I love animals, so I love to watch nature shows. Several years ago I watched a show about prairie dogs, which focused on a particular prairie dog family. What happened next grabbed my attention. Daddy dog would go out in search of food while Mommy stayed home raising the little ones. One day, an interloper from a nearby tribe would appear when Daddy dog was out of sight. For several days, the interloper and Mommy dog stared each other down, in some sort of prairie dog game. Finally the interloper was emboldened enough to approach Mommy dog and share some of his excitement up close. Even I felt some pain for the hard-working Daddy prairie dog.
Yet, when Hollywood casts Meryl Streep as the Mommy dog and Clint Eastwood as the interloper, there will be a blockbuster movie, at least among women. How is the Bridges of Madison County different from the prairie dogs? Men, if they can get past their boredom, are shocked at the lesson taught: men think it is a duty to sacrifice for their family; women think it is laudable to “settle”. At least that is the opinion of someone we all know. I’ve seen this scenario in family therapy over and over. If it is so great for everyone, why have I seen so much pain from it?
Although I doubt Cologero has watched this movie from beginning to end, I know he hates it. He says it is absurd to think that the Eastwood character would remember a frumpy housewife more than three months later, never mind a lifetime; that is a feminine fantasy. Although my romantic heart wants to believe otherwise, he is probably right. I believe him because I suspect he is speaking from personal experience.
The way it usually happens is that the Meryl Streep character is dissatisfied and begins fantasizing about something better or more exciting. The feminine way is the path of imagination. From my studies in the psychology of sexuality, I know that sex begins in the mind, not in the body. That is the allure of women for men, to entice men into the world of maya, a seductive mind creation that hides the actual dirty details of the sex act. It breaks through logic to lead men to think in images rather than words. The addictive power of sexual imagination demonstrates the intense power of such a mode of thinking.
Cologero tells me about tulpas, which are the material creations of concentrated imagination in Tibetan Buddhism. I think I understand what he is getting at; perhaps sexuality is Tulpa Training 101. That is, in any case, how women see it. They want to be part of an imaginary construction: chivalry, jewelry, sexy boots, tango, haunted houses, rainy afternoons. That is feminine sexuality. We don’t care about your “aching balls”, a line we’ve all heard; it is too physical and we just think it’s funny. It just means you’re manipulable.
A woman wants a man who “gets her”. She feels validated when a man understands her in her interiority, and she craves it. After all, isn’t her entire sexuality interior and hidden? It is veiled and longs to be unveiled. If a man gets “in her head”, she will be willing to do anything. Then the hiddenness of her imagination can be exteriorized. Cologero has a small collection of letters from women expressing their sexual fantasies, “better than I could do,” he told me. He refuses to show me since it would break a trust. I’d love to read them—purely for professional interest, of course—but he still takes that omertà thing pretty seriously.
I know Cologero would prefer readers to use their creative imagination on something else, such as Dante’s journey perhaps. It just seems gruesome to me; I think I prefer Blake from what he told me about him. Nevertheless, my task is more mundane and practical. I think I’ve shown that there are women just waiting for you. If your personal experience is different, it is not because women don’t have a strong desire for sex. They do want sex, just not with you.