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The Moon, The Month, The Mystery (WaoW 1.0)

It started with a tweet from a friend:
"A girl said this to me today: "I hate ovulating! All the guys are soooo attractive and I want to eat everything!"
I retweeted it. Said,
"I've said this before."
Friend #1 (girl) was impressed that I'd admit this publicly.
Friend #2 (boy) said, "You've said that before!? Actually that doesn't surprise me anymore."


Then I had this conversation with myself:
Women have hormones too. Why is this surprising?
I suppose I'm surprised and bothered when men admit to hormonally-based attraction to women. Why should it be different for women?
I feel like it's different for women.
Why is it different for women?
It is different because... because it's part of a cycle?
That can't be right.
It's different because it's surprising?
That is true. But is it reason to make it acceptable?
(I gave up at that point in the conversation)

But here are the things I would like to say about women and hormones and our reproductive cycles. (I, of course, will generalize to all women, but you can know I'm mostly talking about me and the dozen friends with whom I have discussed these things. They shall remain nameless and secret unless they choose to go public with their identities in the comments.)

1. It's science.
It took me a long time to accept this reality. There are certain aspects of my experience of life as a woman that are unavoidably tied to my hormonal cycle. All sorts of physical things - insomnia, headaches, energy levels, skin conditions, etc - tend to "flare up" at certain phases. A couple of years ago, I took part in a research study on ovulation that had me track and record a whole myriad of possible physical & emotional markers. It was fascinating. Several things that had previously been a mystery to me suddenly made sense.

Even so, it's hard for me to accept the fact that my emotions are swayed by factors beyond my control. It is mind boggling to me that I cannot understand or control this about myself. Which leads me to point #2...

2. It's surprising. 
Hindsight is 20/20, and I know I'm not the only woman who often says, Oh, that's why I just wanted to cry myself to sleep all week! But in the moment of experiencing emotions, I am often surprised and frustrated by them. Whether it is a wave of ineffable loneliness or a seemingly irrational desire to kiss men on the bus, I am stumped and perplexed. Why do I feel this way!? This is not "normal" me! I have yet to accustom myself to the ebb and flow of hormonal emotions that would allow me immediate perspective. Instead, I often end up feeling like an idiot, relieved that no one can read my mind.

Sidenote: yes, a woman's sexual appetite increases noticeably within her hormonal cycle. I remember one friend telling me about her startling attraction to a man one month, and how she connected the dots to her hormones...she said, "I realized, This is what a fifteen year-old boy must feel like All. The. Time... It's no wonder they never accomplish anything!" Oh, how I laugh about that. But even in saying that, I believe...

3. It's not an excuse. 
Hormones do not control me. And hormones should not run the world (although it often seems that they do). So in admitting that I sometimes find almost all men attractive, I am not giving myself license to kiss them all. I don't think it acceptable for me to ask everyone to give me extra affirmation when I'm feeling deeply (and hormonally) insecure. Nor do I think that fifteen year-old boys should be excused for their life-laziness due to immense amounts of hormones (although their lack of a fully developed frontal lobe is perhaps a feasible excuse). While we all should be aware of and not hate ourselves for our hormones and their impact on our emotions, I still think we are responsible for our thoughts and actions.

4. Does it have to be awkward?
Why is this such an embarrassing and awkward topic? Is it inherently inappropriate to have cross-gender discussions on this topic? I feel like there must be space somehow for something between non-acknowledgement and overshare. (I haven't mentioned blood or tampons or even the word menstruation until this sentence!) Ok, I'm noticing my own tendency to handle this topic with humour and make light of both genders in order to play it safe. The point is that I don't want to gross guys out, but I dislike the cultural assumption that we all pretend these things don't happen.

There you have it.
Some of my thoughts...


Laura said…
As much as we hate to admit it most of our existence comes down to reproduction. We want to believe sex is about how much we love another and about expressing deep emotions for another human being. we as christians even spiritualize it. I believe these things are true and important BUT at the heart of it all is babies and procreation. Thus being horny during ovulation makes sense because it is the most likely time to get pregnant. And men being horny all the time makes sense because they can reproduce at any time of the month or day or night for that matter. At our very core we are moved by our urges.

However, I agree we need to exercise self control and strive for purity and wholeness in sexuality. It just needs to start in the acknowledgment that we are actually sexual beings and embrace that it is very much okay and actually very beautiful.

On a naughty note, some kissing does a girl good!! HA! I couldn't resist.
Beth said…

thank you for this... you crack me up. the word "horny" is... one that you have no problems with using :)

your thought that "most of our existence comes down to procreation" is one that I need to mull over a little bit more.
Ry said…
I didn't actually realize that a woman's 'appetite' increased noticeably within the cycle, I thought it only decreased.

I think this always-changing mental persona of women that I am learning about, is consistent with what my Dad always told me, 'Women are confusing!'

Do you think that for a woman, to be deeply known is that have a guy know how she changes during the month so that he knows when to give that extra affirmation, or to have his lips ready?

Obviously girls have a more extreme case, but is it really only girls that have an emotional/mental cycle?
Beth said…
Ry - I don't think only girls have an emotional/mental cycle. But not being a boy, I can't speak to what that experience is like at all.

As for being deeply known, I do think that knowing a woman's ups and downs is a part of that. In the context of a longterm romantic relationship, I would think most women would hope that would happen? Not sure. But in theory, yes.

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