Fish Blood by Gustav Klimt, via Tumblr
I have sat in circles with women; danced, dined, and prayed with women. Women who I call sisters, women who are sisters, both by blood and by spiritual family of origin.
With the women I have known, we’ve seldom been hesitant to unfurl our souls or open our hearts with expansive vulnerability. We’ve seemed to be able to talk about everything if not most things: work, school, our future kids, our father’s indiscretions, the brand of conditioner we’re using.
We’ve spoken our truths in coffeeshops, on lumpy vintage couches, on long drives to the coast, under many different kinds of sky, against a plethora of backdrops. The scenery might change, but the conversations stay unwaveringly aimed at the heart of our immediate lives, always in the realm of our personal desires and inner battles.
But when it comes to matters of the sexual, we somehow find ourselves speaking vaguely, only slightly revealing slivers of truth about who we are sexually, what we are sensually hungry for.
How is it that we can divulge so openly about topics of the heart but are so quiet when it comes to matters of sex?
We hint at it, of course; always hinting, only hinting. We go out of our ways to not speak too much about this one very intrinsic, very important part of us.
Or. . . we make it into a kind of satire, something we can speak about without really speaking about it, keeping the conversation mindlessly silly—wonky, flesh-colored dildos, memorably awkward one night stands, condom conundrums.
Perhaps it has something to do with privacy that we make wholehearted sex talk into a kind of joke. It could be that, but in my heart I don’t think that’s the whole truth. Because if we wanted true privacy, the kind wherein we reveal nothing, we wouldn’t have opened our mouths to speak candidly about the uncomfortable truths of our childhoods (for example).
No, I believe we don’t have wholehearted conversations amongst each other because we’ve never been prompted to. No one’s ever asked us to. No one’s ever asked me to.
Except for one.
We were sitting in a quiet coffeeshop in Northwest Portland, catching up after months of having not connected. The question of how my family was was posed, and I answered as I usually do: “Fine! They’re well.” And then the question of how my lover was doing was posed, and I answered as I normally do: “Fine! He’s very well.”
Right after I answered, she asked, “How’s the sex?” She asked this without blinking bashfully or lowering her voice, but with the same conviction she had asked when she inquired about how my mother was.
This question, “How’s the sex?”, comprised of three tiny, simple words, stunned me and shattered to bits the grey monotone mood our conversation was drifting toward as two sisters are becoming reacquainted with after a period of absence. I didn’t know what to say.
I considered answering her question in the same way I had modestly answered the others—”Fine! Very well!”—but I knew that this rare question was being given to me from her as if it were a precious gold amulet. And with the knowledge that I might never again be asked such a question by another, I answered it is truthfully as I could muster despite being a bit blind-sided by it.
I told her that the sex was good—no, better than good; it was rapturous, spiritual, heart-opening. I told her how sensual I’ve felt since getting off of birth control, how my sex drive was finally set free from the layers and layers of manufactured hormones, allowing me to feel and desire and expand. I told her that I never imagined that sex could be so ecstatic, and I felt blessed, utterly blessed.
She smiled knowingly (she is indeed a woman who knows), no doubt pleased that her gift—her question—was received earnestly, veraciously. And I. . . I felt radiant, heard, understood, and acknowledged as a sexual being, a sexual woman.
True friends ask how the sex is.
They ask if your needs are being met—as a sister, as a confidant, as a supporter of your sexual nature. They ask not to be nosy—they respect your privacy—but because they want to know that you are allowing your sexuality to flourish. It is important to them.
True friends ask how the sex is because they know that if one of their fellow sisters/brothers is satisfied in their erotic lives, the rest of the world will be made better for it. They know that sexual energy is a potent force, one that can be sensed by all creatures, one that is sacred, powerful, magical, important.
Ask how the sex is. Ask to support the sexualities of your fellow sisters. Ask because we need accountability as we continue to move forward in our sexual liberation—myself included. Ask because in doing so we indirectly pay homage to both the erotic lives of our loved ones and our own.
Ask how the sex is, and keep asking.
Because we are sexual and we need to be reminded of that.