The bumper sticker read “Pleasure Heals”. I got it at the Sensuality Shoppe in Sebastapol, California. In upstate New York, it felt like blasphemy, certainly activism, to proclaim this so publicly on the bumper of my red Subaru.
I have enjoyed the pleasures of having a body since a very young age. My earliest erotic fantasy was inspired by my very birth; sliding through a type of chute and arriving on a table with tall people looking down at me, handling me, my squirming, totally alive body.
Last year, in my contemplative dance group, we did an exercise calling us to identify where we live from: our skin, our muscles, our bones. The two contact improvisation dancers in the group said their bones, and I realized, with some surprise, that I live in my skin. I have made peace with this. It is not that I am not a deep moving and feeling person. It is, rather, that I am a highly sensitive one with incredibly responsive skin (and nervous system).
Being a highly sensitive, sensual female with a strong sex drive is tricky business. Attention from boys, and men, started early. Wariness from girls came soon after. I was self pleasuring from a very young age. My mother’s wariness and judgment was clear (“Let me smell your hands! What have you been doing?!).
As a mother of a young daughter now, I have perhaps some understanding of her reaction. I know my fear stems from what I perceive to be my daughter’s (any young girl’s) particular vulnerability. When my daughter asks, I encourage her to explore her body and the pleasure it can generate. In private. She knows the names of these sacred places; her yoni and her clitoris, and that they are, at this age, only for her to touch. But there are predators out there, and this business of expressing one’s erotic self can be dangerous. How to support her in being a confident, unashamed sexual being without putting her at risk?
In junior high and high school, it was a very bad idea to show, as a girl, lust or desire. And total social/emotional suicide to act on these feelings. The girls who did were labeled cruelly as sluts, with rumors of frozen bananas and football parties clinging to them for years. Luckily, as sexual as I am, I have an equally strong sense of self -preservation, and did not live into my desires.
In safe environments: relationships or at sexuality retreats and workshops, I am Shakti, Sacred Intimate, Tantrika, and Dakini. The love, the radiance, the healing and power of my sensual/sexual self flows in deep god filled expression.
When not in a safe environment, though, i.e., most of the time, that place of the Deep Feminine is turned down to a trickle. I amp up “Mother” and “Professional”. I walk with purpose and live with focus. I am alert, guarded, and at the ready, the secret of my inmost self hidden.
I believe that if the world were different, my world, anyway, my right livelihood would be to live as a Sacred Prostitute, a Lover Healer. My gift is my body in all its nuanced sensitivity, presence, responsiveness, surrender, and lucidity, in its deep ability to give and receive, to tune into others while profoundly connected to myself and the divine.
Luckily I have discovered communities where unveiled sensuality and sexuality are embraced and celebrated. These oases fill me with hope and gratitude. And it is thanks to these sacred places and people that I was able to regain my sexuality (my self) after becoming a mother. For a few years I fell victim to the collective conscious beliefs of the mother/whore dichotomy. I leave that, though, for another article.
Hopefully my child, and others of this time, will be able to hold the Deep Feminine without being shamed, punished and fearful. I would love to see the day when there are more moans of pleasure in the world than moans of pain, when life and birth are more fascinating, and more celebrated, than death.