"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, November 10, 2023

Love The One You're With - Free Love In A Sanctimonious Age

Angela Barker grew up the daughter of a small town doctor and a well to do mother.  There was nothing remarkable about her life or her upbringing - nothing to suggest the life to come. 

Yes, there were intimations of a forward sexuality in the woods with Bobby Lord, sharing sexual secrets usually reserved for many years beyond the second grade; a precocious loss of virginity in the red and yellow New England fall; an affair with Mr. Wilcox, coach of the Lefferts crew, patrician heir to a fortune.

Yet, she was not promiscuous. Far from it, she was rather particular. Sex was simply her identity, but she was always in control. Boys and later men, were her banquet, her feast.

Why was it, she wondered, that the nuns of St. Maurice went on so insistently about chastity, abstinent love of the Lord, and sexual patience. Was it their own sour, bitten, and forbidden sexuality that made them so harsh? 


And what about the Fathers Murphy, Brophy, and O'Donnell? What prompted such empty censure? What was Father Flannery's touch in the rectory all about? Why had he granted her absolution before he had pulled the screen in the confessional?  Why had His Excellency, the Reverend Archbishop Harland P. Oakes, caressed her not as a sister of the Church but a woman?

If these prelates of the Church had expressed such human desires, what did this say about the Church's sexual interdictions.  The priestly touch on the arm, the desirous look, the brush of a half-chaste kiss were signals, lessons learned early and never forgotten, 

Sex was Angela's MO, her persona. She unashamedly had sex with the one she was with, undeterred by the age's censorious Puritanism.  There was Blake, Bob, Francis, and Jesus - all chosen for beauty and desire. Sex was the only binomial, the only solution.


Where was her comeuppance? Her fine, her payment for such moral desuetude? Every drama since Aeschylus punished women for their faithlessness, their sexual obstinacy. Emma Bovary or Hester Prynne.  Even the the liberated, sexually evolved Connie Chatterley had her unfortunate end.

'I refuse', said Angela.  She would be unencumbered by priests, nuns, and justices.  Sex was a matter of preference and nothing more - no promise of fertility, love, or settlement.

'Slut...slattern...cheap', she had heard this and worse, but paid no heed, no mind. Hers was not an incitement or mission but indifference.  Let women champion her for her feminist sexuality.  Let men pursue her for nothing more than sex. Let pleas to settle down, to reform, to readjust her ways die down. She was deaf to entreaty, to sanction. 

There was integrity in this woman - no pregnancies, no abortions, no expediency, no Dear John apologies.  Love with the one you're with is not without consequence. 

Ah, said her legions of naysayers and prosecutors, what about old age? Do you really want to spend your last years alone? What would a life of acquisition pay in the end? 

Angela was no child of the love generation, no Woodstock free spirit, no free love, communal woman.  She had come of age long after those years in a much more difficult era.

Why? Sex was neither the Lawrentian epiphanic episode or the Sixties one off; but an act for which its ancillary, peripheral benefits outdid the design. 

And so it was that this post-feminist woman led her good life to the end.  A sexual deviant to many, liberationist to far more, she was a woman ignored by biographers. No plaques to her memory, no particular, telling epitaph on her headstone; but remembered by her lovers; and by the legions of those who loved her not for her sex but for indomitability.  A woman for all seasons. 

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