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the power of my (moving) hips

Whenever I offer an honest and sexy peek into the life of an African American woman – on stage or for the screen – responses from early audiences are largely, emphatically positive, grateful and welcoming.

“Thank you. We don’t often get to see ourselves portrayed in these ways.”

And especially for women over 40, as we find in my latest (9th, in development) stageplay, Wild + Free. Thewild and free fa profile image bronzed woman in this story is Sydney Augustine, a Creole shop owner in the fictional south Georgia town of Prairie Hills. The second half of life was supposed to be a smooth journey to retirement for her. However, after five years in this resort town, during the summer after 45’s election, smooth becomes bumpy. Sydney finds herself caught between an old flame and her current boyfriend – while the town’s white residents vehemently resist her plans of expanding her business, preferring to keep some historical secrets buried.

While I love feedback that lets us know we are doing valuable work, I am still trying to figure out why these kinds of stories are so rare. What is it about openly positive stories about sex (women’s sex) that causes such an uproar? And Wild + Free is not actually about sex! It’s about Sydney’s pursuit of what she wants in life. Sex happens to be just as integral in her life as it is in ours – and we do not make a big deal out of it – which can cause it to become a big deal.

What in the world???

I am excited about one of the takeaways from the recent hit movie, Girls Trip. HuffPost writer, Zeba Blay, celebrates that this movie allows black women to be raunchy and hilarious, creating an “exhilarating” experience that apparently resonates deeply with audiences.

“Black female sexuality has always been such a loaded concept,” Blay writes. “With Girls Trip, for the first time in a long time (perhaps not since 1995′s Waiting To Exhale), we’ve gotten a comedy that focuses entirely on its black female leads, that features black women talking frankly and openly about what kind of dicks they like, the hypnotizing power of their bodies, the healing powers of getting “your back blown out,” the occasional necessity of some good no-strings-attached sex. It’s not that no-strings-attached sex is inherently empowering. The depiction of black women over the age of 40 having agency over their own bodies, however, is.”

I am so here for that! (Read Blay’s entire article.)

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Table read cast + crew for Wild + Free, 30 July 2017

And I invite you to be here for Wild + Free as well. Like us on Facebook, learn more, consider making a donation to our 1st reading in the fall, and if you’re in/around Atlanta, check it out – let us know what you think!

“I will not be another flower, picked for my beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget.” ~Author Unknown/Sydney’s Life Mantra

(c) 2017 candi dugas, llc

all the voices

all the voices

 

No justice or equality movement has ever succeeded without the voices that come from the “other side.”

Christianity had the Apostle Paul. Abolitionists and the Civil Rights Movement had “white” people. The Feminist Movement had/has men. The war on poverty still needs the wealthy and transgender folks need more help from gays, lesbians and straight people.

I was a bit suspicious at first and I cannot say that I’m utterly convinced now, but I’m at least encouraged by what I hear coming from Pastor E. Dewey Smith as he continues to publicly share that he’s rethinking his theology about sexuality and faith. His conservative voice bearing witness to what liberals and progressives already know, is priceless.

pastor e dewey smith

Pastor E. Dewey Smith and congregation praying for Singer Angie Stone at House of Hope Atlanta. Image: joy105.com.

Last weekend he participated in a gathering at Princeton University via its Black Church Studies program, “Love Thyself: Black Bodies and Religious Space.” The gathering was inspired by the viral hashtag, #BlackChurchSex.

During the conference he said in about 4 years, some studies report that 50-55% of African American women will never get married. “Do we really expect these women to lead celibate lives?” Then he challenged that the way we currently read the bible enslaves women and reinforces a pimpish theology. Pastor Smith offered that our churches must begin to give people space to grow, think and recognize that the bible doesn’t have the answer to all our questions. WOW! How’s that for ‪#‎BlackChurchSex‬??? (as reported by a Facebook friend of mine that attended the conference)

We don’t listen to every voice. Having as many different kinds of voices as possible that can advocate a realistic message of freedom in a grounded context of faith will greatly assist the church – the Black church – in having meaningful conversations which improve our holistic health as followers of Yeshua.

(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc

why listen to bey instead of mom* or g~d?

why listen to bey instead of mom* or g~d?

A gorgeous, wealthy pop star

without impressive traditional credentials – like an Ivy League degree

 

has never been embraced

by conservatively valued members of our community

 

as a worthy role model

to influence the beliefs and actions of our young people

 

– or even ourselves.

So, why should Bey experience anything differently?

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Image: vulture.com via Beyonce/YouTube . View “Formation” at Beyonce.com.

I am not surprised at the antagonistic comments I’ve read on social media over the weekend. Defiant even. “She will not take the place of my Jesus!”

I chuckle at comments like that – for a couple of reasons.

1.

I don’t know Beyoncé, but I seriously doubt that she’s interested in becoming anyone’s savior.

2.

I believe such adamance is an expression of a shamed and uncomfortable attraction to her work.

“Thou doth protest too much …” ~Hamlet

Even for women of faith who have great relationships with their moms and love the lessons that they’ve passed down still can find other voices beyond family and the bible, church, etc. to be relevant and valuable to their experience and goals.

Bey brings to the table an unapologetic sexy sense of empowerment that we sorely need. One Facebook friend posted that we’ve been looking for a black leader to rise up. We thought it would be Obama and it turned out to be Beyoncé.

Mrs. Carter is all of who she is. Surely, we can say that her wealth allows her to be, but she wasn’t always this financially wealthy. This daring and confidence began developing long before she had paper. In fact, these intangible qualities make what we can see and feel happen. In this way, Beyoncé is a worthy model for us to follow. “I see it; I want it. I stunt, yeah, little hornet. I dream it; I work hard; I grind ‘til I own it.” (sung by Beyoncé)

We don’t have to dress like she does or dance like she does (though that would be great if my body could still absorb the intensity of those moves), but we can certainly allow her witness to inspire us to be unapologetically free in who G~d created us to be. She’s leading in ways that traditional interpretations of G~d are not, do not. She’s able to say what most moms don’t feel free enough to articulate to and for their daughters – than we are able to pronounce for ourselves.

That’s why we listen to Beyoncé, sing with her and do our best to keep up when dancing with her.

“OK, ladies, now let’s get in formation!”

*mom – While we know that dads are present in our lives, for the purpose of this post as a response to online comments about how Beyoncé doesn’t trump a mother’s advice, we are only referring to “mom” as the parent.

© 2016 candi dugas, llc – Featured image: spin.com.

love un-conditioned, part 2

love un-conditioned, part 2

You know you’re free. So, now what? How do you live as a free woman of faith, reclaiming your sexual and spiritual goodness in the context of un-conditioned love?

Simply, but not easily, we remove the conditions of love – conditions which tend to reflect our fears.

Many of our fears about our romantic relationships are rooted in two places – past hurts and social/religious ideals. We may move on after a break-up, but often, we carry with us its baggage. Once we engage with someone new, we hope our current lover will redeem all that the former ones screwed up. When we perceive that he’s showing signs of veering into that potentially hurtful lane, we react, usually before anything actually happens. So, we impose all kinds of conditions (i.e., rules and regulations) that we believe will keep him in the safe lane – safe for us, not him. This kind of feminine safety net feeds into the prescriptive rhetoric which society and religion promulgate to women. We women buy into their recipes (i.e., laws, doctrine and dogma) for virtue, respect and goodness because we believe doing so will garner the kinds of affirmation, esteem and status we seek. This belief has a public value for which we look to a private situation, our romantic relationships, to provide. Seeking public validation from something quite private is inherently problematic, setting up a condition in which true love (i.e., orthoeros) will never flow. (Orthoeros is great erotic love. To read more, please see “we gotta cum 2! feminine orgasm doesn’t think like a lady … or act like a man (nsfw).”)

Removing the conditions of love means that we truly know who we are as women in this moment. We name and own what we want and why we want it. (e.g., We do not look for a man to provide that which should come from ourselves or G~d.) We create mutually safe space in communication with and connection to our lovers for orthoeros to flow. In this kind of space, our bliss can thrive and there is no need for conditions because there is no fear. Un-conditioned love can operate from an inner freedom and a fearlessness (See “love un-conditioned, part 1.”) that allows a great, magnanimous love to abound between lovers, almost effortlessly.

love is unconditional quote from love is facebook page

“love is . . . unconditional!” Image source: Love Is Facebook Page

But these rules and regulations have kept us safe and secure all this time, right? Yes and no. Let’s consider a couple of realities about rules and regulations. One reality is that even with conditions we sometimes still get hurt, because with pleasure comes pain. No law, doctrine or dogma can prevent pain. They don’t necessarily minimize the risk either. So, therefore if the fruitless avoidance of pain is our goal with the use of conditions, then, there must be a better way to love and be loved. We must seek a more authentic, lasting path to emotional and psychological security than the logic of pre-determined, cookie-cutter boundaries that break when pushed too far like weak levees in a hurricane.

Another reality about what we believe has kept us safe is that what works for one season of our lives doesn’t necessarily work for or is even required in another. Once we heal from an injury, do we still need the crutches to help us walk without falling? Are training wheels still necessary to keep us on our bicycles? Do we still need safety latches for ourselves in our adult homes to prevent us from getting into something that we don’t know how to use properly? As we heal and as we grow and mature, we need fewer and fewer conditions to keep us safe. Healed and whole, grown and mature – we now have agency, autonomy and an increase in our authority to love and be loved in ways that work for us – even if these ways work for no one else but ourselves and our lovers.

usa's declaration of independence

USA’s Declaration of Independence. Image source: founding.com

Un-conditioned love requires a kind of independence that, unfortunately, is deemed radical. Perhaps this is why I’ve chosen this post to be our 4th of July offering. (albeit 20 days after the holiday) Radicals dared to tell a world superpower, as their right, that they were no longer required to act according to the institution’s authority because the institution had become unjust. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed this right, explained why and listed the institution’s violations of justice. (Simultaneously, these radicals oppressed our ancestors, but that’s a path of discussion for another post.)

If you were to pen your own declaration of independence, what would you proclaim, justify and charge?

Mine would be something like:

As I live I realize the necessity to sever ties with social and religious ideals and to accept my agency, autonomy and authority as a daughter of this world, completely equal to every other creation in worthiness to assert my needs and desires to live a blissful life, full of sexual and spiritual goodness. … The history of my people, and therefore of me, is one of incessant afflictions and abductions, all with the clear disdain for and connected goal of solidifying a control over my body and its activities. To prove this, let the record show to an unbiased universe: (in my Claire Hanks Huxtable voice)

– Failure to allow me to be anything other than a stereotyped myth as evidenced by the percentage of black women in leadership positions and the roles available to black actors. I am profiled either a Jezebel (sexually immoral), a Mammy (asexual and familial) or a Sapphire (perpetually angry).

– Refusal to appreciate, learn and maintain the knowledge about my aesthetic as evidenced by the incessant questions about my hair length and texture, ridicule of the beauty processes and products I use, lack of faces and bodies that look like me to be  upheld as an epitome of beauty and lack of fashionista clothing that easily fit my body types.

– Annihilation of the vitality of my black brothers as evidenced by the disproportionately low high school graduation rates, high incarceration rates and low percentages of black males in leadership positions. Most of us want romantic relationships with our brothers, but without their freedom and vitality this desire becomes impossible to realize, leaving us without the good lovin’ that every human needs to thrive.

Declaring independence invites some sort of risk. However, “I prefer a dangerous freedom over peaceful

slavery.” (~Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Page) Are those our only two options – dangerous freedom or peaceful slavery? As a proponent of “the third way,” I declare that there is another option – being somewhere in between the two extremes. However, I find this 3rd option to be unacceptable; I liken it to Yeshua’s description of what it means to be lukewarm. (Revelation 3:15-16) I also believe in balance and continua, but regarding the foundational aspects of who we are and how we live our lives, we must make definitive choices in order to live with vitality and relevance, hallmarks of sexual and spiritual goodness.

The greatest risk yields the greatest return on our investment. And it is ours to make, from a sense of inner freedom. Reliance on outer freedom is often illusory, focusing on others – namely our lovers – to provide the kind of return we seek (e.g., emotional and psychological security). This focus is actually counterproductive as it strangles our inner freedom and clogs our romantic flow, preventing us from being fully present in our romantic relationships. We must come to a point of relying less on another person for our inner senses of security so that we can love unconditionally.

“[Y]ou cannot depend upon anybody. There is only you – your relationship with others and with the world. . . . When you realise this, it either brings great despair, from which comes cynicism and bitterness, or, in facing the fact that you and nobody else are responsible for the world and for yourself, for what you think, what you feel, how you act, all self-pity goes. Normally we thrive on blaming others, which is a form of self-pity.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, p. 15)

Is this post sucking the rose colored tint from your glasses? Actually, I hope it is … and replacing it with an organic appreciation of reality that includes the beauty of social- and religious-deemed imperfections that only clear glasses can bring. You know, we kinda get off on bragging about the trustworthiness of our partners, setting them on high pedestals as if such loftiness is a badge of honor for ourselves. We become great because another finds us so worthy and special that their love for us overrides any human frailty within their being. Has this badge of honor become our love-goal in relationships? I hope not. I hope that we’re brave enough to love radically as I’ve described because on the other side will be a freer love than we’ve ever known. On the other side of this incredible risk, with our lovers, we will be present, supportive, caring – we will love fully, not out of obligation, but out of choice.

beauty of fearless love quote from candidugas.com

“The beauty of fearless love is in allowing it to unfold . . . & to become its unique essence, just for these lovers, just for right now.”
© 2013 candidugas.com

Love is the absence of fear, conditions and obligation.

 Love is the presence of confidence, requests and choice.

When we love freely by letting go of our fear, conditions and obligations – we experience the tremendous energy of un-conditioned love.

“We look to someone to tell us what is right or wrong behaviour, what is right or wrong thought, and in following this pattern our conduct and our thinking become mechanical, our responses automatic.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, pp. 9-10)

Don’t we owe more to the beauty and mystery of love and sexuality than mechanics and automation?

Inspiring Quotes:

  • “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “Abandonment. In my search for emotional peace [after experiencing abandonment], I have learned that many choices we make are based on our capacity. I came to the conclusion that my stepfather cut ties with me, not because he was a bad man or that I was unloveable, it just meant he was limited. He made a choice that fit his capacity. This experience taught me how love MUST take weight, and love is about working with the complexities relationships sometimes deliver. … People may be limited, but we are still…lovable. ~Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Post, 19 June 2013
  • “She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go. She let go of the fear.  . . .  She didn’t ask anyone for advice.  . . .  She didn’t promise to let go.  . . .  She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.  . . .  No one was around when it happened.  . . .  There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that. In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.” ~Rev. Safire Rose

To Read More:

(c) 2013 candi dugas, llc

pursuing the possibilities: love jones as love and erotica in film

pursuing the possibilities: love jones as love and erotica in film

They meet in the Sanctuary where music and words flow as poetic lovers. Meeting Nina here spontaneously inspires Darius to name one of his poems after her, “A Blues for Nina.” But this isn’t his first response to her presence. Initially he seems nervous, exhibiting clumsiness when he knocks over her glass, spilling her newly ordered glass of white wine. After Nina accepts his replacement glass of wine, she returns to the table with her BFF, Josie, and Darius takes the stage for his next response – “A Blues for Nina:”

“[C]an I be your slave? . . . I’m digging you like a grave. . . . Is your name Yemaya? Oh, hell no. It’s got to be Oshun. . . . Talk that talk, honey. Walk that walk, money. High on legs that’ll spite Jehovah. . . . Who am I? . . . I’m the blues in your left thigh, trying to become the funk in your right. . . . I’ll be whoever you say. But right now I’m the sight-raped hunter . . . blindly pursuing you as my prey. And I just want to give you injections . . . of sublime erections and get you to dance to my rhythms. . . . I’d rather dance and romance your sweet ass in a wet dream. . . . Is that all right?”

At least he asks permission in the end.

Who is Darius? Prior to meeting Nina, he shares with his friends a short speech about romance being the essence of possibility.

“Romance is about the possibility of the thing. You see, it’s about the time between when you first meet the woman, and when you first make love to her; when you first ask a woman to marry you, and when she says I do. When people who been together a long time say that the romance is gone, what they’re really saying is they’ve exhausted the possibility.” ~Darius

So from this appreciation of romance to the nervous klutz to the erotically charged poet we have a man smitten by a love jones for a woman he just met. UrbanDictionary.com defines love jones as “a strong overwhelming desire for someone.” Our blog post yesterday explores a reconfigured definition of love. With these two descriptions, we can label Darius’ feelings as love – though that is not my first reaction when re-viewing love jones after 15 years.

This time around, initially I think that he is being way too familiar with Nina. Later in the film, his friend Stephanie expresses this observation, warning him, “You move too fast.” And his pursuit of Nina isn’t ringing true with me as an overwhelming desire for her. It’s more like he’s walking some predetermined steps toward her, outlined by someone else.

Of course, this is not how I responded to love jones when it first premiered. At the time, I am totally connecting with all the characters and the story, loving for the first time in my memory the engagement of intelligent dialogue laced with appropriately placed slang and profanity – a perfect depiction of young urban professionals of color. Funny how some things can look differently after a decade or so.

Today, as I listen to Darius’ poem, dedicated to his beloved, I wonder about:

  • the implications of S&M and rape imagery as a means of seducing her,
  • his eagerness for her orgasm only serving to satisfy him and to indicate that he made it into her intimate place, and
  • the female audience being completely enamored by his poetic style.

Is it a sub-culture to which I’m not connecting anymore? Or is it that “A Blues for Nina” really seems to be more about delivery and arousing words rather than overall substance? Is Darius truly a hopeless romantic who, in his sudden affected state after meeting Nina, chooses to be in a less vulnerable place with his poetic presentation?

Is this love? According to the definitions we’ve established, yes it is. Is my reaction today one that indicates that this kind of love repels me? Fifteen years later, I suppose so. I suppose I’m simply in a different place. Perhaps love jones is good for what it’s good for in a certain space and time.

What about Nina?

Of the two leading characters, we meet her first. She’s in transition represented by a physical move to a new home after a marriage engagement that doesn’t work out. Nina vows to Josie that she’ll never make the mistake of falling in love again: “That shit is played out like an 8-track.” Josie welcomes her to the world of feminine cynicism. And then Josie watches Nina’s response to “her” poem. Josie knows recognizes this response and calls Nina on the fact that she’s already reneging on her self-avowed loveless goals. Is it love, as well, for Nina? Upon leaving the Sanctuary, Nina assures Darius that if she recites a poem it will be about more than sex; it will be about love. Nina is referring to the high-standard kind of love to which we normally refer when we characterize emotions this way. Yet her actions tell a different story.

Nina is more like Darius than she admits, at least initially. Josie knows her friend. Nina follows stereotypical female behavior of cloaking sexual attraction in romantic notions of love. She is quite affected by Darius’ very familiar, sexually charged approach. She looks back at the record store upon leaving, though she turns down his invitation to go out on a date. She lets him into her new home despite his stalker-like behavior. Finally, she accepts his invitation to join him at a friend’s dinner party. Later, she asserts that they shouldn’t have sex on the first date, but that’s exactly what they do. Nina moves fast too.

“I see you in me.”

When this recognition happens, it prompts us to explore the possibilities of connecting with another person – romantic or sexual. It’s all love.

love jones – R, released in 1997. (March 2012 marked its 15th anniversary.) Stars Larenz Tate and Nia Long. Written & directed by Theodore Witcher. Distributed by New Line Cinema. Production budget – $10M. Lifetime box office – $12.5M. (source – boxofficemojo.com) Note of interest: Box office performance was sluggish until the soundtrack blew up with cuts from Lauryn Hill (“The Sweetest Thing”) and Maxwell (“Sumthin’ Sumthin’”).

love jones is a peer film for Desire’s Kiss because its authentic portrayal of the pursuit of the possibilities of ordinary love, if any love is ordinary.

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Desire's Kiss

About this blog series: The “love & erotica” blog series supports the development of the fundraising campaign for Desire’s Kiss – The Short Film. Desire’s Kiss celebrates feminine sexuality and spirituality, based on candi’s book, Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual and Spiritual Goodness and the Judeo-Christian sacred text, Song of Songs. Desire is a nontraditional Christian woman who asserts her independence from conservative views on sex and G~d. The 10 films we will explore over the next five weeks or so come to mind as we produce Desire’s Kiss. We will highlight the love themes (including erotica) in each film.

To learn more about Desire’s Kiss

To purchase your copy of the book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?

To learn more about candi and her work

© 2012 candi dugas, llc

love & erotica: they’re different, right?

love & erotica: they’re different, right?

No. They’re the same. Well, erotica is one expression of one kind of love.

love & erotica: an introduction

When we talk about love in the context of coupling (i.e., companionship, dating, marriage, etc.), as we are in this blog series, we typically characterize it in idealistic, mushy, feel-good – even pristine terms. Love in this way has to meet certain standards or we determine that it’s not love. This substandard love is deemed lust or ulterior motives or objectification (i.e., a series of booty-calls). Perhaps it’s time for a fresh perspective and a reconfigured working definition of love in our lives because keeping love in a box also keeps some of us in one and the rest of us thirsting for it because we don’t think whatever we’ve experienced is actually love.

love and erotica side by side

A stereotypical depiction of acceptable love – dinner and surprise flowers. An erotic love captured in visual art. Images from the MS Office image gallery and an online website, respectively.

In Christianity we generally view love from three definitions derived from Greek philosophy – agape, philia, and eros. Agape is deemed to be the highest form of love – selfless, unconditional, and perpetually forgiving. (1 Corinthians 13) Christians believe that this is the kind of love that G~d has for us and that we should strive to have it as well for ourselves, G~d, and others. Philia is also highly regarded, the love of friendship. This is the love that compels us to be our “sibling’s keeper,” to care for and go the extra mile for a friend. Eros, in the context of faith, generally is preached or taught rarely (if at all), certainly not to the extent of agape or philia? What is the cause for its absence among sermon and lesson topics? Some scholars believe that eros simply isn’t regarded as a high-enough, if elevated at all, form of love for a spirit-minded person to ascribe.

But if G~d is love, especially in an incarnational faith like Christianity, then would G~d not also be all forms of love – agape, philia, AND eros?

So, what is love – a feeling, an expression, a decision?

In her book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, Margaret Farley defines love as an emotional response, an emotional way of connecting to another, and an emotional “affirmation of what is loved” all at the same time. She contends that this definition applies to all beings and inanimate objects/ideas. We can love our children, our significant others, the trees in our yard, our favorite meal, that song that takes us way back, and our Deity. Whatever the context, it’s all the same response, connection, and affirmation. (Farley, 168)

What strikes me is this sense of emotion, connection and affirmation. Because I have this feeling for the beloved I want to connect. Because of this feeling and connection, I then affix a stamp of approval on my beloved. Is this why we all persistently seek love from others, so that we may be approved, affirmed? I know. I know. All of our psychological, self-help coaching loudly and firmly warns against pursuing external love to achieve affirmation. The healthiest approach is to have that affirmation within ourselves first. I agree with that, but love – self-love – is still the source. And as human beings who are designed to be in relationship with others, it’s natural to need also the affirmation of others. It’s not weak or unhealthy. It just is.

No matter how much she enjoyed the affections and connections with her elusive lover, the Shulammite, at the end of the day, still needed his permanent affirmation:

“Set me as a seal upon your heart,as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.” ~Song of Songs 8:6-7

So, what ignites this initial sense of emotion? Where does this feeling come from – as sudden, overwhelming, and unpredictably present as coupling love can be?

Its origin is part of the mystery of being. Some people in certain times in our lives “somehow awaken a response” in us. “Love, therefore, is in the first instance receptive – of the lovableness of the other.” (Farley, p. 169) To love fully, outside of any box, we must release the notion that lovableness somehow translates into some version of perfection, without flaws of real consequence. ‘Cause, see, we lack that affirmation that we seek if our beloved is so flawed. When the perfect one loves us, then we become perfect. What actually happens is that we attract to us whoever we are. “I see you in me.” (I cannot remember the source of this quote at the time of writing.) Whether we can see the other person’s challenging qualities at the time we meet her/him does not change this law of love. Spend enough time with your beloved, the qualities will emerge, usually sooner than we prefer. You’ve heard the sayings, right? We keep meeting the same person over and over, just in a different package. Or from long-time couples, they often report that they are still quibbling about the same issues from the beginning of their relationships. That’s because we’re the same persons. Yes, we may make some improvements to our personality and behavioral patterns, but I’m not sure that the essence of who we are changes in our physical lifetimes. Furthermore, I believe that our challenging qualities are what make us most lovable, not the easy stuff. The easy stuff is just too easy to be worthy of what love truly is.

Now, let’s move on to erotica.

who told you FRONT cover  only 091812

Who Told You That You Were Naked? by dr. candi dugas

Dictionary.com defines erotica as “literature or art dealing with sexual love.” Therefore, it is not synonymous with pornography. Pornography, I suppose, may be considered a form of erotica, but there are other forms. (Please see Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual and Spiritual Goodness for a section on erotica.) Those of us who consider ourselves to be spiritual also need to release our aversion – or admitted, public aversion – to erotica. In his essay, “Relationships: Blessed and Blessing,” Rev. Dr. James B. Nelson writes:

“We desperately need more embodied, more erotic, more incarnational, more sexually-positive spiritualities. That realization still escapes many in the church, . . . Eros is that love born of our hungers, our passions, and our desires for one another. Eros has often been contrasted with self-giving love, agape, and, to our impoverishment, the straight-white-male tradition has embraced an agape reductionism. So, we’ve been taught that agape is good and eros is cheap and sub-Christian. Most of us were reared on that kind of theology. Many religious people still learn to fear, despise, trivialize, and be ashamed of their erotic bodies. I surely was. I got the idea that if you just sat real still and didn’t wiggle, eros would go away. (It didn’t.)” (Nelson)

Now is a good time to let our bodies wiggle, if you will. Allow them enough safe space to be all of who we were created to be – in goodness, no less. Whatever that thing is that ignites response in us from another is part of the universal energy that flows from G~d and through every created being and thing. Sometimes we experience this energy, that which we call love, through a desire to couple with another. Sometimes that coupling involves sex. Sometimes it does not.

With this understanding of love and erotica we embark on our journey through 10 of my favorite films that inspire (re)consideration of these themes. Thank you for joining me; I look forward to hearing from you! (What will be the first film? We find out tomorrow! ;-))

“[A] relationship with little erotic hunger and little passion gives little blessing. A relationship that fears the ecstasy of shared pleasure dries up. Alice Walker reminds us [via Shug], in The Color Purple of the importance of sexual pleasure: ‘God love all them feelings. That’s some of the best stuff that God did. And when you know God loves ‘em, you enjoys ‘em a lot more. You can just relax, go with everything that’s going, and praise God liking what you like.’” (Nelson)

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Desire's Kiss

About this blog series: The “love & erotica” blog series supports the development of the fundraising campaign for Desire’s Kiss – The Short Film. Desire’s Kiss celebrates feminine sexuality and spirituality, based on candi’s book, Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual and Spiritual Goodness and the Judeo-Christian sacred text, Song of Songs. Desire is a nontraditional Christian woman who asserts her independence from conservative views on sex and G~d. The 10 films we will explore over the next five weeks or so come to mind as we produce Desire’s Kiss. We will highlight the love themes (including erotica) in each film.

To learn more about Desire’s Kiss

To purchase your copy of the book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?

 To learn more about candi and her work

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

love & erotica in film: 10 of my favorites

love & erotica in film: 10 of my favorites

For the next five weeks or so I will share 10 of my favorite love and erotica films. (Not pornography – there is a difference.) I am not giving them any particular ranking. Nor am I declaring with this series of posts that these are my top 10 of all time. Yet, as we produce Desire’s Kiss, a film that celebrates feminine sexuality and spirituality, these films come to mind. (To learn more about Desire’s Kiss, click here.)

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from celeb.com

I kick off the series this Tues., Oct 9th. Which favorite film will I share first? 😉 I hope you will share your favorite films with me as well, along with any thoughts on my list and responses to my comments. I’m enjoying this already! 😉

(You’ll know best when I post the next film by subscribing to sexNspirit. Check it out to your right or below.)

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

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