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What Do Women Really Want?
by Dr. Deborah Taj Anapol, Ph.D

I've been reading about what women really want, according to prominent psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and the late Timothy Leary, since I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley in the early seventies. How presumptuous, I thought, for men to write about what women want. I can not pretend to speak for all women, but I can tell you a bit about who I am and what I want for myself as a woman.

I am a child of the sixties. As a teenager I marched against the war in Vietnam, took acid, had lots of lovers, and went to Woodstock. When I was 20 I became pregnant while using a Dalkon shield and decided to become a mother. Within a year I'd been transformed into a crusader for women's rights and decided to become a clinical psychologist in service of this goal. Looking back, I realize it was no coincidence that I became sensitive to women's issues after my own experiences with pregnancy, birth, marriage, divorce, and motherhood. Then, as now, the bottom line is equal rights for women. I saw, even in my early 20's that until we have equality and love and respect between men and women we will not have peace. We will not have peace at home, and we will not have peace in the world at large.

It's popular now to talk about replacing dominator models for relationship with partnership models. But in the early 70's in Berkeley the language of women's liberation was in vogue. The meaning, however, is pretty much the same. We must recognize that in patriarchal culture, women are the underclass. We are the indigineous people within, inside of, Western civilization. In my 20's I was mainly aware of how women -- and men -- were suffering as a result of the second class status of women in our society. And I was angry. Now I am able to see beyond the suffering, to the value, the good fortune in this.

Because as women, who don't really count in patriarchal society, we remain a little closer to our true nature than the men who have been charged with setting the standards and with enforcing the values of patriarchy. And the primary value of patriarchy is production. The work ethic. Control and domination. (I'm talking patriarchy here, not blaming men. Patriarchy is simply a word describing the culture we live in which has as one of it's primary characteristics that men are valued over women.)

So what is it that women want, if it is not a life focused on production and domination? What I want, as a woman, and as a human being, is the freedom to fully express and receive love, including sexualove when that's what I feel to do.

In the deepest sense this is a spiritual need. We risk addiction -- whether it's addiction to alcohol or drugs or food or work or excitement or love/sex/relationships -- we risk addiction when we deny that our deepest human need is the spiritual yearning for oneness, for merging with the Divine, for union with the Beloved. It is the massive denial of this need that results in the epidemic addictive behavior that is so common in our culture. For men it tends to be substance abuse, for women dependence on a relationship, on a partner. Tantra shows us a healthy way to satisfy this hunger for union and also to end the war between men and women at the same time.

Tantra reminds us of the spiritual basis of our longing for love, while recognizing that it's also essential to remember that we are embodied beings. We have loving, erotic, pleasure-receptive bodies. To give and receive love through our bodies is part of our essential nature, it is what we want and need as infants, as children, and as men and women. So whether we're talking gentle, nurturing touch or ecstatic sexual play, for most of us, it is only when this basic human need for energetic connection, and for bodily contact and pleasure is met that we can relax and internally be at peace.

It is the denial of pleasure and especially sexual pleasure, that has been the primary tool used by the patriarchy to maintain control. This has been achieved by forcefully training women to turn off sexually which then creates a scarcity of sexual pleasure for men as well.

Fortunately, it's possible for women to reclaim our erotic power. Tantra offers us a process for healing and re-education, through which we can turn our sexual energy back on, especially in an environment which supports us expressing our eroticism. The bad news (at least for men who think that they can own or control women's bodies) is that a sexually awakened woman is a Wild Woman. She is an empowered goddess who is no longer content to play the part of victim.

Women are notorious for our enjoyment of and our focus on relationships. Heterosexual women tend to put a huge amount of energy into being attractive to men, seducing a man, manipulating a man. No doubt, this is partially a result of patriarchal conditioning which insists that women are not as competent as men and restricts their involvement in worldly activities, thus making women financially dependent on men, but some of it reflects women's genuine love for, and affinity for intimate relating.

Our culture has so thwarted and restricted and devalued this basic quality that it's become twisted and neurotic. Take an abundance of pure loving, caring, nurturing, sensual, erotic energy and insist it be focused on one man who is not prepared to respond in kind and of course things get weird. And that's exactly what we've done with our monogamous, nuclear family - oriented culture.

So what does a freely loving, sexually fulfilling, spiritually-based partnership relationship look like? There is no one answer to this question, but in one form or another it is, in my experience, what every woman wants. As we begin to invent relationships that are deeply satisfying to us, rather than accepting what we've been told is moral, or proper, or should make us happy, we lay the groundwork for peace and harmony to fill the Earth.

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© Deborah Taj Anapol


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