There has been a lot of confusion about the real meaning of the term ‘eroticism’. The word is often shrouded with a vague sense of being a watered down way of talking about sex or sexuality. Eroticism includes sex, yet encompasses much more than sex. We all have an erotic nature that wants to be expressed in joy, pleasure and creativity, and that erotic self is a deeply personal and full expression of our unique individuality.
One of my favorite essays on this topic (and an absolute classic must read) is Audre Lorde’s “The Erotic As Power.” She says:
“The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.”
I believe that when we suppress our erotic self, or make choices that go against what is true and authentic for our own erotic nature, we create unnecessary chaos that takes us away from ourselves. I work to help my clients come home to themselves and to learn to express their sexual and erotic selves fully and authentically. Many people have never experienced this and, therefore, do not know what this looks like, but as Lorde says, once you have, you know its power and you must demand it of yourself.
I have seen many patterns in the ways that people get disconnected from their own erotic selves. One of the biggest frustrations I hear from women is that they feel unable to fully express their erotic selves or experience their sexuality wholly because they fear judgment, they are fitting into a compulsory role, or they are working to please others rather than do what pleases themselves when those two are in conflict. Often, they actually fear their own erotic nature so that they don’t even know how to relate to it.
Many people never ask themselves questions about their erotic self in order to explore, understand, and help it express itself. I believe that to become fully sexually empowered, we must explore our erotic nature and stop making assumptions about what it is or what it wants. We must stop judging ourselves by telling ourselves what we “should” be.
Audre Lorde said, “When I speak of the erotic, then, I speak of it as an assertion of the lifeforce of women; of that creative energy empowered…”
If the erotic is our lifeforce, there are so many ways we experience the core of that energetic lifeforce that keep us in a place of joy. That erotic energy helps us to live in pleasure and desire, full hearts, bursting forward to meet life where it meets us, like waves to shore, allowing our tenderness to create strength in who we are in the world and in our relationships, fueling our creativity to do what it is here to do: express itself.
So what does it mean to be Erotically Authentic? It means all of that. It means stopping the harmful pattern of doing things that do not feel right to you because you want to take care of other people or avoid hurting their feelings. It means asking yourself lots of questions and answering them honestly so you can create the sexual and creative life you want and stop basing your sexual self-expression on the roles you are told to play. And you will have to ask those questions of yourself many, many times in your life, because your sexuality is dynamic, evolving and changing: so your answers-and your priorities-will shift as you grow and as your life changes.
You are here to be the authentic erotic creature you are. You are not here to be someone else’s idea of erotically powerful, or to express a false version of your erotic power because it pleases someone else. When you choose to live someone else’s version of the erotic, you are leaving yourself again.
Erotic authenticity is anything but simple and its complexity is part of what makes it so exciting. There are so many layers for you to delve into and expose. It’s what you do with your fantasies, your self-expression, your creativity, your connection, your dreams, your desire, your boundaries, your exploration, your playfulness, your hotness. It’s how the waves of your own erotenthicity lap the shores of potentiality and being.