Back Story: A Moment at the Window by Beate Sigriddaughter
I wrote "A Moment at the Window" out of my increasing despair at the gender disparity of our sexual behaviors and indoctrinations. At this point I personally don't particularly care whether it's nature or nurture. Or then again, maybe I do care enough to point out this: most mammals have sex according to when the female is in heat. Human beings, however, have sex according to the male's ever increasing voracity. It's spiraled all out of proportion, and it is spiraling still.
The magazines for women advise women on how to please men more in bed, while the magazines for men advise men on how to get more sex. But of course this isn't 21st century news at all. The Kama Sutra has specific recommendations as to when it is okay for a man to take lovers and who it is fair for him to hit on without offending gods, inter-male loyalties, and general propriety.
What I am trying to portray in this story is the heartbreak our sexual gender disparity creates despite the tenderness that a woman and a man can feel for each other. Two small people, who obviously care for each other, struggle in a net of denial, guilt, escapism, and bitterness, while probably ensnaring others—his lovers, for example—as well.
Who can blame the man for doing what he has been encouraged and enticed to do all his life? Who can blame the woman for escaping into her romance novel happy endings where a more valiant heroine than she could ever dream to be succeeds in inspiring her mate to loyalty?
Incidentally, I am quite alarmed, too, that contemporary romances almost always include one or more obligatory steamy sex scene where the heroine experiences earth-shaking satisfaction that I, as an ordinary mortal woman with all my parts functioning reasonably well, have never come close to replicating. I allude to this in the story, as well. Personally, I think even that bit of titillation widens the reality gap between women and men rather than closing it. Add to this that the man is expected to have had many previous sexual experiences, while the woman is expected to be virginal (with only a very small range of permissible exceptions) and you get disparity par excellence.
I do hope for a time when women and men can confidently meet each other, even in the sexual arena, without having been trained diligently into the role of accommodating prey and masterful hunter, with most of the satisfaction landing in the lap of the hunter. I don't know what the price will be for creating such a world, but I have a strong feeling the price both genders are currently paying in resentment, bitterness, anger, and grief is higher.
Beate Sigriddaughter lives and writes in North Vancouver, Canada. Her fiction has received three Pushcart Prize nominations. She has also established the Glass Woman Prize to honor passionate women’s voices. Read "A Moment at the Window" in the winter 2012 issue of Rose & Thorn Journal.