I wonder how much this struggle ties into my partial aversion to romance in literature and film. That thought has never occurred to me before. O_o

    1. Oh aye, that war is fierce in me, too. In many of us, I believe. And I, too, often wonder in fear if God has designated me to suffer in singleness forever. But while that is possible, and I must accept it if it’s His will, I don’t think it’s the case. We have 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, where Paul says, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Paul’s words don’t exactly sound kind to those who desire marriage greatly, but I think it might not be stretching the Word too much to be comforted by the thought that, if God has placed this great need for a marriage partner in me, that He intends to fulfill it. But in His own time, of course. That’s the part that can be especially frustrating — waiting for His time. I want to get married before I’m 30, when I consult myself on the matter, but maybe God will have me wait. A man at my church didn’t get married ’til he was about 40 and had pretty much resigned himself to a monk-ish life (in my words), and now he and his wife are happy and have a daughter. I don’t want to wait that long, but God has His reasons. I know He’s preparing me for something, hopefully someone. I just wish He’d make her evident already, so we can prepare ourselves together.

      1. I wish such passages were of more comfort to me, but I take a pretty strict interpretation of “cannot control themselves.” At thirty, it seems pretty clear that I can control myself in that regard. Also I know, as I am sure you do, that we are always blessed with what we need, which is not always the same as what we want. Perhaps my singleness is protecting me from something far worse.
        I feel stuck in limbo, as you and others of us still in doubt may. I feel like there is something missing from my life, but given the pattern of my life so far I cannot bring myself to trust that the space will be filled in the way I want it to be.
        Perhaps what bothers me more than all of this is my increasing age… not because my ability to have children will go away, but because any children I take as mine (I’ve wanted to adopt or foster for a long time) may not have a parent as long as they might had I started earlier. Yet I fear to try to adopt while I am alone, at least unless I can gather enough support around me to care for a child as a working mother. So yet again, I am in limbo. I do not know if God wants me to move forward and do what he has laid on my heart, or if it is something he is waiting to fulfill in a way I cannot see.
        All I know to do is pray about it (which is doubtless the best thing to do as well) and ask for the answers to be made clear. Waiting, though, it so painful.

        1. Oh, it is. But I have added you to my prayers, as that is the best thing I know how to do, too. And it is some comfort that even the greatest men and women of faith throughout history have struggled just as deeply, and with as much doubt and fear, as we, and even more sometimes. We have a God who loves us, and worry as I may, I must rest in Him.

          1. That is by far the best thing a friend can do, and I thank you. I will likewise pray for the fulfillment of your heart.

            Our faith, and perhaps life itself, is something we all do together and alone simultaneously. It is indeed a comfort that others have faced this, and the knowledge can give us strength, and yet as much as we walk the same mountains and valleys as others, even in their footprints, even side-by-side with friends, we walk them alone. That isn’t exactly what I mean, but hopefully you know what I am talking about and therefore understand. In the words of the Queen Irene, “although the right words cannot do exactly what I want them to do, the wrong words will certainly do what I do not want them to do.” Oy vey.
            But you are right, as Christians we are never fully alone, for the God who loves us is with us, and will never abandon or betray us.

  3. Lovely post. Being dark, and in my youth “comely” I have always been partial to the Song of Songs and rejoiced that the Lord wants us to celebrate all of His creation, and seeks to inspire us to delight in each other.

    Literary refefernce to win my heart; Can’t think of one. Can be however dazzled with an artistic spirit, but no longer mislead by one. (Don’t ask)

    However, in this age when every psuedo religious person is ready to yell Whore of Babylon at single, widowed, divorcee for no other reason these women are single and pose some unknown threat, I love Isaiah 54. It is of great comfort especially to us who didn’t make the wisest of marriages/relationships, or who were forced to be single by our own foolishness or that of someone else. Rather than desertered and dispised, the passage brings me joy abd hope.

    1. Well said, friend Hunter. Isaiah 54 is another beautiful passage; thank you for pointing it out. When God means to encourage us, He pulls out all the stops. My heart’s been broken before, and He mended it, and continues to mend me in all my foolish ways.

      ‘“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
      but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
      In a surge of anger
      I hid my face from you for a moment,
      but with everlasting kindness
      I will have compassion on you,”
      says the Lord your Redeemer.’

    2. I run up against the assumption that, because I am a single woman who has no boyfriend, I must be a lesbian. >_< I've been getting that since college, and if I remain single my whole life, it will no-doubt follow me to my grave. I live with a good friend, because living alone is not something either of us enjoys, so of course we spark a lot of speculation. It seems that celibacy is some mythical concept to a lot of people in our society, as if somehow it couldn't possibly be real. I am not frustrated by the assumptions any more, but they continue to sadden me, as they should, for a number of reasons.

      Isaiah 54 fills me with joy, as proof that the Kingdom of God forgets no one, least of all those most forgotten by society!

      1. Sorry for the typos in the earlier post. I have a new keyboard and it’s taking me a minute to get accustomed to it. It helps me a great deal to go the Hebrew Scriptures. We are guided there by Peter who tells the women of the Church to be like the Matriarchs of old. Save mother Eve, and she rallies, there are no shrinking violets there. Look at Tamar the discarded bride, or Ruth who refuses to leave her mother-in-law and friend and becomes the ancestress of Kings. Comfort and inspiration are there. There are people who want to dwell on what seems negative in the Law to hold us down, and are quick to tell us how Hagar was tossed out, but slow to acknowledge that when Hagar and her son were lost in the wilderness, the Lord did not turn his back but heard her cry–spoke to her, guided her feet towards deliverance for her and her son and made a covenant with her.

      2. Yeesh, that’s frustrating! And so saddening. I believe it, though. Our culture does not understand celibacy or chastity at all. Even innocent relationships are constantly viewed now with some sort of sexual subtext. Think even of the close relationships between men in Rosemary Sutcliff’s novels, or of David and Jonathan in the Bible, which are excellent portrayals of deep platonic friendships, but which to a postmodern (and usually Freudian-inspired) mind might erroneously suggest homosexuality.

        Ruth is one of those truly extraordinary stories in which you can see the entire gospel prefigured clearly, what with the Kinsman-Redeemer and all. And Ruth’s statement of (daughterly and friend-ly) love to Naomi is one of the sweetest to be found anywhere, precisely because of the sheer courage it took, meaning as it did that Ruth would be leaving all she knew to go with Naomi to a foreign land and culture. We can learn much about the Lord by which stories from history He chooses to tell us in His Scripture.

        1. Ugh, yeah… the sexualization of close platonic friendship is horrific to me. I even have friends who were so confused by our society’s slant that I had to tell them that the desire for platonic friendship is natural and wonderful, not freakish or subconsciously sexual. ARRGH, it frustrates me so much! We are raising our children to be isolated and lonely, constantly desiring David and Jonathan friendships and not knowing what it is they desire. Someone I know was confused, for a long time, because she deeply desired sisterly love, and wondered if she was bisexual because she desired platonic love from a woman… we are abolishing facets of love and varieties of friendships. It makes me want to tear my clothes and smear my face with ashes.

          I love Ruth. Such loyalty, strength, faith and beauty of spirit and soul!

          1. Perhaps the problem with such interpretations lies first with Christians who misquote the Law given to Moses for Israel and Israel alone, claiming that it is evil for a man to Love another man.

            SoSorry, I have heard this exact sentiment–I have heard –especislly from tele-ministries how repulsive it is to hear a man speak of his love of another man or show affection beyond whatever we deemed manly affection to be these days, too often not to place the problem right back where it belongs.

            Our generation is not the first to scripturally throw out the baby with the bath water, but at some time the confusion would come from the church fathers forgot the Law was written in Love.

            Take a simple thing like runaway slaves. Jesus and Paul lived in Roman controlled Israel. They knew Mosaic law required that as Jews they give refugee, home, and citizenship to runaway slaves–but they were no longer home—they could not grant sanctuary in Roman territory. They were forced to honor Roman law in hopes that those Romans who honored Jesus would honor G-d’s law. Move up a couple of thousand years and imagine being Jewish in America–some capitulated, but the difference between Rome and America was that there was a national discourse regarding the ethics—or lack of ethics of human slavery, and many Jews took advantage of the discourse to obey G-d’s law.

            We have to remember the law about laying with man was not about coupling but about the sperm which was considered as sacred as blood. Throw on a condom—at least to the most conservative interpretation—it is the same sin. The only person that scripture says is slain for a particular sexual act is Onan who was sleeping with his wife at the time.

            There are no laws regarding the “seed” of women as the ovum was considered dormant—dead – unless fertilized by the seed of man, and women pass those each month –hence the need for isolation. Unclean in this case means indisposed or not healthy not dirty.

            Then, and this goes back those of us who really believe our Creator is as obsessed with the coupling of others as we are. As we can see with the woman taken in adultery–no, Our Creator really isn’t going into neighbor’s house, spying on their ativities looking for something to condemn them as we are.

            Reading this, Scripture does not define Sodomy as anal sex, but Ezekiel 16:49 says, ‘This was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed idolatrous taboos before me, and I took them away as I saw fit.’ Similarly, Jeremiah 23:14 states, ‘I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem a horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none returns from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. It doesn’t mean anal sex is promoted—it means according to Ezekiel, the sin of Sodom is greed, and a lack of charity and compassion. (I got this from a cyber friend.)

            We Christians have to learn to take the fear, ignorance, and hatred out of our speech, then perhaps those who are not bound to our beliefs would not be forced to extremes to defend themselves.

            There is no law forbidding love between two men or a formal commitment between two men or any law that requires the two men making the covenant to define that relationship.

            David celebrates his very close, affectionate relationship, saying it (sur)passed the love of women. Jonathan, we are told loved David more than his own soul although he was married with children and David betrothed to his sister—Jonathan made a public covenant with David, committing everything to David including the care of his family.

            It happen Four thousand years ago when men could kiss and embrace in public or private without the social condemnation that promotes secrecy, isolation, and the kind of comfort that could easily turn into passion, not because people are unnatural, but because they are human and that’s the way nature works.

          2. *sigh* Well, God knows all this better than we do, and He’s still in control. But our culture just continues to make it harder for us to live holy, and, when we have children of our own, to raise them in godliness.

  4. *to Hunter* I know that the deterioration of platonic friendships may well have roots in misreadings of scripture and misguided rhetoric, but it has roots in many things besides. It has roots in our history and the development and synthesis of our cultures. I am less concerned with how we have come to this, and more concerned with fighting it. I want people to be aware of, and to have a variety of loves. I have, and will continue to tell people what I know in the hope that one of these days the tide will turn and Friendship will be better understood.

    *To David* You know me, and that I am not convinced that the world is more evil now than in the past, but there are many things in our culture, or perhaps I should say cultures, that disturb me. I thank Him for being in control. I thank Him with all my heart and soul.

    1. Fair enough: Jubilare.
      From my experience in battleling racial discrimination, it helps to acknowlege all of the sources. People are very aware of the variety of loves, but many people who shrink from the sight of a close same gender relationship, blended ethnic relationships, have conditioned to do so. I agree in the need to fight, but can we hope to combat the problem if the negative imagery and rhetoric continues?

      1. Encountering the kind of negative rhetoric you describe is very rare in my social circles. I do fight it, as does pretty much everyone around me, on the rare occasions when it does crop up. What I see around me most often, though, is the ill effect that can arise in reaction to such hateful rhetoric.

        In trying to be accepting of sexuality, society has begun to discriminate against celibacy, mostly without realizing it. The society around me lacks understanding of celibacy and chastity. I know that being an “old maid” has been a hateful social position for age on age. I am glad not to face that discrimination. I am, however, frustrated that I, and those like me, are incomprehensible freaks simply because of our life-choices. People don’t care much that I am not married, but that I am not sexually active is incomprehensible, apparently. It’s not Christian rhetoric that is being used against me, it is society’s attempt to be supportive of any of my “life choices.” They are saying “choose and we will support you!” and when I say “but this is my choice!” I get, at best, blank looks.

        I have now met several people, men and women, who are NOT Christians, who feel oppressed by societies sexual expectations of them. Every one of them was hesitant to admit this, and I know they are not as much of a minority as most would assume. How tragic is it when someone wants NOT to be sexually active and is made to feel like a freak because of that desire?

        The harvest I keep seeing from this accidental discrimination is alarming. People project their over-sexualization of culture on history and literature, which makes it hard to show them examples of platonic love. You say that people are very aware of the variety of loves, but I assure you that is no longer the case in most of my social circles and even less true with the upcoming generations. It’s sex-or-nothing, save in family relationships. It isn’t so much that there is a stigma against physical affection between people of the same sex, but rather that such physical affection is ALWAYS considered sexual. I have a female friend who was hungry for non-sexual physical attention from a female friend. She wanted a sister’s love, something that had been denied her by her biological sister. This desire confused her because to everyone around her (and her environment is very Liberal, in the current sense of the word) automatically assumes and praises homosexual love. She knew that she was attracted to men in a very different way, but it wasn’t until I talked to her about it that she felt the relief of knowing that her platonic desire was Normal.

        The hateful rhetoric may be what started this, but it now moves on its own, well beyond any Christian communities. There is a silent discrimination going on. Silent because most of the people being discriminated against are convinced that the problem lies with them, not with the society around them because everything in our society is telling them they are abnormal. I am all for fighting the hateful rhetoric of some Christians, but for our own sake we also need to be fighting the silent, crushing oppression of the tide of public assumption when it comes to sexuality. We need a wider range of loves. I don’t want the children around me to grow up seeking love in only one way, because they will always have an unmet desire for that philos affection that is as natural to mankind as eros.

        *rubs face* I’ll step off of my soapbox now. I know this is kind of a shot out of the dark in a lot of ways. There are other forms of discrimination that are much easier to see. This is more along the lines of “the silent killer,” as there are no bigots at its heart, only people who mean well in ignorance.

        1. Silent because most of the people being discriminated against are convinced that the problem lies with them, not with the society around them because everything in our society is telling them they are abnormal. I think you may be aquainted with a great deal more judgemental people than I am. I’ve been celebate for decades, and people are curious, especially as they know that I had been married and have children so they feel I must miss Sex. My parents worry because they don’t want me to be lonely, poor, or without the ethical protection of having a husband.(My mother relaxed when I had a hysteretomy–because she felt there would not be any consequences if I choose privately to have a lover–, which is a whole other difficulty when it comes to talking about the role of intimacy in our lives.) I miss intimacy and affection–when I was married neither my husbsand or I were mature enough to appreciate or understand what we could have had. Also you and I different in that, I dont have preference as to a good male friend or female friend, but yeah, for a lot of reasons–human nature being one of them–, being intimate or affectionate with an individual you care for –and I physically prefer the comfort of male arms to female,– can become complex–depending on an individual’s needs. Human Sexuality is healthy, and if nothing else, the Song of Song celebrates that aspect of our lives. But many people, because they have happy, health, balanced sexual and emtional lives, view celebacy as either repression, or fear of domination, abuse, or fear of sensuality–or that they’re lesbians or homosexuals. And the suspicion is on females more often as some-people simply cannot imagine that females are complete enough beings to share the teaching Jesus gave for males who unmarried or “eunuchs”.

          1. I am not often actively derided or degraded for my celibacy, though that has happened. More often I face assumptions that something is wrong with me. The very curiosity people have for celibacy is like their curiosity for an exotic animal at the zoo, and while I am not angry with them for being curious, I am sad because that is a sign of how little society understands it. There are many more celibate people out there than want to come forward because they fear society’s judgment on them. As you say, people think that my celibacy is “either repression, or fear of domination, abuse, or fear of sensuality” or that I am a closet lesbian. In my experience, it is not only people who have happy or healthy sexual relationships in their own lives who think such things. If anything, people I know with unhealthy and unhappy sexual lives are even more critical of celibacy. I value sexuality, and my sexuality even as I choose not to actively use it, but that is understood by very few people.

            Men face, I think, a different kind of prejudice, wherein their manhood is called into question if they are not sexually active by a certain age (which seems to be getting younger and younger).

      2. I guess what I am saying is that the answer lies in education, because the problem lies in ignorance, much as it does in the fight for ethnic equality.

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