BlackLivesMatter is on my mind today. I’ve seen so many colleagues speaking out about racism and priorities, lately.
One very smart person said that they feel like their work around sex just isn’t that important when we have people being murdered by the police, trans woman being killed for simply being trans, and it got me thinking.
The truth is that sex is a luxury.
Emily Nagoski talks about how scientifically inaccurate it is to say “sex drive”. A drive is a biological need for survival. Your physical body cannot live without food, water, air, and shelter. But your physical body can survive, quite happy and healthy, without sex.
Yet, as a society, we put so much pressure on ourselves and our loved ones to have sex, especially certain kinds of sex, in order to validate our worthiness and our desirability. But that pressure is a continuation of the oppression we are all suffocating under.
We are at a point in time when queer POC are being slaughtered and police officers are murdering Black men at horrifying rates (while at the same time calmly and non-violently de-escalating armed altercations with white dudes).
Large percentages of us are in danger at a profound level.
When you are struggling to stay alive, having great sex is pretty far down on the priority list. When you’re worried your child will be gunned down by police or by racist pieces of shit, having orgasms just doesn’t seem as important.
Sex is not mandatory, it’s not required, it’s not something you ever owe someone else. Sex is an opportunity to decide when and how you share your body (and that can be an act of tremendous defiance).
On the other hand, part of the systemic oppression we are all facing is this complicated web of racism, sexism, ableism, Islamaphobia, fatphobia, colonialism, and capitalism (to name a few).
So, to actively choose body autonomy, to consciously choose sexual liberation, to knowingly examine the status quo when it comes to relationships and sex and then to decide to express your sexual self on your own terms? That’s a powerful thing that literally shakes the foundation of a system hellbent on using sex and our bodies as weapons.
This is especially true for people living in bodies that our society deems less valuable – fat bodies, brown bodies, older bodies, queer/trans bodies, disabled bodies. By claiming your body as sexual and desirable, it’s a powerful act of resistance.
I know I usually write personal, vulnerable posts about love, relating, and sexual empowerment.
But today the world needs more.
When you choose to engage in sex, it is literally a political act – especially if you are marginalized in some way.
Your body. Your terms.
Shedding the shame you have around sex is a political act.
Accepting your body the way that it is and claiming that flesh as sexy exactly as you are is a political act.
Asking for what you want and using your voice is a political act.
That’s why it is critical that none of us use sex as a weapon to oppress others.
Don’t pressure someone into sharing their body with you.
Don’t feel like your partner or spouse owes you sex.
Don’t manipulate or guilt someone into a sexual encounter.
Don’t approach sex and love from a place of entitlement.
Don’t use someone else’s body as a tool to advance your own needs and pleasure.
No one owes you anything and in fact, to insist otherwise is to feed the violence.
Your version of sex – whether it’s to claim asexuality as your sexual expression or to choose sex work or to be gloriously kinky or to want to share yourself with the person you love most in the world and no one else – is power.
It’s POWER to say “this is my body and these are my fantasies and this is what I want.” Because every message around us is crafted to tell you that you aren’t good enough or sexy enough or young enough or thin enough or lovable enough or worthy enough in the body you’re in right this second.
Claiming that power, ESPECIALLY if you’re marginalized in some way, is important because it sends a message to those who would deny you that power through legislation to take away voting rights or to restrict health care access or to give police more power or to teach abstinence-only so you’re woefully uninformed about your own damn body.
The truth is violence seems to be winning right now.
Black bodies are being killed by police while the media glorifies the violence. Politicians are celebrating guns and Islamophobia just to garner votes without a care about the impact it has on real people’s lives. Women are being raped while newspapers write about the rapist’s swim times and put glossy pictures of the rapist in a suit on the front page instead of his mug shot (which is both a glaring example of sexism/misogyny AND white supremacy).
So, if you have the luxury and the safety to engage in sex on your terms, do it.
Discover your pleasure and then unapologetically celebrate it.
Marvel at your body and know you do not have to change one single fucking thing about it in order to be worthy of respect, desire, and love.
Tell everyone who ever judged or shamed you for your sexual needs or sexual fantasies or the way your body looks to fuck off.
Stop tolerating sex that isn’t deliciously satisfying. Stop going through the motions in order to keep the peace. Rock the goddamn boat and ask for what you want, including to not have that kind of sex any longer.
Experiment with your gender or your sexual expression or your fantasies and tell people about your adventures to knock down the walls of ignorance that surround anything outside the mainstream, Hollywood ideals of sexuality.
And if you don’t feel safe enough to engage in sex right now, then don’t.
Protect your body. Nurture your rage. Practice radical self-care (because that, especially for POC, is a big fuck-you to oppression) so that you can keep showing up each and every day. The world needs you and wants you, even if it doesn’t seem like the truth right now.