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Not long ago in human history the human body was understood as not only a source of pleasure but also as a conduit to the divine. Human sexual experiences and the human sexual imagination and human sexual diversity were not feared. Personal sexual pleasure was private and mostly of no concern to the state. Sex was a benediction that facilitated religious and personal joy in a world where the ideas of sin or moral corruption were unknown. That sense of joy only changed when orthodox monotheism imposed dogmas that condemned human sexuality, the human body and human sexual desire as corrupting and dangerous.
In the west we now pride ourselves on being a progressive secular democracy and we encourage a modern myth of sexual freedom. We pride ourselves on our acceptance of sexual minorities and on the emancipation of women. In reality however our sexual liberalism is a façade. Religious moral disapproval about human sexual behaviour has not disappeared; it has been absorbed into the new secular language. Gender equality, objectification of women, sex addiction, paedophilia and porn, corrupting of children, stealing of innocence, prostituted women, and the list goes on; reflect old fears within the context of modern politicised language.
The old religious desire to save souls corrupted by the lure of the flesh has now become a secular fervour to save victims of sexual images and behaviour that encourage the wrong sexual conduct.
The more society is told that sex is dangerous, the more sexual angst those in authority encourage; then the more society slips into a victim mentality and into hysteria. Many societies now encourage an orgy of repressed sexual memory awakening, as suddenly and collectively incidents of historical, inappropriate sexual contact are recalled in public confession. Once, sometime in their past, someone, people publicly confess, squeezed my nipple, or a strangers hand lingered inappropriately on my body, or I saw a sexual image that stole my innocence, destroyed my life.
Not only in the media but also on social networking sites the rush to confess sexual shame has encouraged an outpouring of sexual confessions as people dredge their memory for some sexual shame, abuse, to confess.
People always want something to blame for failures in their lives. Their lack of financial success, their inability to find a partner, loneliness, the list goes on and sex is now the new easy scapegoat. A whole army of sex experts with religious fervour encourage this victim mentality and tell the public that confession will heal them.
Even criminals, the perpetrators of sexual violence, of rape, look to shirk personal responsibility for their actions and in defence blame pornography, violent sexual images for turning them into criminals and rapists.
Sex should never be a convenient scapegoat for bad behaviour or lack of personal responsibility. I worry that this new, modern hysteria over sexual abuse, this easy argument that sexual imagery is corrupting, not only deflects from the victims of real and terrible sexual abuse but actually manufactures victims.
Many societies, throughout history have succumbed to similar emotionalised hysterias, often with tragic consequences. A pack mentality always evolves as people encouraged by government usually for its own motives, appropriate victim-hood easily and look for scapegoats and too easily then empower government to censor their freedom. And freedoms once lost are very difficult to win back.
The reality however is that sexual victim-hood is a reflection of our sexually damaged society, damaged not by sexual images or by sex workers, but rather by unhealthy societal attitudes toward human sexuality. That unhealthy influence permeates through out society. Our legal structures for example assume that sex is harmful and by criminalising sexual freedom, criminalising images, criminalising sex work, the law empowers stigma and fear. Stigma and fear in turn perpetuate myths and in such circumstances truth, like personal responsibility, becomes an easy victims to panic, to hysteria, to a blame culture.
As sex workers we have a duty to explain that sex is not just a reproductive act which orthodox monotheism teach is its only purpose. Sex is also the cement that binds a relationship, it is an expression of joy, it is pleasurable in both the giving and the receiving, and many believe that sexual fulfilment is an important requisite for personal health and happiness.
In many cultures, both now and in history, a healthy sex life was and is understood as important for maintaining a healthy mind and body. Therefore as sex workers we who do not just defend sexual freedom for the individual with logical argument but we must engage with sex as an expression of joy rather than of guilt. We must encourage society and individuals to rediscover their innocence that was forcibly stolen from them, to find a sense of joy which is our heritage and which was destroyed by an orthodox monotheist dogma that understood human sexuality only in negative terms.
A dogma that has destroyed so many lives and caused so much stress to humanity must not, by appropriating modern language, and modern fears, also be allowed to again deny our sexual freedom or to treat us as children.
If sex workers are truly to be accepted, if society is to escape its morbid fear of its own sexual desires then society must rediscover sex as a positive benefit for everyone. Sex should be fun and joyful but like everything that is pleasurable, spiritual, there has to be understood that there is also a personal responsibility. Sex is not an excuse for your failures or bad behaviour only you are responsible for your actions.
One day perhaps we may be able to view an erect penis with wings, painted on the walls of our houses and smile and know it as an image of benediction rather than an image that will corrupt us and our children. To achieve that freedom however we have to take back control of sex and remove government from our bedrooms and assume responsibility for our sex lives.
Are we grown up enough as a society to do that?