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knowing & being known in the bridges of madison county: love & erotica series

knowing & being known in the bridges of madison county: love & erotica series

“Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Those who follow my writings know that I can be rather cynical about tomorrow – its hyper-commercialization and the very thought that all the love we feel should be compressed and best expressed during one 24-hour period with flowers that are already dead, cards that will hopefully be recycled and candy and alcohol that will throw off the healthy lifestyle resolutions made just 6 weeks prior. (Check out an archived article: “How Do We Love Ourselves? Self-love, An Ultimate Gift for Valentine’s Day”)

While my cynicism still exists, it is not as prominent this year as my continued fascination with the concept of different kinds of loves. Margaret Farley contends: “[L]ove is the problem in ethics, not the solution. [Our] experiences of love, and our loves take multiple forms. . . . [N]ot all of our loves are good, though they are loves. There are wise loves and foolish, good loves and bad, true loves and mistaken loves. The question ultimately is, what is a right love, a good, just, and true love?” (quoted from Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual & Spiritual Goodness)

So, this season is a prime time to pick back up on our love and eroticism series with a post about The Bridges of Madison County and how we love to love inappropriate love affairs (i.e., Liv and Fitz on “Scandal”). In Bridges we celebrate the love born from a brief affair over 4 days between an Iowa housewife and a celebrated National Geographic photographer. We don’t bemoan the fact that Francesca is betraying the loving trust her husband places in her. For over an hour we watch the chemistry ignite and the tension build between her and Robert. And then we watch for about another hour as they resolve their dilemma of forbidden love.

Francesca and Robert

Francesca and Robert in The Bridges of Madison County (from

What is it that draws us in, particularly those of us who ascribe to some level of moral and ethical accountability?

Perhaps when we applaud long-term married couples we are not celebrating the longevity of their union. Perhaps we are cheering for the depth of love we surmise they share because they have been together for so long. It’s the depth of love to which we connect, not the social and legal construct [marriage] we tend to perch upon pedestals. So, when we witness it between lovers, it matters not that they are married or even connect outside the bounds of another committed relationship. We seek love and we celebrate it wherever we find it – the kind of love that means “you get me.”

Francesca declares early in the movie, “What becomes more and more important is to be known, known for who you are.”

While she’s been with her dear husband for probably about 20 years, we understand that he does not truly know his wife for who she really is. They met in her native Italy and her agreeing to marry him meant that she would immigrate to America, an adventurous notion. Instead of her perceived glitz and glam, she got rural Iowa with its stable and loving community devoid of adventure. Even when she found joy in teaching, her husband preferred that she be a stay-at-home mom. Meeting Robert, she experiences an almost instant connection with a kindred soul. Both are intrigued by the other. He touches her place of adventure within and she wants more. After they make love for the first time on her living room floor in front of the fireplace, Francesca requests with tears in her eyes, “Take me some place, huh? Right now, take me some place that you’ve been. Some place on the other side of the world.”

 And we root for them because we root for [depth of] love, however it’s defined.

Let’s love ourselves first and well this Valentine’s Day. Then we will draw unto us a depth of love that burns with authenticity. Now, that is worth celebrating!

the cdllc calendar

Current Events

  • “Interrupting Race & Gender Oppression” – Now through March 1, 2013 – Travel to the west coast is expensive right now and I’m attending this fabulous training that addresses race & gender oppression “using storytelling, laughter, deep listening and other creative models and media.” Any amount is helpful! To donate (tax-deductible) and learn more, please visit my fundraising page. Thank you for your generous support!

Upcoming Events

  • “Single, Saved & Sexin’: The Redux” – Coming in March, Google+ Hangout – Revisiting the renowned Crunk Feminist Collective (CFC) post, I join Crunktastic, Rev. Arabella Littlepage, and Rev. Theresa Thames on a panel to discuss “what it means to be a spiritual person and have an intimate life,” especially in singleness. We will be live; so, get your comments and questions ready! Read the original postCFC on Google+.

  • Urban Grind Book Club” – Premiering April 2013, every 2nd Sunday, Urban Grind Coffeehouse, Atlanta, GA  – Featuring books (fiction & non-fiction) and their authors, as a community that loves to read, write, and discuss interesting literary work. Interested authors should email me at to register.

Recent Events

  • “Doug Pagitt Radio: Religious Radio That’s Not Quite Right” – Last month I was a guest on Doug Pagitt’s radio show discussing Who Told You That You Were Naked? What a great conversation! Here are the links, in 2 parts: Part 1 and Part 2.

Annnnd . . . Texts for Our (Re)Consideration:

  • “Love never ends. . . . For we know only in part, but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. . . . For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor 13:8-12, NRSV)
  • “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will [rescue] you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” (Gospel of Thomas, Saying #70)
  • “When have you last had a good session with yourself? Or have ever had it out with you? Most often you are brought face to face with yourself only when such an encounter is forced upon you. Usually it is in connection with a crisis situation. . . . Now you look for some clues outside yourself and there are none to be found. You must decide and abide. . . . Whatever may be the occasion there comes a deep necessity that leads you finally into the closet of yourself. It is here you raise the real questions about yourself. The leading one is, “What is it, after all, that I amount to, ultimately?” Such a question cuts through all that is superficial and trivial in life to the very nerve center of yourself. . . . This is found only in relation to God whose Presence [Light] makes itself known in the most lucid moments of self-awareness. For all of us are God’s children [or children of Light] and the most crucial clue to a knowledge of God [or the Light] is to be found in the most honest and most total knowledge of the self. (The Inward Journey, Howard Thurman, 40)

NOTE: Since a wonderful group, CommonUnity, shared points 2 & 3 with me, I share them with you. Check them out on Facebook.

(c) copyright 2013, candi dugas, llc. All rights reserved.

when will a black woman be free enough 2 love whomever she chooses?

when will a black woman be free enough 2 love whomever she chooses?

“Is Olivia Pope the New Sally Hemings?” Stacia L. Brown’s question as penned in a recent article in Clutch Magazine has gained little traction. Most responses to her question have been a resounding “NO.” Online commenters tend to think the comparison is a huge stretch for a number of reasons including a few listed here:

  • Olivia and television’s “Scandal’s” President Fitzgerald Grant (Fitz) are fictional characters. Sarah “Sally” Hemings and her slave-owning lover, President Thomas Jefferson, were actual people.
actors tony goldwyn and kerry washington in abc's scandal, created by shonda rhimes

actors tony goldwyn (president grant) and kerry washington (ms. pope) in abc’s “scandal,’ created by shonda rhimes. image from

  • Olivia is not a slave; she’s a powerfully influential business owner. Ms. Hemings lived her entire life literally owned by other people. (While she died in 1835 residing with her two sons, historians report that neither President Jefferson nor his heirs ever officially granted her freedom.)
  • Olivia, a fully grown and educated professional woman, consents to her relationship with Fitz. Historians attest that Ms. Hemings was about 14 years old when she began her romantic relationship with President Jefferson. Even accounting for women marrying at younger ages in past eras, Ms. Hemings’ age and slave status call to serious question her ability to consent to such a relationship.

While Ms. Brown’s comparison does not receive much support for the sake of online debates, it does raise a critical question.

Olivia may be independent, but is she free?

olivia pope of abc's scandal, created by shonda rhimes and an artist's rendering of sally hemings for barbara chase-riboud's novel

olivia pope of abc’s scandal, created by shonda rhimes and an artist’s rendering of sally hemings for barbara chase-riboud’s novel

Are any of us black women, descendants of slaves, free if we cannot love any man we choose (adultery and other betrayals of commitment aside) without attracting comments and inquiries regarding our choices? The attraction of these comments and inquiries indicate that we don’t choose, no matter how tangibly successful we are, on a level playing field. This conversation is certainly a reality check; black women are still connected to the vestiges of American slavery.

When will a black woman be free enough to love whomever she chooses?

Perhaps creative work like “Scandal” and Shonda Rhimes’ other shows (Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice) advance us toward true freedom. Ms. Rhimes’ characters and storylines never hinge upon race. Whenever race happens to be a factor in a story, it isn’t magnified and is done as one feature in a larger picture. We know from history that music, arts in general, and sports help connect us across boundaries like race. These connections assist in reducing and eventually dissipating the issue of color lines forever.

Bravo, kudos, and AMEN to Olivia Pope, the cast of Scandal, Shonda Rhimes and all others associated with this fabulous show! Olivia is not today’s Ms. Hemings, but because Sally Hemings was, we are.


Ms. Brown’s article was written prior to Scandal’s season finale, so she didn’t have an opportunity to take into account the final scenes. In these scenes Ms. Rhimes seems to hint that President Grant’s wife is aware of and supports her husband’s relationship with Olivia. When Grant’s presidency is threatened, she tells Olivia something like, “Because you didn’t do your job, now, I have to take my husband back.”

Scandal FLOTUS’ support of the extramarital relationship reminds me of another complex trio – Hagar, Sarah, and Abraham from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Again, in this story, the dark-skinned mistress is a slave and without full citizens’ rights. And just like what may be happening in the Scandal world, Sarah not only approved of the affair, she orchestrated it.

What do you think about that?

LINKS for your consideration:

© 2012 candi dugas, llc

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