Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Women as Vessels

by Jean Roberta

On the subject of taboos or forbidden acts, I am horrified by the drastic laws just passed in several U.S. states that aim to make abortion illegal again. Some of the male lawmakers who want total control over women’s bodies are also opposed to contraception in any form.

I’ve noticed that most of them don’t say anything about forcing fathers to support their children.

Sometimes real life resembles a horror plot: in this case, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which is why women protesters against the new laws dress like handmaids, in red robes with white bonnets.

About a year ago, I wrote a historical erotic story about a woman who needs to save her own life by conceiving a baby, preferably male, to persuade her husband not to have her executed. She knows he wants to be free to marry her lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, with whom he is already having an affair. Divorce is not on the agenda.

The doomed queen is Anne Boleyne, and her husband, the King, is Henry VIII. The year is 1536.

A courtier, Sir Thomas Wyatt, has been fond of Anne for years, and this seems to be historically accurate. In my story, he sends her a love-sonnet, and they arrange a tryst in her bedchamber so that he can comfort her and possibly get her with child. The story is titled “Begetting.”

In real life, Thomas Wyatt was imprisoned temporarily on suspicion of being too familiar with the queen, but he survived, probably because of insufficient evidence. Other people were not so lucky. Anne was charged with adultery as well as treason (cheating on the reigning monarch was treasonous), and executed along with the men accused of being her “lovers,” including her own brother, George. Most historians now think the charges were completely bogus.

This unpublished story takes place in the mini-world of Anne’s curtained bed.

The moist glow of Anne’s skin by candlelight led Tom’s hands to her slender waist and her small, round navel. Her breath quickened as he kissed her there.

An earthy aroma rose from the little thicket of moist dark hair that marked the entrance of Anne’s cunt, her inner sanctum. Tom allowed himself to admire the innocent perfection of her body in the guttering light of the dying candle. Seen in such intimacy, she was like a diverse continent, and her admirer inhaled the spices of its hills and plains, its forests and coves.

“Please,” whispered the queen.

The man used both his hands to find and spread her opening. He saw pink folds and felt a slippery fluid before the candle winked out, leaving both lovers in smoking darkness.

“’Twill be well, dear heart,” he assured her. “I can find my way.” He crouched atop her and introduced the head of his staff to her wet opening, praying that his size would be just adequate for her pleasure.

Tom had never wished to enter a woman like a battering ram destroying a castle’s defenses.

The lady held him tightly, as she spread her thighs to make him welcome. And then he was in to the hilt, riding her with an easy rhythm. Her sighs rose to his ears like music, and the squeezing of her inner muscles on his shaft felt more delectable than the embrace of an angel in a virtuous man’s last moment on earth.

Tom doubted whether the comforts afforded to the faithful would ever be granted to him. He resolved to enjoy the pleasures of love while he had the chance.

Soon, Anne’s voice rose to a dangerous level. “Peace, beloved,” he murmured. He too was coming to a climax, but he clamped his teeth together and stifled his groans. He pumped his shaft as deeply into her as it would go, and released his seed. “Ahh,” he sighed. The deed was done.

After a moment of recovery, he wondered whether Anne had reached her own peak of ecstasy. Simultaneous climaxes were said to help conception, but he knew from married experience that the pace of female excitement often lagged behind that of a man. He slipped a finger between her lower lips to find the love-knot just above her opening. That delicate nubbin was swollen and trembling. She gasped sharply as he stroked and rubbed and pinched it. He felt a spasm under his fingers, followed by a gush of liquid and more twitching.

“Tom,” she whispered. It seemed she had no breath left to say anything else.

He lay on his back and pulled her atop him so that he could hold her close and press her head to his heart. Her surrender felt precious to him, and he wanted her to feel that he was truly her protector.

The hot fragrance of her hair was in his face. He ran his fingers through the silken length of it, wondering why a woman’s hair must be completely covered in company. Surely hair was part of God’s bounty, and meant to be enjoyed by his creatures.

Yet Tom didn’t want the natural beauty of his mistress to be shared with the world at large. Better for her to appear outside this chamber only as the queen, swathed in those articles which form a lady’s armor.

“My love.” She raised her head to look into his eyes. “Please remain with me until my waiting-woman returns from the king’s bed. I cannot bear to be alone tonight. You know not what fancies lie in wait to torment me.”

“Then I shan’t leave thee.” Tom’s desire was already returning, and he hoped to claim her at least once more before he must disappear like an incubus.

“Anne, dearest, our son may yet be a great king.” Tom’s words hung in the darkness like a vision of life in the land of Faery.

Both lovers knew that forces were already in play to prevent their dream from reaching fulfillment. They were well acquainted with the ways of the court, and they were determined not to save themselves by betraying each other.

They would never again be as happy as they were at this moment. Let us leave them together in the warmth of the queen’s bed, enjoying the time they have left.

In the long corridor of time since the night of their love, neither the man nor the woman has been forgotten. While one is known as the doomed wife of a king hell-bent on founding a dynasty, the other has been named Father of the English Sonnet.


  1. Ah, 'Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,

    And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.'

    I wonder how he ever got away with that pretext of translating Petrach.

    One thing that strikes me about the abortion legislation is that on the one hand they seem to be damning women for having sex if they don't want babies, while on the other hand they preach that women must always defer to their husbands' desires. In fact they seem to bringup their women to feel that they ought to defer to men in general in most ways.

  2. Thanks for your response, Sacchi. There are many contradictions in the patriarchal agenda. Back in the Jurassic Age, when I was dating men, I tried to talk them out of putting me in the sexual double bind of damned if I won't, damned if I will (i.e. girls/woman who say no are accused of being hysterical prudes who need therapy to overcome their irrational inhibitions, but women who have ever had sex get horrible reputations). There is also the intellectual double bind (most girls are boring because they're so stupid, but girls who read books are annoying and pretentious), the work double bind (women who expect men to support them financially are leeches, but women who have paid jobs have stolen them from men who need and deserve them), the emotional double bind (women who want to be in committed relationships are too clingy, but women who accept hookups or friendships with benefits are sluts). One of the scary aspects of laws passed by the male-dominant right wing is that they are guaranteed to cause suffering and even death for women, but without really satisfying men.

  3. Some of us are old enough now to remember a time when most of our mothers were full-time housewives, there was no birth-control pill, and girls were terrified of becoming "unwed mothers." Today's conservatives claim they want to go back to that era, but men complained about women then too.

  4. Despite their most intensive efforts, I do not think the right wing will succeed in turning back the clock - at least not in the U.S. There is already a huge backlash.

    (I really hope I am not wrong...)

    I heard about the "Lysistrata" movement in Georgia. I thoroughly approve.

  5. By the way, I love the warmth and humanity of this story. I hope you find a home for it.

  6. I hope you're not wrong either, Lisabet!

  7. I hope you're not wrong either, Lisabet!

  8. I hope you're not wrong either, Lisabet!


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