Some time ago, a seemingly buttoned up woman I’d just met at dinner starting telling me about her boyfriend of almost a year. She described how supportive he was and that they were in love, happy and moving in together. Then, as if knowing things were getting too saccharine, she added:
“And he has such a great ass. When he’s walking away from me I’m just like… ” At this point she may or may not have bitten her knuckle.
Granted, I tend to attract people who are on the outspoken and unconventional side. At the same time, I’ve heard plenty of women, some of whom I considered to be quite conservative, talk this way (usually only around other women.) It’s not often discussed how “visual” women can be, the term usually shorthand for how men are visually stimulated by erotic imagery. Mostly I loved that this woman was almost anthropomorphizing the dude’s ass to represent the tender romance between them.
Kabbalah says we have two souls, a Higher Soul and an Animal Soul. Jung calls is anima and animus. I call it “The Struggle To Keep It In Your Pants.”
Your Higher Soul is the one striving towards the Light, it wants you to be better, kinder, and eat less carbs. Your Animal Soul on the other hand, or shadow side, is the one that wants to chase whatever tail is just now receding into the mid-distance. It pictures what those two executives in your business meeting would look like if they climbed on the boardroom table and started making out right now, which is fine, as long as you don’t treat them like that’s reality.
We are now finding out that women may objectify men as much as they do us, and statistics tell us shockingly that women also watch porn quite a bit. They are even searching a lot of the same keywords, albeit in somewhat different order. Our Animal Souls are equal opportunity pervs.
There’s no doubt we live in a sexualized culture. American advertising and marketing uses sex to sell, but in a coy, covert way. Unlike in Europe, where it’s no problem to put a boob or a butt on a billboard, in America we have a mouth wrapped around a chocolate bar, or pop stars grinding against stuff. Also, we have the Victoria’s Secret catalog, supposedly aimed at women, but really a fetish and fantasy smorgasbord for men.
“Buy this for your lady and she will become this for you” is the not so subtle subtext. (Um, she may need a little more incentive than that.)
Sometimes it seems like the zeitgeist is trying to get us to walk around in a perpetual state of arousal, because then we are easier to manipulate. Then, a whole other section of the culture wants us to be Puritans, having sex with the lights out, if at all. Yet people who choose their Higher Soul versus the Animal one are not BETTER and people who want to be unabashed animus-sluts are not WORSE. Sometimes it’s just hard to hear your soul’s calling through a constant metaphorical boner.
So how to reconcile our Higher Soul with our Animal one? Are our desires for excitement and comfort mutually exclusive? I know one thing- ignoring or denying our shadow side will not make it go away. We cannot pretend we don’t have those urges, as that way madness lies (or at the very least phoniness and the all too prevalent sexless marriage.)
If you have not sat with your darkest, most base and most carnal, your brand of happiness might be suspect. The people I trust most are on first name terms with their demons (“Good morning there Lucifer, how’d you sleep?”) and may even have spent some time acting out at their behest. Suppression doesn’t count as enlightenment, and also, it’s not good for your health.
I now believe it’s possible to reconcile the light and the dark if one is not afraid to have an exciting, fulfilling and intense relationship. Sometimes the fields have to be razed and ploughed (ha!) and much crap navigated through, to be able to cleave to oneself instead of to others. Also it is possible to bring a dangerous energy to a relationship that feels safe, in the interests of finding places not previously explored together.
And yes, sometimes when I’m lying in bed, you can bet I stare at dat ass as my person is walking away, bite my knuckle, and finally realizing you can love someone’s soul as much as you love their ass, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.