How to love a woman


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Category: Women Date: 10 Feb 02

“Becoming a woman is…something else, something whose meaning I’ll have to create for myself as I go along. Here, let me find out by telling it my way... And sure enough, the stories that these women told me follow the erotic plot lines of neither the old fashioned Hugh Hefner version of sexual revolution, nor the retro feminist account. In these stories there are neither sluts nor victims, but determined authors of their own biographies, intent – as so many women, I found, had been long before we or our mothers were born – on forging, finally, a new philosophy of desire.”

Naomi Wolf in “Promiscuities – A secret history of female desire.”


Valentines day is an anticlimax. It either leaves us blue or bitter over lost love, or fills us with unresolved yearning. It forces us to reexamine our relationship with men (will it be a good year for the roses?) and our continual mutual bewilderment with the opposite sex over the fact that talking – communicating, rarely untangles our crossed wires because words, mean different things to men and women. Men are uncomfortable with emotion and retreat to reason. Women are in tune with emotion, and recognize that reason is just an aspect of intelligence, although the phrase “emotional intelligence” has been gaining ground recently among both sexes.


That moment facing our generally much loved partner/husband in the dimmed restaurant across the dinner table loses its frission perhaps because it is so clichéd or contrived and we’ve seen the scene played out already in too many cheaply done newspaper ads.


Then there is the whole performance. It takes such effort, what with the war paint, and the anxiety that perhaps we don’t quite look the part of the beautiful desired woman in the ad; and the man with whom you are normally so free and easy, suddenly wears a tight smile across his face, and you respond thinking ‘God I wish there was a script for manufactured love.’


So we gratefully at the end of the night, smear Ponds to remove the makeup, slip out of the uncomfortable little black dresses into faded cotton pajamas with relief, pick up a book and vow to ourselves not to fall for this rubbish again. But we do.


What do Women want? It’s the ultimate question for Valentines day.

If you’re a man and you really want to know. This:

A Gesture.

We want to be absolutely bloody adored with extravagance, not necessarily of pocket but of spirit.


What the hell, if you’re being extravagant and doing roses, make it in dozens, make sure they are fragrant, let their petals make carpets on the floor, sheets on the bed.


Take us (if we like the sun) to smolder in hot spring baths in St Lucia, and if we prefer to be cozy, to a little place in Warsaw, and we’ll hold hands and visit the holocaust museum there and return to a little hotel with a fireplace and watch the snow silently falling through the window.


Back to earth. Find a babysitter, fill the house with music and laughter, smear a mud mask on our face, gently wash it off, make up a basket of bread, cheese, red-wine, grapes, (We’ll spit the pips at one another) and have a sybaritic feast on the floor.


What do women really want?

Things that money buys are often consolation prizes.

We want to be seen.

We want you to see beyond the caking mascara, beyond the tired eyes, beyond the dress that may not fit just right, behind a young, or fat, or beautiful or aging face, beyond a desirable body or aging body.


We want you to see the fabric of our souls.

We want you to see our courage when we smile through tears, and get ready to battle again; see the love with which we hug our parents; see the child in us when we skip to the front door with our daughters; see our compassion, although its not necessarily sexy, see the teenager in us when we blast music in the car; see the tenacity when we work against time; see the stretch marks, one for each child, see the dreams in our furrowed brows, be it to open our own businesses, or travel, or do that degree.


See it and acknowledge it in poetry, or prose. We don’t care if it rhymes. Which woman doesn’t want to be poetry, even as she washes the dishes?


If there is a time for gestures, Valentines is it. This is why I want to share this poem I was given recently written by Russian Poet Marina Tsvestayeva (1892-1941). It captures the essential yearning that goes with loving someone, a twilight fog, through which a white light shines, where time and space are immaterial. It’s untitled.


‘I’d like to live with you In some small town, In never-ending twilight And the endless sounds of bells. And in the little town’s hotel – The thin chime of an antique clock, Like little drops of time. And sometimes, evenings, from some attic room, A flute, A flute-player by a window And huge tulips at the windows. And if you didn’t love me, I wouldn’t even mind.’


Woman today may be determined authors of our own biographies, refusing to fall into stereotypes of slut or victim, but we haven’t stopped believing in love.

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur