As aware people, we understand that words have power. The power to create and the power to destroy.
If you’ve ever looked into the topic you might have learned that some words are more empowering than others. And that some words can be omitted from our everyday language in order to help us manifest our dream reality.
When it comes to love and sexuality, it is more than simply words. It’s the words, metaphors, and images around us that completely shape and design our approach to them.
In her TED talk, Mandy Len Catron explains how terms that we use to describe love shape our experience of it:
In love, we fall. We’re struck, we’re crushed, we swoon. We burn with passion. Love makes us crazy and makes us sick. Our hearts ache, and then they break. Talking about love in this way fundamentally shapes how we experience it.
So when she did experience the extreme highs and lows that love had to offer, she saw it as a sign that it is true love she was feeling.
Realizing this is hardly conducive to a healthy love life, she offers another metaphor to use for romantic love, as suggested by Johnsen and Lakoff: a collaborative work of art.
As a collaborative work of art, there’s lots of room for big emotions. But there’s also a big component of being in charge of these emotions, making decisions from an empowered state of mind, and mutuality.
Another TED talk – this time about the metaphors around sex, is given by Al Vernacchio.
…the metaphors for talking about sex in the US all come from baseball — scoring, getting to first base, etc. The problem is, this frames sex as a competition, with a winner and a loser. Instead, he suggests a new metaphor, one that’s more about shared pleasure, discussion and agreement, fulfillment and enjoyment. Let’s talk about … pizza.
And although I’m pretty sure his Pizza metaphor is only a joke, he still brings our attention to the fact that our languaging around sexuality is a real problem.
It is our responsibility to change this languaging.
I read an interesting article the other day about women’s masturbation and how we, as a culture, are at a place right now of judging women that don’t. Masturbate, that is. And for some reason, the author decided to use the term “beating it off” instead of masturbation on the very first sentence of the article. Now, I wonder, if you’re a woman like me, who enjoys gentle self-pleasuring, would you even read beyond that very first sentence? I doubt it. Instead of promoting the idea of really tuning into our love zone, we are reduced to an image of a violent act: “beating (something) off”. I know she didn’t mean to say we’re supposed to roughy handle our clitoris (or whatever other organ gives us pleasure), and still, I think she could have chosen a different term to describe masturbation.
If we simply pay attention to the way we express ourselves, and gradually change it for the better, we have the ability to bring massive transformation to our culture. From the ground level up.
I know. Most of us do not hold a position of power, or have millions of followers on social media. We can’t change the world in a day. But using Gandhi’s most memorable quote – “Be the change you want to see in the world”, we can offer our gift of the impeccable word to the world.
I love the concept of Impeccable Speech as explained in the book the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Although his emphasis is on being kind and non-judgmental with your words, I am happy to extend that concept and examine the words which I’m using. I am happy to stop using words which do not contribute to the world I want to be a part of.
Why I’m not using words like pussy, dick, shagging, fucking etc.
There’s an approach that you can take these words and strip them of their negative connotation by using them in a positive context. That’s what Mama Gena is doing in her book Pussy. Other do it too. I get it and maybe it is possible.
But my approach is different. I feel very uncomfortable with these words. I have always been a sensitive person and perhaps this is another expression of my sensitivity. In any case, I want to create a discussion about sex that is positive, gentle, natural and loving.
I’m in the business of empowering people, not demeaning people. And using the same words that are consistently being used as swear-words to describe sex is horribly degrading.
For the same reason, I’m using benign images for my website.
Did you notice how images we consider to be “sexy” are mostly of express-less women, usually with their mouths slightly open and a sort-of apathetic stare? This is a subtle form of objectifying women. They have no personality. And I’m only talking about those images that even bother to include the woman’s face in them… We see these images looking at us from many newspaper covers, billboard signs, television ads – all around us. And we learn from a very young age that this is how sexuality looks like.
I want to create a world in which sex is natural, beautiful, and easy. The images I’m choosing are not considered “sexy” in our society. They are alive, vibrant and innocent.
I want you to know that “sexy” is part of what we are. A lively, smiling, alert human being is much more attractive than any sex-doll look-alike on the cover of a magazine. We just need to start using these images (instead of the conventional one-dimensional images that are commonly used these days) to make this shift in our society. There are quite a few big companies that understand that. They use real women in their ads and that should be encouraged and celebrated (see here my personal favorite – Evelyn & Bobbie bras – but there are many more).
And what can you do if you want to see changes during your lifetime?