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January 21, 2022
Pleasure & Desire | Sexual Politics & Culture

Sex, Church & Nation State

Attacks on reproductive rights are attacks on sexuality. Frankly, I’m tired of a small anti-sex, anti-pleasure, anti-life minority imposing their outrageous sex-negative views on the rest of us.

One only needs to visit the Indian temples of Khajaraho depicting ornate explicitly erotic scenes of all types of fornication and sexual expression, or Roman art depicting stories of sex, power, Gods and Goddesses to know that religion & culture did not always divorce themselves from sex, eroticism and pleasure. Indeed, I’d say they were once widely viewed as congruent or complimentary expressions of divinity. How did we get to a place where we are so disconnected from this core power?

I believe religious fundamentalists see sexuality as a threat because, by nature, a sexually-free person is a free-thinking person. That flies against the conformity that is demanded by a fundamentalist approach to religion, an approach that thinks the structure for life has already been created and we just fit our individual journeys into that life, rather than thinking we are each co-creating our reality with the divine as we go. I subscribe to the latter approach.

Sex is and can be free—so it’s an experience that anyone can experience regardless of class. For young people in general, sexual exploration is a pretty fundamental vehicle for individuation and developing a self-identity, independent of parents who otherwise have power over us.

For all of us, sexuality has an enormous capacity to fuel our creativity and self-expression. And no matter the state of our financial security, home life, job stress or potential to experience a “natural disaster”, sex allows us to feel pleasure and joy.

So why would we want to suffocate this fundamental individual power, pleasure and creative outlet? Do we want to feel guilty? Or believe we shouldn’t have carte blanche to have that much fun?

I don’t think conservative religious zealots want people to have independent doses of unregulated fun. Attacking our reproductive rights is the easiest way to attack our sexual freedom and commitment to pleasure. It promotes a sex-negative ideology that refuses to see sexuality as a healthy, normal, and natural part of one’s life. It pushes the idea that we should be punished for having fun by being forced to have unwanted children. And of course, the children are punished more than anyone. This ideology seeks to control our self-expression and pursuit of happiness. I’m fed up with it.

We are entitled to feel pleasure and joy in our bodies and sexual expression in our relationships. Everyone is entitled to the pursuit of happiness. Our sexuality is a fundamental way we experience pleasure and joy in our lives. Some kinds of sex can leave us with infections. Some can result in an unplanned pregnancy, even if we did our best to prevent it. It’s a part of life. It’s a situation where people are confronted with challenging decisions about the course of their lives, which are difficult enough without also feeling punished for participating in a natural pleasureful and joy-seeking act or even, gasp! an act of love.

Stop attacking reproductive rights. It’s a fundamentally obtuse attack on women since we bear the brunt of the responsibility for an unplanned pregnancy and more easily get infected with STIs. It’s also an attack on sexuality. I am a sexually expressive person and proud of it. I help other people have deeper, better sexual experiences and relationships. The sex industry’s annual revenue figures attest to how much we want to experience free expression of our sexuality. My clients attest to this. I think conservatives don’t like the idea that they can’t control this wildness in us. They’ll do all they can to cinch it, regulate it, and control it. Fundamentally, that begins with women. We absolutely have to demand an end to this tyranny over our sexual and by association, reproductive lives.

And this outrageous marriage of christianity and our nation state needs to stop. We are funding a religious agenda rather than a public health agenda in a pluralist society. Maybe sexuality is my church. It’s my personal journey, my erotic life, my locus of creation and connection, my divinity. You want to be free to practice your spiritual path? Well so do I! As an alive, joyous, sexual being, capable of tremendous pleasure and creativity. If we all tapped into that on a deep level, I truly believe wars would end, violence would be obsolete and the world would really begin to know peace.

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A’magine, formerly Amy Jo Goddard is author of Woman on Fire: Nine Elements to Wake up Your Erotic Energy, Personal Power and Sexual Intelligence and co-author of the best-selling classic Lesbian Sex Secrets for Men. She earned her Master’s degree in Human Sexuality Education at New York University and has been teaching and speaking about feminism and sexuality for over two decades.

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