July 18th, 2009

Repression, Sexuality, Service, and Gratitude

Since I spent the first part of this week traveling, I spent last night catching up on blog reading (yes, I do plan to catch up on email eventually as well …no really). One of the things I ran across was P. S. Haven’s latest post, in which he provides a novella excerpt that I found quite captivating and poignant (as well as beautifully written). I found it poignant because it involved a young woman who (apparently) felt that sex was against what God wanted and that it was sinful to be involved in it.

And I remember feeling that way.

I know a number of people who grew up in strict religious households and rebelled against that inside themselves when they became adults (or even a little before). That was actually not my experience. I was, indeed, told that “sex was for marriage” and that having sex before one was married was against the rules according to “God.” But it wasn’t pounded into me or emphasized much — it was just presented as basically a given, the “way it is,” and then not talked about very much in my family or experience or even the church I attended.

It didn’t need to be. I will spare anyone reading this a detailed explanation of historical psychic structure patterns in me and suffice to say that there was a configuration of fear, constraint, and self-deprivation already evident in me that took this “rule” as it was presented and solidified it into something that I was required to follow. The pressure to not have sex before I was married after that first message that it was a rule according to “God” came almost entirely from a very strict part of the psychic structure in me — which is to say, it was almost entirely self-induced.

Moving forward a number of years and much significant psycho-spiritual work and breakthroughs later, an expansion has occurred within me in relation to sexuality and that very strict part of the psychic structure in me. (That may be obvious, heh.) In addition, there has been an expansion in me relating to that same strict part of me and spirituality/consciousness. I suspect this is why the convergence of sexuality and spirituality holds such appeal for me.

Thus it seems to me that when I see the message that sex “before marriage” (I have expounded here before about the lack of appreciation in me of a seemingly automatic contingence of sex and marriage and thus won’t go on about it now, but I will reiterate that I find that consideration significant) is somehow “wrong” being propagated, I have felt what almost seems like a fierce protectionism. I feel like I don’t want anyone to have to feel the way I did — that s/he would be extremely punished for examining, exploring, respecting one of the most personal and inherent aspects of living experience. (It is, after all, how we exist.)

The recognition in me now is that within a religious context, the idea of sex being a sin is rooted in the centuries-old postulation of a fundamental separation between the body and the spirit — with the body being the pathway to “sin.” Said view perceives “fleshly desires” — of which sex is decidedly one of the most prominent — as something to be transcended in the name of and in order to access the “spirit.”

In my perspective this claim is fundamentally flawed in its adherence to a view of separation/compartmentalization within the human being. Wholeness is, to me, congruent with spiritual realization. The “divide and conquer” mentality within ourselves inevitably leads away from this and results in myriad inauthenticities and suffering. When something as intrinsic and fundamental as sexuality is repressed or vilified, it creates a substantial internal rift. Repression does not equal obliteration.

Further, the expansion I have experienced in this area seems to have offered a clear perception that rather than simply being “acceptable,” sexuality is sacred. (Of course on some level everything is.) Being so fundamental and connected to life and humanity offers it enormous potential as a pathway to consciousness/the Divine.

A while back I saw $pread Magazine ask in a call for submissions for its “Positions” section for 350 words on “Why Sex Work Is NOT a Sin.” I originally read the question as why sex is not a sin (apparently forgetting the point of the magazine, heh), but really, it seems to me the answer is about the same. I much appreciated the question, and I did not find it hard to answer.

(Of course, I would first clarify that the word “sin” is not really in my vocabulary at this time. Much like the word “God,” the degree to which it seems to have been skewed in general public perception is such that it has been rendered to me either virtually meaningless or significantly misleading/exploitative. Basically the understanding in me is that the concept of “sin” as postulated in religious terms really does not exist. Particular acts are not inherently a “sin.” As Eckhart Tolle says, “[Y]our state of consciousness is primary, all else secondary.” [p. 266 A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.] It is not the act but the place/consciousness/energy from which it comes.)

Anyway, for me, wanting and choosing to enter sex work in a number of capacities stemmed directly from the above-described realizations. Sex work seemed an opportunity to enhance others’ sexual experience and/or appreciation, and given that I did not want others to feel the same searing effects of repression that I had, I felt delight at the idea/chance to offer my service in this way. I have continued to find the frequent societal perception that seems to completely miss this heartbreaking.

Professionally speaking, of course, in a capitalistic society citizens are expected to provide a product or service to society and be financially compensated for it. Considering sex work a “sin” simply because of the financial aspect, therefore, seems to me hypocritical, unreasonable, and unfair.

Sexuality, as every aspect of our existence, may be offered, held, and lived from the beauty and authenticity of wholeness; when done so, it is generative as such. It follows that sex work, devoting one’s personal form of service to embodying and offering this understanding of sexuality on a professional level, holds immense power as a healing, beautifying, loving force on both tangible and intangible levels.

Incidentally, I consider writing about sex consciously/from this place of authenticity a form of such service as well. I feel much gratitude for the realizations I have experienced regarding sexuality, the opportunity to have offered sexual service professionally, and for others offering similar service with respect for sexuality. In no way, by the way, do I mean to postulate that any of the above discovery in me was/is a finite process and has been all worked out; on the contrary, such Work is lifelong.

I dedicate myself to it once again.


“Even scientists say everything is just light, not created/destroyed, but eternally bright…”
-Live “They Stood Up for Love”

10 Responses “Repression, Sexuality, Service, and Gratitude”

  1. Erobintica says:

    Repression does not equal obliteration.

    It most certainly does not. As I was reading this I thought back to when I was a young teenager going to a church youth group – I had a friend who swore she wanted to “die a virgin” – I never asked her why. (Reading Haven’s story I was reminded of this too). But her saying that still stands out for me. I remember being so torn – on the one hand the natural desires I was experiencing and on the other the idea that what I was feeling was bad and if I gave into it then I would be bad. I very clearly remember reading a pamphlet instructing that masturbation was a sin – and the word “sin” was used. I was trying to be “good” then – and I used to pray and try not to let my mind go to those “evil” places – but, damn, my mind just couldn’t stay away. ;-)

    The other thing I’d add about repression – is it seems to me to cause more problems than it “solves.”

    Very thought-provoking post Emerald.

  2. Emerald says:

    “The other thing I’d add about repression – is it seems to me to cause more problems than it ‘solves.'”

    Indeed indeed indeed…this certainly seemed to be the case in my experience. It makes sense to me, too, given the understanding in me about wholeness — repression involves rejecting a part of ourselves. That doesn’t mean we have to encourage or indulge everything we find in ourselves; but it does mean seeing it, rather than pushing it down into our unconscious (basically what repression is), where it just runs us without our even knowing it. Integrating, it seems to me, means seeing and allowing what is there — then it is a conscious process rather than a collection of unseen unconscious habits and impulses.

    Thanks, Robin.

  3. P.S. Haven says:

    Oh, wow. What an amazing, insightful post, Emerald. Thanks for this.
    You know, I’ve often thought I’d love to run into Sabrina now, 19 years after the only partially fictionalized events of that excerpt. And hopefully with the benefit of added perspective and maturity, ask her if she feels differently now. Something tells me she probably doesn’t.
    Wonderful post, Emerald. I loved it!
    “…immense power as a healing, beautifying, loving force on both tangible and intangible levels…” Amen, sister.

  4. Emerald says:

    Thank you Haven!

    Ah, yes, that’s interesting. I have a feeling some of the people who knew me 15 and even 10 years ago may feel shocked by what I’ve been up to for the last several. :)

    I loved that novella excerpt so much. Thank you for sharing it! And thank you for coming by and commenting.

  5. Oh, Emerald, as always your posts leave my mind, my heart and my spirit richer! I was brought up with similar “values” and what strikes me now is that of course we were never taught to come to any conclusion for ourselves, we just had to listen to a preordained truth.

    Now it is so clear to me that the major religions intuited that sexuality was such a key force in every human that if they could somehow reach inside and grab that power, they’d have control over us. So making us think the sexual urge is bad and only acceptable when they say it is, is a way of owning us and making us feel guilty almost constantly. Smart move for them, bad for the rest of us.

    I could go on and on, but to touch upon a point that hasn’t been mentioned yet in the comments, I totally agree that sex is spiritual. It is our connection with the Eternal in a number of ways, not just through children, but through that transcendental bliss we experience in arousal and orgasm. Sex blurs boundaries in some very good ways, even while it may challenge “civilization” in its lawlessness.

    I’ve always admired your philosophy about your chosen work, but with the post, it makes even more sense and is more inspiring–to help others through something you suffered through yourself. Wow.

    Well, I’m going to go ponder more–and check out Haven’s story, too!

  6. Emerald says:

    “we were never taught to come to any conclusion for ourselves, we just had to listen to a preordained truth”

    Exactly. The idea of relegating something as personal and individual as sexuality to that has been known to make me feel queasy. And in my own experience, indeed — this may sound dramatic, but in my case it felt seriously as though I did not have control over my own sexuality. The strict internal part of me did not allow it — it took this rule and said that was the way it was and that I wasn’t allowed to negotiate.

    “major religions intuited that sexuality was such a key force in every human that if they could somehow reach inside and grab that power, they’d have control over us”

    What an insightful, chilling statment.

    Thank you, Donna. I found what you said truly flattering, and I much appreciate it. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  7. Alana says:

    Are you like the next Susie Bright? You blow me away.


  8. Emerald…I just got to read this, and found it just fascinating, thoughtful, and insightful.

    I, for one, though raised in a Christian household never quite had the sex=sin part driven so deeply home. I mean, I KNEW that it supposedly was that way, but I also knew that my mom was pregnant with me before marriage, and that she was a good person, and viewed by our church to be a model parishioner. I think that rather undercut the message a touch.

    I shed the christian views years ago, and never attached myself to another religion. I don’t feel the need to, preferring to find my self worth and so forth on my own path. It leads me interesting places for sure!

    I think I may have mentioned it before, but have you read Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series, Emerald? If not, I think you would enjoy it. Her main character is essentially a courtesan, but her place, and the place of all people(men AND women) who perform sexually as a service are viewed as following a sacred path. It’s a fascinating take on the whole thing.

    Thank you for, as always, a very thought provoking post.

  9. Emerald says:

    I found that breathtakingly flattering, Alana. Thank you so much for coming by. ::Hug::

  10. Emerald says:

    Hi Scarlett. Thank you for the recommendation. I think you have mentioned it before, and it does indeed sound of interest to me.

    I like and relate to what you said about “shedding” religious views. It has seemed so interesting to me that when I started doing consciousness-based Work, identification with religion(s) for me fell away. Incidentally, I have felt exponentially more respect since then for what has been offered about Jesus Christ, for example, as a person (with no affiliation with religion whatsoever) than simply as a figure on whom a religion was based (and from which that religion seems far, far removed to me).

    Thank you very much for stopping by, and for sharing.