Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sexual Freedom: Opportunity and Choice

In thinking about what sexual freedom means to me, I wondered if I even needed to really think about it.

I mean, I could imagine that transpeople, polypeople, non-heteropeople all might need some boosting in the "right to just be left alone" category, but what did I really have to say on this subject? What could a white, heterosexual, monogamous, forty-something woman know about sexual freedom?

And then I thought, that without sexual freedom, we're all in danger of losing something important. Our identity as individuals, with individual needs and desires. And our collective identity as a society that values choice. I would lose my right to just practice my own sexuality in a way that fulfills me, my needs, and makes me who I am. I don't truly have sexual freedom, I have hidden too much of my life from family and friends to ever think that.

We make choices every day in our lives. Seldom does one that we make bring out the worst in other people. Seldom do other people even care about our choices. Choose a religion and you're pretty much ok, even if your choice isn't mainstream. Choose a political party and while some people might question your taste, they'll never deny you the freedom to make the choice.

But for some reason when you add qualifiers regarding gender, orientation, or sex, it becomes open season. Suddenly, who we are, what we do, and the choices we make, are fodder for politicians, religious-ians, legislators, and the rest of the everyday world. Suddenly there's fear involved. Fear that the non hetero, non-monogamous- non-sexuallyaligned - uberperverts will contaminate their lives. Fear that we're on a conversion spree and that we'll somehow devalue their own freedoms.

When I asked my sister, the suburban housewife, born again Christian and neo-Baptist what the phrase "sexual freedom" meant to her, she replied “oh, that’s when you can do whatever you want, with whoever you want. We don’t believe in that”.

But, when it boils right down to it, I think that's exactly what she believes in.

You see, the perception that my sister has about sexual freedom being not something she "believes" in, is exactly what it is all about. Sexual freedom isn’t just about “fucking like a man”, gay marriage, transgendered rights, unisex bathrooms, or doing whatever, wherever, and with whomever you want, it’s also about the choice an individual makes NOT to do them. Or to do them differently from one another. It's the freedom to have what my sister has. Just in the way that makes me happy.

She’s made her choice about her own sexual freedom. For her, it’s a monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Whether she’s made that choice based on her own needs, or the ones that society (or our mother) places on her, it’s still her decision to make. I don’t try to talk her out of it. She's able to make her choice because that's the one that she views right for her.

For me, it’s a little different. Sexual freedom for me is opportunity and choice.

It's the opportunity to explore emotions and love in whatever way I choose, without boundaries set by anyone except myself. It’s the opportunity to recognize that inner core of a person, rather than the equipment they may have, and the opportunity to fall in love and experience that love with whomever makes me happy. It’s the opportunity to say that I’m not sick for wanting something different than my sister. It's the opportunity to just live in the way that feels right for me. It's the opportunity to love, live, and yes, even fuck, who I want, as I want and when I want, or if I don't want. Without feeling dirty, ashamed or unimportant.

I don't ask others to want the same opportunities, just that they don't legislate away my ability to have them. I may not ever take advantage of some of them personally, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I don't at least want the opportunity to do so should I find that someday, my needs, ideas, and well-being require it.

To me, sexual freedom is about the choices I make. For my reproductive life, my health, my safety and my peace of mind. That others don't understand my need to feel pain, can't be helped by legislating away my right to consensually agree to it. That others don't agree with my choices to call my boyfriend sir, let him whip me, or call me a whore, shouldn't give them the right to make them for me. That people wish to prevent me from watching porn, marry who I want, or tell me that birth control is evil may make them feel safer in their own lives, but denies me the same safety in mine.

Those that tell me that letting a man hit me is wrong, that wearing what I like, talking openly about kink, or engaging in bdsm makes me a sick fuck who can't be trusted around children, to serve in the military, or to be a valued employee, friend, or family member doesn't make them free from my choices. It just solidifies their own prejudices as the only "right" one.

To me, sexual freedom isn't just about my right to experience my life in a way that harms no one, changes nothing for anyone else, and brings me opportunity and choice in how I live my life; sexual freedom is also making my sister understand that the freedom she has to make her own choices is indeed sexual freedom as well.

1 comment:

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