Updated: Jun 30, 2021
It can be easy for our sexuality to feel outsourced.
Especially when we’ve been told that part of us is weird, or wrong, or somehow suspect. Sexuality can feel like an inscrutable thing that dwells inside of us, dormant or lurking until activated by some external stimuli.
A new partner.
A date or a discussion.
All of these things that are outside of us.
And while it is a beautiful thing the way we humans are so adaptive, the way we incorporate and adjust to suit our circumstances and survive, I worry that in the absence of spaces to investigate our own desires privately, and without judgment or input, we set ourselves up for a sexual life that can feel adrift, even unknown to us. A sexual self that feels at the mercy of others; buoyed by the influences and expectations, real or imagined, of friends, family, partners. Some imagined sexual ideal of “normal” that creeps into our heads and takes hold of our sexual worldview, often to our detriment.
This past year has given me a lot of time with myself. A lot of time to lust privately. To long for. A lot of time to watch porn. A lot of time to write poems. A lot of time to wonder what my sexuality is when there is no body but my own body is in the space with me.
And so I’ve been asking myself lately:
What does it mean to truly hold the truth that you do not owe your sexuality to anyone else? That regardless of assumption, expectation or reaction, your sexuality is yours and yours alone?
In the new landscape of self-care and slowly de-stigmatizing talk therapy, it amazes me how many people still don’t incorporate sexuality into that landscape.
How many people never talk about sex with their therapist, despite the fact that sexual wellness is part of mental health?
How many people never talk about sex with their doctor even though sexual wellness is part of their physical being? Why is it so many doctors will ask me about my sexual history in terms of numbers but never ask me whether or not I experience pleasure during sex?
We do a disservice to ourselves when we situate our sexuality outside of ourselves. We make it not only unknowable, but immutable, instead of treating it like we do many other parts of ourselves; uniquely ours, flexible, ripe for growth when nourished and attended to with care.
I’d like for you to take a moment and think about your sexuality the way you think about your imagination.
Sexuality is, after all, a creative impulse. An impulse to produce sensation and reaction – to play with the beautiful palate of chemicals and nerve endings that make up our being. I’d like for you to consider your sexuality as something that is expansive, dynamic, influenced by all the many external stimuli and input that make up a human existence but also uniquely and totally yours to drive. Like your imagination. A province of play and discovery meant to offer you connection, release and pleasure. Not the fleeting, numbing pleasure of a shopping binge or another glass of rosé, but a deeper, more rooted and complete experience of your body and brain in synchronous experience of what feels good.
Pleasure is expansive. Pleasure is elastic. It is in a state of pleasure that we are most open to learning, to changing our minds and making discoveries.
Watch any group of children in a playground together and you will see an unself-conscious display of pleasure. Children are natural pleasure-seekers, and in that seeking they move with curiosity and a skill for creation, the building of worlds. These are skills the world needs. What is sex if not adult play time?
I want you to try describing sex in a way that is neither penetrative or procreative, but rooted solely in pleasure.
Sex is an intimate expression of bodies meant to produce mutual sensations of pleasure.
Sex is a form of naked play where people try out agreed upon behaviors involving touch, stimulation and communication.
Sex is where I bring my body close to yours.
Sex is where I bring my body closer to myself.
Sex is a creative act of seeking and producing embodied pleasure and connection.
Sex is desire, made manifest.
Now you write one.
Just try it out, and you will get to decide what you want your definition of sex to be. How you want to practice it, and what parts of yourself, from the inside out, you want to bring to the landscape of sexuality. For you and your partners. For you and you alone. For the entirety of your human being that is a heart and thoughts and creative worlds unfolding within you. You that is also a sexuality. Your sexuality.
Yours that is unique in the world.