“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Neale Donald Walsch
Virtually every blog I write and post is a practice of exquisite vulnerability. Lately, I’ve been wondering what this is all about—I mean, if I’m really settled in my own sexual healing process, shouldn’t writing about positive sexuality be easy by now? And, if I’m feeling conflicted, should I continue doing this work? The answer to each question: Not necessarily, and at least for now, Hell, YES! Here’s why.
I have always been very good at seeing multiple perspectives in any given situation. As a baby litigator many years ago, I often had sympathies for the opposing party’s position, even as my supervisor pointed out that I needed to be much more adamant about my client’s position. (This says a lot about why I left litigation and ultimately, the practice of law!) I realize that this same tendency is affecting me as I write about sexual empowerment: I want to joyfully expound on the virtues of empowered sexuality and feel great about it, yet I can’t escape the fact that sex has a dark side.
When sex is based in mutuality, respect, consent, trust and positivity, it is life affirming, connective and a wonderful way to express our gorgeous humanness. When sex is non-consensual, manipulative, disrespectful, unsafe, or abusive, it is deeply wounding, disaffirming, leaving damage that can affect a person’s sexual expression and personal development for a lifetime if unhealed.
In a society that is so sex negative and very dysfunctional about sex generally, it feels challenging to strike the right balance. More specifically, as a sex abuse survivor who has worked hard to claim empowered sexuality, I know very personally the affirmative benefits and the worst of sex. Clearly, I’m in a realm that is inherently muddled and contradictory, which is difficult for me.
Where do I go with this? Actually, nowhere—for now, I believe I need to be right here, and it is a messy playing field: alternatively confusing, clear, light, dark, healing, damaging, disruptive, connective. I accept it all. I will keep writing, speaking and blogging about positive sexuality because we need positive voices, role models and advocates. We need people who have done their healing work encouraging others to heal, to reclaim sex on their own terms, to learn to inhabit their bodies fully—to step into empowerment. We need a counterbalance to the rape culture, to victim-blaming, slut-shaming, the religious right, the porn industry and rampant sex negativity on social media. And on this playing field I stake this claim: when individuals reclaim sex for themselves, on their own terms, sex is a force of good in people’s lives and in the world. That makes being in the mix worthwhile.