Imagine living in a world where sex is an exciting frontier to explore instead of something painful or scary. Imagine embodying your desires and having the tools to express them gracefully and respectfully. Imagine a world where your sexuality is a path to heal old wounds, to honor ourselves and our partners, and to directly experience the sacredness of our lives.
If this isn't your reality yet, then read on because this new vision of sexuality is closer than you think.
Part 1: The Old Paradigm and the #metoo movement
I'd like to begin by sharing why, for me, the #metoo movement is a big deal. For the first time in Western civilization, the norms of our culture have evolved to the point where it is no longer passable for men sexually abuse women. Sure, before a few years ago, you could be locked away for sexual assault, but it had to be egregious and we generally preferred to blame the victims and push it under the carpet. There was very little public discourse about sexual abuse, no mainstream acknowledgement of the pervasiveness of the issue, and no broad moral consensus that this problem should be addressed. And all of that has now changed.
For context, #metoo is the current manifestation of a long evolution of Western society that began in the 1800's with the abolitionist movement. At that time, three quarters of the humans on earth were enslaved. Along came a handful of white British men who believed in the inherent value and dignity of every human being, who had the audacity to try to help people they didn't know and would never benefit from directly, and, most importantly, who believed that massive change on a global scale is possible. These three tenets: inherent human worth, helping others with no direct benefit, and the feasibility of large-scale social evolution, have underwritten countless changes since then including suffrage, the environmental movement, political revolutions.
If you've caught yourself thinking that the new moral authority of the #metoo movement is a passing fad or something that will blow over, consider that moral authority is exactly what Gandhi used to push the British out of India. When our cultural norms shift, the people and institutions inevitably follow suit - sometimes to revolutionary effect.
The point I'm making is that we're now witnessing the old paradigm of sexuality crumbling away (a.k.a. Hegemonic Masculinity). To spell it out: we are now holding men accountable for sexual abuse; we are openly discussing and acknowledging this issue; and offenders are being ousted from positions of power by an overwhelming social imperative.
And here's where it gets really interesting for me: as the old model creaks, groans and finally topples over, there's space for something new to grow and blossom...
Part 2: A New Paradigm of Sex and Relating
On the other end of the spectrum are groups including Soul Play that are experimenting and defining new ways for sexuality to be incorporated into community. As we create successful models, they become resilient and they spread. These are like a good virus for our culture.
Over the past handful of years, I've been involved in various sex-positive communities and I've taught countless sacred sexuality classes. From my perspective, there's a clear and strong new social consensus that's emerging around sexuality.
This new sexuality brings us deeper into feeling our individual and collective pain around sex, and at the same time it lifts us up to be more of who we truly are through sex. Let's take a look at the five pillars of the new paradigm of sex and relating:
The foundation of every interaction, spanning from a simple greeting all the way to intercourse, is the agreement that all parties feel safe and provide consent. Safety is a fundamental psychological need (check out this charming video on Maslow's Heirarch of Needs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-4ithG_07Q .) Finally - FINALLY - we're honoring the need for safety in the realm of sexuality.
Consent is a deep topic that goes far beyond the playground note, "Do you like me? Check yes or no." I don't have space to do it full justice, but here are the core elements:
-> The new consent operates on a binary - anything that's not a "Fuck-Yes" is a "No." That means "Maybe", "I guess so", "I'm not sure", and "Uhuh" are all "No."
-> The new consent is open to change and modification at any time - everyone involved can change their mind, no story or excuse required.
-> And finally the new consent goes beyond words and requires listening to the body's messages. Someone may say "Yes", but if their body is tight, frozen, or rigid, the deeper truth is probably a "No." Our mandate is to be curious and find the whole-body-yes.
Earlier in 2018, SoulPlay Festival became a global leader in this area by publishing Safety and Consent guidelines, instituting an Incident Reporting Form, and listing resources. If you haven't already, take a minute to check out SoulPlay's Conset and Safety page. https://www.soulplay.co/festival/safety
We as individuals and as a community recognize that sexual trauma is massively pervasive. We're willing to talk about trauma and we're choosing the feel it's impact. We can hold that those of us who've suffered from sexual trauma are complete, whole human beings who may have deep wounds. We're willing to move beyond the Victim-Persecutor-Rescuer dynamic (link: https://www.lynneforrest.com/articles/2008/06/the-faces-of-victim/). This requires us to lovingly welcome the feelings of shame that inevitably accompany sexual trauma. Isolated and hiding, these wounds remain frozen, but when we liberate our voices and feel the impacts collectively, real healing happens.
Here's another edge that we're pushing: the new paradigm is willing to engage with individuals who've transgressed sexually in the past - to see them as complete, whole human beings who may have deep wounds. Instead of ostracizing these folks, we're willing to educate, integrate and transform.
Rather than looking the other way or avoiding uncomfortable conversations, this new paradigm unlocks our voices and opens our hearts to feel the impact. We heal trauma with presence and love - pure and simple.
Now we're getting to more of the fun ones! The new sexual paradigm is a effervescent flow of abundance. It is full, rich, vibrant, blossoming, lithe, dripping, delicious and very very sexy.
The old paradigm, based on scarcity, works like this:
The masculine feels threatened by feminine power so he asserts his dominance sexually through force. As a result, the feminine sexuality becomes wounded and withdraws. The masculine then holds feminine sexuality as a scarce resource to be owned, hoarded, and protected from other men. The feminine becomes resentful of the masculine dominance and grasping. As both polarities diminish, the feminine becomes cut-off from the loving presence of the masculine and the masculine becomes cut off from the healing nourishment of the feminine. Both the masculine and feminine distort into fragmented expressions of sexuality and the cycle spins downward.
Now, the new paradigm, based on abundance, looks like this:
The masculine honors the inherent power of the feminine by listening and holding space. The feminine has the container to heal. The feminine sexuality begins to blossom like a delicate flower. The masculine witnesses the feminine with delight. The abundance of feminine sexuality flourishes and flows to the masculine. The thirst of the masculine is quenched and healed. The masculine and feminine come into balance. They dance back and forth and uplift each other through their polarity. The virtuous cycle spins upward.
As this new paradigm unfurls, the masculine becomes a force the brings conscious direction, that provides order and grounding, and that holds the space with loving presence. The feminine becomes a powerful creative energy, ever-changing and moving, that surrenders, blossoms and flows.
For further reading, check out my recent article: 3 Steps for Re-Balancing Masculine Sexualiiy ( https://medium.com/@embodiederotic/3-steps-for-re-balancing-masculine-sexuality-62dbcdedbf6e )
I'm sure that as some of you were reading the above section about the masculine and feminine, you were thinking - fuck the gender binary! And I agree - we're moving beyond black and white thinking towards sex and gender. In my eyes, the dance of masculine and feminine energy is a core expression of life and the primary archetype of gender in our culture, so the masculine and feminine energies aren't going away. But what is falling away is the view of the M-F dynamic as "the right one" or "the natural one."
The future is queer-friendly and here's what that means: We recognize that sexual attraction and sexual identity is the business of each individual person. We celebrate every form of sexual expression that harms no other being. We respect each other's use of language, we get curious, we explore, and we celebrate diversity.
I'm not saying the new paradigm is only for queer-identified people or exclusive of cis-gendered folks. Rather, the new paradigm is radically inclusive of all sexual orientations, expressions, and identities - and through our inclusivity, this paradigm is queer.
And finally, the new paradigm of sexuality is sacred. We celebrate our desires and our bodies as beautiful and wholesome. We honor each other through sex. We uplift each other through our attraction and our sexual expression invites us all into a sense dignity.
Sex becomes a path of healing and a portal to explore our shadows. Sex is an avenue to know ourselves more fully and a window into higher states of consciousness.
When sex becomes a practice of recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of ourselves and our partners, and when sex leads us to remember how infinitely inter-connected we are with all of life, then sexuality has lead us into the sacred.
Answer the Call
So this is our vision for the new sexuality! The five pillars are Consensual, Trauma-Informed, Abundant, Queer, and Sacred. Together, we're evolving into the post-#metoo sex and relating paradigm.
In the new paradigm, our sexual energy flows through us with every step we take instead of remaining locked in the bedroom. This energy vitalizes us with creativity and grace, and empowers us become more dynamic, whole individuals. And this paradigm knits us tighter as a community, making us stronger, more resilient and vibrant.
Here's your invitation to join the new sexual revolution! Be a part of this change: Read up on consent, take a workshop on sacred sexuality, and most importantly - be willing to be vulnerable and talk about sex.
Matt Sturm is the co-founder of Embodied Erotic embodiederotic.com