11/30/05 - marriage and eroticism

In today's excerpt - Cynthia Kling on the inevitable tendency of eroticism to depart from a marriage:

"It is the corrosive closeness and [my] tendency to act wifey that seem to drain marriage of its eroticism for me. (Does any husband ever even use the word erotic when talking about his wife?) Back ... in the high days of feminism, there was never any real examination of the wife role—as long as you had a corporate job too. Feminism doubled the woman's workload (in the name of respect) and then turned around and killed the femme fatale. She became seen, somehow, as the dumbed-down woman, a subspecies of our gender, so she got garroted and buried by women in business suits and scarf ties.

"What was the problem with killing the seductress off? She's the one who kept sex alive in the marriage. Sincerity, clarity, straightforwardness, compromise—these things are antithetical to Eros. Carnality snorts at these modern ideas of marriage—and one way or another takes off in search of new quests. We respond sexually to the stranger, the unknown, the unfamiliar. The dirty urge has no interest in the known, the picked over, the fully examined. The femme fatale knows that it is not simply a question of acrobatics but a way of being, a way of conducting yourself, that fosters passion. ... There was no obvious spot for that person in my first marriage, because that ever-present, octopus-armed wife had hogged up all the space. In my second marriage, I knew that if I didn't want to wind up drunk in front of the television again, I had to work to cultivate that other side—and I did. And I do ...

"The wife is about striving for some notion of perfection. The mistress is about games, invention, closeness. One is high and one is low. I was afraid of diving down there in my first marriage, which is part of what killed that marriage. Now I go there to keep that marriage alive."


Ed. by Cynthia Kling


The Bitch in The House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage


First Perennial Press


Copyright 2002 by Cathi Hanauer


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