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.