We like to categorize and compartmentalize nearly everything. It can help us manage the many parts of our life rather than feel lost in all of it and it can sometimes prevent some of the overwhelm that otherwise shows up.
Yet life is interconnected, as are all the pieces of our lives. As I listened to a woman rattle off a litany of complaints the other day, I thought how hard that must be for her partner and her coworkers and how difficult it must feel to be so dissatisfied in her being. I don’t have to ask her whether she does that in other aspects of life; I know she does. That’s how it works. We just can’t protect our partner from our mind and way of thinking and being, or turn on fake smiles for the neighbors and PTA moms and not have the dissatisfaction under the mask seep into our close relationships.
Sexuality does not exist in a vacuum. How each of us treats our sexuality and our body impacts everything. The rest of our life and our other identities impact our sexual selves. To look at one is to look at the others. Sexuality is our life spring, it is the juice that propels us forward in life and if we are feeling self-conscious, disempowered, hurt or wounded there, there is no way it cannot impact the other stuff.
Sexuality is political and it always has been. To talk about women’s sexuality apart from connection to a man or a penis is a political act as there are still so many forces in the world that would limit and deny our sexual agency and sexual rights. I have been on the front lines for this truth for two decades now. And right now, as so much vitriol towards women, people who are “different”, and people with less power from those in power is being slung around, we have a new front to face. It is more important than ever to name the abuses of power, the oppression, the sexism, the racism, the xenophobia that keeps us separated rather than connected. At the end of the day, I believe we all want connection to something greater than ourselves. And that requires that we connect to ourselves. If we are shoveling hate into the world, what does that say about how we love ourselves?
The word of the year according to Dictionary.com is “xenophobia.” No surprise since we’ve had a year of profound fearmongering and violence towards anything or anyone that exists or expresses themselves outside of the boxes so many people tell themselves we should keep cramming ourselves into. The idea that we need to “make America great again” is a call to white supremacy and away from the social progress we have worked hard for.
As I have been looking closely at all of the intersections of feminism, racial identity, sexism, homophobia, racism and white supremacy with my partner in this sexual empowerment work, Leonore Tjia, and as we have been making choices for how we want to help people connect dots that might seem disparate, we have received some angry letters from men (some of whom I know are white—others I don’t know about) asking us “How dare you?!” They have basically said we need to stay in the kitchen where we belong and leave the politics to the big boys.
Leonore posted this response on Facebook this week and I think it sums it up pretty well:
“Wow, now that Amy Jo and I are actively talking/writing about the connection between white supremacy and misogyny in the aftermath of the election, I love how many white men are coming out of the woodwork to tell us that we’ve overstepped the bounds.
“Guess what: we’re badass feminist sex educators who see sexuality in the bigger picture of identity and personal power. Our efforts for sexual empowerment are by necessity connected to struggles for racial justice and resistance to other -isms.
Don’t tell me to leave the politics out of it. Our work has always been political and it always will be–and I’m not going to be quiet about that.”
I could not have said it better. Professor Jane Ward in her essay in the Feminist Porn Book writes, “I believe that sexuality breathes life into the revolution.”
Hell yes it does! Sexuality breathes life into each of us so how could it not breathe life into the revolution. Sexuality is your touchstone, your mirror, your wellspring, your beginning, your release, your life force. It is the alpha and the omega. It is the source of life and the core of who we are. It is joy, pleasure, pain, confusion and every emotion you ever felt. Sexuality is not a byproduct and it is not inconsequential. It is so powerful that people with authority and political power have spent centuries trying to control it. “And still we rise.”
Continue to ask the big questions. Examine how your sexuality, sexual power or disempowerment connects to other parts of your life and who you are. I know I am continually investigating these questions for their vastness cannot be missed. I’m asking some very big questions right now and I believe we can and will do better than settle backwards to some unapologetically xenophobic world driven by greed and power over others. There are more of us lovers of the light who truly want “justice for all.”
If you are a peace warrior, a lover of the light, an ally who wants to continually do better, an unapologetic intersectional feminist, a woman who wants to stand in her full power, or someone who just wants to know more of what all of that means, please join Leonore and I for our virtual gatherings this week to summon our personal power and our commitment to creating a better world. Together we can do so much. I have so much faith in us.