Oooh! A big question. A complicated topic. One that so rarely gets talked about with the curiosity, depth and sensitivity that it requires.
Sex can offer us some of the greatest pleasure and most ecstatic experiences possible. It can also be used to take someone’s power away, and create (in some cases) life long pain.
Mostly as a culture we are tragically unable to talk about it. With anyone. Not our parents, not our friends, and not our partners.
I am going to pass on the conversation about how sex got to be so taboo. It has become an awkward topic of conversation at best. We have agreed that it is difficult and/or embarrassing to talk about. We have agreed that we continue to see parents on sitcoms repeatedly in all kinds of awkwardness and avoidance of talking about sex to the children. We have agreed that it is funny. We agree to watch steamy sex scenes, yet we rarely watch people navigating how to do it well.
Given the struggles of the powerful elite in Hollywood, they might not be the best 'go to' group to break us out of our conditioned dysfunctional relationship to sex and all that goes with it.
I think it's more than just sex shame --we have body shame; what's too big, what is too small, we should smell like flowers, our toes should be just the right length. Add that to our obsession with being germ-free and the whole thing morphs into seeing ourselves as separate from the natural world, which can plunge us into feelings of deep despair, loneliness and doubt the value of our lives. Okay...I gotta reign it in! We are talking about talking about sex and how difficult that is.
The “good” news?
It seems like we are waking up. The “me too” movement is the energy that is waking us up to just how excruciatingly painful and tragic our cultural strategy(ies) for sex is for all humans. We no longer want what we have created.
And, it seems like we aren’t quite prepared for the solution phase of the dialogue. There is so, so much pain to be acknowledged and expressed. We must first get heard for the years and years of disappointment, anger, frustration and confusion we have endured. Most of us are at best confused, relatively unsatisfied and stuck about this. And it goes downhill from there. Way downhill.
For those of us who want to pioneer the healing…where do we start?
I think empathy. Holding spaces to listen. To invite friends, clients, relatives, men and women to talk. Discerning well how to create space for the stories to be heard. For those of us hurt to be held. No rushing into what to do next, or to examine the why it happened. Just spaciousness for the experiences we've endured to find ways to disperse into the shared reality of what’s actually happening.
We need a bit of time to accept what is so. For so long the truth has been locked in our minds, our bedrooms, our secret places. People are just beginning to speak up and speak out. To some, the stories themselves seem shocking. Some of us didn’t know. Some of us feel connected for the first time, thinking “thank goodness I am not the only one”. Hence ‘me too’.
How long do we listen? As with all empathy experiences, the answer is 'you will know'. It will be obvious. At some point, our collective mind will shift. We will move toward wanting dialogue.
Let’s be ready.
Those of us who are interested in forwarding this healing, let’s be ready. If we are able to design strategies to help each other find new ways of sharing physical, emotional and spiritual pleasure...let’s consider that now. Let’s consider new ways of helping our children to understand their bodies, their curiosity, their desires. Let’s teach them about respect. Respect for what they want and mutual respect for what others want.
All this begins with being able to speak about what we currently are embarrassed by. Let’s hold space for those who have been so shamed that they can begin to celebrate their own bodies, their sensuality and their sexuality. Over time this can transform our shame and guilt into enthusiasm, and deeply-enriching shared experiences.
So much more to say, and I think this is enough for now.