photo from my series “No Penetration” exhibited at Soft Within’s art show Leftovers
it’s happened quite a few times: the surprised look when i tell someone how long i haven’t had sex. the shock when i say that the number of sexual partners i’ve been with could literally be counted on one hand. and then there’s me saying something like “lol yeah, i know, my work’s all about sex but i actually don’t have that much experience or sex per se, guess that’s life, haha, oops, um well” (yes, sophisticated speech isn’t one of my strengths). and then i talk about my demisexuality (feeling sexual attraction to people only once you’ve established some sort of bond/relationship with them), my own body limits (vaginismus), and inability to have one night stands or purely casual sex. “oh wow, aha.” then, when i’m alone again, i get into these long debates with myself about the authenticity of my ~art~ – maybe i’m just not as much of a sexual human being as i present myself to be… am i a hypocrite? am i just pretentious? am i trying to monetize (if i ever got some money off of my art, that is) sexuality? nah, because quite recently i realized where the real problem lays, and it’s definitely not my sexual experience.
one thing is that we are accustomed to think of sexuality only in connection to another person—but only to one; sex with more people is twisted and sinful and what not, of course—so whenever we say sex, we think of two people having the intercourse. sex is a union, a collaborative act, it’s two pieces forming one. only that it’s not. let alone threesomes, foursomes, i-don’t-know-how-many-somes, gangbangs etc. etc., we also completely disregard sex that is most likely to please the majority of people – masturbation. or, as i prefer to say, solo sex, to get rid of that stupid shameful stigma attached to the word “masturbation.” and, as those who joined my talk at Alt*Pride in Prague this summer already know, i think that’s a) bullshit, b) a real shame.
of course, now when you take a step back and think of it, it is extremely apparent that the force at play here is the religious anti-masturbation discourse, the holy unity of marriage, the carefully executed and maintained heteronormative system. masturbation is disgraceful and unnatural, it is something to be ashamed of, yet pretty much everyone does it, right? and why? because it’s fucking awesome. it feels amazing, it makes you relaxed, it releases happy hormones,… it’s a way of self-care, of survival tactics, of systematic rewarding and nurturing.
(hetero) sexual experience doesn’t validate or signify one’s sexuality. being (or feeling) sexual isn’t determined by one’s sex partner count (which is a really offensive practice in its essence anyway). you can definitely be a-/demi-sexual, or have trauma that makes your relationship with sex difficult, or anything else, to be interested in and openly discuss sexuality and sex as a topic. sex isn’t only about the act itself, it’s about the power dynamics, the relationship of those who perform it, gender roles, kinks, and so many other things, which can perfectly be examined quite separately.
to conclude, the visual work i do predetermines nothing about the kind of sex i have, and therefore everyone should cut out on that surprise. embracing sexuality doesn’t mean being promiscuous (which i’m not trying to bash, of course), and, what’s more, there’s no such thing as “accurate amount of sexual experience” or something like that to qualify you for talking about sex.
so, can you be interested in sex and be sex-positive even though you’ve never done it, not with someone nor solo? of course, hun!