A conversation about sex, political change and inner liberation
Excerpt from my novel “Games of Love and Pain”, to be published on June 24th, 2022.
Spain, 1977. Two years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, Spain is transitioning to democracy. Cecilia, her boyfriend Julio and Lorenzo have lunch after rock-climbing in the mountains north of Madrid. Cecilia and Julio are college students. Lorenzo is a car mechanic and a member of the Spanish Communist Party. The "war" they mention is the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. "Carrillo" is Santiago Carrillo, leader of the Spanish Communist Party at the time.
There was no wind and it was getting hot. The granite walls around them reflected and concentrated the sun. Insects buzzed. Julio unbuttoned his shirt and took it off.
“Oh, I want to do that, too!” said Cecilia. “No one will come, right?”
“No, but you might give a heart attack to our comrade over there,” said Julio. “He’s not used to seeing shirtless girls.”
“Don’t be silly! He’s seen me naked already, don’t you remember?”
She took off her shirt and her bra. Lorenzo pretended to focus on lighting a cigarette, but then he stared boldly at her tits as he took a deep draft. Julio was looking at her, too. It flattered her to be the focus of their attention. The freshness of the air and the warmth of the sun aroused pleasant sensations on her bare breasts.
Julio got up and sat down next to her. He put his arm around her shoulder and casually stroked one of her tits. She felt her nipple rise under his fingers.
“What do you think, Lorenzo? Doesn’t she have nice tits?”
Lorenzo just exhaled a long column of smoke. However, judging by the bulge under his jeans, the answer was probably yes.
“I can’t believe you guys!” he finally said. “Your girl gets butt-naked at the drop of a hat, and you encourage her!”
“Why? Is there anything wrong with me getting naked?”
“I don’t know, girl… It’s just that my mother taught me to respect women.”
“And what does been naked have to do with respect? Oh, I see! You think like that girl that came to lecture me after the striptease: that if a woman gets naked in public, she’s being exploited. Is that it?”
“Yeah, something along those lines… And don’t tell me that you bared your tits to sunbathe, because that’s bullshit. You did it to expose yourself to us.”
“And that’s exploitation? Perhaps it’s just that I like it when you guys look at me.”
That seemed to surprise him.
“And why would you like that?”
“Because it makes me feel good. It’s like a gift I can give you, and that makes me feel beautiful and powerful.”
“Powerful? How? Because you make Julio jealous and that makes him love you more?”
“That’s nonsense! I don’t want to make Julio jealous, and he wouldn’t love me more because of it. Jealousy is just awful. And didn’t you say that he is the one who encourages me to get naked? Look, Lorenzo, even if you are a communist, you are clueless when it comes to these things. Julio and I want to free ourselves sexually, to get rid of all the repression that was dumped on us. We are doing the erotic revolution.”
“The erotic revolution? You’ve got to be kidding! Yeah, so you guys like to fuck, I get it… But that’s not doing any kind of revolution.”
“Of course it’s a revolution! It’s an internal revolution, by freeing the mind of the repressions that have been implanted in us.”
“It’s true, Lorenzo,” Julio said. “The revolution is not done just with demonstrations and Molotov cocktails. The most important thing is to change people’s minds, to foment a spirit of rebellion against the system.”
“No shit! So now you two are going to turn out to be anarchists?”
“No way! I’m a socialist, I’ve told you plenty of times. Damn it, Lorenzo, it’s true what they say, that you communists are more prudish than priests! Cecilia is right. Sex helps you free yourself from within, and that’s a form of revolution.”
“What the fuck do you know about revolution? You two are just bourgeois, enjoying the privileges of your class, living in nice houses, going to university, and having a grand old time. You are not interested in doing a revolution. For you, things are just fine the way they are!”
Cecilia opened her mouth to answer him, not quite knowing what she was going to say, except that it made her mad that Lorenzo was attacking them so unjustly. And she thought that she was doing him a favor by showing him her boobs!
“Cut it off, buddy! Of course, we don’t like things the way they are,” Julio said in his calm voice. “Because what’s wrong is not just the unfair distribution of wealth. It’s the oppression, the lack of freedom, and that affects us all. And neither Cecilia nor I live so well. Especially her. You have no idea how badly they treat her at home! Her father and her brother are two fascists of the first order. They hit her at the drop of a hat. They don’t support her going to college… Her father has even have taken away her allowance, so she has to work nights as a waitress in a bar to make some money.”
“Wow, I didn’t know that!” said Lorenzo apologetically. “Well then, that’s awesome! You’re working class, girl, just like me! I’m sorry… Sometimes my wires get crossed and I give the wrong speech at the wrong time.”
Cecilia smiled at him, pleased with how Julio had stood up for her.
“No problem,” she said.
But now that Julio had gotten fired up, he wasn’t going to stop.
“They put her in the hands of Opus Dei when she was a child. You can’t imagine how brain-washed she was when I met her! But she’s such an intelligent girl that she was able to break free of that mess, all by herself. That’s why, when she talks about revolution, she talks about inner liberation, because that’s how she has lived it. And sex was key in that process. You may think that the striptease she did that night was just an act of frivolity, but you can’t imagine how much it changed her, how much it freed her from her chains. When Cecilia talks about the erotic revolution, she is talking about a serious commitment that she’s made in her life, one that has cost her many sacrifices. It’s not just being able to have sex with me.”
“Okay! Whatever, man! But just explain to me how that erotic revolution of yours is going to get us fairer wages, safety at work, not being fired at will.”
“Well, yes, it works for that too!” she said. “Because people are controlled from the inside, by doping them with religion to prevent them from thinking freely. Why do you think conservatives defend religion so much? To be sexually free proves that you no longer are controlled by feelings of guilt and shame, that you have overcome repression. When people feel free within, that’s when they can act to change society.”
“Very good, Cecilia! That was quite a speech!” Julio laughed.
“I don’t know, girl!” said Lorenzo. “It still seems quite a specious argument. You don’t need to go to such extremes to be able to think freely.”
“Yeah, I know you can’t see it, buddy, but you’re still quite repressed,” Julio said. “You’ll understand it once you get laid.”
“Aw, shut up! Why did you have to bring that up?”
“You’re such a bigmouth, Julio! So, Lorenzo, are you still a virgin?”
“Yeah, so what? You think that fucking makes you more progressive? How lame!”
“Come on Lorenzo, don’t get upset! The problem with Julio is that he doesn’t know how important intimacy is for some people.”
“It’s not just Julio. It’s both of you bragging about your goddamn erotic revolution. Well, no, I haven’t been laid yet! I’ve just spent a year in the army, penniless. As you may understand, that makes it quite hard to get a girl. Before that, I had to struggle to finish high school, working nights and dealing with my father’s drunkenness.”
“Sorry, man! You don’t have to get so defensive. We just wanted to explain how it is between us, not to criticize you. I know you’ve had a hard life. I admire you a lot for it.”
“It’s true, Lorenzo. I’m sorry,” she added.
“Well, I’ve gotten a bit carried away, too.”
“At what age did you start working?” she asked.
“I started working in a store when I was fourteen. My father was out of work, and my mother had been in the slammer for two years.”
“She was in jail? Why?”
“They caught her handing over Mundo Obrero, the newspaper of the Communist Party. See? That’s what doing the revolution is all about!”
“For sure!” Julio admitted. “I’m sorry, man. They’d have released her by now, I hope.”
“Yes, several years ago. She lives in Bilbao.”
“My mother had a very hard time during the war,” Cecilia said pensively. “Her father, my grandfather, was killed by the Reds in Madrid. Well, I’m sorry, Lorenzo… I didn’t mean to compare him with your mother. It’s just that you reminded me of it.”
“You never told me that. Why did they kill him?” said Julio.
“I just know what my parents told me, which is not very reliable. My grandparents were wealthy and had a large apartment in Alcala Street. Some revolutionaries wanted to get the apartment, so they used some excuse to give him a ride, as they used to say. My mother was fifteen. Fortunately, she was not at the house when it happened.”
“It’s a pity our people committed atrocities like that. When you use violence, the most violent win. Doing the revolution may sound romantic, but the reality can be quite different.”
“Unless it’s a nonviolent revolution based on changing people’s minds,” said Julio.
“Which is just reformism,” said Lorenzo. “That’s what Carrillo wants: to make deals, to follow the democratic way.”
“If they let us follow that path, which is yet to be seen,” said Julio gravely.
They remained silent for a while, each engrossed in their own thoughts. Finally, Julio grabbed his shirt and put it back on.
“Well, we’d better get moving if we want to do another route.”