Last night I went to a live recording of Turn Me On and felt that wonderful spark I remember from my own podcast Impractical Women’s Studies – a spark that signifies liberation, curiosity, and empowerment.
When people say they’re going to be talking about sex its simultaneously exciting and stressful. What will you learn? What are you hiding? What conversations are you still uncomfortable having? What are you scared about other people knowing?
They started the evening off with some audience games, that included having to stand if you answered yes to a question and stay standing until your next no. There were moments that I felt relieved (like when they asked if you like butt stuff, and I gladly sat) and others that made me blush, like when they asked if you spit or swallow. I was sitting next to my boyfriend and our friends, so while we say we are working towards a sex-positive culture I had to question what that really meant for me, including the question “Does sex positive mean I want everyone to know what I like in bed?”.
I’ve realized my biggest insecurity is how I make other people feel. I didn’t want to embarrass my boyfriend, but I wanted to participate in the game. I didn’t want our friends to feel uncomfortable knowing that I prefer to swallow (which you all do now, too… sorry). Sure, I have my own embarrassments. I think for the most part any shame I have comes from how I think it will be perceived more than shame around those “kinks”.
I started thinking about what it is that I find sexy. What do I like doing? When do I feel my best? What fucking turns me on?!
I wore red fishnets under my outfit last night. Partly because I wanted the little peep of them at my ankle for my outfit. But also because it was fun to be secretly dressed up under my sporty-black-kind-of-generic outfit. I like the way I look in them, the way they make me feel, my boyfriends reaction. It is personal empowerment – empowerment that doesn’t ask other people to validate me to feel sexy. In fact, I realized the less people that knew the better I felt. I like being able to choose when I’m seen and how.
To contrast the spice of lingerie, I also love being cozy. I feel most in my element at home in a big sweater and panties. I am the typical girl-next-door and I think thats how I’ve always idealized myself sexually as well. Perceived innocence. The knowing things you’re not supposed to know. The beauty of the mundanities of life.
These themes inspired a fun self-portrait session. I threw on some Blink-182 and danced in my clothes from yesterday as soon as I got home. No showering, no changing my underwear, no props. Just dancing and having fun and remembering that at the end of the day I want to embrace my sexuality for me. I get to choose who I share it with and why. I get to feel powerful in my own skin, clothes, and relationship.
There have been times when my sexuality was something I wasn’t empowered by. I felt crushed under its weight and like it was something I could use to gain power. It was a tool in manipulation and being manipulated. I believed for a long time that my body was the most profitable thing I had to offer and totally disconnected myself emotionally from my sexuality and sexual experiences. Now I thrive on the emotional link, on feeling sexy for myself and knowing that I don’t need anyone else to validate that or put a price on it.
While this only skims the surface of sexuality and my experiences and learning with it, it is still these moments and instances that make me feel powerful and in control. That remind me that I am able to own myself and my body and that power only belongs to those I choose to give it to. My commitment to myself is to choose empowerment.