Photo by Eve of Discovery on Flickr
Here was a question sent to me:
As someone who is interested in looking at sexuality from a sex-positive point of view, and marrying that component with the idea of personal responsibility, how can we as a society navigate sexuality without it trampling on the rights of others?
This is a great question and one that for me requires a brief look at how our cultural/societal contexts have changed in recent years. This is the age of the intentional life. A wide range of everything is readily available and at our fingertips. The society we live in urban America, no longer modulates choices for us. Stores don’t close at 6pm or all day Sundays, work doesn’t end at 5pm or weekends, communication does not happen through a phone with an attached receiver nailed to the wall in the kitchen. When we had these natural limitations, space was carved out for a different kind of human relating and other choices rose to the fore. There was less opportunity for children to be exposed to material they weren’t yet ready to process, more leisure time and time for family and friends was available, and more natural exploration and creativity emerged in the blank space of time. Now it is all at our fingertips and few limits are placed. 24/7 you can watch TV, be on the net, play video-games, work, attend social events, etc., etc. We are now trying to drink life out of a fire hose… and we are drowning ourselves and each other. Life today requires new skills in order to take in what we want and can swallow. More than ever the onus is on us to intentionally craft a life that nourishes and satisfies our soul. Leave it up to the demands and distractions at our fingertips and you will end up with a life that leaves you feeling disconnected, overwhelmed and empty. If we are going to live a life that is under our jurisdiction then we are going to have to 1) decide what kind of life we want, 2) make sure that life matches our values and priorities, 3) decide what daily, weekly, monthly, yearly activities make up that life, and 4) say ‘no’ to those activities that do not serve our intentioned life.
Now to your question … I believe that this fire hose culture requires that we move our toes if we do not want to be stepped on. And when we do not want to step on the toes of others, we need to consider the “other” to the best of our ability. We need to do our part to attend to the effect of our behaviors and words. We act in love and care of us and “other”. But beyond this, we must trust others to develop the skills to differentiate between what they want to be party to and what they do not. With diminished limitations and wide open choices, toes will be stepped on if we find ourselves in places we do not want to be. While I believe we need to have a role in shaping culture and community, it no longer is prudent to look to society to not step on our toes. The onus is on us to protect and craft the life we choose. We need to remove those influences that are not helpful, uphold protective boundaries that increase the experiences we choose, become skilled at helping our children gain age appropriate understanding when they inadvertently get exposed to information too early, and help them develop the ability to critically examine if ideas, choices, options, behaviors serve us individually and as a family.
When we think of sexuality, sexual health, honoring body/mind/soul/relationship sexual expression, we need to first know what we believe. What are our definitions of these things?, How have we cultivated this in our own life?, How have we cultivated ideas or behaviors that limit these things?, What do we believe cultivates this in the lives of our children as they go through each developmental stage?, and What do we want our role to be in this?
We must be awake and intentional if we hope to limit the fire hose life to that which we want to drink.