As children, we are often offered little information to facilitate an understanding and awareness of our genitals.
We may have noticed the obvious tingling between our legs and felt somehow that it was wrong to be thinking, talking, or exploring these areas.
Given basic diagrams of the sexual anatomy and an abundance of information surrounding the terrors of sexual health in sexual education classes, we are made to feel that sex is only meant for procreation, and is otherwise dangerous.
The absence of deep and authentic conversations around sexuality and relationships early in life creates a fear of speaking about the genuine nature of our bodies and the ways that sexual pleasure weaves into our daily lives.
It’s no wonder that there are so many women and men who don’t know their sexual anatomy or the sexual anatomy of others, let alone how to create a safe space for us to explore our sexuality without judgement.
According to an article in Vice, a survey determined that 80 percent of men and 62 percent of women were unable to locate the vagina correctly. The misinformation in our current society about our genitals creates sexual disconnection with ourselves and our partners.
In somatic sex education, a modern mindfulness approach to learning about sexual empowerment through body-based practices, we create nonjudgmental spaces to explore our bodies and reclaim an inner empowerment around what we desire sexually. From there, we explore how to go about those desires both on our own and within our relationships.
Somatic sex education helps us to discover that we have a choice around our sexuality. It abolishes the barriers and beliefs that keep us from embracing our most authentic sexual expression, and helps to guide us to a place of personal empowerment surrounding what we innately know our bodies want and are capable of doing and feeling.
In my own personal journey, I have realized that by claiming my sexual empowerment, I’ve been able to learn about my body in ways that are far less accessible when educated in the basic educational system alone. I’ve also learned how to more safely navigate my personal boundaries during both sexual and everyday encounters.
Claiming my sexual empowerment through the exploration of somatic sex education has helped me to understand how I can better respect my needs and desires. It’s also amplified my skills in communication so that I am better able to ask for what I need while also being respectful of where others are with their own needs, without taking things personally. This type of physical reclamation allows us to explore our individual experience with pleasure.
For many years, girls subliminally receive internalized messages that say that their bodies and their pleasure are not for their own, but for others to take and enjoy. There’s an alarming amount of emotional and psychological confusion regarding pleasure and its purpose. In fact, I’d argue that most of us are sexually functioning from a disembodied place of not knowing how to identify pleasure in our bodies.
Without a sense of knowing one’s individual sense of pleasure outside of another’s expectations, we are left feeling disempowered. We develop performance anxiety, insecurities surrounding our desirability, and often ignore our own needs. All of these lend to the development of unhealthy relationship attachments, which result in a decreased ability to be fully present in the body, and instead leave us feeling stuck—all experiences that, if ignored, can lead to partaking in sexual acts we later come to define as traumatic.
When trauma builds up over time, we start to develop disassociative behaviors that cause us to avoid feeling emotional pain. Using somatic sex education, I’ve been able to reestablish a sense of coming back home to my body. I’ve been able to retrain my body to actively feel sensations that were previously damaged and dormant as a response to past trauma.
Pleasure is healing. Experiencing pleasure increases the connections for neural pathways in the body to the brain, while increased levels of oxytocin and endorphins bring joy and renewal to our lives. In turn, the ability to feel pleasure for oneself can increase deeper intimacy and healthy attachments within our sexual relationships.
We need to re-frame our views of sexual empowerment and acknowledge it as a tool beneficial for the strengthening of relationships, the development of an increased sense of self, and the conduit for clear, consensual, and safe sexual interactions with others.
We can start by identifying the different areas of the genitals and the what ways that pleasure can be felt in them. Through the knowledge of the way we receive pleasure through our own genitals, and how others receive it in theirs, we revolutionize the way we perceive pleasure in our bodies and how we interact with others in a more empowered way.