Sexual Agency in a Sex-Negative World

This week I’m sharing a piece that was recently published in the premier edition of Sensheant Magazine.  

I love how it feels to be in full sexual agency, to feel like I am fully in control of my sexuality, my body, my pleasure, my relationships and my life. In my educational programs, coaching and writing I have often discussed sexual agency and it confuses a lot of people. What does it mean to have sexual agency, or to be a free sexual agent? How can we actually have full free-flowing sexual agency in a world that constantly tries to squash and control women’s sexuality, in so many ways, for millennia?

Are you in your full sexual agency?

Committing to live a pleasure-filled, sexually healthy life is not easy in a culture that often condemns sex, pleasure and full sexual expression. Ours is an incredibly sex-negative culture. We are born into it, live in it, and are steeped in this sex-negative environment. We are bombarded with its pejorative and conflicting messages from the get-go.

I believe sex-negativity refers to the cultural, social and psychological view that sexuality is by nature shameful, harmful, or vile, and therefore, that it should be repressed, policed or otherwise controlled. This repression, control and policing happens within families and other interpersonal relationships, in schools, hospitals, places of worship, retirement homes, and other institutions.  It is also perpetuated in powerful ways via legislation and law enforcement. It serves to preserve and perpetuate control of women, gay, lesbian, bisexual and other queer people, or those whose sexual expression or identity is outside the dominant norm. If we are steeped in that sex-negativity, it’s really challenging to have full sexual agency.

Sex-negativity = guilt, shame, fear

 Sex-negativity uses shame, guilt, fear and stereotyping to harm people sexually and disconnects us from the pleasure, joy and acceptance that is our natural born state. How could this not result in violence? When we repress our own sexuality because we internalize that it is bad or that we should not express it; our sexuality will eventually implode or explode into everything from eating disorders, to rage, to putting ourselves in unsafe sexual situations because we’ve not been able to deal with it in a healthy way.  The sex-negativity that removes our own personal power and agency becomes violent because it disconnects us from our birthright.
We are pleasure beings. By nature, human beings are fully in their bodies in infancy—in a state of natural joy. Ever seen an infant flirt? They smile, giggle, look away, look back, giggle more, flap their arms. They engage in joyful flirtation with the world. Unadulterated glee. It’s pure. It’s beautiful. For many of us, that ability doesn’t last long. Soon enough we hear:  “Why are you laughing?” “Don’t touch me!” “Don’t touch yourself!” “Stop playing!” “You think you’re so cute!” The repression and negativity begins.

We are born through an act of pleasure, for all creation holds a kernel of pleasure and joy in it. That is not to say every conception comes from pleasurable sex. Some do, some come out of artificial insemination, painful experiences, or even rape. But still, within that tiny cellular creation is the joy of life. We start in a joy-filled combustion of cells and energy and that energy grows and we come into this world with all our energy open and ready to be all we are meant to be here as human beings.      

That kind of open, pure, ready energy scares many people. They cannot handle it. They fear it. So they begin to…

Read the full article in Sensheant Magazine 


Photo Credit:
dongga BS / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Ivana Vasilj / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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