That an entire book has to be written about the way in which the French put pleasure first in their lives–a pleasure gleaned from a lovely long lunch; a good cheese; a natural (as opposed to a creepy or inappropriate) flirtation, makes me sad that our culture comes out so unfavorably. It’s true that in our culture, “pleasure” seems to be a code word for sex, not a joy we breathe, not the expansive emotion, as the late William Safire wrote in his language column in The Times many years ago, “that suffuses one who has been gratified or stroked; it’s a good feeling, whether physical or intellectual.”
I’ve long been curious about the dearth of pleasure we experience in this, the most gratification-focused culture on earth, as are the many women I’ve spoken with over the years in my books. I understand the reasons for it now, thanks to the extensive work I’ve done with brilliant friends and colleagues who have shared my passionate involvement in the issue. Elizabeth DeBold, bestselling author, PhD. and EnlightenNext Magazine senior editor, some time ago provided me with so much insight and understanding as a result of her own work, and her amazing book, Mother/Daughter Revolution: From Betrayal to Power. Our dialogues then were indispensible for my writing of Marriage Shock: The Transformation of Women into Wives. We, along with other brilliant women concerned with the issue–Carol Gilligan, Deb Tolman, Dana Crowley Jack, Annie Gottlieb, the late Jean Baker Miller, to name a few– felt ourselves to be a kind of underground posse, excavators digging out the truth about what women want (and girls; and men; and couples) when the language for our desires seemed as deeply buried as the recognition of it was to Freud, and we set about to dig for the reasons why our culture has been so hellbent on obscuring them.
I’m thrilled that Elizabeth DeBold and I are doing what we’ve so long wanted to do: discussing this and many other deeply felt issues women face today, in a dialogue at M.I.T. in Boston (77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA; 7:30 pm) next Friday night, June 24th. It’s called “Women Surfing the Edge of Change: Life, Love and Work in our Confusing Time.” We hope you’ll join us. For more detailed information and to register, click here.