(story based on & in tribute to the above wonderful Edvard Munch painting) 

Women are definitely second class citizens in this world we human beings have created. They, women and femininity in fact, are valued (socially) much less than masculinity, than men. Any traits associated with femininity seen in men are often treated with ridicule and abuse and although women displaying traditionally masculine traits are also treated less favourably in society than traditionally feminine women, they are often respected more, especially in professional spheres. To be a woman, to show any sign of being feminine (whether male or female) is seen as being lesser, weak in society and is therefore to be at a disadvantage, this much is true. You don’t need to watch The Handmaids Tale to understand that. Yet still... The power of femininity, of woman, is one that is unrivalled in the hearts of many (heterosexual) men. And perhaps it is this power in part that has caused men, over the centuries to attempt to disempower women with the only tools they, us men, patriarchy, have available; violence, brute force or simply the threat of.


I know, I write this from the vantage point of a man severely out of touch with the modern world and contemporary ideas on love and sexuality. I used to think of myself as a modern, contemporary man. A feminist even but I am a relic compared to the open hearts and minds I see around me with the youth today. If I were a man in my 20’s now, rather than one edging into the autumn of his years, I would like to think that my ideas on sex, sexuality and intimate connections would be broader (less hindered by socialisation) than they are currently. But as it stands, I was bought up by two very middle classed, middle England, CofE and conservative parents in the 1950’s who didn’t even have the term sexuality or freedom of thought in their vocabulary, let alone gay or pansexual.


I am what I would have described, many years ago, before it became evident how politically incorrect it was, a red blooded male. Hetero to the T, yet beyond that, alongside it, at a complete loss in regards how to handle women. I have always been at once obsessed with and terrified by them and the effects they have upon me. A product of time, place and hardwiring, faulty wiring even, perhaps...




River, as we shall call him, had always been different to the other males in his group. Less physically robust, more prone to reacting to the types of pain not registered by his peers. When his first urges came down below, they permeated his whole being. They connected with parts of him that rendered him weak in the eyes of his community, as he openly sought out the company of the females, interested in what they did and their manner of being which lay in direct opposition to the ways in which other males were drawn to them.. He was given the less challenging role of guarding the river – to make sure that others (strangers from other communities) did not interfere with their acquirement and quota of river based food. He registered the manner in which the fish darted about and enjoyed the many different spheres of their being and wondered about his own…wondered what these new urges meant. He found the ways in which his peers grunted behind the females, forced onto all fours, like an animal, distasteful and felt an attraction to the few females that had started to grow larger and more defined breasts, wanting to touch them as much as he wanted satisfaction of the discomfort he felt between his thighs. He dreamed of moving inside the females whilst looking at their faces, their expressions, but that seemed like a forbidden desire. Not only were the females with larger breasts treated as aberrations, as undesirable, as mutations upon what had been the norm but it would seem that there was almost an unspoken rule that separated the males and females in ways that didn’t leave room for the type of interaction, the type of intimacy he craved. River was open to change though and all that this may carry with it.

One morning, he saw a female from another group walking along the river bank. Her hair caught fire in the morning sun and bristled with energy, her breasts swung heavy, low and looked like overly ripe fruit to River’s eyes. The triangle of her pubic hair was damp with the morning dew and she just seemed to shimmer and be transparent against the backdrop of an already sparkling morning light. The fullness of her breasts mimicked the curve of her behind in a fashion that caused River to swell with desire. He could have – should have, according to how things were done – taken her there and then. Ran up to her and forced her to the ground on all fours and penetrated her until the swelling deceased…but instead he just stared and allowed himself to feel aroused by her image.

Moon Dance – the female in question, alerted by his presence was curious… She had been taught by the female elders in her community that one day, a male may come and take her in such a manner…though this may not happen as early or as frequently as it did with other females, due to the monstrosity of her breasts, it would one day happen…and if she continued to do things such as walk alone into other groups territories, that the taking would be more brutal, more painful. But this male, who was of age and evidently affected by her appearance seemed to just watch her and made no move to take her, as she anticipated. This delayed reaction piqued her interest and she moved towards him. They both sniffed at each other and looked deep into the other’s eyes – a practice not normal in these types of interactions. River placed a hand upon one of her breasts and squeezed, a little too hard and the pain caused Moon Dance flinch. Oxytocin flowed between them as they sought each other out in the glassy pools of their eyes, thus allowing River to interpret something within that flinch that cooled the fire he felt. He removed his hand from her breast and instead placed it upon her face, gently… modern man might say affectionately. Little did they know it but they were the first of their kind to engage in this type of ‘courtship’ and that they would indeed not be the last..




I have loved many women over the years. Most, I loved in a terribly (I now realise) objectifying way, for particular aspects of them, rather than their whole being. There was my first love, Miriam, whom I loved, partly because she was my first ever experience of woman in that capacity but mainly for her big dark eyes (that seemed to bore deep into the centre of my being and see everything I thought and felt) and her profusion of wild, aromatic and dense pubic hair that looked and smelled like something feral and untamed and made me feel just that too. I learned a lot about the art of cunnilingus through my obsession with that part of her body and she (obviously), allowed that obsession to flourish, enjoyed the fruits of it and in fact, in the end became quite insistent upon my deliverance of it, to the degree where it was the only form of sex she had any passion for. She left me, eventually, for a woman named Petra, a Dutch artist she met whilst travelling in West Africa.

I was devastated at first, felt utterly rejected but was eager to pursue a different kind of experience... I wanted to be the one obsessed over, desired, catered for... Ask they say and the universe provides. And so it did. Cue Laetitia... Laetitia had almost the opposite physicality and temperament to Miriam. Big blue, baby doll eyes and such a small amount of tidy, soft, almost scentless pubic hair, it repulsed me initially. I refused to kiss her there... But she was eager to please, didn’t complain at all and in fact gave me my first ever experience of fellatio, something Miriam had always refused... She was a very passive yet giving woman and yes, at the tender age of 21, I felt that this was love... This feeling of intoxication and constantly wanting, nay needing to be near her, to be consumed by her need to please me... We fucked like rabbits for one glorious Summer but then, as is so often the case with these youthful endeavours, I became bored of her...grew tired of that passive, placidness I had originally found so earth shatteringly thrilling. The fickleness of youth eh...


By the time I reached my 40’s, there had been a series of Miriams, Laetitias and many shades in between...repeats even. None of them particularly fulfilling but all of them filling a gap...a void within me that screamed into the wordlessness of my soul.


It’s funny how we often can’t recall that first moment love began, or know it’s true proportions when we are in it but are very clear on the moment it is lost and seem to only understand in hindsight how meaningful it was (or wasn’t) after it has gone, slipped through our fingers like grains of sand.



Many moons had passed since that first time River and Moon Dance first touched… Unlike their peers, they made love in private, partly due to them being from different sides of the wood, but mainly because they were aware that because they chose to mate face to face that this would alert unwanted attentions – and each of them had had to endure the unwanted attention that being different carries their whole lives. Each time they mated, it felt different, more intense and they found themselves thinking of the other one more and more frequently between meetings…When they were apart, Moon Dance thought about how curious and wonderful it felt to touch mouths, to kiss as we contemporary humans would call it… River found that the sight of other females had no effect upon him and his peers were starting to think there was something wrong with him… all he had to do was to think of Moon Dance though, skipping through the meadow at dusk, lying still and in wait, for him, in the moonlight, the look in her eyes as she beckoned him forth…and immediately his passions would rise.

They were, perhaps the first ever couple to ‘fall in love’ in the way that we understand it today. The difference and sensitivity they both experienced throughout their lives allowed them to reach into each other, in a way their peers had been unable to with their mates. Their physical urges to pro-create were being used to form a connection like nothing that had ever come before…they were, in their own ways, the secular Adam and Eve of love…

When Moon Dance eventually fell pregnant, it became apparent that their little affair, conducted in private had been occurring. Normally when a female was with child, the whole community had borne witness to the copulations that had taken place and often with more than one lover. But Moon Dance, as River, had only had one lover and he had been hidden from sight of her community. They were confused and mistrustful of her and so she was cast out and sought out River for refuge. Unfortunately River’s community were almost equally as displeased with the coupling as they were generally wary of strangers but they accepted it. What they found almost impossible to accept though was the couple’s insistence that they would not mate with another. In- particular River, who was expected to take other females in the manner which River found so aggressive and unnecessary. The mating which occurred between himself and his lover was something so different to what he had seen before that he felt no desire at all to mate with any of the other females…eventually though, as the pregnancy developed, River’s community not only accepted them but also became curious…intrigued by the happiness and playfulness they both exuded...



One such situation and woman has haunted me for longer than I care to recall, marked me even. ..she taught me that what I had always perceived as being love, was in fact a display of the shallowness of my heart, a shallowness bought about by a fear of the depths we human beings are capable of...she, on the other hand was virtually a mermaid, with a “great fear of shallow living” and one whose comfort zone resided in the deepest of waters.


I cannot bring myself to utter her name, as it has rested like a curse upon my soul, a beautiful curse but one that I need to keep tucked away in the corners of my mind for the sake of my own personal balance. I do not even wish to express the many ways we indulged and pleased each other sexually hurts to think of them, aches to remember how deeply we touched, how well our bodies and temperaments fitted. Also, that was not why or how I loved her. And I suppose I only really knew how much I loved her when I began to fear her (inevitable as I saw it) departure. We were like the bird and the fish who fell in love, beautiful, fairy-tale - like in aspect but never going to end well. Or so my self fulfilling prophecies went. I was intoxicated with her, so much so that it caused an instability deep within me, one that I could not help but blame her, my mermaid for. The more space she took up in my heart and mind, the more I pushed her away until eventually, she swam off into the depths from whence she came...


The last time I heard from her, a year or so after it had all come crashing to a painful end, she sent me a postcard from Berlin. She had been to see an Edvard Munch exhibition at the Bahnhof.. It was not a picture postcard of The Scream, Munch's most famous of paintings but one named Im Mannleich Gehiren, roughly translated as In the Man's Brain... On the back she wrote...


"I was always a mermaid Rango, you knew that... and were always too full of fear of the depths in which I swam... I think you always knew that too...”


The painting was described as Munch's attempt to relay a feeling of love and the anxiety it creates, to describe his relationship with women and his admiration, obsession with them, whilst at the same time the complete and utter fear they inspired.


I never realised how well she knew me...perhaps she only realised in that moment too.


I now wish I'd learned to swim at a younger age and not necessarily so I could swim now, I accept being land locked as my fate, what need do I, a 60 year old man have to swim? But to have saved myself from drowning all those years ago...drowning in my own very socialised, old fashioned, male brain. Who knows how differently things could have played out...


River wrestled, internally, with his love, which lay as deep and eternally formed as the rocks at the bank of the river, for Moon Dance and his primeval urges to be free of her and all being with her represented. He felt trapped and thought he should move on and find another mate. Moon Dance, intrinsically had no issue with this and encouraged River…led him, by the hand at points, to the places where a willing female lay…but River knew that this was her attempt at trying to keep him close…and he also knew, intrinsically, that this wasn’t just about wanting to mate with other females, this was about his innate desire to let go and face the other way, from her and their beautiful daughter… He had succumbed to the animal instinct within him to feel nothing but the passing of the moons in a wordless sky. His brief indiscretion with reverence left him feeling empty and confused… But this fading evolutionary imperative took a hold and this primeval Adam and Eve, the first and not last of their kind, parted ways.

Moon Dance’s heart ache was like no other modern man or woman can comprehend. Like Gabrielle, that once graceful state, so taken for granted became a source of eternal pain and loneliness…


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(S)llew la Wulf
(S)llew la Wulf

Yet another artist screaming (colourfully) into the void. I like to dance. I write. I do self portraiture and i draw... I cover topics ranging from racial bias to female sexuality to capitalism to rape culture and of course, love ❤️


A selection of writing about love and sex, the pursuit of, the absence of and the midst...

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