At a time when gender is spoken of more frequently than love, how can we reconfigure our understanding of the couple?
The pleasure isn’t in owning the person. The pleasure is this. Having another contender in the room with you.
Philip Roth put it thus in the novel The Human Stain (2000). While reflecting a clear (and long-cherished) notion of fairness, it also denotes a relationship based on competition between the two, a dynamic familiar to millions of people. Perhaps the real revolution needs to approach the ideas of generosity, mutual understanding, and collaboration: toward a full understanding that men and women are also the same thing.
At present, the couple has suffered a metamorphosis heretofore unseen. It’s a transfiguration still difficult to fully understand, for its recency, and its constant mutation. The opening up of spaces for women’s development (so urgent and necessary) has undoubtedly had an essential effect on the ways in which both men and women communicate and are reached. These correspondences, the histories of which are as old as humanity, have already reached the point of no return, and that fact seems, at least, promising. Our quest for equity will go down in history not only as a key moment in social and cultural evolution. It is also a call for a redefinition of what is (or should be) the feminine and the masculine. In a nutshell, we can speak of an irreversible transformation of thecouple, but also of that which we call love itself.
At this point, it’s reasonable to ask how, in a time when we talk more about gender than of love, is it possible to recover the timeless, the spiritual, the transcendent, and even the magical, in that feeling. It’s love which has been since it was named one of the strengths and sources of the most valuable in everything we call “human.”
How do we recover, then, the essence of love, and its relationship with the divine in our own dizzying present day? Our present reality is one in which, like in any great crisis, the current gender revolution presents a splendid opportunity for reconfiguring our understanding of love between couples, and to take this as the point at which solidarity is the basis for understanding the differences and similarities which exist between two people. (Perhaps it’s the basis of love, too.) In any case, and in the face of a landscape as uncertain as any probable reality, the hope is that we never stop answering the call that emanates from the love between two people. Maya Angelou once condensed it thus: “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
Cover image: “Double-portrait of Marie and P.S. Krøyer”, Peder Severin Krøyer (1890). Public domain
Faena Aleph. Love in the Time of Gender
“Sitting couple”, Antoine Watteau (c. 1716). Public Domain