WHATEVER HAPPENED TO LOVE? – A read
Where did the love go? Can we even find genuine love nowadays? Or is it just about lust?
When I was a young girl, I was inundated with stories of romance and life-long love, wonderful stories that made me believe, without a doubt, that this was something that just happened. There was no discussion, no debate, no room for denial or discursion regarding the fact – the accepted fact- that this wonderful experience would be mine.
Fast forward to 2019 – and there is not only no guarantee of “happily-ever-after” for everyone, but the concept of love of any kind seems to be moving into the realm where only unicorns and leprechauns exist.
Part of this, I believe, is because it may have been a bridge too far in the first place. However, it now seems impossible to relate to the opposite sex in any way that brings us closer, or that might help to re-define what sexual relationships mean in this day and age – what any kind of relationship means in this day and age.
In this new era of “Me Too”, I feel compelled, as a female who grew up in the last century, to speak out and state that males who grew up in my era, are – at least in part – responsible for this growing push-back. And at the risk of sounding like I am lecturing, I will say that in my day, it was “accepted” that men – not all, mind you, but too many – would treat me more like some kind of pet than a human being. (This is one of the reasons why I have always had a deep affection for gay men – they treated me with dignity and respect, and in return, I treated them with total acceptance – still do.)
So, I do not wish to bash all males, and I do not wish to pile on, but I will offer one – and certainly not the only – example that will shed light on my discourse.
I used to be a professional road musician, not unheard of, but not altogether common for a young female in those days. One night in the mid-seventies I was invited, during a break, to sit down with a group of men. Now, these men seemed happy to have me sit there, but continued to talk “around me”, as though I was not there, really more of an ornament than an actual person. Used to this treatment, and being the person that I am, I finally interrupted them by making a salient comment regarding their conversation, which resulted in the following two things: it completely stopped their conversation, and it prompted one of the men to issue this remarkable statement:
“Careful boys – it’s got a brain.” No – I am not making this up, nor am I misquoting.
That is exactly what he said.
This kind of thing may be shocking today, but it happened all the time back then. If you understand human nature, you may ask what prevented me from becoming a complete “manhater”? Well, for one thing, I had a good and decent man for a father, and I knew other males who would never have said that kind of thing, and who treated me – at least within earshot – with decency.
So, what do we do now? What is the new definition of relationships, of sexuality, gender, and even love? I believe that a start to figuring this out is understanding, on a fundamental level, that these things are intricately entwined with concepts like human rights, human dignity and human freedom. If you have read any of my books, you have probably figured out that, despite my experiences, I continue to be an incurable romantic and a believer that love, in general, is not only a guideline, but a beacon in the fight for equality, human rights and dignity.
Unfortunately, what I know, and possibly the only thing I am sure about these days, is that alienation, hatred, judgement, bigotry, racism, misogyny, and just plain fascism, are not only on the rise, but are becoming a staple in the world today.
So, back to my initial question – where does love fit in with all of this?
The simple answer is – it doesn’t.
There is no room, in that list of ugly human choice – yes, I said choice — for anything as delicate and beautiful as love. Love only thrives in an atmosphere of acceptance, even if there is discussion; understanding, even if there is contention; affection, even if there is disagreement.
This takes work!
Work that we all should be doing, and work that is uncomfortable and potentially unpleasant. It requires all of us to put away the mirror we got from Disney and Snow White – you know, the one that makes us all think we are “the fairest in the land”? (And I use “fairest” in both meanings of the word.)
We need to put away our own paranoia, terror, and blind self-protection long enough to honestly assess how we might be contributing to the chaos, hatred and lack of decent humanity that now seems to be consuming us all.
It is not easy to readjust your thinking, nor is it easy to assess ourselves with honesty. I can tell you from personal experience, that it is startling, uncomfortable, and at times distressing.
It is also gratifying uplifting, and enlightening.
Because, if we cannot change ourselves, then we cannot change anything. If we cannot bring back comity between the sexes and between people in general, if we cannot grow, and learn to change, if we cannot bring love back into the equation, even if only through our own painful metamorphoses – well. . . what’s the point?
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