I am one lucky woman, because I have the opportunity to speak openly and honestly with women about my favorite subject all day long--female sexuality. I seem to have an energy that makes most people feel comfortable, and they freely to reveal things to me that they've rarely or never shared. I think that's because my life is an open book and my training, as a spiritual counselor, allows me to be neutral, loving and nonjudgmental.
Female sexuality is complicated. Add a layer of race to the mix, and you get a baffling, sometimes, explosive, topic. Over the course of our country's history, African American women have endured brutal sexual abuse by captors, masters, and molesters. I have sat by many women and listened to them break open their hearts to share stories of being raped and molested by fathers, uncles, brothers, and ministers. I have taken the energy of these horrific tales into my heart to apply love to places that hurt and are seemingly shattered beyond repair. To close themselves off from these types of pain, far too many of my sisters have chosen to hide themselves from their sexuality in layers of fat, sadly resulting in high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health problems. There are countless devices we use to deny our sexual guilt and shame, food is just the one I've dealt with and seen so often in my relationships with other women. I too have experienced and seen abuse up close. I watched my mother turn black and blue under the insanity and beating of my father. I also witnessed my grandmother, the product of her mother's rape by a white man in Alabama, unsuccessfully struggle to know herself. Rather than food, grandma used alcohol and isolation to hide from herself and her pain.
It breaks my heart that the traumas of our history and our abuses have sent us underground and into conformity, and we've allowed them to hijack our beauty, sexuality, and sensual power. We have hid ourselves from even ourselves, challenging our organic sexual nature, shaming our sisters and selves for being alluring and magnetic and hating the home our souls abide within, these luscious, beautiful bodies.
Recently I spoke with a girlfriend about what we should teach our daughters about sexuality. Although it is necessary to teach our daughters about their bodies, she said, it's far too much to talk about female sexuality and pleasure. I challenged her, asking "is it better for her to learn from Internet porn how a woman should behave sexually? Would it be best for her friends to teach her, or should we leave it up to her male peers?" I see this denial of female sexual expression as a direct result of our shameful lineage. In this big scary world, we feel that the more we turn away from our sexuality, the safer we will be. This is nonsense.
In another conversation, a single devout Christian shared openly with me about her strong sexual desire and her relationships. She was unassuming in her sexuality and appeared to be what many would describe as a "good girl." She also shared her plans to take a sabbatical from her church, in part because of her sexual sin. As much as she loved being of service in her church community and being a follower of Christ, her conflict about her sexual desire was confusing and disturbing to her. See, she enjoyed sex, even though she was not married. I would say that she not only enjoyed it but that she was very sensual, like a sexy kitten, but she sort of unconsciously masked it under a "good girl" persona. Her religious beliefs and her sexual behavior had landed her somewhere between sin and confusion. She said she needed time away from her church community to find authentic self.
I also am member of a growing community of women of all races who understand that female sexuality is the center of the universe. It is the place where all human life begins. In this community we celebrate our female bodies and even praise them. We remind ourselves regularly that we have yet to meet one person that grew on a tree, appeared out of thin air or came from a man's rib. Every person whose ever lived and came from a woman. This is a fact. What's most valuable in this group understands that female sexuality and creativity are directly linked. We understand embracing our sexuality accesses greater depths of creativity. To deny our sexuality is to cut off our ability to bring forth our unique gifts that the world so desperately craves. I have one friend who declares and believes with all her soul that sex has the power to heal us. She says that love making is the closes act humans have to connect with God. She gives me hope and inspiration for what is possible.
As a black woman I'm continuously bumping into remnants of my religious upbringing, cultural conditioning and lessons from my childhood that hinders my ability to be sexually authentic and free. And in addition to my own experiences as an African-American woman, I hold within me the memory and energy of my ancestors. I believe we all do. Each year at the same time, the Monarch butterfly makes a pilgrimage from a region in Canada to a City in Mexico. Because the butterflies are so small and have such short life spans, they undergo several life cycles during this journey. Miraculously, each new generation of butterfly has within it the DNA and information from the generations past, and they stay on course even though they have never made the trip before.The residence of this city in Mexico, believe the butterflies are their ancestors returning. They celebrate The Day of Dead with the arrival of the butterflies in honor of the ancestors. I believe something similar is true of women. We carry the DNA of ancestors in our wombs. I feel we hold our ancestor's devastation, terror, and abuses in our cells. We also hold their eternal fortitude and beauty. I once had an energy worker tell me that the pain of depression I was experiencing wasn't my own, it was ancestral. I was shocked. Mine or not, it was my job to heal it.
These are not issues that are exclusive to black women, but my community allows me to see the struggles that African American women face. And what I know through my learning and living is that our sexuality and sexual freedom from social, cultural, religious, and patriarchal conditioning must be confronted and shaken off, if we are to experience true happiness. Ironically, I didn't know how imprisoned I was until I started going within my heart and mind to discover unconscious blocks. Sure, I felt courageous for facing the guilt and shame associated with my sexuality from abuses suffered. I thought that was big and it was. However, when I stopped denying and hiding my authentic sexual nature because I feared being judged by others, I not only felt courageous, I felt alive and renewed. There is no feeling like being a sexually empowered woman. Almost miraculous my angry black woman vanished and a new beautiful black butterfly is emerging. Sexually free women are a gift and sight to behold. Now's our time to emerge from our cocoons, magic awaits.