Tenacity Becomes You
Check here for a glimpse of past print issues of TENACITY. You'll find some of the highlights but if you would like to request a full past issue please contact me here.
-the woman's answer to not being able to get it on. Say what now? Oh, yes, a woman's desire (or lack thereof) to engage in sexual activity is entirely based on physical issues.
According to the pharmaceutical industry we're just like the guys, a sexual thought every six seconds (okay, we're exaggerating...) and if we've temporarily, or permanently, list our desire for sex it's all due to an "unmet medical need". (Los Angeles Times; Pink Viagra & the sham drug idea of the year; November 12, 2014)
In October 2014 the FDA heard from both medical professionals and woman with sexual complaints. The gist of these meetings was the pharm companies' pressure on the FDA to approve a sexual dysfunction drug for women-something akin to Viagra. Problem being, in the last 10 years only two drugs (Flibanserin being one) have come to the FDA and both were rejected- they didn't work and were unsafe. Statistics were flying to show the disparity in availability between sexual dysfunction drugs for men (26) vs. woman (0). Except all 26 are just different versions of similar drugs- all featururing testosterone, so really it's 1-0. (And according to FDA warnings, Vitamin T is hugely over prescribed to men for normal, age-related changes, despite its risks.) Si ti comes down to this...science regards most sexual problems in healthy people as mainly related to what's going on in their love lives-individually and in the the relationship. Drugs and only fix so much.
We need to figure out another way.
"But above all things I had been taught to read for pleasure and for meaning...and to exercise my critical faculties in everything I did. At twelve I had already know hot to think for a least four years. In teaching me independence of thought, they had given me the greatest gift an adult can give to a child besides love. "
-Peekay from The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay
Definition: "a bodily need or craving; a desire, fondness or inclinations for something," Anything, really. Sunshine, Snickers, sex. Here we go. Out appetites drive us - these deep seated desires for that something else. We spend our lives moderating these appetites. Sunshine? A little goes a long way. Snickers? Okay, a few, but the whole Halloween give away bag? And sex. Of course. An appetite that has spent an eternity getting out of control.
C.S. Lewis aply gave justice to this unbalance... "You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act - that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think that there was something equally queer about the state of sex instinct among us?" And this from a radio broadcast in the mid 1940s.
We've got it all backwards. Even in today's secular society there is a lack of crucial intimacy that is fueled by the prevalence of pornography and our overt sanctification of the hook-up culture.
Just looking at statistics, pornography has become ubiquitous: approximately 25% of all search engine requests are porn related and 35% of all internet downloads are porn related. And that doesn't even include all the social media postings, pictures and videos.
While some people (teenage boys perhaps?) might think that's a great thing, others are finding a direct correlation to relationship dysfunction. Philip G. Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan in their eBook The Demise of Guys: Why Boys are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, call it "technology enchantment."
"From the earliest ages, guys are seduced into
excessive and mostly isolated view and
involvement with texting, tweeting, blogging, video
games, and...pornography," all leading to a warped
model for real-world sexual relationships. Love is
hard enough to get a handle on (think talking,
romancing, tenderness, seducing) without all the
background noise of endless, emotionless sex
echoing through the brain. Re-wiring is taking place,
not just with young men but with adult males as
well. Sexual dysfunction among males in their
prime is on the rise and it appears, once physical
causes are eliminated, to be related to the images
of constantly changing partners and experiences
that are viewed online (Robert Weiss, Love and
Sex in the Digital Age; January 2014)
And this isn't just about the guys. Girls are buying
into the notion that it's important to keep the sex casual - no emotion needed - The Hook-up Culture. For young woman especially, this encouragement to remain isolated and detached goes against what most report wanting, "a long-standing romantic relationship." (Zimmerman, The Curse of the Hookup Culture; May 10).
We've gone from a mandate to "just say no" to one of "just say yes, every time, everybody does it." But not really. According to the Online College Social Life Survey, at colleges nationwide, by senior year 4 in 10 students are either virgins or have had intercourse with only one person.
So what do we do? Reset our model of sex from one that is based on impersonal internet porn sites and casual hookups to one based on true intimacy.
Appetites in control.
Trust on a Tandem - by Reesa Zagnoli, from previously published blog vitababe.blogspot.com
You can learn a lot by riding a tandem bicycle. I got to experience this while visiting beautiful Santa Cruz a few days ago and came out of it with more than the knowledge of how to ride a bicycle made for two.
I am the type of person who is very self-sufficient and usually choose to do things on my own because I know I can get things done. I prefer to have control if at all possible. Now, I know there are things that I can’t control and I do okay with accepting that but I’ll take responsibility upon myself whenever I can. This is not to say I don’t enjoy working with a team now and again but in general I can get more done on my own. I'm used to it. This carries over into the realm of romance as well. I've been the token single girl most of my life. Of course I've dated here and there but I've always held back from fully diving in. I truly believe that these people were not suited for me but there is another underlying theme as to why those relationships didn't work out.
It boils down to trust. There are few things in this life that I trust completely. God? Always. People? Not so much.
Simply put, it’s difficult for me to trust other people and trust is an essential component to any relationship. I don't give it away freely. I’m sure this stems from many things—broken trust in the past, being let down, the fact that people always leave, yadda yadda yadda—but, for whatever reason, I have learned to be successfully independent without having to trust people. I can take care of myself. I'm a strong woman physically and emotionally so I don't need anyone. Ever. Is that a ridiculous statement? Yes. Is that my stubbornness talking? Yes. Is that me being scared to be vulnerable to another person? Yes. Is this all stuff that I'm learning to get over? Yes.
I recently found myself in a new relationship, one that is worth facing my fears and allowing someone else into my life to be a teammate, a helper, an inspiration. I'm diving head first into whatever tumultuous waves come my way because I am a human being who is not actually made to go through life alone. I've been consciously working on the trust thing but nothing made me think more about it than hopping on a tandem bicycle. Cruising up the coast brought me more than just the joy of feeling the wind in my hair. What could be more perfect for an athlete than an active manifestation of an emotional journey? Not much.
Riding the tandem forced me to put my trust in someone else and give up control. He was leading, controlling where we went, guiding us safely to our destination. He may have held the reigns (or handlebars) but it took us working together to actually get anywhere. We had a few shaky moments at the beginning but we soon got the hang of it. If I freaked out or tried to fight the direction we were going we could have easily crashed. I had to breathe, relax, and let him lead. That was new. Of course, there was no way I was going to just sit on the back of that bike and not put power into those pedals and voice any concerns I may have had. This was a journey we were on together and we had to listen and respond to each other. I did experience a moment or two of terror as we flew down a trail toward a mossy lake but I trusted him to keep us safe and he did. Being terrified isn't always a bad thing.
We came upon a hill or two during our travels and just as in life when things get tough you really have to work together to keep moving forward. I'll tell you, a tandem bicycle is not the easiest thing to get up a hill. We had two choices: get off the bike and stop making progress or get up out of the saddle and put some effort into it. We chose to put some effort into it. After all, giving up is not in my vocabulary. We fought our way up that hill and were the better for it at the top. Plus, it was fun. We found our rhythm and enjoyed a small triumph together. It really is the little things.
You have to fight for what’s important to you. You have to learn to let go of control and trust. You have to be willing to get on a tandem bicycle and let him lead. I'm learning to trust and having the time of my life doing it. Each day is a new adventure but if I don't let someone else in I'm never going to grow and experience the magic that two people can create together. Letting someone in my world like that takes a tremendous amount of trust. Scary? Yes. Exciting? Absolutely.
As Tori Amos says in her song Jamaica Inn, "the sexiest thing is trust".
Hold on tight.
Millennial - by Taylor Zagnoli
plug it in and turn it on
bleached and rinsed
guillotines and chopped
after the bomb
trying to dust for prints
take away the proof
it gets truth-less
take away the trade
when you're toothless
take away the work
it gets worthless
take away the Word
you get darkness
and the darkness did not
but knows enough to leave
men empty handed
to get it's wish
chains and whips
in the cookie crisp
questions if we ever had it
generation get skipped
when you can't learn a grip from a video clip
when you can't learn to kiss
from a telephone's lips
one Kid signs up
one Kid gets shipped
one dog gets down
one dog gets snipped
shown to shoot anyone
that don't talk like this
don't look like this
pump your fist if you're valueless
pump your first if you're complicit
count it down till it starts to hit
just nod your head if you're illiterate
give us what we want!
remind us what we want!
a mirror and a gun
Token Male: Dedicated to all our boys
We love our boys - our brothers, our sons, our boyfriends, our mates, Increasingly, however, we are coming arcross "lost boys." Young men adrift in waves of uncertainty. We find them lingering on our sidewalks, floating in our pools. So many of them have no bearings , no positive direction to follow. They are plagued by self-doubt and irrational insecurity. They make the craziest, life-altering decisions for no apparent reason, maybe trying to find something that is not there.
Standford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo believes there's a lot of truth in what we're seeing. His theory is that hours spent in front of a video screen watching porn and playing games is contributing to boys inability to relate to woman and function socially. In his now e-book, "The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Struggle and What We Can Do About It"' Zimbardo and co-author Nikita Duncan tie together the the isolation of the internet and a general lack of socialization. "Boys are learning about relationships and sex in the boundary-less world of porn which is not how ordinary sexual relationships are played out."
Duncan believes the boys are looking for something to guide them - to show them the way to be a man. Pervasive in all this is the overriding impact of fatherlessness. More and more our boys are growing up without Dad who is unavailable physically, emotionally or pushed aside by mom who thinks she can do it all herself. Who is showing these guys how to be a man?
One "Millenial" boy sees an empty space where there used to be direction. "If it didn't come from Dad telling us, it came from the military of the educational system. It may not have been right or pretty but it was something."
(Cue Cat Stevens..."I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy, to be calm when you've found something going on. But take your time, think a lot, why think of everything you've go! For you will still be here tomorrow but your dreams may not!)
"Now what?" the boy asks. "We're supposed to just do what we want? Be who we want to be? But what is that?"
What can we do for our boys? How can we pull them off their screens and into real, alive life? It needs to happen. It's not too late.
Everything as it Should Be - a monologue by Reesa Zagnoli
It always starts with a fun night out with the girls. I’ve only been here about a year so I’m still getting accustom to the short shirts and high heels my roommates wear. It makes me laugh when they complain about the pain of how women have to dress but anything to get men to buy us drinks, right? I stick to my slacks. I have a good time watching them flirting and dancing with different men around the bar. I’m still shy but I partake in some fun too. We are fearless and unstoppable. Our laughter seems to fill the entire place. Nothing but the sounds of freedom and love. The laughter is something new I like to hold onto. I’m exhausted by the time we get home, shoes in hand, and all I want to do is crash and get a good night’s sleep. My head hits the pillow and it comes again.
The darkness consumes me like a wild dust storm from the inside out. It banishes the sun from the sky and all the joy from my heart. I’m transported to a place so real in my mind that there is no escaping. All of a sudden, I’m hopeless and helpless in the corner of my father’s house. Paralyzed by the thought of what today holds for me. I am only safe as long as I stay here, quiet and submissive. I can only pretend to stay asleep for so long. The desert sun shines into my eyes and the thick sweat clings to my unwashed body. A man, my father, comes in to wake me with a sharp kick and sharper words. How was I to know I let my leg become uncovered during the night? I want to scream, “I was asleep!” But all I can do is bite my tongue and take it. Nothing to do but that. Never anything to do but that. He leaves me to dress properly and prepare for running errands to the market.
Slowly I rise and pull on my burqa that hangs on a nearby chair. My skin crawls with each movement and each touch of fabric. Finally, the face veil, suffocating and demeaning. I am to wear it proudly as I hide my identity from all. No emotions to be seen. Modesty. I am now a faceless warrior hidden from view. My heart is fighting against it but my body can’t even begin to take a stand. The day passes. I was distracted with thoughts of my little sister. Still too young to know the difference of who we are and who we can be if we ever get out. I let my mind slip for a moment and made a terrible mistake. Time stands still.
I come to as the scalding metal touches my skin again. My screams are muffled by the cloth that is shoved in my mouth. I feel my flesh coming off the bone. Bubbling up and blistering. The pain is nothing compared to the smell. One should never have to smell their own burning flesh. It’s okay, though, I know it won’t last forever. It can’t. I’ll surely pass out from the pain again. I look down to see a matching scar on my other leg. This has happened before. Men find symmetry attractive, right? Not like that matters. This will teach me to pull my garments up to wash my feet anywhere but at home. The desert is a dusty place, you know. The wind is unforgiving as the sun and sometimes a girl just wants to wash her feet. This will teach me. I’m bound inside my burqa for a reason. Modesty. Modesty. Modesty. I try to break out of this cage my body is in. I grab and claw at the cloth but it doesn’t come undone. It’s an endless array of thread woven together in entrapment. Brilliantly designed to keep every last inch of me out. A sanctuary from the outside world or an all encompassing flame that I am still drawn back to. Sometimes I confuse the comfort of the familiar with thinking that makes any of this okay. It is all I know and who am I to fight that? Then I remember.
My leg still stings from the burn. I can’t stop it. With each step I want to scream out in pain. Relief is nowhere to be found. I can’t run, I can hide. The pain is inside me. The humiliation is forever burned into my blood, aching, screaming and flowing through my veins. Modesty, modesty, modesty! Then they come, closing in fast, my father, my brothers, my future husband. I teeter between consciousness and losing it. Is this real? I try to run but the pain only comes circulating faster and faster with each beat of my heart. The fear overtakes me. The fear is worse than the pain so I run. I run as fast as I can but I don’t get any farther away from them no matter how hard I try. They don’t see my tear streaked face or my blood stained body. They don’t care. I hit the ground and they close in. No mercy. Modesty, modesty, modesty! My head is devoured in a tempest of emotions and screams. Modesty, modesty, modesty! Louder and louder. Modesty! I can’t take it anymore when finally…
I wake in a pool of sweat. I throw the sheets off and try to calm down. I hear my roommate’s slow steady breaths of sleep. Our clothes are strewn around the room. My slacks hang on the back of a chair. Everything is as it should be. I look down at my legs and see the faded scars. The sight sends a shooting pain through my entire body. I’ll never really escape. Everything is as it should be.