Around the world, women are searching for a feminine power they can affirm with self-confidence. This search is particularly delicate in sexuality, given the long history of violence and abuse continuing to this day. Yet, here’s exactly where the true revolution needs to take place. When we women can fully embrace our sexual being and stand in our strength together, then we can assert the positive authority able to end violence and the global pain in love.
I am a Sexual Being
I begin with a radical statement: I am a woman and I am a sexual being. And I love being a woman and a sexual being. We need profound courage to make this statement today, though apparently, this is the age of sexual liberation.
This statement means letting go of shame. It means letting go of the fear of violence, suppression and punishment, of false morals, of the fear of envy. It means letting go of beauty industry norms, the religions of patriarchal culture and the conventional image of love. It also means letting go of powerlessness towards men, of sexual comparison, and the pressure to perform.
In fact, we have to let go of almost our entire cultural conditioning to be able to reveal our ‘yes’ to sexuality without a secret feeling of guilt. We have a historical fear of sexuality that has been imprinted in our cells ever since patriarchy came into being.
The intensity of this fear increases immediately when we no longer bind our ‘yes’ to sexuality to only one person, regardless of our sexual orientation. At this point, subconscious images of violence, contempt, and the sexual atrocities of history often arise. This historical trauma between men and women lies as a sediment of fear in our cellular memory and easily gets triggered when we approach our deeper desires. Cruelty and the fear of cruelty aren’t part of sexuality itself however, but are results of sexuality being misdirected, abused and suppressed for so long.
I Need the Man
As the greatest mistrust has historically developed between the genders, herein also lies the greatest potential for healing. In this sense, as truly as I am a sexual being, I say: I need the man. I know how controversial such a statement is.
Yet, I need him neither as a tyrant nor as a henpecked husband, nor as a dominator, nor in his old role of lecturing me. I want him as a lover who knows sensuality, speaks the truth and takes a stand for life. I will neither submit to him nor place myself above him and mother him, as neither answers my true longing. Nor will I bind him to me, as I know that blackmailing destroys what we had originally loved in each other. I will support men in their development by showing them what I love and desire about them and what I don’t. Fully lived sexual surrender doesn’t create dependence, but freedom.
My Erotic Truth
Eros, the boundless sensual life-force of this Earthly existence, has an anarchistic power which exceeds all false norms. Eros seduces us to open up to and participate in the sensual world, transcending all borders of fear and seclusion we’ve built around our relationships. There’s a deeper kind of faithfulness in love than the one that requires prohibitions and exclusion. True faithfulness to another person arises when I can stand in, and for, my erotic truth, and thus become able to acknowledge and accept my partner’s erotic truth.
Though patriarchy tried to domesticate Eros, we must accept that it is free by nature. We can’t direct or subvert its movement artificially. Yet, we can only understand this when we once again honour our erotic nature as a source of knowledge and universal love.
There’s a transpersonal aspect to sexuality which our ancestors in primordial matriarchal cultures celebrated in intimate reverence for nature and the Goddess. This kind of elementary, direct, erotic encounter has been repressed in modern cultures.
Reunifying the Sexual and Sacred
It was people’s inability to deal with the immensity of Eros that led to the violent suppression of women. The sexual and the sacred were separated. This is why, historically, the romantic troubadour and admirer of women developed–he wanted to idolize the woman and so made her unreachable.
Meanwhile, the predator developed, who is driven by the power of forbidden sexuality. These are two sides of the same coin, as neither knows how to come into contact with women. In the same fashion, women were polarised into the saint and the whore. The prohibition of full sexuality that’s both sacred and lascivious at once gave rise to sadism, masochism and unspeakable cruelty throughout all of patriarchal history.
Ending sexual violence around the world requires nothing less than reunifying the sacred and the erotic within us. This isn’t just a matter of our personal lifestyle, but of the cultural and social structures we live in. To make it possible for love and sexuality to unfold in a way that corresponds to our actual femininity, we need trust-based communities that are bigger than just the nuclear family. Historically, my fulfilment as a woman has always occurred in community, as it is the natural breeding ground for perception and trust; sources of life as elementary as breathing. If these are given, then I love being a woman, for then I can fully be a woman. A nonviolent future depends on whether or not we are able to build functioning communities. What kind of historical change could take place if we, as women, invested our caring power into community building, so that we can live our erotic truth?
Sabine Lichtenfels, born in 1954, is a theologian, peace activist, author, and co-founder of Tamera, a peace research and education centre and intentional community in Portugal. She leads Tamera’s Global Love School which works on the ethical foundations for a new culture of sexuality and love.
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