I Wrote A Song About #Sex for my #PhD | #phdlife #freelance #musician #soundcloud #music #feminism |

Hello Everyone!

So as we know I’m doing a PhD in Music, in the area of Theomusicology & Feminist Musicology and some other things, with a practical element to it. So one of the things I’m looking at is how women and sex is represented in music as my project is interested in sexual politics (in a metaphorical sense) but in a literal sense sexual politics is also about sex. In response to my findings I’m going to produce some songs on the topic. The practical portfolio will have songs on various topics relating to women and music and theology. It will make sense when you read my thesis. Here’s a paraphrased summary of what I’ve learned, the full academic essay will come later.

I chose the topic of marital sex as a context for my section on women, music and sex. My intended outcomes for this song are to present women/wives as strong, mutual/equal with men/husbands, sensual/emotional beings that enjoy sex and have their own opinions and sex drives and sexual desires that are just as important as the man’s within the context of marital sex. Furthermore, as I am a woman of colour, I am writing from the perspective of a woman of colour and I hope that my piece along with the values therein, will address the negative stereotypes about women of colour that perpetuate within Western contemporary songs about sex. In Western popular songs about sex, women of colour are usually represented in the most abased and course way. Furthermore, songwriters have an irritating habit if sexualizing the ways in which women of colour are often discriminated against, race, gender and class, by presenting them as the hot abused poor baby mamas *rolls eyes*, or one night stands, never anything good etc. Instead I, have written and performed a song, from the perspective of a woman of colour about being in a sexual relationship within the socio-economic status and security of being a wife, the lyrics talk about saying “I do” and rings etc. (you don’t have to be some guys baby mama, why are we always shown as the baby mama and not the wife?) and not a victim in sexual activity but a willing, consensual, active and committed participant. (N.B. I am not and have never been married this is just in the fictional narrative of the song).

As mentioned earlier, this song is about the joys of marital sex, as experienced by two fictional newly-weds. It follows the metaphor, imagery and form of ‘Song of Songs’ which is also called Song of Solomon, my favourite book of the Bible, (talking about gardens, fragrant spices, greenery, little foxes, having sex outside, it’s all in Song of Songs lol). Song of Songs is actually about the love between a dark skinned woman and King Solomon.

Song of Solomon 1:5 [NLT]
I am dark but beautiful, O women of Jerusalem- dark as the tents of Kedar, dark as the curtains of Solomon’s tents.

It also represents a counter-cultural approach to romantic relationships between men and women, as it is in fact the woman who pursues the man. I tried to reflect this in arranging it for a female singer and making the tone of the lyrics, that of someone who is a pursuer and initiator of physical intimacy. I also show the woman as initiator as well as mutual consenting participant, instead of a passive participant or victim. The lead vocal (the woman/bride) vocalises decisions about her own sexual desires and needs. You can find the woman in Song of Songs doing the same thing. The theomusicology comes in the narrative of the lyrics which implies that now they’re married they can have sex when and wherever they want to lol (within reason), which is a Christian theological standpoint (I’m a Christian btw). So it implies restraint and commitment before coitus, not after.

I also decided to make it walking pace because I found that most songs about sex and women, especially sex with or about or by women of colour, have quite a strong beat and lyrically emphasise the fun of sex with chauvinistic, misogynoir lyrics that often contextualise the woman and the act within the erotic, encouraging male brains to switch to autopilot, focussing entirely on the physicality and pleasure of sex, not the love. My piece is a response to these negative things I found. It is slow(ish) to be meditative, slow down the heart rate and give the listener space to clear their minds and think. The listener should not get carried away by eroticism but instead wrapped up in the sweetness, sensuality, thoughtfulness and intentional nature of the act of marital sex. Looking forward to adding this to the the final portfolio! So this is a sonic, feminist, womanist critique of pop music about women and sex, using the lived experience of a woman of colour as an analytical tool for reflection. I am trying to promote the knowledge of women by uncovering the lost narratives of our experience, like a Foucauldian genealogy.

Well done for reading, here’s the track! It’s called “I Hope The Neighbours Don’t See”

You can also listen on SoundCloud. Follow this link to play or play the embedded player below:

I have a playlist on YouTube. Follow this link to play or play in the embedded player below:

The Middle 8/Bridge is inspired by a conversation I had with a middle aged man who told me that when he first got married as a young man, he gave his wife a Hickey on her neck and someone from his church saw it and told him, “now you’re married you can do that where it don’t show” hah! lol

Lots of love

Catherine x

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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Think About When #Reading #Genesis #Chapter 2 – #Bible #Christianity #Jesus

Hello everybody this is Part 2 of the thing I’m doing on Genesis 1 & 2, If you missed Part 1 it’s worth a read 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Think About When #Reading#Genesis #Chapter 1 – #Bible #Christianity #Jesus #PhD (follow this link to read it here).

Secondly, I’ve been writing some more music not my usual stuff (follow this link to listen) or play in the embedded player below:

Now to the article!

1.) Recapitulation – The beginning of Genesis 2 summarises what happened in Genesis 1 adding how the 7th day is holy because God rested.

Genesis 2:1-3 [NLT] – “[1] So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. [2] On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. [3] And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”

2.) Genesis 2 has a different account of creation, the order is different and some new pieces of information are added like the springs that aren’t mentioned in Genesis 1, when were they created?

Genesis 2:4-6 [NLT] – “[4] This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, [5] neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth. For the LORD God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil. [6] Instead, springs came up from the ground and watered all the land.”

3.) Genesis 1 & 2 have differing/conflicting accounts of the creation order:
Gen 2 order: Heavens & Earth > Land & Sea (Separation of Dry Ground & Water) > Man > Garden > Vegetation > Animals that primarily live on land > Birds > Woman and no mention of Fish etc
Gen 1 order: Heavens & Earth > Light > Atmosphere > Land & Sea (Separation of Dry Ground & Water) > Vegetation > Stars > Sun & Moon (potentially) > Life in the sea then Birds > Animals that primarily live on land > Man & Woman

Genesis 2:7-9 NLT – “[7] Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. [8] Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. [9] The LORD God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground–trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

4.) More new information: we learn there were rivers and mineral deposits around the area that the Garden of Eden was, this has led to speculation that the Garden of Eden was in fact in Africa, potentially around Ethiopia. Read my previous blog for more on this (follow this link for more info).

Genesis 2:10-14 [NLT] – “[10] A river flowed from the land of Eden, watering the garden and then dividing into four branches. [11] The first branch, called the Pishon, flowed around the entire land of Havilah, where gold is found. [12] The gold of that land is exceptionally pure; aromatic resin and onyx stone are also found there. [13] The second branch, called the Gihon, flowed around the entire land of Cush. [14] The third branch, called the Tigris, flowed east of the land of Asshur. The fourth branch is called the Euphrates.”

5.) Humans were created to work! The first humans were Gardeners/Farmers. We also learn about a new special Tree that was in the Garden that humans were never supposed to eat from.

Genesis 2:15-17 [NLT] – “[15] The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. [16] But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden– [17] except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.””

6.) HERE’S WHERE IT GETS INTERESTING!!!! Humans were created single (in terms of relationship status) but not designed to be totally alone. I’m not saying we should all get married but I am suggesting that according to Genesis 2 Humans are inherently social and it’s not good for us to be all alone. HOWEVER, let it be noted that God created friends & assistance for Adam in the form of animals first before He brought a woman into Adam’s life. How interesting. Friends first, then relationship next. That’s Gods formula.

I can only imagine that this animal interaction pre woman had to do with socialising Adam so that he was in the right state of mind and maturity in order to appreciate the woman that was to come.

There you go men, if you’re lonely, before going off and put a ring on the first thing that flutters it’s skanky little eyelids at you because you were thinking with your willy and not listening to God… get a dog. Then you will understand how to be friends with, appreciate and care for another sentient being other than your self. Also, a woman will be well impressed with how “responsible” you seem lol.

Women, if you want company or a baby so bad, don’t just sleep with the first mutant that is kind to you, shut you legs… and get a dog. You will see how much hard work it is to care for something that does not care about the fact that you want to sleep in, (I have two dogs), then after you have cleaned up it’s poo and wee for the umpteenth time, you will realise how stupid you were to try and run ahead and get pregnant with any old person, who might not be as dedicated to the idea as you are and you’ll wait a bit longer, (I literally had to stop writing this part way to deal with an, “accident”, *rolls eyes*). Eventually when you have waited for the right one who will marry you before he puts a baby in you, you will have some idea of the responsibility ahead 🙂 . N.B. A dog will also love you unconditionally, humans won’t always do that.

Genesis 2:18-20 [NLT] – “[18] Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” [19] So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. [20] He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.”

Another thing to note, Adam interacted with whatever God asked him to before the woman, seeing different things, getting a wider perspective on life. This helped him to get to know himself and to understand his personality, to the point where he fully understood not only what he wanted but what he needed see v 20. That’s how he knew that the animals were just not the right kind of company. I think that’s really important to stress. Adam was a whole person, knowing himself and the world around him before he committed to a woman who God brought to him. How many people have not gone through that process of seeing life and getting to knew themselves and what kind of person is appropriate for them and ended up rushing ahead and getting married to someone they later realised wasn’t quite right for them?

Also we learn from v 15 ADAM HAD A JOB!!! BEFORE GOD GAVE HIM THE WOMAN! I just felt it necessary to make that point. He was cultivating the Garden etc as God told him to so the woman was able to come to a “nest” not a wreck and a “responsible human being” not a boy. No woman wants to marry a boy it’s totally against our survival instinct. In fact, I would go so far as to say that from Genesis 2, we can understand that women are in fact not created to be in a romantic relationship with an immature man child. God brought Eve to Adam when he was mature. Later, Adam’s subsequent immaturity actually led to the fall of man see Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12-21.

7.) God brought the woman to the man when the man was least expecting it! Hehe. He literally fell asleep. Perhaps don’t freak out about wondering who, where and when you are going to meet the “one”?

Genesis 2:21-22 [NLT] – “[21] So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the LORD God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. [22] Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.”

8.) We don’t know how long Adam was asleep for or what Jesus said to Eve whilst Adam was asleep. This shows us that the “single time” for a man and a woman is important, it’s a time for learning, getting to know Jesus as well as yourself. I wrote about this in a previous blog post here (follow this link to find out more)

9.) The first marriage was monogamous. Adam and Eve, the relationship between the Song of Songs woman and her Lover, the relationship between Christ and the Church they all have one thing in common. THEY ARE MONOGAMOUS AND HETEROSEXUAL. Marriage as God instituted it and subsequently mirrored metaphorically later in the bible has and always was is between ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN. God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. God did not encourage or institute Bigamy, Polygamy, Concubines, prostitution, sexual slavery, homosexuality or inequality between the sexes MAN DID THAT NOT GOD. You read later on in Genesis that this person and the other person had concubines but God didn’t institute that, humans (more than likely men…) did that allllllll by themselves.

Genesis 2:23-24 [NLT] – “[23] “At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.'” [24] This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

In fact, God said that the Israelite Kings were to only have one wife and Paul said that about leaders in the new testament:

Deuteronomy 17:17 NLT – “[17] The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the LORD. And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself.”

1 Timothy 3:2 NLT – “[2] So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife [Bloggers note: other translations say the husband of one wife]. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach.”

1 Corinthians 7:2 NLT – “[2] But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.”

10.) The first humans were NAKED!

Genesis 2:25 [NLT] – “[25] Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.”

Well I hoped you learned something from those 10 things and if you missed the previous 10 things about Genesis 1 (follow this link to read them here!)

Have a great evening Gals & Guys!

Catherine x

Foolish Things?

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

I’ve been thinking about gender issues again, that’s what my PhD is about I’m looking at attitudes towards women worship leaders and that involves looking at intersectionality, that is basically describing looking at overlapping (intersecting) systems of oppression. For example, a person, man or woman, might dislike a women leader because of her ethnicity, class, education status, financial status or even her accent? So there are many reasons why a person might dislike a woman leader and none of them might have anything to do with her sex, the woman thing is just a more socially acceptable reason for them to dislike her and they jump on that bandwagon with their own hidden agenda…

Anyway, that’s not what this post is about lol… I’ve been thinking about sex again. I’m not married and I don’t have a boyfriend (not that that would matter either because as a Christian I wouldn’t be sleeping with my boyfriend anyway) so all I can do is philosophize on the matter, it is relevant to my PhD with the whole gender issues thing. I was thinking about this scripture:

[1Cor 12:12-26 NLT]

[12] The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. [13] Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. [14] Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. [15] If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. [16] And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? [17] If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? [18] But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. [19] How strange a body would be if it had only one part! [20] Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. [21] The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
[22] In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. [23] And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, [24] while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.

[25] This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. [26] If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

I isolated v 22-24 because those are the ones that I’m going to talk about.

I was thinking about men and women’s anatomy, which parts we “…clothe with the greatest care” (1Cor 12:23). For men, it is socially acceptable across most cultures for them to walk around with no tops on or trousers but they must have their penis and testicles covered at all times! For women it is socially acceptable in Anglo-American society for them to walk around with not much on but we must have our breasts covered and have pants on! Even in cultures where they live in the forests, in fact, I’ve actually noticed watching documentaries on the BBC that in many of those cultures that still live in forests the women are at least wearing some kind of covering over their lower half like a grass skirt. In Anglo-American culture any other forms of undress for men and women are considered to be inappropriate and quite right too.

Now… it’s it interesting that the afore mentioned parts that we always keep hidden are really soft, squishy and delicate but oh so necessary for life? Like Paul said in 1Cor 12:22:

[22] In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.

Our genitals are amongst our weakest points of our bodies but regardless of whether you get a baby by IVF/adoption etc you still at one point need a man’s genitals and a woman’s genitals to create a baby. They are also used for sex to bond a couple together, I guess creating “life” within a marriage.

A man might be attracted to a woman’s face and kiss it but yet the most intimate way he can physically express his love to her is through a very humble part of his body that has “…less dignity...” (1Cor 12:24) than his face. Think about it, our genitals have a nasty job, they handle urine, sweat, semen, menstrual blood (if you’re a woman), discharge, a baby (if you’re a woman), there is also certain bacteria which is down there which is fine if it’s down there but causes problems if its anywhere else. They also handle the pressure of being sat on all day as well (if you’re a woman). Furthermore, lets just be realistic and adult about this, there is going to be some excrement on them as well, due to their proximity to our anus. Moreover, between you and me if I could choose whether or not to look at a man’s face or his penis all day I’d choose his face… A penis looks like a big worm that lives in the guys pants all day, next to his sweaty hairy balls. A vagina looks like something from outer space.

Our faces on the other hand look sooooo beautiful in comparison and they have all the nice jobs like singing, speaking, eating, laughing, smiling and kissing! Our faces don’t do the nasty jobs, in fact, some of the things our faces do we don’t even need them to do to survive, it’s just extra things like smiling that make life much more fun! Our genitals on the other hand, everything they do is 100% necessary for us to survive, they seem the “…weakest and least important…” (1Cor 12:22) but “…are actually the most necessary” (1Cor 12:22). They’re super useful but much more delicate than our faces. You can take a punch in the face but not in the groin! Also, we hide them because of what they look like and what they do.

Now, why does God use the parts with “…less dignity…” (1Cor 12:24) to be vessels he uses to facilitate life and love? God does things like that so no one can ever boast.

[1Co 1:26-31 NLT] [26] Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
[27] Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. [28] God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.

[29] As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. [30] God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. [31] Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”

Yeah the world does consider genitals to be shameful, “…foolish...”, “…powerless…“, “…counted as nothing at all…” (1Cor 1:27-28), they aren’t really talked about because of the private and humble functions they perform and are always hidden (which isn’t a bad thing, I don’t personally believe that Naturism is compatible with Christianity unless you are unclothed in front of your spouse/doctor/close family member/parent/guardian (basically a person you have a reason to be naked in front of or a person who isn’t going to hurt you and you’re just close and have that kind of relationship with them but outside of that those examples it’s not a good idea).

It seems as though God is for raising up the disenfranchised and for humility. Jesus Christ King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born in a stable and He had humility and servant heartedness and God elevated Him higher than anything or anyone in forever as it says in Philippians:

[Phl 2:5-11 NLT] [5] You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. [6] Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. [7] Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, [8] he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. [9] Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, [10] that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

We can see other examples of what Paul was talking about in 1Cor 12:22-24 and 1Cor 1:27-28 in the Genesis story. Humans, the most exciting part of God’s creation were made from what Genesis describes as “…dust...” (Gen 2:7).

[Gen 2:7 NLT] [7] Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

You would have thought that God would have used something more exciting but no, just dust and God reminds us that we are made of dust when He cursed Adam:

[Gen 3:19 NLT] [19] By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”

and when we speak to God and try and reason with Him it seems as though a good way is to remind God that we are dust like Abraham, Job and David did:

[Gen 18:27-28 NLT] [27] Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. [28] Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And the LORD said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.”

Job:

[Job 10:9 NLT] [9] Remember that you made me from dust–will you turn me back to dust so soon?

David: Also see the whole of Psalm 90 & 103:

[Psa 30:9-10 NLT] [9] “What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness? [10] Hear me, LORD, and have mercy on me. Help me, O LORD.”

God consistently uses the seemingly weak things and promotes them, look at the story of Jacob and Esau, the older brother ended up serving the younger brother Gen 25, the Parable of the Landowner Mat 20:1-16 where Jesus famously said:

[Mat 20:16 NLT] [16] “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”

and Jesus reiterated this sentiment again in Mark:

[Mar 9:35 NLT] [35] He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

Conclusion

So we have learned that God uses the parts that have “…less dignity…” (1Cor 12:24), the things that are “…weakest and least important…” (1Cor 12:22), “…foolish…“, “…powerless…“, “…counted as nothing at all…” (1Cor 1:27-28), “…dust…” (Gen 2:7) and the “…last…” (Matt 20:16) (which would make you a loser) for great things!. That means that we can assume that whatever it is in your life that is you consider “…least important…” (1Cor 12:22) or “…less honourable…” (1Cor 12:23) or maybe it’s something that you are embarrassed about physically/emotionally/something in your past or maybe you’re not the most popular person, you’re last all the time, a loser, you have an injury, a learning difficulty like me, Autism like me or a disease then you’re in prime place to be used by God. That very thing that you think disqualifies you for success is the thing that God is going to use to make you shine! Extra care will be given to those things, as it says in 1Cor 12:24, “…extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity“. God knows the things that you are embarrassed about, He will take care of you.

For some, learning difficulties are a source of shame. For me my learning difficulties are the things that actually help me to make money because of the creativity and focus that coexists with them. The Autism makes me prefer my own company to crowds, which helps me with my career because making music/arrangements/planning lessons etc is a lonely process and if you need people around you all the time it’s not for you lol. My preference for my own company also means that I spend a lot of time alone with Jesus which is good and the intense focus that accompanies ASD means I meditate on the Bible and philosophize intensely, which helps my walk with Christ and has helped me to be currently working on my third degree lol.

If God can take something humble like our genitals, the parts of our bodies that are not even polite to have on show, the parts that literally handle: filth, bacteria, bodily fluids, sweat and smelliness and use them to produce actual life and be facilitators of sex, something so overwhelmingly beautiful and a deep physical expression of pleasure and love, He can use you and because He used you despite your disadvantages you will never be able to boast about doing it yourself. You will gain a deeper understanding of His power and magnificence, worship Him like you should and your faith will increase! I think Paul’s statement below sums up my hopes for you:

[Eph 3:14-21 NLT] [14] When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, [15] the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. [16] I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. [17] Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. [18] And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. [19] May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. [20] Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. [21] Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

You can do it! God believes in you! Below is a picture with me with no make-up on, showing hyper-pigmentation on my body, something that happened to me a number of years ago and I’m very embarrassed/mortified about it but Jesus can use it somehow for His glory.

Catherine x

Can you fall in #love with someone #online? #onlinedating #communication #internet #relationships

Hey everybody,

I have been philosophizing about communication and the recent popularity of online dating and people forming relationships on social media with people they don’t know. One day I just sat and thought it out and made a few notes, below are my conclusions.

A bit about me

I prefer face-to-face interaction; I speak the love language of Quality Time (click here for more info). I am a visual person, this is typically an attribute of men but women can be visual as well! This means that the most effective way for me to assimilate and or comprehend information is through visual means, eg. film, picture, graph, graphic, cartoon or just observing actual real life. This also means that a visual phenomenon catches my eye quicker than a written phenomenon. Now for me, when it comes to communication it’s the same. I find that the best way I can understand a person is by literally talking to them face to face, IN PERSON! What I see adds together with what I feel and what the person has written to me, to create an overall vibe for the person. This is why I don’t encourage people to form romantic relationships with people they meet online.

Quick tour of online relationships

Online, instant messaging and text relationships typically involve communicating through written means and pictures. One does not traditionally tend to communicate with strangers via skype as your phone number and email address is visible to the people you add. See the TV show Catfish: The TV Show (click here for more information) for more details. The problem with online dating and forming relationships with people online is that when we read words we are missing out on a good two thirds of communication which is comprised entirely of non-verbal elements such as culture and body language. Moreover, an online message or a text is “rehearsed conversation” as opposed to “reactive conversation”, which is more organic and healthy. What do I mean by “rehearsed conversation”? Simply put, you can draft and re-draft a text or whatever and read it through and meditate on how it might make you sound, therefore, you eventually send the text that sends an idealised reflection and version of you and how you want to be heard, not really allowing people to love you for your imperfections, Freudian slips (click here for more information) and other mistakes. It’s easy for meaning to get lost in translation even with face-to-face interaction, how much more can online or written communication of any kind incur miscommunication? A simplified communication cycle can show how even through face-to-face interaction miscommunication can occur.

Communication cycle

Communicating through text alone (I don’t mean texts from ones mobile phone I mean through written word, whether that be a text message, email, instant message, facebook, twitter, etc.) is an insufficient way to communicate; it’s insufficient even in face-to-face conversation because sometimes what you are saying is not what the receiver is inferring. Lets look at a basic communication cycle:

  • Communicator speaks words
  • Listener hears words
  • Listener superimposes meaning onto words based on their age and culture
  • Listener responds based on what they think the communicator has said
  • Communicator hears response
  • Communicator superimposes meaning onto response based on their age and culture
  • Communicator responds based on what they think the responder has said

As we can see from the above cycle there are roughly four dialogues:

  • The dialogue of what the communicator has said
  • The dialogue of what the communicator thinks they have said
  • The dialogue of what the receiver has heard
  • And the dialogue of what the receiver thinks they have heard

We need to remember that words carry no inherent meaning. Language is merely a series of sounds, symbols and jibber jabber. The only thing that makes language functional is us. We ascribe meaning and emotions to words based on our experiences. This theory is called Deconstruction, by Derrida (click here for more information).

Now, because each human is unique and the experience of each human is unique, we each bring our own unique emotional baggage to every single discourse we have. The uniqueness of each human means that I can say things that mean something to me but might mean absolutely nothing or something else to another person. When someone, who is not me, reads what I have written, despite my best efforts to be plain, they will always superimpose their own meaning onto my words. This simultaneous occurrence of stimulus and inference is called Gestural Interconversion, see Philip Tagg (click here for more information). Effectively, we each speak and understand a slightly different version of the same language. Within the English language there is Catherine English and there is my friends English and there is Your English and so on. Even more shocking is the fact that the more we humans lie to each other, the less meaning words have. Getting us to the place where one can’t really take anyone’s word for anything, especially politicians, remember, “read my lips no new taxes”? That’s why we need to be able to see people squirm and look up and down whilst they lie, you can’t do that when you are not speaking face-to-face.
Face-to-face interaction

What I like about face-to-face interaction with people is that you get to see a lot of emotional leakage, as face-to-face interaction with someone you don’t know is “reactive” as opposed to “rehearsed”. What do I mean by “reactive”? Well one cannot really plan extensively for conversation on a date or any kind of face-to-face meeting with someone you don’t know. This means that every second of conversation with that person is based on a series of reactions to their reactions. The mark of a man is how he behaves under pressure and when he is taken off guard.

I personally think that it’s better to form relationships with people face-to-face. Personally, I find it easier to judge a persons intentions taking into account their whole person, not just what they write but observing what they do and say and how they do and say it. Women especially have to be careful because we typically are physically weaker than men and men can be such scoundrels, even the nice Christian ones want sex too so try not to get your Christian boyfriend too worked up because you can’t have sex with him till you’re married and it’s not helpful. I remarked to a male Christian colleague of mine that the only difference between Christian guys and non-Christian guys is thus, both want to have sex with you in the back of their car but you expect the Christian guy to have the decency to marry you first…. He agreed lol.

Pre-conversation conversation

Another reason why I prefer face-to-face communication is that when communication is just through words we miss out on the important “pre-conversation conversation” which begins before you are even at arms length of each other. Let me explain, we are communicating all the time, as soon as you walk into a room you are communicating. Very simple things about a guy’s demeanour can tell you a lot about him before you have even spoken. If you have an opportunity to meet with him informally with other people or you get to your date venue before him or when you arrive you are able to see him before he see’s you look out for the following because if he thinks you’re not watching him he will behave how he really is.

So to judge the character of a man that you want to date one must yes look at what he writes on social media, text etc but one must also take the time to scrutinize the following seemingly trivial and unimportant physical phenomena that are integral parts of his personality such as:

  • His body language
  • His dress
  • How he interacts with the public
  • How he interacts with his friends and family
  • His gesticulations
  • His eyes
  • Does he respect your personal space?
  • Tactility
  • What is the first thing he does when he walks into the room?
  • When he finally see’s you what does his face and body language suggest?

All of these categories will tell you something about him, something that you will miss out on if all of your interaction with this man happens online through words. There is a whole rich other language that is non-verbal that happens even before you have started talking to each other face-to-face that we miss when we only use words. Let’s give some detail to the list above to see why we need to look out for these things.

  • His body language: Does the guy walk into the room with his shoulders slumped or with his back straight? What do you think that says about him? This speaks volumes about one’s self-confidence. Do not take this as a criticism, if his back is slumped he maybe is shy and just needs some love but be aware that he does.
  • His dress: What is the guy wearing? Is he unkempt? Is he unkempt in a cool way? Is he dressed in a way that can lead to gender ambiguity? He might be gay and not know it, that’s possible. Moreover, there is dressing like an individual and then there is dressing in a way that shows either a blatant disregard for ones audience or a lack of awareness of ones audience, both are undesirable. Go easy when judging someone based on his or her clothes because not everyone has money to dress up. As a general rule of thumb I would judge the situation like this: If you are going to the Ritz and he has the means to wear a suit but he just refuses for no good reason, that’s when you have a problem.
  • How he interacts with the public: Does he brush past people rudely, or does he say “excuse me”? If he’s rude to the public, he will be rude to you in private.
  • How he interacts with his friends and family: Is he nice to them? If he’s nice to his female friends and female family members he might be nice to you, that’s not a given. However, the way a man behaves towards his mother will tell you something about his views towards women and how he might treat you, the potential mother of his children and his daughters.
  • His gesticulations: are they broad or small, aggressive or non-threatening? When he talks to you are his hands and body parts doing things that make you feel unsafe? If he’s doing that in public what will he do in private? Think.
  • His eyes: Are his pupils dilated? That’s a sign that a man is attracted to you. Where is he looking? Is he looking at your breasts whilst you’re trying to sign for a package that he has delivered to your door? (this actually happened to me)
  • Does he respect your personal space? Does he observe a polite distance (polite distance as dictated by his culture not yours, as cultures differ, what’s important is that he behaves in a way that he knows is within the bounds of propriety as he understands it. You cannot blame him if he does not know propriety according to your culture because he is not familiar with it. British culture suggests a good distance, arms length to be precise, whereas on the Continent (the continent of Europe as opposed to the island of the UK), or Asia, that distance is much smaller. When I went to Sri Lanka people stood really close to me, even touching me at one point but I realised that that was their culture and they were not being rude.)
  • Tactility: is he always trying to touch you outside of a normal (normal as dictated by his culture) level of physical contact that goes on between two people who are not intimately close? Does he give you more than a hug? Does the hug last for longer than you wanted it to?
  • What is the first thing he does when he walks into the room: is he eyeing up ALL the ladies in a really obvious way? Behaviour like this raises questions about his fidelity…
  • When he finally see’s you, what does his face and body language suggest? Does he look at you like you’re a lady or like you’re a piece of meat? (Obviously this is dependent upon you dressing and behaving like a lady)

Common Language

So how does anyone ever understand anyone? Well, as I said previously, communication involves a number of non-verbal elements, it’s combining these elements with words that helps two individuals to form a “common language”. This “common language” exists! Think about it, have you ever noticed that you speak one way with your family, another way with your friends, another way with your colleagues and another way with strangers? This is because there are different levels of relationship and experiences. Even within my family I will use different terms and sentence structures with different people, some family members even communicate with me using a mixture of English and French! But that is our “common language” and if it needs to be a combination of different languages, to facilitate understanding, then so be it.

Non-verbal elements that add to a “common language” include things like a smile. When it comes to people who I don’t know very well, like say a guy I’m meeting on a first date, I may not understand what the person is saying but I can recognise a smile or a frown, representing the base elements of what they are trying to communicate. For example, if a guy says to me at the end of a meal “lets have dessert” and smiles whilst doing that. If I didn’t know what dessert was I would assume that it was a good thing and enquire further, with an understanding that this might be something that I want because people smile when they are happy, that is a natural human reflex. I like dessert by the way… Just saying, if one ever takes me out on a date… Obviously people can change their non-verbal behaviour to trick you, that’s a given, so ladies beware.

Conversation can become awkward when you are unable to find a “common language”. However, the good thing is that for those who do find a “common language” by going through the interplay of communication, response and the continuous adjustment of words and phraseology in order to ease understanding between two people because they usually end up more bonded. Even more so than people who talk online all the time because people do not have the time to redraft their conversation, so you are more likely to get the raw “real version” of a person and their oral mistakes say just as much as their written accomplishments and it is the “real version” of a person that you need to be in love with in order for your relationship to work.

The interplay of communication, response and the continuous adjustment of words and phraseology in order to ease understanding between two people also has other benefits. It also exposes your compatibility, for better or for worse or how awkward both of you are lol. This is partly due to the nature of men. Men want an easy life. If he is trying very hard to form a “common language” with you in order to get you to understand him, it shows he is interested in what you think and feel and how you think and feel about him. Men want to feel appreciated and to be appreciated they need to be understood. Think about it? Let’s reverse this; if I don’t like a person I won’t be communicating much with them, I won’t bother to create a “common language” with them unless I have to because I don’t care. Rendering what they think about me a non-entity. Furthermore, whether they appreciate me or not doesn’t even register as a thing to be bothered about. I do care if my loved ones appreciate me or not, however.

This brings us to the crux of the matter, can you fall in love with someone over the internet by just seeing their picture and reading their words? I’m going to say no. Not real love. Longing, infatuation and fantasy, yes, remember, it’s not necessary for men to have a real relationship with a woman to enjoy her. We have got to look at what he does as well as what he says, do you have a “common language”? There is a difference between love and longing. Longing does involve love but regrettably longing is the kind of love that develops because the physical desires are barred from achieving self actualisation (click here for more information) and are not fully realised or satisfied and the communication cycle has messed up again, there is no “pre-conversation conversation”, sentences are always a form of “rehearsed conversation” and you do not have a “common language” rapport that you would have if you knew each other face-to-face.

Do you know me? The real me? Have you touched me or experienced what it is like to be in my presence? No? Then you can’t love me because you don’t even know who “me” is. However, you can be in love with what I have allowed you to see of me. I’ll say that’s fair. If you want to see pure unadulterated Catherine #nofilter lol you really need to see me first thing in the morning, literally when I have just woken up but not got out of bed yet, when I have the least energy to suffer fools. It’ll put hairs on your chest son…

Men, are you in love with her or are you in love with the idea of her? Are you saying “I’m in love with you” when you really mean what Ed Sheeran said, in his rather candid pop song, “I’m in love with the shape of you, I’m in love with your body…”. Click this link or play the song in the embedded player below to understand what I’m saying from the song.

Love Catherine x