Continued from Frontline Spring 2012...
Maybe we blame our erotic selves for our past, current, and future pain. Maybe we suppress those spaces within ourselves that are erotic because we fear what or who she may be if allowed to see the sunlight. But what would the world do if we suppressed the sun…?
There is no doubt that sexual assault is a real and tangible threat that faces communities in Maryland and the world over. Rape has been used as a weapon of choice in war for thousands of years1, and in some cases has become more sophisticated while simultaneously maintaining its ancient origin. Of the many negative effects that follow being sexually victimized, falling (back) in love with our erotic selves can be one of the most challenging. It is important to note that falling in love with one’s erotic self can be difficult even for women who have never been sexually assaulted, which further shows how deep the wounds of sexual abuse run in our society.
Not only can the idea of “loving” our erotic selves cause us to feel more fear than confidence, but where exactly do we learn how to love that part of ourselves? Is there a class? Will a preacher, priest, or guru teach a lesson on it? Are there any self-help books or blogs on the subject? If there was such a thing, is it free or will it cost a few hundred dollars? These are the sorts of questions I have heard in some form or fashion in my work with sexuality that shows how important it is to simply begin asking ourselves “who am I erotically?”
Audre Lorde defines the erotic as “a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling2.” Imagine that? The erotic as a resource and not the source of old pain, hurt, and fear. Yes, our daily lives are full of things to do and maybe finding our erotic self is just another task to add to our calendars. Maybe we fear that having ignored or erotic self for so long, finding her will be impossible. Maybe she will be ugly. But maybe if we went in search of our erotic self we would find her cold and hungry, and in need of love. And who knows, just maybe after talking with her we would find out that she isn’t so scary after all…
By: D. LaShay Harvey, M.Ed., is a Human Sexuality PhD student at Widener University. Her research focus involves healthy sexual expression for women of color and LGBTQ matters. LaShay Harvey works for Johns Hopkins and teaches Human Sexuality at the University of Baltimore and Morgan State University.
1. Diken, B., & Laustsen, C. B. (2005). Becoming abject: Rape as a weapon of war. Body and Society, 11(1), 111-128.
2. Lourde, A. (1984). From “Uses of the erotic: The erotic as power,” in Sister Outsider. Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press.
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