has been on my mind this weekend. Not just the act of having it, though I have had some pretty great dreams lately. Sex has been on my mind in many ways. We as a culture don’t talk enough about it. We as women, don’t talk about the numerous aspects of it. What have I been socialized to think about sex? Am I having enough\any sex? Do I even know what I want out of sex? Am I able to communicate about sex in a way that I feel empowered? Do I even know what this looks like for me?
I have these recurring dreams about trying to masterbate. I’ve had them for years. In these dreams, I keep trying to find a place to be alone and I keep getting caught, often by a family member. I shared this recurring dream with a friend, who said something along the lines of, have you ever thought that they are telling you that your sexuality\sexual expression has been stifled by the family you grew up in? My sarcastic return was something like, no, I have never considered that. But in actuality, I hadn’t ever said it or listened to it said in quite that clear terms.
At brunch Saturday, I talked to another friend about sex and strict restrictions I have placed on myself in regard to it due to my fear of actually exploring it. Sex has always been in relationships or one-night-stands. This friend tells me I need a weekend of listening to music I don’t understand, in a room without gravity; that we should all roll in the dirt and figure out what our souls actually say to us. Fuck, Bay Area, I think as a knee-jerk response, what the hell have you done to me? But fuck me if she isn’t right. I am the only one who knows what is true for me and getting in touch with that truth is a process and it isn’t always easy or comfy.
I think back on situations where I have asserted myself and said no or asserted myself and initiated. I think about situations where I have initiated in a way that felt bad for the other person and the rejection I felt because of it. Then I think about what consent means. What a language around consent, for both parties, might even look like. I realize I haven’t had a conversation like this in any of my relationships.
These two conversations were sandwiched around a workshop I attended, as a part of UC Berkeley’s Empowering Women of Color Conference on Saturday.
One of my biggest life inspirations, Kelechi Ubozoh, produced a workshop that she and two co-workers were unofficially dubbing “Sexpo.” The workshop was about women and pleasure, particularly women survivors of sexual trauma and the taboos around these women wanting\needing\looking for a path towards a healthy access point to their own pleasure. And this workshop was hugely applicable. I am not a woman of color. But I am female socialized. I am a survivor. I struggle with feeling I have a voice in my sexual experiences or a body present in the actual physicality of it.
Also, during this weekend, I read a very raw piece written by my sister, Molly Kat, who is working with her own experiences to navigate the world in a way that is safe and self-directed. In all of these instances, workshops, brunch conversations, dinner and chocolate stout conversations, conversing through poem- there is dialogue. Voices interacting, reacting, invoking, truth telling and archiving. In all forms, this is something we need to do more and more of as women, and also as a society. We need to have difficult, emotional, stigmatized, taboo conversations and support each other through navigating them. All of the people that filled my weekend are invaluable parts of a dialogue I am engaged in and they are engaged in. It is through the bravery of other people expressing what is true and difficult and ugly that I gain confidence and that we build community.
“And I guess that’s what I’m getting at – showing up without retreating. To know that I am safe and thereby be able to show up with vulnerable work, to show up physically and emotionally during sex. To let myself be present with the cacophonous heartbeat of it all.” Molly D.