by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Contributing Editor
Instinct arrived at a young age for me. Barely a teenager. Lust preceded my education about was known in my religious circles as “fornication”. My education concerning sexual matters was politicized. Less than erudite makers of school textbooks for decades decided on the fate of school age minds. The wish to control arrives in a variety of contours. Some recognizable, some not.
It was easier to learn about violence in the city streets than about the harsh nuances of procreation. Formal education wasn’t always in the best interests of people who needed it the most. I was thirteen when I felt the urge. It was about physical connection. Love was a fantasy. Love leaning against a city skyscraper at three a.m. in the morning with skirt hiked up and no condom sounded exciting. The urge was translated into an act when I was fourteen.
My experiences were not preceded with “the talk” but…I was so curious! I wanted to experience it. I had fantasized about it. I wanted to have a dropdead experience and feel the result of my yearning, that thing known during my youth as “free love” though deep within no love breathes freedom and once is never enough.
That first time was disappointing. Expectation? He was eighteen and had been around the block a few times. I tried to wait, but the pressure of having an older boyfriend was way more important than having a clue on what this act would entail. It was painful for a young girl like me, and as weird as it was, it was exciting. And then he dumped me! I was sad for about five minutes. I was a resilient city girl. I really wanted to explore my own sexuality. I liked boys, sexy boys, a little older than me, and they liked me back. I was pretty enough, with long swinging dark red hair, low-cut jeans, and a smile that could bring a boy/man to his knees. And so, I learned that sex equals power. The power of the vagina. It haunts, enlivens, invites, excites, caresses, nurtures, and emboldens. It was my answer to the power of the penis. Fair play in my mind.
I wasn’t in love with my partners, I was in love with what a preacher said was “fornication,” even though I mistook it for a form of love. I was in love with the power the sexual instinct gave me and I used it. It gave me a sense of freedom, for that wild child that lived inside of me. I didn’t even know their last names. Some, I would knowingly let use me. And some, I used – just to say I did.
Growing up, I was eager to develop the self-esteem that I so longed to have to cherish myself like the fascinating women I admired. I studied women in history; Cleopatra, Maria Antoinette, Nefertiti, the Queen of Sheba, Hypatia, and I yearned to bring a ritual of power and ancient wisdom into my world.
I desperately wanted the experience of being a woman, a woman that owned her sensuality, a sexual being that exuded power from those in my inner circle…artistic, educated, a good conversationalist and sexually experienced.
In Ancient Greece these women were called Hetaira. They were an expression of the Wild Woman archetype, these are the women that not only recognized the power in their sexuality, but also because they were truly free spirits, something I could relate to and something I knew I had.
That type of power doesn’t come from being dependent on a man, or anyone for that matter. That comes from their own nature and education, from their creativity, their own genius, and innate knowledge.
Sexual play is amazing, beautiful, and pleasurable and addicting, yes. But the woman I longed to be was beautiful and outspoken. She was the woman that developed her craft and could create herbal medicines from the land and nature. I felt that kind of connection. A vibrating connection to all that was sacred.
I studied the history of the women who were burned in the 1600’s deemed as “witches” because they were the women who recognized their power.
Fornication and procreation……..it’s all very telling, and for me, it explains why some men fear women. We give birth. That is something a man simply cannot do. If he could get pregnant, the idea of choice would be like approaching the Eucharist, that is, choice would have a sacramental quality about it.
Knowing that birth is very large part of a woman’s physical and psychological history is important, it helps us to heal. It can give us the voice we have been fighting for since the beginning of time. and allow us to build on our history in this crazy, unstable world. Men innately know women have power. Why create instrument of control titled patriarchy otherwise? Of course, sex is power…powerful enough to give we, as women the respect we deserve, and to give us the peace that we strive to live with. Indeed, as difficult as those choices are it’s my body and my choice. Once that door is recognized, “we” all becomes human beings.