Stupid Girls

Sunday, July 11, 2004


You are reading

Dear ...,

I just found this:

"The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling. In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives" (Lorde, 1984). Is it any wonder women have such trouble locating our own power? Is it any wonder that we give it away so easily?

We are never taught that power belongs to us, and if we feel the slightest hint stirring, we immediately deny it or squash it as a "bad" or "dangerous" feeling. It becomes easy for an oppressor to steal what we feel guilty about owning. For those of us who enjoy power, there is guilt and often an inability to claim our rightful share.

There is danger to women in ignoring such erotic impulses. If we instead learned to appreciate and enjoy both our sexual pleasures and our ambition--which we have often been taught are selfish or inappropriate for women to pursue--they would energize and enrich us. To suppress our shakti, the primal energy which is our very core means resigning ourselves to lives of emptiness and frustration; without a healthy outlet for our erotic juices our minds atrophy and our spirits wither.

"As women, we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge," says Lorde.

Indeed, men used to dismiss "women's intuition" as either silly or irrelevant. They no longer laugh at the concept; instead, they build entire management systems around it. We must remember that "the erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to the woman who does not fear its revelation, nor succumb to the belief that sensation is enough". She follows this statement by pointing out that the erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women; that "pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it�emphasizes sensation without feeling" (Lorde, 1984).

"The erotic functions for me in several ways, and the first is in providing the power which comes from sharing deeply any pursuit with another person. The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic or intellectual forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference" (Lorde, 1984). Lorde's description of how a sense of the erotic opened up her capacity for joy is in complete alignment with my own thoughts and experience. Yet without her words I might never have identified my own human potential as being tied to the erotic in all its senses.

On a visceral level I had identified certain activities and feelings as erotic, but I had not named them as such on an intellectual level before reading Lorde's work. My view of the erotic was a much narrower one limited to sexual references, physicality and sensuality, bereft of intellectual or emotional dimensions. I knew instinctively there was nothing erotic about what most in our society casually and automatically term 'erotic'; I knew, too, that I often found those activities offensive, invasive, empty, demeaning and lacking in humanity.

Lilith Institute/revision