I love the handful of earth you are.Because of its meadows, vast as a planet,I have no other star. You are my replicaof the multiplying universe.Your wide eyes are the only light I knowfrom extinguished constellations;your skin throbs like the streakof a meteor through rain.Your hips were that much of the moon for me;your deep mouth and its delights, that much sun;your heart, fiery with its long red rays,was that much ardent light, like honey in the shade.So I pass across your burning form, kissingyou—compact and planetary, my dove, my globe.Pablo Neruda, XVI from 100 Love Sonnets
In this month of renewal, I am devastated by the constant advertising that tears bodies down. The outward and public shaming of bodies is a billion dollar industry. Yes, I want folks to love their bodies the way they are and I will not pass judgment on those of us who make adjustments to our bodies. I will stand in judgment of the companies and media that tell us we are not enough – not beautiful enough; not strong enough; not fit enough; not sexy enough; not performing well enough; not big, small, tall, short, curved, skinny, shaped enough.
The diversity of bodies is what is beautiful in the world and yet, there is little celebration of this diversity. What is celebrated has to claw, fight, scream loud enough to be heard. I want a world where bodies are celebrated with the reverence and adoration that Pablo Neruda had for their lover.
You may be wondering what the hell this has to do with positive sex ed. How bodies look on the outside is harshly judged and the discourse is openly
shared and debated publicly, yes? In keeping with the idea that sex and all things related should be talked about behind closed doors, shamed, or kept secret – imagine the stigma about body parts related to sex! Gird your loins, I’m feeling feisty.
Dicks come in all sizesBigger is better. Such a tired myth.
Bigger is not better. Penis size is not the only measure of sexual prowess and trust me when I tell you that listening to your lovers needs and desires is going to get you a lot further than a big dick. The myth of penis size is directly related to the cultural norm that penetrative sex is the best/only type of sex. There are so many other ways to engage in sex beyond genitals touching. Can we recognize the ridiculous loop we have placed penis owners in? Penises must remain erect for as long as possible in order to pleasure a partner because we are not teaching penis owners to touch or engage in other erogenous areas. Longer erections are “needed” because penetrative sex takes longer (if it ever does) to generate an orgasm. A small penis that is only erect for one minute before ejaculating could be attached to a person who gets their lovers to multiple orgasms, multiple times. A large penis on Viagra* may last longer and actually hurt, chafe, bruise, or tear a partner without ever creating an orgasm.
Is this true for everyone? Nope. Does the media, sex toy companies, condom companies, or pharmaceutical companies that create Viagra and its knockoffs talk about this? Nope. They use myths to shame penis owners into believing that they are not big enough or can’t last long enough to please their lovers.
*I’m not opposed to Viagra. I’m opposed to the idea that a body without an erect penis is a non-sexual body.
Love your labiaI know I said I wasn’t going to pass judgment on folks who make adjustments to their bodies. I know. And I am so sad about the rise of labiaplasty. This is a surgical procedure to cosmetically alter the appearance of the labia so that they are symmetrical or made to be shorter. It is unnecessary. It is perpetuated by false images of “perfect” labia often altered and airbrushed in magazines and movies. Again, I am condemning the machine that churns out lies about bodies, not the people who make choices to change their bodies.
For some physically altering their labia helps them embrace their body in a more positive way. I don’t want to step on that and I’d rather encourage learning and celebration to drown out the lies.
Yes, there can be labia that interfere with physical activities and a labiaplasty could reduce any discomfort or pain caused by the longer labia.
Who is allowed to be sexyBeyond the genitals is the more insidious messaging of who is allowed to be seen as sexy and who isn’t. Skinny, big breasted, long hair, curvy, tall, perfect skin, and white. Strong, tall, ripped, perfect skin, perfect teeth, and white.
My biggest complaint these days is stock photos. I rely on stock photos for much of my social media postings and I cannot find non-skinny, non-muscled, non-white people in stock photography. Don’t get me started about actual representation. Wait, do get me started! Disabled bodies. Fat bodies. Old bodies. Black bodies. Brown bodies. Hairy bodies. Bodies with acne. Bodies with saggy breasts. Bodies with crooked fucking teeth! These people have sex. These people scream out their orgasms. These people desire pleasure and give pleasure.
Physical perfection is a myth. When we exclude bodies from being seen as sexy, we harm people.
HomeworkIt’s been awhile since I have assigned homework in the column and this seemed like the topic to bring it back.
If you find yourself judging your lovers by how their body parts look, I want you to practice calling yourself on that behavior. I want you to take time to notice non-physical aspects of your lovers that you like, are attracted to, and then begin to change your behavior.
The next time you compliment someone, make it about anything other than their appearance. Compliment them about their attitude, their behavior, a skill they have, etc.
Are you a photographer? Take beautiful, sexy pictures of real people and add it to a stock photo website of your choosing. (I use Pixabay. *wink wink)
Finally, channel Pablo Neruda and worship your lovers bodies with prose, song, kind words, and consensual touching.
Shameless plug: Do you need a place to celebrate bodies? Do you want to learn more about sexual anatomy, behaviors, and toys? I offer workshops on these topics and more! Go to https://squareup.com/store/birds-and-bees-llc/ to learn about upcoming workshops and webinars and to purchase a ticket.
Erin Brandt (she/her/hers) has been a sexologist for 15 years. When she’s not spreading sexual knowledge, Erin can be found learning from her child, hiking with her partner, cuddling with her pitbull, knitting with her cat, dancing with friends, and searching for the nearest hammock and ocean breeze. Want more? Visit www.positivesexed.com