Ah yes, spring is in the air again, I see birds mating and humans kissing on the bus.
It seems breeding is a potent force right now. I rarely, if ever, write about sex—for many reasons. First, my mom reads what I write and second I want to uphold some sort of professionalism. However, sex seems important for me to post about right now. It is a way of taking some of the charge off of it.
Like a lot of people, I feel a deep confusion about the appropriateness of sex as a topic of conversation.
I’ve had several interesting forrays with this forbidden topic including, but not limited to: nude modeling, pole dancing, facilitating a women’s sex group, taking classes with OneTaste and being drawn anywhere the erotic spirit seems alive and well.
There’s a recent article in elephant journal (The Cultural Shadow of Pornography. ~ Candice Holdorf) about pornography with lots of juicy content that echoes my sentiments almost exactly. I believe we all have a set of desires we aren’t quite sure how to cope with, and pornography for so many is our only way of exploring them. Living in San Francisco, or Man Franpsycho as I call it, I’m aware of how much the city encourages the exploration of those private thoughts or fantasies we hide from others. The city hosts entire festivals dedicated to the erotic, and I found myself often attending out of pure curiosity.
I am intrigued by others’ abilities to be more comfortable with the things society considers lewd or disgusting.
I feel an unspoken pressure to be an object of desire by looking pretty, doing what I’m told, and most of all—pleasing others. Looking around at examples of women’s sexuality in places such as magazines (“Please Your Man Now!”), advertising and porn.
As a woman in modern society I’m consistently confused about how to relate to my sexuality. I feel caught in the virgin and whore complex—wishing to maintain my ladylike demeanor and also express myself erotically. Being unable to pick a side and not feeling I have role models to turn to for a mode that works. I feel stuck. As I interact with women around me I feel saddened by their mutual “stuckness” and even more saddened by their general lack of awareness.
There isn’t necessarily an empowerment for women’s sexuality, but I feel that myself and many other women are in the midst of transforming the way we relate to ourselves and our sexuality.
It is the transformation described brilliantly by Michel Foucault: from an “object of desire” to a “subject of pleasure.”
Foucault implores us to reclaim our subjectivity, and thus ourselves, through the sensual. So that in sex, I could experience myself feeling pleasure, as opposed to giving pleasure to another by satisfying their desire for me. This is a frightening prospect for many women, not just because it goes against cultural norms, but because it means we have to “come out of hiding” in a sense, we have to show up and be present with our own power and sexuality.
It seems we have two choices when encountering our eroticism and desires—to express or repress. I have ignored mine for so long I feel called to write about it as a way of asking others to examine their own relationship with their erotic nature. A more integral approach to sexuality isn’t a modern version of valueless freedom or a dogmatic view stemming from religious traditions. Instead, it encourages us to joyfully inhabit our bodies and our senses as a way to embody our erotic desires.
We have to acknowledge the paradox within us to be the girl next door and the whore.
Somewhere in the midst of these two extremes I find myself; a sexual being willing to give and also open to receive. I finally feel ready to explore my desires instead of running from them. I’m able to experience myself as a beautiful person for my own sake, not just so men will desire me. Most of all, I’m committed to finding and acting on my own yearnings, not for the sake of making someone else happy, but so I can more fully live…not an object of someone else’s desire and instead as a subject of my own pleasure.
Editor: Kelly Brichta
Becky Farrar is a self-proclaimed creative type, philologist and lover of life. She currently lives in San Francisco (or Man Franpsycho as she likes to call it) and attends the California Institute of Integral Studies in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program. When Becky isn’t at the library she can be found doing yoga on her roof, running in Golden Gate Park or staring at the clouds. www.beckyfarrar.com