Sex, My Body and Giving it Up

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By Pia Guerrero, Co-Editor/Founder

I’ve long been a fan of Inga Muscio’s groundbreaking book, Cunt. Cunt is exactly what the title says, Cunt: a declaration of independence. When I first read it 10 years ago, I was refreshed by the humor, humanity and no holds barred truth told about the horror and glory we find between our legs. It was in the reading of Cunt and the Vagina Monologues that I realized that there was so much power in talking openly about that which is supposed to be unspeakable. Despite being thrilled by the promise these books held, I was paralyzed by what they revealed in me.

I had shame, I had embarrassment, I had isolation, and disconnection. My vagina was so foreign to me it might as well have belonged to someone else. The feelings were so intimidating I simply didn’t have the courage to investigate them. In fact, as I turned the last page of Cunt, I metaphorically closed my legs and kept them shut for nearly a decade.

On the heels of my last break-up, I began dating. I’d never dated before as I married my first boyfriend and a 7 year relationship with someone else quickly followed our divorce. On one date this excruciatingly hot man asked, “What turns you on, Baby?” What? I thought. I was speechless. At 38, I had no idea how to answer this question. I simply did not know what I liked.  I played hard to get in the “a lady never tells” sort of way, dodging the question by asking it to him instead.

This didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy sex my whole life. I did. In fact when in the mood I was a horny little sucker. But that was the problem, the mood had to strike like a lighting bolt and I never knew when it was coming.

To me the mood was like magic. Something that mysteriously popped up out of nowhere, leaving a trail of oohs and ahhs in its wake.

I didn’t own my pleasure, or my body for that matter, and was happy to leave it to my partner to blindly figure out by himself in the dark.

Later, when I started dating someone else, the same question came up. What the hell? How am I supposed to know? I thought to myself. Shame and blame swept over me. This is something I should know. I realized I had been making myself wrong—for not caring, for not knowing, and for not daring to go “there”.  While it lived with me a long time, the paralysis of shame left me when I chose to not give it power.

When I first tell people I’m exploring my sexuality I gather from the look on their faces that they think I’m swinging from chandeliers at sex clubs. While some men in my life want to hear more, many women grow silent. Their blank expressions reflect the shame and avoidance that I’ve felt for so long. I realize that I have not been alone in my silence.

We’ve been bred to feel like sex is an act, a separate part of our lives that’s been cut up into foreign body parts that are supposed to be this thing called “sexy”.

As a feminist, I was so committed to rejecting this prescribed idea that I denied myself permission to find my own way. So, I gave up my shame and made a declaration. I will figure out what I like.

So far I’ve found that for me, sex is a conversation with my partner filled with countless expressions. It can be exciting, fun, awkward, angry, passionate, and hilarious. My sexuality is an intrinsic part of who I am. In fact to feel whole and complete, I need it. It quiets my mind and grounds me in my body. It is the one experience where I am encased in all my senses and feel fully present to my humanity. And so far that’s the way I like it.

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Comments

  1. This is so raw, honest, true and helpful to so many women who all feel the same way about sex and their bodies.

    thanks PIA.. very well written! :)

  2. i think part of the problem (and you know, it’s the same for men as it is for women) is that we’re conditioned in our youth to find sexual exploration of our own bodies weird and an abomination. not me. i had no problem exploring myself when i was a kid to learn what i liked and didn’t like. now i know. i would encourage young women (and young men) to find it for themselves first, and then you’ll be able to share it with somebody else. and about the men who ask you what turns you on? personally, i prefer the adventure of exploration and the joy of discovery to the pre-event survey questionnaire. adds a little more mystique for both of you, hones your intuitive pleasuring skills, and when you hit the right spot or the right thing, it’s KABOOM! for your partner. so the next time a guy asks you what turns you on, answer: “Let’s see if you’re good enough to figure it out.”

  3. Pia …thank-you for sharing your experiences with sensitivity and honesty. I love your concluding paragraph and the idea of sex being an expressive conversation, how lovely.

    I have had a very different experience…one of being shamed and verbally abused by men because I DID know what I liked and wanted to do and how I wanted to express myself sexually, also how I am prepared to experiment seems to have been shocking to guys especially when in my early 20′s…It was just too challenging for their ideas of how a young woman behaves sexually…ie not passive enough, not unsure enough, not insecure enough! The name calling and shaming for being a vibrant sexually aware woman was appalling…not many men felt sexually confident enough themselves!
    I am now in my 40′s and in a great relationship with a loving open-minded man, we have been together for 10 years, (in love for 19) and our sexual connection is fantastic…it grows deeper and more loving the more we share which is a beautiful anchor of trust and respect for all aspects of our lives together. My fire is accepted and not dampened.

    A few years ago whilst facilitating a womens group and proposing a conversation about sexual pleasure and masturbation I was met with ‘blank expressions’ and disquiet :-/ there seems to be a lot of shame, in one form or another, and rejection of our sexual power.
    I think that sharing our sexual inner lives and experiences honestly is empowering and with laughter, warmth and understanding it can be very healing for us all.

  4. Pia…this was so wonderful and beautiful and brave. I, too, was totally blown away by Muscio’s “Cunt,” and actually bought and gave away many copies (including one to my teen-aged niece).

    I really love the concept of finding our sexual selves as a journey, a path to knowing ourselves as a whole. Whole women are SO sexy! :-)

    Keep up the great work!

    love and juicy-ness,
    Britt

  5. Thank you for sharing this. Several months ago, I had the same experience — one of the sexiest men I’ve ever met asked me “What do you like in bed?” followed later by “What’s the best way to make you come?” Like you, I played coy instead of answering. I was ashamed that at 29 I had no way to answer him!

    Still, his questions have stuck with me, and I’ve spent a lot of time mulling them over. I’d like to think next time someone asks I’ll finally have an answer (in part because of his help!).

  6. Thanks for sharing your truth here… it took bravery to write this, just as it took bravery to overcome your shame and begin to explore your sexuality honestly. I hope this post helps other women and men on this road of self-discovery.

  7. Pia, this was gutsy and terrifically useful, the sort of post that gets bookmarked and passed around for a long time.

    Thank you so much.

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