Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Oh, yeah? Well, make me!

Lucinda Williams is a good singer and songwriter, and her records are interesting. Her new record, "West," is more matured than "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road." The latter had seemed almost to deliver several times what the performer intended, to need just a little more cooking before being taken out of the oven. On "West," the songs deliver what they promise. When they promise raunchiness, they deliver it.

On the song, "Come on!" she complains about a lover or a man or a something -- the object of her complaint is identified only as "You." You know how bad You is. You do most of the good and bad things in the world. Well, You "are so self-involved/ You're in some kind of fawg," according to Ms. Williams. If you think that's bad, though, she is quite clear about one point, "You didn't even make me/ Come on!" She makes that observation 38 times -- roughly once every six seconds -- and it seems to be important for that. How could you!

Ok, so let's except the usual language games -- You know -- "didn't make me" vs. "didn't make me come on" vs. "didn't make me, come on!" Let's call a spade a spade and a flower a flower and a bloom a bloom. What gets me is not the amateurishness of the reference but the verb of it.

You didn't make her? Could you perhaps have persuaded her? I know I would prefer to persuade my lover to come on or, at most, urge her to do. I could show her how it would be in her best interests. I could lead her to. I might, if lucky, have her come on unbidden. It could even be her idea once in a while. I wouldn't even mind if she didn't make me come on, too.

It isn't Lucinda Williams being smutty that makes this phrase curious, either. Rather, we have it in everyday (locker room) speech. Boys and girls, boys and boys, girls and girls, girls and boys, all speak of making someone. I believe in making love, as that suggests a collaborative building project; it is the making of creating. I do not believe in making a person experience joy, as that suggests being outside of the event. It is the making of coercion, of manipulation, of control. It's curious that we have this idiom. It seems to mean that, deep down, we see love as a thing we are within, even in sexual congress, but that the culmination of sexual pleasure is inflicted or controlled.

Teri Garr, in "Tootsie," does a parody of the "liberated woman" by saying that she is in charge of her own orgasms. Well, that's cute. However, the humor that we can derive from laughing at that parody depends entirely upon either being mean spirited or understanding that she is pretending that orgasms are her possession, or at least her voluntary actions, like lies. The people who laughed at that line (if they weren't just laughing because there was a cue to laugh and the idea of an empowered woman made them want to laugh) were aware that it was silly to think of orgasms in such a silly way. Are these people laughing because someone has to "make" you?

I would recommend, here and now, a campaign against the controlling "make" ever being used in connection with arousal or fulfillment. You do not make me whole. You do not make me love you. You do not make me get into a state of exaggerated arousal. We make love. We make pleasure, as two people constructing a thing, not as master and slave, victim and controller.

Well, at least that's how I feel. I hope I haven't made you mad.

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