Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

Cam, I’m interested to hear your thoughts on manifesting and channeling your sexuality in a positive way. How to own your own sexuality and confidence without succumbing to extremes?

-Spiritually Sensual

Spiritually Sensual,

This question got me really excited with its complexity.

Firstly, it’s important to understand exactly where your sexuality is coming from? These are questions that you can write down and figure out through journaling, meditating, or talking to a trusted person in your life (to yourself works as well) but some places to get started:

  • When you think of your sexuality, what comes to mind?
  • Do you associate mostly positive or negative emotions to it – and how do you want to be feeling about it?
  • What areas of your sexuality do you want to change? What areas do you want to celebrate?

These are just guiding questions to get you thinking, of course. But it’s important to understand the totality of our sexuality; they are not passive, one-dimensional light switches that we turn on and off whenever we choose. They are part of us, just like our fears and other desires. Sexuality is a healthy, natural, human spectrum of desire and action that deserves to be celebrated!

Of course, the ways in which we’re allowed to celebrate and own our sexuality have varied throughout culture and history. BIPOC – women and femme folks in particular – have often been demonized and punished for expressing their sexuality. Today, while mainstream feminism acknowledges the need for everyone to feel as sexy as they choose, that privilege is often extended solely to cis white womanhood, as if sexual liberation is the height of oppression for all.

Related: #ASKCAM: WHEN’S THE RIGHT TIME TO HAVE SEX?

For many BIPOC, sexuality can be tied to truly harmful and traumatizing things – colonization, rape, consumption of our bodies without our consent, the list goes on. These things are important to acknowledge and recognize because they are just as responsible for shaping the ideas we have of our sexuality as anything else we experience in our lives.

Take a moment and think back to your first experiences with sexuality – what images or memories come to mind? What feelings are accompanied with these images, and are they in line with how you want to be feeling? If they aren’t, then congrats – you’ve just taken your first step to better understanding yourself and what kind of sexuality you want to have.

It’s also important to acknowledge your agency in this, Spiritually Sensual. Sexuality, like anything else in our lives, is always evolving. As we learn new things about ourselves – whether it’s new likes, new dislikes, our communication styles, or budding curiosities – our sexuality may change. Other aspects of our lives also impact how our sexuality manifests itself. Stress, age, health, and relationship status may have an impact on how strongly your sexuality may be to you at the moment. And it’s okay for these desires to flow less like a light switch and more like a wave, with highs and lows.

Related: #ASKCAM: NAVIGATING COMMUNICATION AND CASUAL CONSENT

One last thing that I want to touch on with this topic: to truly own your sexuality, it’s crucial to understand how to use it responsibly. In particular, your sexuality is no one’s responsibility but your own. Let’s say you’re in a situation – a date, an event, at work – and you find yourself unexpectedly turned on. What should you do with that feeling? Truthfully, you’re free to do anything you want. But you don’t have to put the ownership of that experience onto anyone else (as in, “this person is turning me on so much right now).

In her book Vagina, Naomi Wolf dives into research to better understand the link between oppression and unexplained disconnection that women and femme folks can sometimes have from their genitals and the connection it has to other aspects of our lives, such as creativity. I think about this a lot, and how it’s also an option to redirect these feelings of sexuality to other parts of our lives. That redirection can be a mark of control, of ownership, of being confident in one’s self to try new things and secure enough in your feelings to know that ultimately, it is yours.

So back to the example of the situation where you find yourself unexpectedly turned on. A mark of owning your sexuality could be acting on those feelings. But it could also be acknowledging them (“Hm, I’m turned on right now. That’s interesting”) and turning that back to another task that doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual.

Related: HOW SEXUALITY IS CRUCIAL FOR INTERSECTIONALITY: AN INTRODUCTION

Sexuality deals as much with overtly sexual things as it does with things that aren’t sexual at all. You are the only one that can dictate what the extremes that you’re trying to avoid look like, Spiritually Sexual, because they will look different for all of us. But having a firmer understanding of what your sexuality looks like for you, and how you feel comfortable expressing it for yourself and with others all work to allow you a better idea of this as well.

Understanding your sexuality and owning it is a lifelong process. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

 

#ASKCAM WILL BE BACK ON Aug. 4!

 

 
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