On the NBC Today Show with Michelle Obama, November 2018, she declared that "Fear is not a proper motivator. We want all people to grow up with honor, dignity, and hope. People are hungry for connection. The subtle messages we send to each other, the small gestures of either kindness or cruelty have a huge impact."
Inspired by Ms. Obama, one of my favorite modern heroines, I have decided to speak up now in spite of judgment and backlash. The world is a dangerous place for women and girls. And we have certainly suffered a set-back with the Trump administration.
What happens when progressive movements seek radical or transformational change is that there is disruption, discomfort, and upheaval. This is why it is so necessary now to support and uplift one another. If we can, we must find our voice and discover where it can be heard and best used. For Mrs. Obama, that does not mean entering the political arena. Nor would that ever be right for me. On the other hand, everything seems to be political and I feel that I have no choice now, as a mature woman, but to bolster my own resilience by bringing forth my message in an effort to encourage, inspire and support women of every age to remember who they really are.
What is my message? How will I use my voice?
I intend to use it as courageously as I can to remind women to take some time for Pleasure. This is my calling. Women have an ancestral fear of retribution stored in our psyches. It is a deep PTSD remembrance of punishment for speaking out, especially where it concerns our sexuality and the way we find pleasure. This is not a treatise against men. Not at all. We are not necessarily or even generally man-haters. But our ingrained fear of retribution from men keeps us in our place. If we step out of our place the push back is obdurate!
On the other hand, it isn’t only men who would undermine, criticize, degrade or dissuade us. Men can do a number on us for sure. When it comes to women’s pleasure we have many generations of women who discovered firsthand the Madonna/Whore syndrome. We were taught by our mothers especially, to appear and act as proper, unthreatening and let’s face it subservient and secondary to our man, our father, our brothers.
I’d like to think those days are gone for younger generations, but I’m not so sure. I’ve had wonderful opportunities to talk with women of all generations and much of our experience remains the same. It’s a bit of a set-up from conception on. As women mature, we learn the language and emotions men want to, or are comfortable with, or can tolerate and we become intuitive readers of the signals they send us. It’s stored deep within our DNA. Some scientists are now talking about how ancestral experiences and memories are still part of our feminine, cultural origins, or timing in history and are embedded in our experience. We have an ancestral fear of retribution, a remembrance of punishment for speaking or acting out, or expressing our sexuality in ways that pay tribute to a woman’s pleasure.
The fear of other women’s judgment is a very real and disheartening thing, almost more powerful than a man’s judgment. Why? Because we expect women to be our friends, allies, sisters, mothers. But who amongst us has not, at some time, experienced a woman’s backstabbing, betrayal, or dismissiveness? Women still mostly rely on men for security and support more than other women. When that support appears threatened for some reason; perhaps it’s jealousy, comparisons, or perhaps no perceivable reason at all, some women will turn on each other.
But what about most women? If one woman rises up or speaks up or becomes successful, shouldn’t it be a cause célèbre? I think it should, but that is not always the case. If a woman has not found strength in her own center, her own joy, her own value, then celebrating another woman’s achievements, or beauty, or intelligence or heart can degenerate into criticism, undermining, betrayal, or worse, rather than support and inspiration.
I was forced to learn at an early age to hide my light, at home, in school, out in the world. I was unduly indignant about it for years. I had some heartbreaking lessons learned the hard way. Any of us could become stuck in that dynamic. I know many women who carry immense remembered pain in their emotions and bodies from such a lack of support from the people, men and women, who matter the most to them throughout their lives. Me, included. But from surviving the deep pain of betrayal and abuse and by choosing to heal and then by making daily choices to overcome and learning to thrive, I now can recognize myself as an awakened woman, who can embrace All of Life, which not incidentally includes a mature sense of my own sexuality.
My own experience has been such that progress forward, waking up, so to speak, has come incrementally. With each increase in experience and awareness, an elevation of spirit has come, but not without a powerful and obdurate push-back from - what would you call it? The status quo? The patriarchy? Negative or even dark forces? What I've learned is that positive change is usually hard-won.
I write to express my yearning to share. Small pleasures occur daily and when we make it an exercise to seek pleasure; in the beauty of nature, the joy of cooking and eating, the company of dear ones, the laughter of children, we can find a wee bit of pleasure to coax a smile. And a smile changes our chemistry. The simple gesture of smiling lightens our continence and uplifts another’s. There’s actual science on this even though I heard it first via Tony Robbins!
Today, the most amazing realization I’ve had as a woman of a certain age is that a certain age has no numerical value. I thought, at first, I was writing to entertain older women. But early generational feedback from much younger women, even as young as their ’20s-’30s-40’s on my first book; its foreword and stories came as a surprise to me. Many shared with me how relevant Savannah’s experience was to them. I could hardly believe it. Many told me it was due to the resonance they felt about Savannah’s experience with the men in her stories. The stories are meant to be entertaining, relational, and not necessarily overly graphic sexually.
This was a revelation to me. It provided me with enough gumption to finish the series and even be proud of it. The message was that these stories were more than merely entertaining smut. I laugh about this now, but early on, the sexual factor triggered that ancient shaming, the fact that the stories are “fictional memoir" notwithstanding.
Now I just say, hey! They’re not for everybody - or else they are! Even men have reviewed or mentioned to me that they have enjoyed them and some have even said they were surprised to discover secrets into a women’s thoughts and feelings.
I don’t believe women are ‘man-haters’. We merely want to be seen as bright, capable, and desirable by the men (and women) in our world no matter what our particular sexual or gender identity.
My message of “Pleasure as a Higher Calling” is that now is not the time to give up, cave in, or go back into hiding. There are millions of us longing for a safe, authentic and powerful connection with others - men and women.
And I do not believe it is frivolous to accentuate the inclusion of Pleasure in our overwhelmingly busy and often complicated lives. We owe it to ourselves to continue Waking Up and claiming our power, always remembering that a woman’s power should be different than a man’s. Our way of being powerful in our lives should never be about overpowering or misusing our power. Neither is my voice meant to be militant. I hope to never forget how that dynamic has threatened women by degrading, dismissing, and dissuading us to remain on the sidelines out of fear of criticism and censure.
Our sexuality and our enjoyment of it is every bit as important as a man’s. Our sensuality and sexuality is something to be proud of and celebrated. I have begun to think of this action as a radical political act of equality. Don’t we have the right to claim our pleasure, tell stories about pleasure in whatever way we desire? Of course, we do. But again, there is that unseen but definitely felt, obdurate force that often forces our retreat.
Savannah talks about the challenges of aging, the challenges of changing circumstances in mid-life and beyond as well as the surprising invisibility that accompanies all that implies within our culture. But guess what! Women over 40, 50, 60, 70, and beyond are sexual (or they can be!). Sex is healthy for us and even as we age, safe and loving sex enhances us mentally, emotionally, physically and even adds a youthful spring to our step and appearance.
One of my dear friends shared with me how she hears Savannah speak as - sexy from the inside out - which then gives every woman a ripple effect from the outside in. I loved that. That angle is not one I’d considered, but I’d love it to be true.
Where is our pleasure, our wild side as we age? My message is that Pleasure is found in everyday occurrences. Simple pleasures abound. Sexual pleasure is our birthright and should be seen as such without guilt, shaming, or shunning. All of which most women have brushed up against if not been flattened by.
Why else are we here? My belief is that we are alive to enjoy life. That people are often mired in the struggle and hardships of life is understood and expected. All the more reason to seek pleasure in the ways that please us most. Pleasure is a Divine gift. This is why Pleasure has become my higher calling. And although my life has had its difficulties and was not always focused on pleasure, it occurred to me as a woman of a certain age that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by recognizing, gleaning, and relishing all the pleasures from my everyday life.
How about you? I'd love to hear your story.
1. A woman of a certain age (let’s say over 50!)
2. Still lively, and interested in life.
3. Hails from Dallas, Texas, but has strived to overcome the imprint of southern womanhood.
4. She is a writer and published author as well as a fictional character.
5. She writes about many topics in these times of rapid change and transformation.
6. She is single, a traveler, curious, and Aspires to be Inspiring.
7. Is she a bon vivant? Kind of.
8. She is outspoken, open to new information, loves science, babies, dogs, music, cooking, nature, flowers, enjoying new experiences, and laughing.
9. And yes! Savannah loves to think about, write about and experience sex and sensuality.