June Cleaver is my hero. Go ahead, snort into your coffee or reread that sentence several times to make certain you didn’t misunderstand. Let me help you out, and I’ll reiterate. June Cleaver of black and white television fame is my fantasy woman, my pin-up girl from way back.
I’m fully aware of the symbolism and controversy that surrounds her. She is an iconic figure of a time where women had few professional opportunities and even fewer personal freedoms. It was a time of sexual repression when television couples had separate beds and people of color were rarely permitted onscreen. But from the first time I saw a Leave it to Beaver rerun with my grandmother, I understood that June Cleaver was something more.
Underneath her precisely ironed dresses and petticoats, behind her prim demeanor and devotion to her family and husband, lay a woman who devoured Ward behind the closed doors of their bedroom. My June Cleaver fantasy had her wearing a leather corset beneath her gingham dress and four-inch heels. After the director yelled, “that’s a wrap,” she retired to bed with Ward, the cuffs came out with the riding crop, and Ward was on his knees begging for sweet release. Yup, the June Cleaver of my fantasies baked an angel cake that was to-die-for (kindly say that in a slow southern drawl, thank you very much) during the day and whipped Ward’s ass into submission at night. What I never understood about that fantasy was how it applied to my real life marriage.
I married a traditional man who wanted the same things I did, or so I thought. We shared a vision of having children and traditional roles within the family. I was going to stay home and raise our child while he was the breadwinner. After years of being a career woman, I was trading my briefcase and portfolio for an apron and cake pan. It was exactly what I had fantasized about for so many years.
The part that I forgot, the most crucial part, was that in my June Cleaver fantasy there was a power exchange. Even though it happened behind closed doors, June took control and Ward submitted. I had more sexual experience and was more aggressive than my husband in bed. I thought that his reluctance could be overcome with a lot of practice and boundless enthusiasm. I loved him with all my heart and soul. I thought that this would be enough to coax him to new sexual frontiers. And I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
The problem wasn’t kink, although that would be the catalyst that made me take a hard look at our relationship. It was that the power never shifted between us. There was never an exchange. Even though I worked just as hard as he did, my homemaking wasn’t valued. My writing was called “silly.” Then in the one area where I had more expertise, in the bedroom, he ridiculed and criticized me. The very things that made me an amazing sexual partner became evidence against me. What I desired was dubbed unnatural.
I now see those critical junctures where I should have spoken out loud instead of stuffing my feelings into a dark hole. I should have been more honest about who I was from the beginning and told him that I couldn’t spend my life with someone who didn’t like to lick vagina. I should have fucked his brains out and told him he was lucky his backwards ass got two feet within my bedroom door. But hindsight is 20/20 and all that yada yada. The one thing I’m certain of is that my little girl makes everything worth it. Would I do it all again to make sure she entered this world just as she is? Yeah, I would, but you better believe I’d be bringing the crop.