How do you see yourself? Are you taking ownership of your sexuality?

self-awareness, sexuality, ask for what you want, desire, voice

How do you see yourself? Are you taking ownership of your sexuality?

I shared an observation, which turned into a bit of a revelation, on my Facebook Page and my email newsletter. I want to make sure you see it too–as I think we all, though I address women specifically, benefit from taking ownership of our own feelings and learning to ask for what we want.  

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 I love how he makes me feel. Sitting at a stoplight, musing about the night before, the words tumbling around in my brain. The old romantic refrain straight from Disney movies; reinforced in teen magazines and then in bodice-rippers. Find the right man and HE will make you feel all the right feelings.

Then I rephrased the sentence: I love how I feel when I’m with him.

In figuring out I needed to shift from passive to active, from letting another person own my feelings to claiming it all for myself–that’s how we step into full ownership. In the sexual world this is the shift that allows women to own their sexuality. To invite desire into their lives.

The best sex of our lives doesn’t arise from lying passively in the bed, mouth tightly shut, waiting for Prince Charming to switch all our buttons, rendering us wonderful sexual creatures by his magical touch. For his pleasure. And bragging rights.

Let’s talk about the shift from passive to active. In I love how he makes me feel there is a bit of me saying I can’t create my own feelings of desire. That romantically, I need someone else, a man, (because this is the quintessential heteronormative experience) to bring me alive. I become Sleeping Beauty, waiting for Prince Charming to awaken her and bring her to life.

I often find myself writing in the passive voice. I’ve lived a good bit of my life in the passive voice. As a woman that’s not all that shocking, sadly. Imagine my delight in discovering all that’s possible—44 days before my 63rd birthday. My thoughts on the limits we self-impose around aging is another longer article.

While I’m bursting at the seams these days, oozing out of the narrowly constructed box I’ve inhabited for far too long, I’m also looking at this tendency (to give up our own power/agency) in women I work with.

The change from how he makes me feel  to how I feel with him is a simple shifting of perspective, on the surface. Actually it’s a clear and powerful example of how we take ownership for our own feelings and desires. By taking responsibility for our own feelings in relationships we are able to more fully show up and create the experiences we desire.

There’s a lot of “I” in this, something which I normally would be apologetic about.  It is way past time for women to start saying “I” more. To look at interactions and experiences from our own perspective. To figure out what we want and need, then state it clearly. It’s more than asking for what we want. In a gentle way, it’s demanding what we are entitled to. No longer accepting anything less.

If we hold back for the men in our life. If we hold back because our upbringing tells us women don’t “lead”. If we hold back because women are meant to be less vocal–we are doing ourselves a huge disservice. We’re also doing a disservice to our male partners (if we’re heterosexual) in foisting all of this on them. I imagine most of our male partners (female too) would like us to talk about what we need–to stop expecting them to know, and bear the responsibility of making us happy.

In writing and speaking about sexuality I talk about the need for women to speak up and ask for what they want. We have to go farther—those conversations have to keep expanding, we have to talk about cultivating a deeper awareness of our self-worth as women, about our right to have anything we want. And to stop placing our needs behind those of the men in our lives. 

How do we begin to do this work around our own self-worth and its impact on our sexuality?

We show up. Two words that demand more–knowing how our bodies function and owning that knowledge, creating and shaping our desire. Ideally we strive for a deeper understanding of our sexuality that includes learning how to use our voices with intention and a bit of daring. To say, “this is what I need” is a good start, but we have to go a step farther and make sure those words are not  some version of giving a partner the responsibility, and power, for bringing us to life. The good news: it is doable and rewarding and there are men and other partners who will be drawn to that self-confidence and awareness we present.

The bad news: others are going to be less comfortable with our voices. They will try and silence you. Or shame you.

Let them go. Once we know what we want we no longer need others to validate and give us permission. We are giving ourselves permission. Every minute, of every day.

Because we’re living in accordance with our wants, our desires, our intentions, and our wildest dreams. Invite someone to play with you, or not. Just be the one in charge.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

  • Renée
    Posted at 00:23h, 25 August Reply

    Beautiful! This really speaks to me. Thank you for these truth bombs!

    • Walker
      Posted at 06:50h, 25 August Reply

      So glad it resonated. Thank you.

  • gilly
    Posted at 11:25h, 08 February Reply

    Wow!! What a post… it should be mandatory reading for all

  • Teri Boyd
    Posted at 09:43h, 19 September Reply

    Wonderfully written! As a 64 year old woman starting to date for the first time in 36 years or more, this was helpful. I’ve spent the last year and a half getting back in shape and thinking about what i want in my future. I’ve determined that I want a romantic and sexually satisfying relationship and I’m making changes to make this happen. Cheers! Teri

    • Walker Thornton
      Posted at 09:54h, 26 September Reply

      That makes me happy Teri. So glad you’re moving on with this! Best wishes.

    • Walker Thornton
      Posted at 11:44h, 01 October Reply

      Teri, Thank you…apologies for missing your comment. I think determining what you want and preparing yourself, in whatever form that takes, is key to starting dating successfully. Wishing you the best.

  • Marta Lepage
    Posted at 09:47h, 20 June Reply

    You speak powerful words that my mind has also been pondering. I wonder, as sex is both a want and a need, if it might be better to look at the want and need, separately. Needing a sexual release is something we can satisfy on our own while wanting to share a loving experience is something for which we need another person. Making love vs sex must comes from a place of emotional fullness and is truly an unselfish act.

    Then there is biology (which my feminist daughter argues against vehemently but as a separated woman of 57 this holds very true for me)…. men are programed to desire and women are programed to respond to being desired. Admittedly, men also are aroused by desire but for me, it needs to start w the man and then the energy will circulate. By start I mean in the initial phases when sexual chemistry is being explored. If I cannot feel a man’s desire for me, I check out sexually. I wonder if this is just biology?

    Yes, we need to own our wants and know ourselves sexually but nothing compares to an experienced man who is eager to pls and knows how to pls.

    A great sexual experience can be had with out a deep love connection. Is this something we can give ourselves permission to enjoy?

    I am a recovering sex and love addict. Married for 27 years. Separated for 5. Affairs were my excuse for an unsatisfactory sex life. I’m still trying to reconcile great sex with love.

    I look forward to reading more of your articles.

    • Walker Thornton
      Posted at 12:57h, 03 August Reply

      Thank you, glad you found me. Emily Nagoski’s book Come As You Are talks about spontaneous versus responsive desire–interesting distinctions. She refers to responsive desire as coming once a person is in the midst of sexual engagement and finds themselves turned on because of that. I get your distinction between want and need–and I do tend to group them when writing. Maybe because so often when someone says, “I need….” they’re really talking about what they want.Your example is a good one.

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