May 19, 2008
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4 Comments
The Intersection Of Body Liberation And Sexual Liberation

SUBMITTED BY WITHOUTSCENE: I strongly believe loving your body is connected to loving your body—that body liberation is closely connected to sexual liberation.

The work of Betty Dodson provides good examples of how the two are related. In fact, I think that’s why I like her so much. Her artwork focused on female genitals was an effort to show women that their genitals were different, that that was okay, and that they should embrace them. She also held workshops where women visually explored and pleasured their vaginas. What she was getting across was that alienation from one’s vagina impeded sexual agency and sexual pleasure. She taught familiarity, but also sexual agency and body liberation. She believed you had to know how to love your body in order to have good partner sex.

Many people are still dissatisfied with their genitals, but general body dissatisfaction also has much to do with sexual agency. If you don’t like you’re body, or even parts of it, you’re probably less inclined to share it with other people…maybe even less likely to take pleasure in it. Being inhibited about your body or alienated from it can prevent you from having mindless, explosive sex, trying new things, or even asserting yourself sexually.

If you have issues with your body that stand in your way of sexual pleasure, there are many ways to work on it. First of all, be easy on yourself. Loving your body and exploring your sexuality are both involved processes. These things tend to evolve gradually.

  • Catch yourself when you’re feeling negative about your body and stop tearing yourself down.
  • Practice looking at yourself naked in front of the mirror—or work up to it.
  • Compliment yourself, even if you don’t believe it at first. Focus on what you do like about your body.
  • Look at pictures of different kinds of bodies—bodies similar and different to your own. Finding diverse bodies in porn can sometimes be challenging, so check out some nude photography or artwork. Leonard Nimoy, Laurie Toby Edison, and Jenny Saville are all artists I’d recommend.
  • Once you get more comfortable, take naked pictures of yourself or let your partner/s take them. Look at them and reflect. Go back and look at other bodies that look like yours.
  • Try masturbating in front of a mirror. These kinds of things familiarize you with your body, which can go a long way to put you at ease.
  • If you have a partner, talk with them about how you feel about your body and enlist their support. Communicating is part in parcel of having a healthy sexual relationship. If they don’t know you are having problems, they can’t be attentive to them.
  • Talk with friends or other people (and there are many) who have also struggled with their body and their sexuality. Or just read about other people’s experiences online. There are many sites online devoted to body liberation and body acceptance, including Body Positive, the Love Your Body Campaign, Bellies are Beautiful, and Shapely Prose.

Has body shame ever inhibited your sex life? If so, what did you do?

[Photo by devinlynnx]

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Comments

  • Anomie says :

    Great advice!

    I would add to touch your body and do things that require you to really be your physical self. And I don’t mean in a sexual way, even; I mean like the woman in the picture on this post is. Just fun and playfully, to remind yourself of your body and your presence in it.

    I gotta say, though, that pic freaked me out. Not because of the stomach grabbing, that part’s cool. Maybe it’s just me, but I saw a naked woman who had a poorly-done checkerboard shaved into her pubic hair. But hey, to each her own :) .

  • Arianna says :

    There was a time in my life where I said that I wouldn’t lose my virginity until I lost all the weight I wanted…

  • withoutscene says :

    @ANOMIE I totally agree!!

    @ARIANNA Sadly, many people use the “I’ll do it when I’m thinner” as motivation, but it really only prevents people from doing things they might really enjoy or excel at.

    It’s great I mentioned Shapely Prose because they just put up a great guest post called 28 Days to a Bikini Mind focused specifically on loving your body.

    http://kateharding.net/2008/05/20/guest-post-28-days-to-a-bikini-mind/

  • Devin says :

    They’re Spongebob underwear, not shaved pubes, thanks.

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