An excellent article came across my newsfeed recently, and much of it resonated with and reinforced my understanding of sex, sexuality and the problems so many people experience today.
As the article explains, “sex” is an act that has a beginning and an end, whereas “sexuality” is a human quality of sexual character and power.
In ancient times in China, the focus was on sexuality – an “essence” of who we are – and women were revered for their sexual power. Gradually the focus shifted to sex, instead of sexuality. Along with that shift came patriarchal attitudes and the belief that women’s needs were secondary to men’s. Physical intimacy was taken behind closed doors, and became an obligation for women (to produce an heir) rather than a celebration of women.
Over the two centuries before the time of Christ, sex became “sinful” and women’s sexual energy was seen as something to be cultivated and harvested by men. After the Middle Ages, women were feared for their sexual power and many were killed for “witchcraft”. Then came the sexual repression of the Victorian era. And little more than a century ago, the female orgasm was considered to be the cause of mental illness.
Today we aren’t burning women at the stake or believing that masturbation causes them to go insane, but in many ways society and many religions still oppress women as a group. Despite living in a fortunate time – 50 years after the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s – there is still residual damage from centuries past. Popular attitudes toward sex and sexuality continue to include echoes of Victorian values.
Many women (and men) have an uneasy relationship with their sexuality, and it doesn’t have to be that way. This is a prime reason I focus my practice on sexuality, relationships and trauma recovery.