I've been enjoying browsing the archives of Heather Corinna's columns at RH Reality Check: Reproductive & Sexual Health and Justice, and this thought from "Get Real: Male vs. Female Bodies--Why Go There?" really struck me:
"Sex is a lot like art: it's a means of self-expression, whether you share it or not. A sexuality someone really, really enjoys tends to be a highly original, thoughtfully-crafted piece of work, not a poster there are a million copies of or something that's clearly copying or reacting to another artist."
This comment brings together a lot of themes I've been thinking about since I started writing erotica. In the popular understanding, erotica is about making sex artful--taking an inherently dirty, animalistic act and transforming it into something as "beautiful" and literary as possible. But that always seemed a little off the mark to me. That's because writing about sex respectfully has enabled me to learn a lot about my sexual feelings and erotic imagination. Speaking about sex allows the illumination to shine inward as well as outward. I know myself better because I write erotica, and I keep wanting to recommend that everyone write erotica, whether they intend to publish or not. Heather Corinna takes it one step further in a way that really resonates.
Her column begins as an answer to a young woman who is envious of her male friends who always seem to be talking about how great and easy sex is for men. Corinna reassures the young woman that the accepted ways to talk about sex have little to do with how any individual experiences sex. Indeed we are all subject to these distortions--how the media portrays sex (my pet peeve being that in popular images sex always sucks after marriage), jokes about sex (even from supposed high-brows like Charles McGrath), silences around sex. How can anyone fight this constant bombardment of fear, loathing and banality? Yet the idea that our sexuality is something we create, something that--gasp--might even improve and become richer as we grow older, an art rather than a sport, wow, that's empowering!
It must be something about the new school year starting, but I've been tempted to write term papers about various media treatments of sexuality that have shown me just how far we haven't come since the Sexual Revolution ignited and supposedly consumed itself. There are plans for more discussion soon. In the meanwhile, thanks, Heather Corinna, for your eloquent, passionate and inspiring columns. I can tell you care and that's not so common in the media!