Embracing Your Physical Self
It was only in my mid 30’s when I first realised how much my sexuality influences my sense of self. Sex it turns out, was a form of expression I was rather interested in. Oddly enough, that’s when my then partner accused me: “all you care about is sex” He said this because he did not want a sexual component in our relationship at all. A perfectly fine thing, if partners agree. However not an option for me.
The confusion he had over his own feelings about sex in relationships unfortunately triggered a lot of confusion for me. The shame I felt over this was immense- I internalised his words about how valuing sex as highly as an emotion or mental connection was primitive, stupid. I began to deny that I was physical person at all, and a part of me was squared away in a box with a label attached to it saying “do not touch” A far cry from liberation!
Only more recently have I admitted the truth to myself: I am not an idiot for been a physical, sexual human-being. My physicality is an active part of my identity. Now I am rediscovering my body in all new ways. It’s exciting. I am finally paying attention to it, rather than dismissing it out of hand for the “superiority” of my mind. The mind is a powerful thing but living entirely in ones own head is also dangerous. Our true self is something that I think can only really be understood and explored if we are balanced in mind, body and spirit.
It is in this vein that I began to reflect on what “liberation” really means. Its something that gets bandied about quite a lot. We all know someone who after a few beers think they are super woke and sexually free and “get it”. But what does liberation really mean? I guess it might mean so many different things for so many people but here is what I think it means.
Its about Openness
Been open Minded doesn’t come naturally to everyone and fear around the physical realm (the vulnerability required and pressure of “performing” to exceptions) can be daunting. I have friends who can not even say the word “sex” when its not a word we should have a fear of. If you are afraid of the word then how can you be open in the act? People are contradictions, in the end. There are many factors that overlap with sex- culture, sexual orientation, religion, media, just to name a few. We absorb all these things, alongside information about gender roles, along side ageism and ableism and everything else that aims to hold some bodies above others for particular kinds of pleasure. Untangling these things to figure where true desire and pleasure starts and finishes is really rather tricky. However not impossible. But without a sense of been open and ready to explore, real pleasure is very hard to achieve. Almost impossible.
I have done my best to eliminate assumptions about what my body is here to do on this earth. However its here to do many things, not all to do with my sexuality, nor all to do with my thoughts.
Liberation requires openness to begin down the road of discovery.
Its about self awareness
Self-awareness is a challenge in a lot of aspects of life. Let alone in the sexual sphere, where internalised shame can do so much damage. Its not news, that women understand even less about their own pleasure than men often do, what with masturbation being something utterly undiscussed. Shame! And at the same time there is an unreasonable expectation that men are meant to understand it all perfectly (when of course they don’t) which makes it hard for them to ask questions as well. Its the blind leading the blind. Or rather, nobody leading anyone- everyone pretending everything/anything is fine ( and I know all about pretending, but thats another blog) a system that benefits no-one.
We have to explore, we have to ask questions, we have to experiment. A sense of trust is important, (this can be difficult for some people) and becomes very important if others are involved.
Its about communication
A straight friend of mine told me that he considered sex to be worthwhile even without helping his partner achieve an orgasm. Now I don’t think sex is about orgasm-but orgasm is a fairly important part of it for a lot of people. It is for me. It speaks to the age-old assumptions that female pleasure isn’t quite so important. The partner he imagines as sufficiently pleased by a lack of orgasm is a partner who hasn’t ever spoken for herself. I’d love to know her point of view on this matter. In essence it felt as though there was an assumption about male versus female “needs”. But the reality is what ever gender you are, the needs of your partner are something you must discuss together. And given the huge assumption that exists about male orgasm (that it is “final”-it signals the end point of a heterosexual sexual encounters) its even more important that this is discussed. Orgasm is important, and female orgasm is not so much mysterious as it is undervalued, but the emphasis on male ejacualion is problematic also. The pressure for one partner to dole out pleasure, take pleasure, initiate and finalise the encounter, is far too great a task. However much of this is been dismantled with time. Again, it comes back to peoples expectations and the pressure applied to achieve absolutes that are grounded in stereotype and assumptions, in an arena where absolutes does not exist.
Sensuality is often fluid. The things we like will probably change. Our bodies are not machines, and they don’t always act as we expect them to. We have to learn how to communicate our needs to our partner and give our partner an opportunity to express theirs, in order to experience liberation- completely, and to ensure we don’t suppress our partners, either.
Its about choice
In an excellent episode of the Sexually Liberate Woman podcast, Ev’Yan Whitney Jaliessa Sipress, who at one point in her podcast says: