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Erotic in S. Jackson, B. Harris, and R. Stokes

The erotic is meant to be a source of power for females. Through this power, they are supposed to lead normal and comfortable lives in society. What does the word “normal” mean in the context of the lives in society today? In the male-dominated world, normal life for a woman has a restrained sense of the erotic. The females whose erotic power is kept in check as they go about their daily business are praised as being normal. Those who attempt to release their erotic power are viewed as abnormal. This has led to the consignment of women to a life of oppression in different spheres such as emotional oppression, economic exploitation, physical abuse, and cultural marginalization. The ideas on the erotic as captured in Audre Lorde’s work and Terry McMillan’s book entitled Waiting to Exhale present clear cases on the views that women have as far as the erotic is concerned. In this short essay, characters from Waiting to Exhale will be used to illustrate these erotic perspectives.

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Savannah Jackson comes out as the lead character in the group of four ladies in the novel; Waiting to Exhale. She is a professional lady with a clear sense of what she wants. Her understanding of the nature of the life of a woman is not different from what Audre Lorde thinks of the erotic power of women. The drive to be the best is what has made Savannah make all the achievements she has made in her professional life. She is in the Public Relations field and does her job well. Her understanding of the erotic power of women is also shown through her dedication to her female friends. She takes low pay as she makes her move to Phoenix so as to be closer to her best female friend, Bernadine. The view that women are supposed to support one another and relate to each other in a friendly way is clear in Lorde’s view of the erotic power of women and Savannah seems to be in touch with this perspective of the erotic as it applies to women.

Leaving the above aside, Savannah has met a number of men in her life. Some of them are liars while others do not respect women. Savannah would have withstood mistreatment from their boyfriends and husbands. But this is not what she does. Instead, she has a deeper understanding that she is supposed to get a man who meets her needs. At first, this is not the case as Savannah and her friends are of the opinion that they are the ones who have problems that have made it difficult for them to relate well with men. An example is Lionel, a guy she meets through a connection with her sister. She goes out with him only to find out that he is actually with another woman at the party. The other woman is Denise. Savannah goes home after learning this. But with time, their knowledge of deficiencies in the men they come across reveals the power in them and the blamelessness of their character. This understanding plays into the idea that a woman should not feel guilty for not relating well with men even when it is the men who have problems.

Apart from Savannah, Bernadine Harris leads a life that has outstanding elements of erotic power. The erotic power perspective is played out both in the absence and presence of the same in her actions as far as the men she meets are concerned. She is given a raw deal by John when he sells their joint business prior to their divorce and gives her nothing out of it. The erotic power of women comes in the way of gathering the strength to move on and regaining economic independence. She does not give up on men and tries to search for love as demonstrated by the sexual encounter with the guy at the club. Gloria finds her in the act and gives her to be careful or else she gets hurt. In the true sense of erotic female power, Bernadine is trying to accept the happenings in her life. She is not the one who has misbehaved and finding fault with her behavior is not justifiable. This is the true dimension of the erotic. The emotional, physical, psychic, and intellectual connection that is meant to connect two people in erotic unions is evidently not present in the marriage and therefore she has to move on and try to fix her life.

The third character in Waiting to Exhale whose life has elements of the erotic is Robin Stokes. Despite her numerous attempts to get into relationships with men, none of them seems to be working. It is not unusual for women to blame themselves when things do not seem to be working. But as noted elsewhere in this paper, men have a role to play in these failed relationships and true erotic power allows the woman to move out of such relationships and seek new refreshing ones. This is exactly what Robin does. But it turns out that most men are deficient and all she has to do is run back to her lover who apparently is not willing to commit. Society has come to view women who move from one relationship to another as prostitutes when it is possible that these women are looking for true erotic connection which can only be found in a satisfying relationship where the man is willing to do his best. Are any similarities and differences in the way these women’s lives portray the erotic?

The way in which the erotic plays out in the lives of Robin, Savannah and Bernadine are the same. All of them are willing to support their male friends on the condition that they get the best in return. They however take the courageous move of restructuring their lives on their own when they are let down by their male friends. What differs is the nature of their circumstances in that Savannah is never married but meets deficient men, Bernadine marries a man who abandons her for a white bookkeeper and Robin has a man who cannot commit; a scenario that makes her search for other men, who end up being unfit. She, therefore, ends up coming back to the man who cannot commit.

In concussion, erotic power is meant to free women from oppressive views in society. The characters in Waiting to Exhale portray the various elements of erotic power through the events that occur in their lives; especially in their interaction with men.

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