Today's blog post sees me rattled and I'm not afraid to admit it. Over the last months we have seen ever increasing revelations about sexual abuse, endemic in various institutions it would seem and historically covered up and then even 'justified' (i.e., the cover up) on some levels. Today, I log into my my lovely laptop to see a random number of comments about Kevin Le Vell, mostly joke oriented comments, just like those I'm sure we've all heard now about Jimmy Saville and the now de-moted pope Benedict (with a small p....).
As the Vatican prepares to appoint a new Pope, it is staggering to me that those who knowingly concealed this abuse are being afforded the right to vote for the new pope, on the grounds that "wisdom is not (God)-given just to saints but also to sinners," and "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."* Well now, surely there's sinning and there's sinning, and who am I to judge? Well, In this case I do! Violating my rights to speak out about, and negotiate healthy consenting adult sex whilst hiding the distortions? Perpetuating the myths about the kind of sex we want or we're having and making inaccessible the bridges to moving towards a healthier attitude, that's where the true immorality lies.
It's true that humour can be a really good way of taking the charge out of things. Only recently I had to give my young son some life lessons in managing bullying, suggesting that when bullies don't find a response, or emotional charge for you in what they come at you with, they usually leave you alone. Make light of it, turn it into humour or act mad, three top tips for dealing with crazy or aggressive behaviour. You can always try reason of course, and as an adult this will often work, less so with kids who generally shoot from the hip. But is it always appropriate to use humour in talking about really serious issues such as sexual abuse? No, I don't think it is really and here's why.
It seems that something is going on, has been for years in fact, that is distorting our perspective on healthy sex. We peep into the lives of others, wondering if our own drives and desires are 'normal' or 'ok'. We have feelings we don't always understand and often can't manage, and without support, a friendly ear or an outlet, all too often the Ugly Sisters of secrecy, scandal and shame appear. We have come to confuse our feelings with our emotions, all too often acting on emotional triggers which are residue from feelings unexpressed in the moment, frequently childhood. As adults, its critical we start taking responsibility for our feelings and our actions, and the way to do this is to find our courage and support, our love and our honesty. Distorted behaviour comes from a marriage of fear and habit - simple, but it's not so simple to change that when we live in a society that generally jokes about or vilifies sex, sexuality and the body.
My work focuses on moving into a healthy view of sexuality but it's way bigger than that really. It's about moving into intimacy and love through awareness and accountability. Now don't get me wrong here, people get twitchy when I speak about intimacy and accountability as if assuming that fast sex, hard sex, dirty sex and fantasy all get thrown out in this new age 'sacred sexuality', which it's fair to say they sometimes do, however my brand of coaching and bodywork most certainly doesn't jettison the baby with the bath water. Sex should be fun, it can be lewd and rude, funny and irreverant, or tender and soulful, sensual and aware. Actually, I am purporting that the connection and awareness is always there, but not at the expense of the bawdy irreverence.
I believe (as does my mentor and teacher Hilary Spencely of Shakti Tantra) that if you can't play with it's got you, but the problem is that so much about sex has well and truly got us by the metaphorical balls, and it's just not fun to be there. For me, rather than making jokes about Saville, Le Vell and the pope, why aren't we taking it seriously and looking at the cause not the symptom? Why aren't we asking ourselves what judgments we hold that contribute to this dis-ease, and it is a sickness we're looking at here. Health does not use the bodies of non-consenting people for their own pleasure. Women who get attacked because of the way they dress, or act, children who get abused because someone else is bigger than they are and just can...men who are smaller or slighter than other men, it doesn't matter what age, gender, culture or size you are, NO means NO! And guess what...so does silence.
I can only give my consent when I give a voice to my feelings. I can only give my consent when I am old enough to make choices for myself. I can only give my consent when you allow me to negotiate and/or change my mind whenever I want. We are not in charge or runaway horses, wild stallions of no-mind, but in charge of brains and a capacity to evaluate, think and respond rather than react in any given moment, and if I can, you can!
And so to my next point. Many people find an open communication about sex to be 'distasteful' and yet it's in our secrecy that sickness is born. I think it's the height of hypocrisy to declare judgment on those who do, whilst all the while doing it yourself behind closed doors and with those who haven't even consented. Ironically, my lifelong commitment to sex work rights and campaigning for changes in the law is based entirely on the premise that what consenting adults choose to do with their money, their bodies and their sex combined is nobody else's goddamn business! If you or I want to pay for it, and if you or I want to sell it, please...a golden ticket to Nirvana for the person who can give me one good reason why this should be any different to the sale of our intellect, our creativity or our skills?
Whilst you're considering this, take a moment to laugh in the face of this distortion, recognising it for what it is, all smoke and mirrors. If we're going to make light of the symptoms, then at the very least we need to acknowledge the cause, and do something positive to change it. Change the dialogue around sex and the body, change the way we see intimacy, challenge the messages we give and receive about the body, about romance and love. THINK! Let's engage our brains, for they are beautiful and have immense capacity. And while you're at it, remember:
"Pleasure is medicine and love has the power to heal" and then ask yourself how you can love better and experience real pleasure.
...all roads lead to the heart.
*Source - Deccan Herald, Monday 25th Feb 2013.