Apropos of Cats

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One of the reasons I love vulva portraits is because they combine feminine energy with conscious intention. We use the term ‘pussy’ to describe that which allegedly lacks will, intent, integrity or strength; you are not looking at a pussy in this photo, you are looking at a woman displaying her volition.

This is the big controversy; this is the big deal. It’s not the blameless vulva (in the words of Alice Walker), the gateway to life, that is somehow considered lewd; rather, it’s the power of the gesture of revealing that the woman connected to it might have plans for it; that she might claim herself and perhaps have some effect on the world, or on someone.

I find it amusing that some, not all, feminists would likely be the first people to take issue with this image. Amusing because to me it’s the ultimate expression of feminism, in the philosophically authentic version of that idea: of female power; of the idea that women possess the right of will, and are entitled to express it. That they are in control of their bodies, as debated so hotly in the debate over ‘choice’. I (as a male photographer, for instance) am more likely to be ‘blamed’ for this image’s existence than the subject of the photo is to be credited for co-creating it or using me to make it herself.

The predominant accusation would be that I have turned my friend into pornography, strictly for male gratification, rather than photographing her doing something entirely natural, of her own accord, in celebration of her own beauty; as a statement to other women. As a statement to men: Guys, I’m at the helm.

(NSFW image in full post)

Anasyrma: Lakshmi Girl in the Chironian, lit by an open fire, spring equinox 2007. Photo by Eric Francis.

In the language of astrology, one theory is that what we are talking is about women integrating their Mars: the planet or psychological aspect associated with intention, drive and desire. This is the issue that is so central to the plight of women, as conditioned under patriarchy; and it involves claiming something that is not ‘inherently feminine’ in the cultural sense of the word, but rather, at least in our world, traditionally considered masculine: overtly expressed will power.

In recent chapters, I’ve been exploring the idea of men integrating (or not integrating) their feminine side; in astrology this is usually referred to as Venus. What happens when either sex does not integrate the ‘opposite’ (really, complimentary) value, is that we tend to project that value outward.

A man able to embrace his own receptive, introspective nature is more likely to encounter women as predictable and free-spirited.

Alternately, a woman who embraces her desire nature is less likely to blame men for the fact of sex, or feel out of control and have the constant sense of being hit on. I am proposing that the solution set is to learn to say no, directly; or yes, directly; and to ask, directly. I am in a long philosophical debate with myself over the essence of maybe, and I think it’s a pretty important concept. It’s the implied commitment to think actively.

Now, we’re talking about a complex pattern, and there is rarely a simple solution: in this case, authenticity would be a great start.

There are subtler aspects; these involve our efforts to express some aspect of who we are, and the question of whether the people in our environment allow us to do so. I mean allow in the real sense: there can be social repercussions for expressing or even exploring our complimentary energy, in any way other than the boy-girl thing.

Doing anything else involves a coming out process just like any other, but we could really stand to learn something from the millions of our brothers and sisters who have come out as bi, lesbian or gay. Stepping out of the gender crate is fun and feels meaningful. But it’s a lot more than that…

Anasyrma differs from flashing, a physically similar gesture as an act of exhibitionism, in that an exhibitionist has an implied purpose of his/her own sexual arousal, while anasyrma is only done for the effect on the onlookers.

(Posted at Book of Blue)

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