Thursday, March 16, 2006

In Bloom

I was reading something Anastasia over at Sexualité wrote the other day, and in it she mentioned the term "defloration." And it got me to thinking how I've never really understood or identified with that concept at all.

How anyone can think after the first time a woman has had sex that the "bloom is off the rose?" It makes no sense to me that a girl should be considered to be in "full bloom" before she's had the benefit of mature, satisfying sexual experience. Or, having reached that state of powerful sexual knowledge and expression, that she would be considered a dry, lifeless stalk. Could anything be further from the truth?

To me, growing up, virginity was just a state of being, that I knew eventually I would transition from, into a state of further knowledge and experience. I never thought of the end of virginity as the end of something pure or sacred that I could never get back. Quite the opposite--I saw it as something that would blossom into something else lovely-- a different, but equally as sacred state of being.

It's time for us to drop the whole "deflowering" concept. The imagery behind it is ugly and violent, indicating death or something being purposely destroyed of it's life essence. And that just isn't what happens to women.

Instead, let's take back the whole flower image and make it new. Let's say that in her very early youth, a woman is a delicate, fresh, new, wet bud, just pushing itself up new from the earth, putting its feelers out into the world and getting to know itself. And slightly later on, she's a full, almost-matured bud, bursting with the energy to become something new and dazzling.

And when she has awakened into her sexuality, and holds the knowledge of the full range of her sexual power and allure--when she is fully aware of all the sensations her lush, marvelous body can evoke in herself and others--let's say THAT'S when she's in full, spectacular, alluring bloom.

And, bearing that all of us are growing and blooming in this way, it brings me to a question.

If your sexual being could be represented by a specific flower or plant, what would it be? (Men can answer, too, about themselves--or about the women in their lives.) Go on. Tell us all how pretty you all are.


Blogger Miss Syl said...

I'll go first. When I asked myself the question, the image that immediately popped into my mind was "orchid." Delicate, refined, and highly sensual all at once. I think it's the best representation of what I was and am like, bud to bloom. Photos in the post to illustrate.

You next!

3/16/2006 3:14 AM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

"The imagery behind it is ugly and violent, indicating death or something being purposely destroyed of it's life essence. And that just isn't what happens to women."

But you've chosen that imagery when it doesn't have to be ugly. All defloration is, is a word to define the first instance of sexual intercourse that, does, rupture a woman's hymen. The word, by definition, doesn't indicate death and doesn't define death or extreme violence (that may be what various Internet pornographers portray, but what they portray is borne out of greed and no motivation to educate or illuminate people to the beauty of sex, it's all about the sleaze).

I'm aware that various pornographers use it, as a way to portray lesser images, but in many other cultures (outsideo of the modern, western, porn culture) defloration is a ceremonial process that signifies a girl becoming a woman, and usually upon marriage mind you in contrast to the more modern 'sexual' practice of doing whomever and whenever.

It's the loss of 'innocence' in terms of reaching a personal transition where a woman enters another dimension, a metamorphosis of the feminine. A female's sexual psyche is different before and after intercourse.

But defloration, as defined, is the first sexual act that ruptures the hymen, so there is/can be discomfort and there is/can be bleeding. The structure is altered and it doesn't have be altered through violence.

Basically in modern society, virginity isn't thought to be really 'special', there are no 'defloration' rituals, it's just the quick screw in a car perhaps, or the quick 'before they catch us' act in a temporarily empty house or whatever it is or sometimes, young women keep quiet about it, not talking about it with their peers for fear of ridicule.

Ancient examples: In Sparta defloration or the first consummation, was preceded by a symbolic abduction of the bride (which wasn't a true abduction, because the males and female's knew one another).

In strict cultures, where family honor (and virginity) is more important than the female, it's not an issue of defloration itself but the culture, role of women (as seen by people within a culture).

The modern misfortune is that the word is used by too many sleazy sleazy pornographers and it dominates the internet (in pornographic form, that may often be photographed in a sleazy way), and then it takes on an uglier tone.

In literature defloration (not used in the manner 2 dollar porn sites use it) used to promote the mystique of feminine metamorphosis. I suppose the rise of, what can be described, 'quick porn', derides it. It's a shame, but what other word sums up the coming of age? 'Virginity Loss?'Which, overtly implies 'loss' of something?

I'm sorry you found the word offensive, but for me defloration as a literal word is a one stop shop that fully describes a significant event and on another level delves into the mystique of, perhaps, one of the most significant milestone's in a woman's life.

3/16/2006 7:57 AM  
Anonymous Cherrie said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. The beginning of a woman's love life is a blossoming of her being, her essence. A woman's ability to love and be loved should grow and develop over time, and I don't see any reason (short of disease) that her development should ever end.

That said, it's my observation that today's adult films (I don't like the pejorative word "porn") do not suggest that a woman is washed up after her hymen is ruptured. Quite the opposite--beautiful women like Nina Hartley continue to celebrate their sexuality on film despite being (as I am) on the far side of 50. (Or maybe I am just watching different movies?)

What flower represents my sexual being? A lovely rose bush that keeps blooming year after year.

3/16/2006 8:12 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Hi Ana: I was worried I might not have been clear enough and didn't know if I should link to your blog in the post or not, because I didn't want to imply in any way you'd said anything off. But it also made me think and I wanted to give you credit for having inspired the thought. :) Just to be clear, I don't find the word offensive, nor the way you were using it. I don't even have an issue with the widespread societal focus on the importance of changing over from virgin to non-virgin, though I've also never understood that myself. I was just saying that I don't understand the imagery involved behind the word. When I see words, I see images. So "deflowering" seems, imaage-wise, to completely conflict with my view of the transition. Being a flower in full bloom before you've had sex, being "de-flowered" (stripped of something beautiful) after sex...just doesn't seem right.

I agree that the change to non-virginity is a special one, and one that ought to be celebrated. But the imagery around it: innocence to experience, "losing" something...most of those I disagree with. Virgins are not necessarily sexually innocent. Most have already had some sexual awakening, either with themselves, or with partners. In fact, if we use the oldest definition of virginity, as you mentioned, breaking the hymen (which assumes coitus, generally), then really a woman could have performed any number of intense sexual acts before she lost her virginity.

Of course the hymen issue is faulty, anyway. Many women'd hymens break before first coitus. Many women's don't break until muc later. Many women's don't at all. And some, who don't choose to sleep with men, might never have coitus in the traditional sense. In such cases, the person is not less innocent or less sexually experienced due to that happening...just physically different. And I suppose that's what I was saying--I don't like the words like "loss" of virginity and "de-flowering" because image wise, they don't imply transition to something good. I want the image to match the reality.

Also the concept of the act of "girl to woman" I also don't relate to. Many women don't lose their virginity (have coitus) until well into adulthood. I don't think this means they're still girls.

I know you're not saying that, just talking about the significance of the act and how that should be viewed--and I fully agree with that. Any transition in a woman's life should be celebrated. Let's just change the words around it to match. And yes, you're right, the words don't really exist in widespread culture. That's exactly the thing I'm frustrated with. We need to invent some.

"Come into bloom" is a nice start.


3/16/2006 9:18 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Cherrie: Very pretty choice(as is your name!).

Thanks for your comment. Yes, there are some positive representations of women's sexuality beyond virginity. I think the words are not matching up to the representation.

Hm. Also, in all honesty, for me, having full sex for the first time was a nice experience, and fully planned, but afterwards, though feeling good, I didn't feel like I was breaking new ground or needed a celebration. It was just something new--a progression to more sensation and knowledge. A positive thing, but not worthy of more focus than any other moment in a women's sexuality--they're ALL worth focus.

3/16/2006 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Darkhawk said...

I used to joke that I had the sex drive of a rhododendron -- flowers profusely once a year.

I'm not actually sure how I'd answer the question now.

3/16/2006 2:24 PM  
Blogger Karl Elvis said...

All I can say is that I find the word "deflower" terribly erotic; I'm unable to adequately put words to why.

On the other hand, I absolutely love your idea of finding a flower with which you'd identify your own sexuality. Syl, your choice is perfect.

3/16/2006 6:14 PM  
Anonymous Hiromi said...

I don't know. I view with suspicion the importance placed on a female's sexual status. I think it's rather telling that there is no parallel of "defloration" for men.

I'm feeling a bit of self pity at the moment, so I'd say I'm some sort of cactus flower, tough enough to bloom despite the inhospitable environment.

If I want to be vain, I'd be the extraordinarily rare silversword:

3/16/2006 6:18 PM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

Syl, that's cool, no problems there :) last night I was going to add another reply but I had to hit the sack for work, but I was thinking about defloration and I also thought that in the 21st Century, it may also be one of those words that can be hijacked, like the word 'gay' was hijacked too. These days whenever I read Roald Dahl, who wrote wonderful short stories, I come across the word 'gay' and 'queer', which he used in their true definition, and these two words today have been hijacked to define homosexuality, and I don't understand why because the two words don't actually define anything positive in the sense of normality, they define 'oddity' or a sense of feeling weird, strange, odd. Use the word gay in any everyday sentence, these days, and people will look at the person in an odd way or immediately think about gay cowboys (lol).

To a certain extent defloration can be brought into that arena too especially when debasement occurs, like for example in places that depict imagery that falls under the header of sex by force/coercion (there are plenty sites out there that do this).

Girl to woman, only because there is no other term. Boy to man as well, because of a lack of terms. There is a difference between a person who hasn't gone 'all the way' to a person who has. I can't fully describe it in words, but their attitudes differ, they tend to have an idealistic view of sex - without it's negatives, beautiful complexities, variations. They tend to put it on a pedestal in some way or form.

Further on Hiromi's concern about there being no defloration for men, that raises an interesting avenue as well. What is there for men that compares?

Women are more active in the modern day, they'll masturbate before their first time but there is also the psychological aspect as well, the anticipation and nervousness that may delay full relaxation and therefore lead to discomfort. The pain and discomfort (minor or major, there are differences, and Dr Nawal Sadawi - Egyptian doctor and feminist, who describes defloration in her culture - provides an interesting discussion on her site, highlighting the fact that hymens differ from woman to woman therefore the level of discomfort will differ from woman to woman.

3/16/2006 6:38 PM  
Blogger Karl Elvis said...

Hiromi, I think a cactus flower captures you perfectly. B^)

3/16/2006 6:52 PM  
Blogger chelsea girl said...

In John Cleland's Fanny Hill, the titular heroine is deflowered no fewer than four times. It's a pretty fabulous book in suggesting exactly how much importance men (at least eighteenth-century men) put on the act and exactly how little women need to--except as they choose to deploy it for their own ends.

I've never been one to buy into the "my genitals are a flower" argument. I love metaphor, but that one can kiss my happy white ass.

3/16/2006 10:35 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Darkhawk: Well I sure as hell hope you'd answer it as something that blooms more than once a year these days! ;-)

Karl Elvis: The word itself I don't find erotic, but the concept, yes. It's a good fantasy, seducing someone young and mentoring him/her into his/her sexual awakening. That's probably what you find hot, not the word itself. But of course, I can't speak for you. Maybe you like the image of pulling the flower off the stalk. You bad man.

3/16/2006 11:24 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Hiromi: You are so exactly a cactus flower! What a perfect choice. They're gorgeous and unique, they bring lovlienss to the harshness of their surroundings, they're resilient, self-protective, feel out and absorb whatever noursiment can be eked out of the dusty environment around them and use it to grow, and also, some of them you can just eat all up.

So yep, perfect. Not sad OR vain. Perfect.

And yeah, I meant to mention the males vs. females virginity thing when writing my responses this morning and lost track of myself.

Although, I *do* think there is a great deal of focus on men's loss of virginity, too. Though in a different way. While women are pressured not to lose it, men are pressured TO lose it, and are ridiculed if they don't. The whole "men are supposed to run toward the loss of their virginity--doing so makes the virile," vs. the "women are supposed to run AWAY from losing their virginity--it makes them unpure" thing just pisses me off.

I think the transition from virginity to sexual experience in men is a far more positively celebrated thing. Not fair!

3/16/2006 11:33 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Ana: See my comment above regarding what do men have? I think they do have a right of passage ritual. But for them it IS a right of passage, not a "loss" of anything.

Eh, I get hung up on words a lot. Shades of meaning. You'll see it in the blog from time to time. Like the post about the word "horny." Or I was sitting at work today thinking about why we use the word "come" to describe an orgasm, and if I thought it worked or not. Maybe that's my next post.

I'm highly sensitive to how slight variation in word choice can change reader's perspectives or responses. I think about it too much, I'm sure. :)

3/16/2006 11:37 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Oh and Karl Elvis, and anyone else, too: I actually get kind of tired of the "vagina as flower" imagery. It worked for the post, because I like the concept of blooming into life, so I used it, and it's an easy choice, because flowers can look so sexual. But EVERYONE does it. Someday I'd like to have a contest for the best alternative image to describe genitals that is NOT plant-based.

Note: not-plant based means they also can't move right over to fruit as an alternative. Which is the other big one people use. If I hear one more poem describing a woman as fruit to be eaten, I will get out my paring knife and hurt them.

3/16/2006 11:43 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Huh, Chelsea Girl, we cross-posted and kind of said the same thing. The flower/pussy thing does get a little tired.

I was once in a class where people had to choose an erotic image from nature, and every damn person chose a flower. I was the only one who didn't. I chose a chanterelle mushroom.

Man, those things are sexy. Especially if they're sauteed in butter and a dash of sherry and fed to you by your adoring lover.

Oh, and I'm sure many a person would be *more* than pleased to take you up on your offer to kiss your happy white ass. ;-)

3/16/2006 11:58 PM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

A quickie from me, I don't buy into vaginal imagery. I didn't really buy into the Vagina Monologues, the 'if you could dress your vagina, what would it wear?' type of thing. During the rise of the VM's there was the view that the vagina was viewed as an uninteresting 'part' of a woman's anatomy, hence the 'need' for the Vagina Monologues, but if that were the case, then there wouldn't be any interest in the vagina from a girlie mag perspective, or a pornographic perspective. Women and men alike, will always adore the vagina for its snug, warm, and potentially powerful structure.

The other thing I did think of (this afternoon at work) is that a flower does have to lose it's petals in order to keep on flowering through its time as well.

But if I had to pick a flower (only because I'm no green thumb when it comes to gardening) I'd pick the Venus Flytrap.


3/17/2006 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Hiromi said...

"Or I was sitting at work today thinking about why we use the word "come" to describe an orgasm, and if I thought it worked or not."

Inneresting (to me) bit of trivia: the Japanese say "go." I so rarely get to use that talent -- sprechen Japanese, that is.

And I sit around dissecting words, too. :)

3/17/2006 5:53 PM  
Blogger Karl Elvis said...

You know, I don't truly think we need to compare a woman's genitalia to any lesser thing. Right there we have absolute aesthetic and sensory perfection. Pleasing to the eye, the nose, the tongue, lovely of texture, a source on infinite pleasure.

I will trade a thousand pretty flowers for that witch which all ladies are born.

And you're right, syl, it's the corruption and fall from grace implied in the word deflower that makes me like it. Because as you say, I am a Bad Man.

3/17/2006 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Darkhawk said...

Treating the depression (both situational and biochemical) more effectively = better bloomage. ;)

I think I'll go with morning glory, actually. Prone to climbing and entwining, a little temperamental in certain environmental conditions and prone to going to weed in others, and a bit hallucinogenic. ;)

3/17/2006 8:26 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Ana: Venus Flytrap! Brilliant! I can soooo see that. Alluring and hungry; people overpowered by their draw to it, the approaching victim with NO idea of just what's going to hit him once you've got him in your clutches...

I actually saw Eve Ensler perform the whole "Vagina Monologues" oh her own a few years ago, and I have to say I was very impressed. I'm not sure if you've seen a version of it yourself--maybe the performers in the one you saw weren't so great. But in Ensler's performance, there was here was no indication of a "view that the vagina was viewed as an uninteresting 'part' of a woman's anatomy." The main theme seemed to be that not men primarily, but WOMEN, underestimated the power and beauty of their own vaginas, and made themselves or were made to be embarassed or ashamed by them, and therefore couldn't be comfortable with their own sexuality. And most of the stories were about learning to say "my pussy is beautiful," which in fact, a lot of women do have trouble saying.

There was some minor focus on men's sexual mistreatment of women or their misunderstanding of women's sexuality, but overall, men were included in it in a positive light--many stories of men helping women awaken to their own beauty.

3/18/2006 2:07 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Hiromi: That's really interesting. I would imagine it would be really sexy, as you know your partner is reaching orgasm, to just call out to them, "Go! Go! Go!" Encouraging them into their ecstasy.

But what do they say in retrospect as opposed to "He came?" Do they say "He went?"

3/18/2006 2:39 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Karl Elvis: You gain some Good Man points in my book by believing our pussies are perfect as they are.

Darkhawk: Morning glory. Nice. A delicate, luminous thing--makes you stop and take notice wherever it blooms and reminds you the world's a vibrantly trippy place.

3/18/2006 2:44 PM  
Blogger figleaf said...

Hey Syl,

All in all I think you're right about the word, not because the act itself can't be lovely or that the metaphor is *entirely* inappropriate, but because of the rest of the floral metaphor implies that the blossom in question is removed or damaged by the act.

A while back I heard that one abstinence-only curriculum presented girls with roses and asked them to remember they looked prettier without the petals all pulled off them. (I wrote about it here.

The problem, of course, is that (consensually and clear-headedly) losing one's virginity doesn't damage anything except a very, very old conception of women's virginity as transferrable property where once a woman lost it she had no value whatsoever.

Thanks for tackling the idea again.


3/18/2006 7:57 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Figleaf: Thanks for referring me to the post. Grrr, that image of them passing the rose around the class and stomping on it! I don't know why, but it just upsets me almost physicallyl even visualizing it.

I don't think virginity as a state should be viewed as a "treasure" while non-virginity is seen as "used." But at the same time, I don't think the transition from virgnity to full sexuality should be minimized, either. It's an important transition, that if handled badly, can have disastrous psychological effects, as witnessed by many people's terrible loss of virginity stories.

What I hope is that all three states: virginity, first sex, sexual life, can all be celebrated and held as important and vital. And that all of us, male and female alike, are valued and well-treated and cared for in all three stages, so we can be proud and vibrant beings in all three, and not wish at any stage that we were really in a different one.

3/19/2006 9:36 AM  

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