Just because I am a polyamorous pansexual doesn’t mean I am promiscuous.
After all, neither my introverted nature nor my daily time constraints will allow me promiscuity. Before my headlong plunge into discovering my sexuality, I might have made assumptions about a person who allows herself to love more than one and who embraces all gender identities¦ something along the lines of “She’ll just sleep with everyone and anyone. But those assumptions would have been wrong.
Pansexuality is how I fit into the queer community. It is the first label with which I feel entirely comfortable and entirely justified in identifying as queer. “Lesbian is a label I long for when I meet a lesbian couple who radiates creativity and sexuality or when I see a hot movie like Better Than Chocolate, but one I can’t adopt because women’s women sometimes see my openness to men as a betrayal. “Bisexual is a label I have never felt comfortable with because it assumes a gender binary that I reject. Frankly, the people who challenge and subvert the binary are the sexiest people of all to me. While I have heard many definitions of the word “Queer, I latch onto this one most, this one that describes a rejection of the limitations on sexuality imposed by our culture, a willingness and commitment to deconstruct ALL the taboos around sexuality, love, and friendship and simply do what is right for me. “Pansexual is a beautiful label in my opinion, a description of a spiritual revelation about where a soul really resides, and how bodies can be gifts of pleasure and connection in every form and in every combination of masculinity and femininity.
Polyamory is my answer to the doctrine of monogamy to which we (especially women) are expected to adhere. Despite what my culture tells me about my “place or my “role, I know that I am fully capable of loving multiple people in lots of different ways. I care not for the constraints of other people’s expectations and I would rather openly acknowledge the truth. There are people from my past who I still love, and people in my present who I love, and for a partner to understand me as completely as I want, I need to not have to hide that. How am I supposed to be open with somebody if I am not allowed to mention some of my strongest feelings? Life is short, and the more love we feel the better. People fit into my life in lots of different ways, and I see no need to reject love in any form.
So I can love many in many different ways, but I still don’t get laid that often. I still evaluate the merits and risks of each relationship carefully before making (or responding to) a move. I am still mindful of my emotional investment, wanting at all costs to avoid falling back into a trap of codependence where I lose what makes me me. And, the biggest reason of all, I am still stuck at home in a small town raising a daughter by myself with little support, so dating is not exactly easy.
Not that promiscuity is bad, mind you. I am not afraid of the word “slut and would, by some people’s standards, fit the bill (especially in college!) The seemingly unshakeable bullshit about women’s sexuality as dangerous and therefore subject to regulation by men or by governments makes me so angry that I dream of unleashing my sexuality upon the world, screaming like my five-year-old child having a tantrum: “It’s my body! I can do what I want to!!! Jaclyn Friedman opened my eyes to the very valid function of promiscuity during chapters of one’s life, and made me see that, when we reject this shame others use to try to confine us, we can be empowered and intelligent sluts.
Just because I am sexual doesn’t mean I am not worthy of respect.
I have kept the reins tight on my sexuality for many reasons throughout my lifetime. Growing up I wanted to be appreciated for other aspects of my character: my intelligence, creativity, compassion, and ambition to name a few. Living in a woman’s body, it was hard enough to be respected in these ways, and so I certainly didn’t want to shine a spotlight on the liability my sex appeal created. As a teenager, I found remarks about my appearance, even positive ones, to be insulting because they revealed blindness to the ME I was trying to be, the me that lives inside.
Now as an adult woman who has proven her professionalism and depth of character, I can still sense the danger in expressing my sexuality the way I really want to. People will say that it makes me a tainted woman, an amoral person, or a bad influence on youth.
And of course, there are the real physical threats of harassment and rape with which I have grown up, the notion that by speaking openly about enjoying sex I am inviting it from anyone at anytime without my consent.
But the truth is that my sexuality, were it divorced from these cultural biases, does not make me any less professional, any worse of a woman, or any threat to young people. In fact, it just makes me human, and my openness about my humanness makes me more effective as a public figure, as a feminist, and as a mentor. Hiding sexuality in the shadows does nobody any favors, and serves only to exaggerate the distance and isolation we feel from each other. There is a difference between wanting to HAVE SEX with someone and wanting to openly acknowledge that sex exists and that sometimes I have it. Dare I say it: Even young people would be better off if we talked about sex!
There are deeper truths than those we acknowledge in our daily lives. There are ways of realizing that our obsession with defining our individual selves holds us back from embracing our oneness. Sexuality, at its best, can be a way to reach these truths, and I for one, refuse to let one of my greatest blessings be imprisoned by other people’s fears of their own. (If you want to understand this paragraph better, watch the two TED videos embedded in it.)
Not that there aren’t rules; there most certainly are. Consent, contraception, and communication are the holy trinity to a sex positive sex smart woman. No exceptions.
Just because I flirt with darkness doesn’t mean I am bad.
It’s true, it really doesn’t. Everybody flirts with darkness¦ in their own way.
Why? I can’t answer that question for anybody besides me, and even about my dark side I am still learning. For some, unresolved issues linger after a traumatic experience such as abuse or assault and many find that reenacting and mastering these experiences helps them heal. BDSM has its therapeutic value, and while I have yet to experience it first hand, I’ve read many accounts of its usefulness in overcoming barriers that hold us back, like in this shocking but powerful post.
In my imagination, I can see how controlled and consensual power play can allow healthier ways of moving through the world. It represents a way to channel fear appropriately rather than attempting to suppress it only to have it rear its ugly head in unexpected and disruptive ways (like codependent relationships.) I appreciated how Rebecca Traister described this trend: “a calculated embrace of the things that have rendered us vulnerable, which can function to turn our vulnerabilities into strengths.
I get it; I really do. I may not have been abused or assaulted, but I still have vulnerabilities. Living in a sex negative culture, I would argue that we probably all do, especially we women who have internalized that our sexuality must be suppressed. I used to fear my desires, think of them as weaknesses. Until I began to consider that creating safe spaces where I can explore what I fear can be among my most powerful acts.
So even exploring the facets of sexuality considered “deviant by some makes me neither bad nor weak. It makes me real and capable of growth.
Imagine for a moment that this growth can occur not just in the individual, but in the collective consciousness of the people. This is what excites me about the age of the internet¦ we are all learning to shed taboos together. Although we are still met with resistance and fear-laden attempts to maintain the status quo, our progress is accelerated by the candid and unflinching blogging of people who admit difficult truths. If you’re still with me, check out this one last TED video, in which David Christian summarizes “Big History in 17 minutes. Talk about putting things in perspective! We are living in a pivotal moment, people, a moment during which we can illuminate false consciousness and subvert outdated ideas. We can admit what is true about our own sexualities and pave the road for healthier attitudes among the next generations.
What is true about my sexuality is that I am polyamorous and pansexual at this stage of my evolution. And that doesn’t make me bad. Just because I am honest doesn’t mean I am dangerous. It means I am healthy, powerful, and real. Join me. Reject the assumptions of other people and even of yourself. What would you write about your sexuality if you were honest?