Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Where have all the libertines Gone..?

There are times, like tonight, when I do not smile upon my physical form, I do not take comfort from my shape and my softness. It took me a good ten years of being on this planet before I could even get my head around being a girl at all, and even then it felt like a strange act to put on in so many ways.

And yet, I remember staring at myself in a mirror whilst on summer holiday one year, at my cropped hair, my thick boy's shirt, my gangly shoes. And I took a straw hat from a stand and put it on my head, cocked it to one side and narrowed my eyes the way I had seen those stars of American Seventies films do when they were being meaningful and sexy. I wanted to look like a film star, I wanted to pout and to seduce the way they did, and from that time on, I would sit in the back of our family car whilst my Mum stared ahead driving, looking out of the car window in a dreamy, deep, dramatic way, my eyes again narrowing in film star pose, as I imagined a secret camera filming me rolling through the streets of Hawarden, up Bennett's Lane, under the bridge where I would hold my breath for good luck, past the nuns playing their recorders in the Convent garden and up our long drive that led to home. In those moments I was all of Charlie's Angels. I was Daisy Duke. I was Wonder Woman.

But I never could imagine becoming Wonder Woman in reality, with her dynamic basque and erotic hotpants, her large, powerful breasts, her lassoo. Instead, I felt more inherently like I was Dangermouse. Or perhaps a kind of hybrid of Carry On characters (my favourite films growing up)- a bit of Charles Hawtrey crossed with Hattie Jacques, a liberal dose of Kenneth Williams morphing into the cackle of Sid james. So on the inside I felt more like these, but at the same time desperately wanted to be Wonder Woman, or better, one of those dancers in the Kenny Everett Show, Hot Gossip, who wore very little, and whom my mother would try and ban us from watching whenever the programme came on.

Maybe I still felt more like Dangermouse when I finally lost my virginity at sixteen. I would wear basques and frilly black knickers and stockings, because that was what I thought was meant to be sexy, what my boyfriend thought was meant to be sexy. But I always felt too flat chested, too girlish to pull off seduction, not yet in either my body or my sexual power to get anywhere close to understanding what all this meant. And it took me years to realise that what was meant to be sexy would never be sexy as long as it stayed in the realm of what was 'the done thing'. 'The done thing', largely, in my experience of the world of sex throughout my teens and early twenties (despite trying to pass itself off as wildness and experimentaton), seemed largely to consist of disembodied people (myself included), committing disembodied acts with each other, being shown disembodied sexuality in film and magazines (meant to be a turn on), whilst living in a largely disembodied bigger sexual culture.

And of course, in a culture like this, in a mind set like this, nothing is really sexy. And I thought it was me, that there was somehing wrong with me. Or with my partner perhaps. But I realise now that it was nothing more than a symptom of being young and inexperienced in a culture where we read Page Three with our cuppa, where pornography = the death of the Imagination on all levels, and women are brought up to believe that lacy thongs from Knickerbox are what makes her a desirable woman.

I no longer feel like Dangermouse. Though in fact, I wouldn't be too disturbed if I found myself feeling like that in a moment of arousal, who knows, it could be quite sexy. But I do find sex as it is presented in our culture, possibly one of it's most tedious and banal shortcomings. Sexual consumption and artifice seem to be what is peddled daily by our media and sex industry. Perversion and kinkiness yawn at us from every street corner (and that's just the billboards). Jesus, hasn't anyone cottoned on yet that the breaking of sexual taboos has become just the latest form of conformity? That every man, woman, transgendered person and their dog has probably done fetishism in some form, no matter how slight, and it doesn't need to be rammed down our throats (excuse the turn of phrase) at every opportunity in order to sell a new perfume, promote the latest facile pop act, sell a few more million newsapers that aren't, in reality, fit for us to wipe our bums on.

I digress. I want a new sexual thrill. An extremity no one has ever dared to peek inside before. And I'm not talking nailing my nipples to a wooden post, or hanging by my toenails from the chest of Pamela Anderson. Jesus, my life is filled enough of that stuff anyway in the real world, never mind in a fantasy one (metaphorically speaking, of course). No, this thrill would come from the society around me. Just give me something pulsing with aliveness, something articulate and meaningful and born of the stuff that life, growth, decay and death are made of. Just spare me the alienation and manipulation and exploitation, the dead dog that tries to pass itself off as sexual consciousness in our society. Then I might just get a thrill, I might just feel even a flicker of interest in what our culture wants me to get turned on about. And this is not some feminist plea, god save me from that. It is simply a desperate, fed up call, away from the superficiality and crippling blandness of mass sexual consumerism, towards life force, imagination and, dare I say it, soul. Whether that soul is as clear as the sun up in the bluest of skies, or whether it is a blackened, twisted thing of many contours and many lonely lanes. Whether it is made of perspex or rubber or tin. Whether it is a violence of sound, or makes the tiniest whisper in the morning. Perversion and fetishism was always a means of contacting the deeper, darker, powerful forces of life and death, of subverting tired norms. It saddens me that now it just seems like any other episode of Hollyoaks.

I can fill a bra and pair of stockings these days. I might even look pretty good in those gold hotpants. But that doesn't really do it much for me tonight. Tonight I feel more like an 18th century boy, hat in hand, my shirt open to my belly button, the material of my trousers caressing my slim hips, my toes pale and dirty. And I'm looking for a house where I can take myself and my longings, and it's not in this country, it's not in this century and it's not here.


N.B. any cheap, stupid or obscene comments made on this post will be immediately deleted unless of course they are made by my boyfriend.

5 comments:

P'tit Boo said...

great freaking post.

laurel said...

Well, they can't put that on a billboard, can they? Even if they could find a suitable picture and/or text..It would scare the hell out of all those people seeking next perversion to avoid seeking inside themselves or their partner...
Those are the sacred secrets, the truth, the reality of connecting with another...
Incredible post, clare... just incredible....

bereweber said...

this is a great post clare
i wish i had read it before
beautiful, honest, intense
this phrase made me laugh so much! "And I'm not talking nailing my nipples to a wooden post, or hanging by my toenails from the chest of Pamela Anderson"
I agree with you in so many points, as a woman too, I got such similar feelings towards our "highly sexual" society...
your ending lovely "not in this century", and reminds me of these words of Julian Barnes, talking about love & sex in other ages, I am quoting him because, I do think that the ultimate sexual experience involves a whole deal of passion that has to do nothing with visuals or kinkyness but mostly with passion & love... here Barnes, I think you'll like these words: "If we know more about consummation; they knew more about desire. If we know more about numbers; they knew more about despair. If we know more about boasting; they knew more about memory. They had foot-kissing; we have toe-sucking. You still prefer our side of the equation? You may well be right. Then try a simpler formulation; if we know more about sex; they knew more about love."

clare said...

I love this, I love this, I love this! Thanks Bere!

The cheapening of desire, the superficialisation (I just made that word up) of passion, are such sad crimes against humanity, against ourselves as human. They leave us alienated, uncaring, unimaginative selfish consumers of the soul.

I'm not sure if this age we live in is more guilty of it, but I guess the commercialisation of just about everything, the rampant consumerism, ensures that mystery, beauty and deep, real eroticism are lost under a barrage of quick fixes and egotism. I sometimes feel like I'm perhaps naive or deluded in trying not to buy into such a game, but it's just so boring and empty...

Take care bere, and Happy Christmas if we don't communicate before then! Here's to good old fashioned love and passion!
;)

bereweber said...

oh Clare! your words, always bring lucidity to my soul, every time I read you, I feel as you knew my soul

Gracias Clare, and a Merry Christmas to you too, I hope 2007 brings the glory you deserve, and that the changes are not burdensome but a reason for hope.

yes cheers to you, love & passion, a big hug from California, sunny, yet cold...