(This was a 2 part Post. The first one talked about Gender and Sexuality and you can check it out here.)
Would you say you have a healthy relationship with sex? What would you base that on?
Growing up in a Latino household in American society with my particular upbringing made for a relationship with sexuality that was open, but did stem from shame. For one, I thought masturbation was humiliating, uncomfortable to even think or talk about, embarrassing, but just in regards to myself, and not in regards to others. For me, sexuality was strictly about two people. Oh how wrong I was.
First of all, masturbation is actually kind of an excellent form of self-care or self therapy.
Here’s a fantastic 5 minute video (or 4:44 minutes to be exact, and I love repeating numbers) by Laci Green again that talks a little about why we feel shame around masturbation, and why it’s so good for us.
She also shared some good resources to get us going (1,2) on our own research on masturbation. My most conflicting issues in regards to growing up and sexuality, was the whole concept around virginity, and slut-shaming.
Growing up, my education around sex was that it was something healthy, and normal, and nothing to be ashamed of provided you did it with a man you loved and that you were of adult age. Which, when I was a little kid, I told my mother would be when I was 18. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I did not, in fact wait until then.
I had been taught by American society and my latino upbringing that being a virgin was something to be cherished (by women, mostly) for as long as possible. However, that form of thinking is super sexist, and a social construct that stems heavily from religion. I strongly recommend you read these two articles to inform you on the social construct on religion and help you deprogram your brain from judging a woman by how “pure” she is.
For me, I didn’t agree with that social construct, but like most things about life, I just figured I was the one that was wrong, and felt ashamed when I lost my virginity, not being able to bring myself to telling my mom for a year after.
Once I had “lost” my virginity, my issue with sexuality was that I was so curious about it. I was fascinated with the idea and energy of sex, and have always been someone that likes contact and being affectionate. To me sex was the ultimate way to do that. It wasn’t so much wanting to just have pleasure and be with guys, it genuinely was about feeling that amazing sexual energy with someone special. However, in the age of pornography and publicity objectifying women, we were still not allowed to freely own up to being sexual. In short, we are still a society that primitively slut-shames.
If you read the previous articles, (seriously, read them!) or have any millenial friends on your social media, you may have already heard of slut shaming. It’s not just some hip third wave feminism vocabulary word, however. It’s a very real thing that seriously hinders the ability for women to have a healthy sexual upbringing.
Thankfully, any shame around sexuality that my mother had taught me, was just the ashes of a very strict religious upbringing she herself had been educated in. I matured into a sexually active woman, was careful, never got pregnant or got an STD (knock on wood) and developed a healthy relationship with sexuality. My mothers’ own views evolved as well, and we can now discuss sexuality comfortably in my household (much to the chagrin of my younger siblings!)
In December, my family and I went to Amsterdam, and I wanted to visit the Red Light District. I had planned that specific night trip for my brother, my dad Jaimito, and I. During the day, my mother, sister, and I had spent a fantastic day at a Science Museum (for kids) called NEMO. However, in planning to go to the Red Light District, it made our family engage in interesting conversation and my mother raised points that got me thinking.
On one side, I fully support sex work. I think that if a woman feels empowered, strong, skilled, and pleasure in wanting to work as a stripper or prostitute, that it is my responsibility, as someone who wishes everyone to be empowered, free, and happy, to respect and support her choice. And it is the society’s authority’s (our garbage government) responsibility to provide her with laws that require clean and safe places to do this, and with the legal support she needs to safely practice it.
Sex work like prostitution and stripping should not be considered criminal acts because they are not. To think that being a stripper is “easy” is incredibly ignorant and hurtful to the young women working their bodies on the stage. To think someone has to be “stupid” to be a stripper is disregarding all the math that goes into hustling a lap dance. I read up a lot on the personal lives of strippers and have so much respect and admiration for what it takes.
On the other side, I don’t believe the porn industry is a healthy way to meet our sexual needs, and feel like women do not have a lot of context in which to respect themselves in it. It does make me sad when I see a woman being objectified, despite the fact that I know that she chose to be there and is getting a hefty amount of doing it. But I am not going to blame her, and say that she is the one disrespecting herself, before blaming society, and the context that led her to place herself in that situation.
To tell a woman to “respect herself” by not exposing herself or sleeping with men, is to disrespect her autonomy in being able to make choices about herself, we are objectifying her by no longer seeing her as a whole person, who has perspectives and a context of her own. By telling a woman to respect herself, we are telling her we are disrespecting her, and we need her to fit into our box of purity that we’ve placed for her so as to respect her.
Every woman is deserving of respect because they are human. A woman does not have to be “modest” in order for you to respect her. Men surely don’t have to be “modest” to get respect out of people. Inherent respect is a privilege that men have…It’s all about control. Literally. It’s about denying women the right to their own bodies. It’s denying women of choice.[source:x]
The older generations have a way to come with this, but many people from my generation still shame sex workers and other sluts. I, for one, am a self proclaimed slut, and completely embrace it. I do not need or care how others define me because I understand that it is their own fear, limit, and small mindedness that does not allow them to see me wholly. Don’t be that person, and take the time to educate yourself on slut-shaming.
Spiritually, I feel like there’s something to be said about the Divine Feminine and that connecting to that is important. However, I do Not think that it should be limited to women. While women are perhaps more connected to that Divine Feminine energy of mother nature, women have that connection within themselves as well. Again, gender is not as strictly binary as we make it out to be. Just like there is also the sacred Divine Masculine that generally men, but also women, can tap into within themselves. To tell women that we are somehow more important than men is still sexist and divisive. Sexuality is literally about two energies becoming one, I would love to be part of a community that embraces that and strives for the healthy balance of sexual energy and exploration, instead of one that shames, fears, and simultaneously exploits it.
I love painting the female form. Check out the rest of my art on my website.
click here for all prompts so far
The Prompt: Where are YOUR views on sexuality? How did you learn about masturbation? Sex? Sexuality? What is your relationship with sex like? Exploring your own sexuality and working for a healthy relationship with it is also essential to a balanced relationship with yourself. Self-love cannot blossom if you do not love your body and are sexually comfortable with it. You do not need to be masturbating all the time, or ever, if you do not want, but consider a way to heal with yourself. If you are judging others’ sexualities, if you feel sad for strippers or prostitues, porn stars or slutty girls, most likely, you are judging yourself. (Projections are fun!)
Activity: Check out these links and use them for reference to practice some physical anatomy. If you have a partner, for a fun romantic art therapy challenge, ask them to pose nude for you. Or pose in front of a mirror in the nude choose a position in which you can pose comfortably.
In your journal: Do some nude sketches! Draw fat bodies, skinny bodies, male bodies, female bodies, intersex bodies, bodies that don’t look anything like yours, but also celebrate your own beautiful body.