Ah, sex. It seems like it’s all around us, huh?
We can’t turn on the television without seeing a scantly clad woman holding a beer teasing us to quench our “manly” thirst.
Or open our emails without receiving a barrage of spam promising us hot & horny women, bigger penises and affordable Viagra.
Or pass by a checkout counter without seeing women’s magazines offering advice for “5 Sexy Moves to Blow His Mind” or “How to Catch a Man (and Keep Him).”
From the evidence around us, it seems we are swimming in a sea of sex and it would make sense that many people are sick and tired are hearing about it.
However, the truth behind the “sexy” façade is this: sex sells, but sexuality does not.
Post an article on healing your sexuality and readers blast the entire comments section with angry cries of how the author is a “charlatan” or the publication is “selling out.”
Want to build your business using Facebook? Good luck if you are a sex educator. FB now blocks and even deactivates accounts that “violate their terms”—terms that are vague and vary on an hourly basis. Sex toy shops, sexuality teachers and even breastfeeding pages all face shutdown if enough “offended” people (aka angry and pissed off trolls with nothing better to do) file a complaint.
All the while profitable mega-businesses like Hustler and Playboy continue to operate unscathed in the social media world, despite the proliferation of asinine and even disturbing hashtags like #TittyTuesday, #MorningWood and #BarelyLegal.
The over-saturation of sex-like images in our culture is an example of what I call SEX-sationalism, which is the sensationalistic and commercial use of sexuality for the purpose of making a profit. Profit can means anything from money to relationships to ego-validation. Like any drug, we need it, can’t live without it and have to have harder and harder hits in order to feel its mollifying effects.
We are talking around sex, but never actually experiencing it.
It’s as if we are in a restaurant looking at the menu, talking about the menu, smelling the menu, maybe even eating the menu, but not going anywhere near the food. We fill ourselves up with pseudo-orgasmic experiences, which leave us sexually bloated yet malnourished.
SEX-sationalism works for the business of sex, but not for sexual freedom. SEX-sationalism says “Drive this car” or “Subscribe to this site” or “Buy this handbag” and all your empty voids and insecurities will magically go away.
That is, of course, until you need the next “hit” of pseudo-orgasm.
While SEX-sationalism works from the outside-in (by telling us what is sexy and trying to sell it to us), sexuality works from the inside-out. Genuine orgasm teaches us that turn-on starts from within and that pleasure is our birthright and our most natural state of being.
SEX-sationlism depends upon its customers feeling “less than,” but sexuality teaches us that we are already perfect exactly as we are.
SEX-sationalism offers unsustainable quick fixes, but sexuality teaches us that it takes a commitment to presence, vulnerability and approval to plumb the rich and nourishing depths of orgasm.
When I talk about orgasm, I am not simply referring to that 30-second crashing sneeze known as climax. I mean that living, breathing, pulsing life force that births every moment.
Our cultural fear of the wild and humbling journey of orgasm is what keeps us locked in shame around sex and resorting to recesses of our shadows to steal a tiny taste of the erotic.
The erotic has much more than just the act of fucking.
Eros, the root word of erotic, is originally defined as a form of love connected to our fundamental creative impulses. It is directly linked to our feminine self-expression, power and genius. However when are we cut off from this source (as most of us are in this cut-throat and greed-driven society), we are left hollow, voiceless and searching for anything to smother the aching hunger for intimacy.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the way women are treated regarding sex. In the US, women are fighting to maintain sexual rights in the realms of abortion and planned parenthood. Around the world, women face such atrocities as female circumcision, honor killings and sex trafficking and are routinely blamed and often punished for being rape victims (especially women who work in the sex industry, who are considered contaminated and sub-human in our society).
On the surface we go, “Yeah, obviously rape and murder and mutilation are bad. Let’s do something about this.”
But when women speak up to reclaim our right as autonomous sexual beings, we are treated with derision and contempt.
To say that a woman has found her voice through knitting or singing or being a mother is worthy of applause and a 5-page spread in Ladies Home Journal.
But to say that a woman has found her voice through orgasm leads to everything from ridicule and accusations of being privileged man-haters to death threats and acts of violence.
We say that sex is all around us and that we are tired of hearing about it. I say we are not talking about it enough. The fact that we didn’t even know the full scope and power of the female clitoris until 4 years ago (yet had hundreds of studies documenting the function of the penis) is proof enough that even the medical field has a very cloistered and limited knowledge of sexuality.
Ultimately this post isn’t about shaming anyone who watches porn or reads Cosmo or doesn’t know the first thing about non-ejaculatory orgasms. It’s simply a call to action—a call to the courageous men and women who are willing to educate themselves, experiment with desire and free themselves from sexual shame, especially in the realm of feminine sexuality. From there, porn and Cosmo can be a conscious choice, rather than the default source of education and get-off.
So here’s to more posts about sexuality.
Here’s to giving voice to that part of ourselves that we’ve been so afraid to share.
Here’s to casting an honorable light on the journey to orgasm.
And here’s to ushering in a new perspective of sex: from sex as a bartering tool that wins us scraps of pseudo-orgasm to sex as an expression of our deepest truth.
Candice is currently working on a book to reintroduce the concept of eros back into sexuality. The book is called “From 6 to 9 and Beyond: Widening the Lens of Feminine Eroticism.” You can learn more about the project here.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise