'I sometimes think that in carrying our sexuality out of the darkness, we managed to bring the body, but forgot to bring the heart. Without the engagement of the heart, we tend to objectify what we see and experience. The objectification of the body, and especially of the female body, has been noted and discussed at length. What remains underappreciated, I believe, is its effect on the person doing the objectifying.
To be sure, the naked female form is ‘a thing of beauty’, and our evolution has amply prepared us to appreciate it. But to stop there, to see it as a mere object that triggers desire, is to remain in a divided state within yourself. The stirrings of your desire will be disconnected from your heart. In our culture this is a normalized state, and we are surrounded by invitations to it; but when the objectification and the desire fire together over and over in the course of a day, and do so every day, desire learns to lean on and seek objectification. Eventually sexual arousal is associated with objectification. They wire together. And when that happens, sexual arousal ends up in one category, and the heart’s love (which never objectifies) ends up in another: they live within us as separate energies.
Because this division has been normalized in our culture, the fallout from it can be seen all around us. There are men and women who dearly love their partners, but are frustrated in the bedroom because they don’t know how to let their love flood their genitals. There are sex addicts who can never find deep satisfaction, because what they really long for is the intimacy of expressing love. There are men and women who tire of being in bed with the same body year after year, and sometimes switch for a new one to feed their arousal – because unlike love, objectified arousal cannot deepen over the years. In fact, objectified arousal needs to find more and more extreme forms of objectification to maintain its charge.
This cultural tide is hard to swim against. But as a man, I know that if I look at a beautiful woman from a place of wholeness within myself, I see her wholeness; and seeing a woman in her unique wholeness – having a sense of her courage, hopes, uncertainties, sensitivity and grace of being – always enhances my appreciation of her beauty. At the same time, it disarms my experience of the pull of any neediness.'