Protecting your energy while feeling sexy
As I walk down the street in Paris, I want to feel my best, to feel sexy, to feel sexually empowered, to feel like a million-dollar baby, to feel like a confident, sexy machine eliciting double-takes from women and men alike.
But it’s not always that easy. Upon deeper reflection, I realize two things. Number 1: when I observe men observing me — like really observing me — I almost immediately worry about my safety. This leads me to feel vulnerable and exposed, and I struggle to find the radiating confidence of me a moment before. I find myself in an uncomfortable situation for just wanting to walk down the street and feel sexy, empowered, and confident.
The second thing relates to a broader social taboo surrounding women’s sexual empowerment. Sometimes I want to feel like Jessica Rabbit walking down the street. I want men to look at me, and I want them to undress me in their minds. After all, I’ve worked hard to build this sexiness and self-confidence. Still, something tells me that society will not accept me if I walk down the street, swinging my hips and throwing sexy stares. Is that true? Will I be labeled and slut-shamed? Will they say I am “asking for it”?
What is making me ask myself these questions? Why can’t I freely enjoy my newfound sexual empowerment? What is the problem?
I talked to Sex and Pleasure coach Clarke Rose to deepen my sexual empowerment education. With a degree in gender, sexuality, and social studies, Clarke is an expert on women’s pleasure and erotic potential, and her passion is to help people awaken their sexual experiences. She works/studies under Melbourne sexologist Chantelle Otten, and Clarke runs her own blog and holds counseling sessions with clients from all over the world.
The most powerful thing I took away from my discussion with Clarke is the role of other people’s influence on my search for sexual empowerment. For the sex coach, a vital part of this journey is figuring out what makes us feel this way. “A lot of us, myself included, “feel” sexually empowered in minimal clothing, perhaps even when catering to a patriarchal view of beauty… This is not our fault”. Clarke added that we have been trained from a very young age to seek others’ acceptance, even from the patriarchy. Clarke added that the patriarchy’s acceptance makes us feel good and empowered sometimes, this made me understand why I have mixed feelings walking down the street while trying to feel sexy.
Sure, we live in a culture that relentlessly objectifies women. When someone sees a sexy woman walking down the street, maybe they desire sex, perhaps they do not. My question is: why can’t the observer appreciate a woman’s beauty and move on with their day, instead of making them feel uncomfortable? Maybe they can argue that they see me walking down the street in Paris swinging my hips and that that sort of response is a way of appreciation, but come on… as a society, haven’t we learned by now that street harassment is, well, harassment? Why shouldn’t I be able to be sexually empowered as I walk down the street?
“Sexual empowerment to me is knowing when you want to have sex and when you don’t want to have sex. And also having a somewhat regular self-love and self pleasure practice”. — Clarke Rose
When I was younger and saw beautiful, graceful women walking down the street or at a bar or a museum, I always thought about how much I wanted to be like them, baffled by how easy they made it look to just radiate sex. For me, feeling sexy has been a crucial step in my journey to confidence and self-esteem. And now that I’m coming out on the other side, I’m happy I fought for it; I’m glad that I learned to enjoy my body for the sake of my pleasure, for how it makes me feel.
Trying to find a correct definition of sexual empowerment can be challenging. So, what is sexual empowerment? I think this can be open to interpretation, and it depends on who you ask. The most important thing to know is that it starts from within like any form of empowerment. It is a way of expressing your desires, expressing yourself sexually, alone, and with others. The critical component of sexual empowerment is knowing that it’s a process. You don’t necessarily become sexually empowered overnight and culture, traditions, and society can sometimes misinform or influence this journey. The search for sexual empowerment is a process, so sometimes I had to find a relationship between my mind, body, and desires. I’m still working on it because sometimes your desires can be very new and challenging to understand, but exploring them can empower you in unimaginable ways.
“Nonetheless, we must ask: what is sexual empowerment to me? What does true sexual freedom look like? What do I feel good in versus what have I been TOLD I feel good in? At what moments in my life have I felt sexually empowered?” — Clarke Rose
The more I learned from Clarke, the more I understood just how subjective sexual empowerment is. According to her, finding empowerment from the outfits, you wear outside can, unfortunately, be tricky, as you can feel sexy with your new bikini at the beach. Still, at the same time, there may be sexual harassment and negative energy from men “around the corner.” She recommends that when facing this situation, you have to do what feels good. “Sometimes wearing that mini skirt feels good, and it’s worth it, sometimes you know it will be a day of harassment and fear, so maybe wear jeans! The goal is to protect YOUR energy,” she said.
Along with sexual empowerment comes sex, the word itself has it, but sometimes people are afraid to talk about it or bring it up. For Clarke, part of sexual empowerment is knowing when you want to have sex and don’t want to have sex. When I saw this answer from a Sex and Pleasure coach, I was overjoyed; because on my journey, this is very close to the definition that I feel comfortable with.
“I’m not saying change what you wear for men. I’m saying wear something that protects your energy and your time. I hate that we even live in a world where I have to say this. But if you want to say “fuck it, it’s not my responsibility to not turn men on” like I have MANY TIMES”. — Clarke Rose
During my conversation with Rose, I learned that it is normal to struggle with this search for sexual empowerment because it’s also about learning to love your body. “Sexual empowerment is feeling good in your body and being able to love your body even when you’re maybe feeling bad in it. It’s recognizing your sexual worth and knowing that you don’t have to have sex or look a certain way to be a “sexual being,” she explained. To this, she added that we don’t have to ‘prove’ our sexuality to anyone.
Talking to Clarke Rose, I realized that it’s possible to be sexually empowered without feeling ashamed. I will always find new ways to feel more empowered, sexy, and beautiful, but it is essential to connect my mind and body. Sexual empowerment is not only about sex and desire, but it isn’t what others tell you either; it’s your own path to self-discovery and enjoying yourself by always taking care of your soul and body. There is a lot of confusion around this topic, which is why you should always seek help if you feel lost in this search. It’s not just about empowerment and “being strong,” for me; it’s also about being comfortable with sex, sexiness, desires, and all the words that circle sexual empowerment. I’m sharing my journey, questions, and thoughts to think about this without self-judgment, so you know it’s normal to have doubts. Be sexually empowered, love yourself, discover yourself, but most importantly, respect yourself along the way.