Friday, March 28, 2008

The Sex Post: There Have Been Pictures

Last night:

Danielle: Look at you all sexy on your blog post.
Me: Sexy? I don't look sexy.
Danielle: Yes, you do. You look sexy.
Me: I wasn't trying to look sexy. I look contemplative. That's my contemplative face.
Danielle: Lying on a table with a bowl of icing?
Me: That is not my sexy face. Maybe I should take it down.
Danielle: What's wrong with looking sexy?
Me: Nice girls don't look sexy.

But I don't really believe that.

So, I've been thinking a lot about sex lately. Not so much in the "Good lord if I don't get me some I'm gonna die" sense, as much as the "what's a girl to do with her sexuality?" sense. If good, kind men who respect women and love their wives and girlfriends are in the conundrum of how to balance love and lust and monogamy, than good, kind women who respect themselves and men are in a conundrum with what to do with their breasts and legs. The pickle is this: I am a sexual woman. I am a godly woman. I don't enjoy having conversations with men's foreheads instead of their eyes and I also don't like wearing turtlenecks at the beach.

I'm being silly. It's not as simple as clothes. The tricky bit really is: How do we women live out our sexuality in a way that doesn't treat our bodies and the reactions they can inspire as some sort of currency, while also giving ourselves permission to claim our sexuality as a valid part of our identity?

I dunno, kids. I do know that I like sex. Sex is good. I don't like to pretend that it isn't a powerful force in my life, but I also don't enjoy having "other" people (the media racket) dictate to me what my sexuality looks like. But still, I keep asking, what does it look like? What do we do with these breasts and legs and desires? How do we reconcile good girl and sexy girl? Only in the bedroom? Surly not. Please say that it's not.

15 comments:

the hamster said...

"The pickle is this: I am a sexual woman. I am a godly woman. I don't enjoy having conversations with men's foreheads instead of their eyes and I also don't like wearing turtlenecks at the beach."

amazing. this is the new feminist / masculinist manifesto. so good. SOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOD! i said it yesterday on my site, i will say here today: seeing correctly, it's a full time job, i tell ya.

i'm not sure the bloggerian world is prepared for how big and great this post is. you just opened a new door for us, nester, one that has been locked and hidden behind dusty old window drapes for far too long. thank you for the courage. thank you for the honesty. thank you for saying what we all want to say - I'M ALIVE IN HERE, DAMMIT!

pretending to be asexual sucks. and it's not who God made us to be. you are a beautiful woman. i am a beautiful man. we are a beautiful people in our chaotic ragings and deadly silences. God is about the business of healing. so keep this stuff coming.

Cecily said...

My experience of sex and sexuality has not been particularly positive (though by all means not the worst story in the world! Perspective is everything). I contemplate blogging about it, but since it doesn't just involve me, I haven't yet.

But... I'm totally with you. It took me some time with a counsellor to be comfortable with my sexuality. My Dad called me a slut because I wore clothes he considered revealing (they were actually not that revealing and I was never a slut), so I had a few issues there. I remember wearing a tight, shapely skirt to the counsellor and telling her I felt like a tart. After first telling me I looked nothing like a slut, she gave me the homework of looking in the mirror and telling myself I was beautiful and sexy. (I love telling people to say things to themselves in the mirror - very powerful) I don't remember that many mirror conversations (I probably did it in front of shop windows rather than the mirror), but somewhere along the way I began to feel comfortable with myself. No, I don't hang it all out there for all to see (not much to hang out really!) but I am comfortable with clothes that show shape.

This is just one aspect of sexuality I know, but I like Rob Bell's definition (In 'SEX GOD') of sexuality - being totally comfortable with who we are. Body, soul, spirit. I am confident in/with my body and that must be on the way. (And if people look all the time, which they don't so much since I don't let as much hang out as other Aussie girls, so be it. This is me - I don't try and conversate with blokes who stare though, mostly they seem to just check me out as they drive past so no problems there)

Phew.. I'll stop now!

Angela said...

thanks, hamster. i have nothing to add, but thanks.

cecily, you're fantastic. what you're saying about being comfortable - body, soul, spirit - ya. good stuff. and besides being open and honest here, which i really appreciate, you also used the words tart and blokes, which i also appreciate.

Kimberly said...

It's Sunday morn'... and I should be getting dressed for church... but instead I am reading... and I am loving what I am reading... but I have absolutely no response at this time... except to say amen and Amen and AMEN!

Mike S said...

The other commenters have expressed my thoughts about this post wonderfully.
I'd like to add that men and women of character can quietly appreciate the beauty & sexuality of another, while connecting with them on a spiritual & intellectual level as well.
I'm unable to say how I feel about the subject, not due to social demands, but for lack of words. That's why folks like you are so valuable to the world. You say what many don't have the means to express. That applies to all the others who have & will comment here too. Thank you all, and pardon me if I occasionally 'borrow' your words to express myself:)

Cherie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cherie said...

I keep coming back to this post, Angela. It stirs up so many memories, feelings, disturbances, and frustrations. I don't know if there's an easy answer to your questions, and I'm pretty sure I don't have it.

I've been grappling with the same things for - well decades.

I think that we should celebrate the differences between the sexes and I think we need not be ashamed of the things that are womanly about us. And I think we need to find a certain self-confidence as well as a certain pity for those who abuse the powers of sex and sexuality, you know, the creepy people who made us self-conscious in the first place. That being said I know what you mean about the need to resist using our sexy attributes as commodities.

Society does trample all over what is good and lovely and personal and pleasant about sexuality. It makes it hard to get a clear view of things. I wonder if this age-old struggle is a constant training ground, one where we are strengthened - or not - a place where we see our choices and become acquainted with ourselves and God in the context of humanity's struggle between flesh and spirit.

I don't think sexy is just for the bedroom and I don't think sexy is just breasts and legs and whatnot.

Echoing Cecily's definition by Rob Bell, I remember reading that Jennifer Lopez responded when asked what she considered sexy something like this: I don't think it's sexy when a gorgeous woman is tugging at her tiny swimsuit and fussing with her hair, nervous, obviously uncomfortable. But when I see a woman on the same beach who has cellulite and a not perfect body but she is carefree, comfortable in her own skin, having fun, enjoying the moment, that is sexy.

All of this to say I have no helpful words.

I know that as my attitudes clarify a bit as the decades roll on that I find it easier to separate myself from the crap that the world spews and find for myself a more pure place. Not pure as in prude, no, pure as in closer to the real thing. The nurturing, mind-blowing, comforting, free of hang-ups fun, even spiritually illuminating realm of sex and sexuality that, for me, becomes closer and closer to the way it was intended which is far far superior to the wolf-whistle, display 'em on a silver platter, 'if you lust for me I am worthy' imitation we confuse with the genuine article.

The genuine article flies so far above the cheap knock-off that it's nearly a different animal - a much more beautiful one indeed.

It takes time, I'm convinced, and soul-searching.

Good post. Now if you'd answer the question, "Will there be sex in heaven?" I'd be most appreciative.

the hamster said...

cherie,

"I don't think sexy is just for the bedroom and I don't think sexy is just breasts and legs and whatnot."

totally great. i loved your whole comment. i really liked the part about each gender celebrating the differences and glories of the other gender. there is far too little of that happening in healthy, empowering, edifying ways. i'm totally convinced this is one of the places that the church is falling behind. and, thus, our ideas about ourselves, one another, sexuality in general has become totally polluted. i completely believe that there are things that men need to hear from the Lord that only women can speak, and vice versa. and just because genders do not communicate does not mean those needs stop; it just means that we will find those messages somewhere else. and what we find "somewhere else" is usually not the Lord.

good, good thoughts about purity vs. prudence. big difference. hard definitions. will be thinking about that more. thanks for sharing, cherie.

Cherie said...

Thanks for the feedback, Hamster.

I agree with you that this is one area where the church is falling behind. One recent example comes to mind: My married with child Christian school teacher nephew is ever-so-proud to be a part of the wait-until-marriage-for-sex movement in his church - the concept I applaud though the means aggravate me. Last month at his Christian school boys in middle and high school were given fear tactics to persuade them to remain virgins until their wedding nights. "If you have sex outside of marriage you will catch a horrifying, crippling disease!" and stuff like that was drilled into them. One kid, not a Christian who came into the day-long mandatory class with the idea that sex outside marriage wasn't 'bad' was so forcefully fed the fear that after hours of being verbally beaten down via 'Christian' videos, speeches, etc. that he said he would wait for marriage to avoid diseases of which he is now irrationally terrified. The leaders all cheered and considered his decision a spiritual victory. Huh? And the conflicting messages girls are given. Whew. There's definitely some old baggage under the steeple that needs to see the fresh air and bright light of truth.

Mike S said...

Wow!! All of you, starting with Angela, have put my thoughts into words so well that I'm definitely gonna 'borrow' some for the future:):):):)

Cecily said...

Ah Cherie... you have voiced some of my thoughts. I think the church has focused on sexual sin to the exclusion of other potentially more significant/worse/whatever sins such as greed, injustice etc. The whole time we pretend we aren't obsessed with sex, we are obsessed with sex and in the process thousands of innocent Christians are now twisted up in knots over sex and their sexuality. I've heard all the talks with people saying they lived together for years, but then when they got married they felt different and everything was wonderful. This may be true for them, but I'm yet to see the destruction of some of my non Christian friends just because they engaged in ever-so-sinful premarital sex. Trotting out statistics on the misery and disease caused by sex outside of marriage is a shameful approach in my opinion... there are far greater problems in our world and laying a burden of guilt on people over sex is not at all helpful. We should be rejoicing in sex and the treat it is instead of brow beating people. (OK, so balance and temperance and appropriateness is required in the rejoicing, but still!)

the hamster said...

cecily,

i like this thing you say here: "we should be rejoicing in sex and the treat that it is instead of brow beating people." that's great. i am so not a fan of anybody telling anybody else that sex or sexual desire or sexuality is bad. that's a lie. God does not create bad things. and God does intend for us to desire one another. of course, that's gone and gotten all perverted - which means we done gone and got ourselves all perverted - which means we go and desire real good things in real weird ways.

so i'm about to say something here that i sure as hell do not have a good handle on yet, but i'll say it anyway. i think there is a lot to be said about that part in psalms where we're told: DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD, AND HE WILL GIVE YOU THE DESIRES OF YOUR HEART. i take that verse very literally. a few times i've taken God up on it, and He's proven that this is a literal verse.

i've heard people say before that God will fulfill all our desires. i'm not so sure about that. i can't see God - the Holy and Righteous King of All - fulfilling my perverse desires for things and people He perfectly created. what i can see is God, abiding in us fully, rewriting and replacing our perverse desires with new and right desires. and i don't think He's weirded out that we get ourselves into perverted thinking. He knows we are human, it's no surprise to Him. so we go to Him, we say, "this sucks. i want good things in bad ways." and then we turn the attention from ourselves to Him, delighting in Him for making us both perfect and flawed, and receiving from Him new desires - "AND HE WILL GIVE YOU THE DESIRES OF YOUR HEART" - to replace the perverse ones. it just makes so much sense that God the Father would want to give good things to His children - including correct desires: whether those be new sexual desires or something completely different. once when i actually for once took God up on this offer, i went from an intensely wrong sexual desire to suddenly having an overwhelming urge to go turtle hunting at a pond near my house. God is way weird sometimes - way good all the time. and, yet, i rarely take Him up on these offers.

Cherie said...

Well said, Cecily. Amen. Sounds like, once again, you and I have had similar experiences.

(Hi, Angela! ;)

Mike S said...

To all stated above, amen! Great group of thoughts that will keep this old mind churning over them for awhile. I especially like the views on sexuality and Christianity. They should NOT be mutually exclusive behaviors. Each should strengthen the enjoyment of the other in my view, as both are to be pleasurable and beneficial to the total well-being of the individual(s) involved.

Angela said...

wow, i love this. i love all this talking and honesty and putting this stuff right out there and not pretending perfection.
you're so brave, all of you.
thank you.

one thing that i would like to add that mike's comment has made me think of, is this idea of allowing our individual sexuality to be enjoyed by other people. i guess to proclaim that my sexuality is part of my identity invites other people, presumably men, to acknowledge and be a part of that if they are a part of me (obviously within certain limitations). i've never thought of that before. i wonder how that lives itself out in reality?