Are we losing the sex positivity we have gained?
Sexuality educator Remi Newman, a friend and collaborator of mine (we co-produced Steamy Sonoma County erotic literary salons a few years ago) has published “Me Too, but…” at The Good Men Project website. In the article, she explains that she agrees with the intent of the MeToo campaign, but is seeing too much “male bashing” instead of a recognition that “we are all socialized by a dysfunctional society that shames us for being sexual and deprives many of us of the most basic love and affection.”
My blog entry of Nov. 26 garnered more comments than usual. Following weeks of daily accusations of sexual harassment against political leaders and celebrities, I’m beginning to feel a little queasy.* I lament the apparent loss of hard-won openness about healthy sex and intimacy—which I celebrate in my poetry and for which people like the late Joani Blank of Good Vibrations and educators like Carol Queen have tirelessly advocated. I don’t want to see sensual/sexual expression, (hugging, flirting, honest expressions of desire and passion) relegated to the shadows and labeled “dirty.”
In her article, Newman quotes Jason Weston, executive director of the Human Awareness Institute (hai.org):
Every human life is a precious gift, an incredible opportunity for love, vibrance, connection, contribution. Our sexuality is one of the deepest, most vulnerable, most connecting aspects of being human. In our culture, this deep, vulnerable, intimate part of ourselves is often assaulted, belittled, and shamed. This robs us of our sense of safety, willingness to be truly intimate…Healing one’s body image and sexuality are key components of opening up a tremendous inner strength, self-love, and acceptance of healthy sexuality in others. It also connects us to a deep source of vulnerability and compassion, which makes us safer to be with others, and much less likely to trample someone else’s boundaries. So it becomes a stepping stone to a sane and empowered culture.”
(see Weston’s entire post here)
I was introduced to the Human Awareness Institute (HAI) in September 1995 when I attended a workshop at Harbin Hot Springs. From that day forward, I have been involved with HAI, as a participant in the “Love, Intimacy and Sexuality” weekends, and as part of the community—serving for 3 years as an assistant and continuing to attend their events. The communication tools I acquired, the extraordinary people I met, and the information about all aspects of sex (Sacred Energy Exchange) that I received truly transformed my life.
In her piece, Newman declares, “We must break the silence about incest, sexual abuse, assault and harassment..” and yet, “We are all victims of a world that devalues human sexuality and twists and perverts it and provides us with little to no instruction or guidance on how to manage this incredibly powerful and beautiful force.”
Just as I have always struggled in my literary oeuvre to separate erotica from degrading and exploitative pornography, I want to propose separating dehumanizing sexual crimes from the open expression of the fundamental passion and affirming life force we have named S-E-X.
*NOTE: I found the firing of Garrison Keillor by NPR distressing because his transgression was minor, accidental and per his story, apologized for and forgiven at the time it occurred; also observed not to be a pattern of behavior. As I said in my last post, I don’t want Al Franken to resign. So, I have my own prejudices, conflicts, nuances of judgment and situational ethics.
Jennie, you are spot on. Of course it’s past time that blatant sexual transgressions become as antiquated in our culture as, say, chastity belts. Yet I fear a witch hunt (or would that be a warlock hunt?) as well as the inevitable backlash.
Great blogs lately, Jennie. I am going to raise something for consideration. Why are men socialized in this culture in a way that appears to promote all forms of aggression toward women? Could it be that many – up to 80-90% of those males born in this country in the second half of the 20th century – were victims thmselves of violent sexual aggression shortly after birth? Strapped down and immobilized while a large percentage of what would have become normal sexually functioning tissue is torn – typically without any anaesthesia – from their genitals. One of their first experiences of life involves violence and non-consensual sexual manipulation. Thankfully, the tide is slowly changing through education and the realization that this is a human rights violation., but if the one holding the highest public office in this country can feel it’s his right to grab a woman’s genitals, I do have to wonder if it is simply something that has become a norm to do to any less protected, more vulnerable individual.