Monday, March 12, 2007

Guest post —
Sex Out Loud: Celebrating a sexual tragedy as a liberating triumph

By John C. A. Bambenek

From today's University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Daily Illini, reprinted by permission of the author:

Sexuality, by its very nature, is a vulnerable thing. It involves letting someone share the deepest parts of one's body, heart and soul. It has pride of place as an expression of romantic love. In its natural form, there is no better practice of intimacy.

March 14 will be the annual Sex Out Loud fair put on by the Feminist Majority. The general point of this fair, falsely dubbed a "sexual health fair," is that as long as the physical consequences of sex can be controlled, nothing else matters. If it (physically) feels good, do it. But sex isn't solely a physical matter and by treating it as such, grave harm is done to women particularly.

"Control," "safe," "protection," these are the words that the "sexual health" groups use for sex. These attitudes are usually solely directed at controlling the physical aspects of sex.

The problem is that our sexuality cuts across all dimensions of our personhood. We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings. Sexuality embraces all of these dimensions. By shrinking sexuality to a merely physical act and then bringing the full weight of science to control the physical consequences, we've adopted a sexual mentality based on impenetrability.

With the mainstreaming of contraception in the early part of the 20th century and the invention of the pill in the 60s, sexuality began to be divorced from the natural consequences of sex. With the "consequence" of conception out of the way, people were "free" to be with anyone they wanted.

Women were supposed to be empowered to finally love as equals and have sex with as much disregard as men supposedly did. Women were now free to be with anyone, yet get close to no one. The result is that the sexual revolution has delivered grave harm to women. A "revolution" that began in hedonism has bred a generation of cynics.

Instead of vulnerability, people approach sex trying to protect themselves. Instead of an experience of a person at their deepest levels, it's an experience of mere gratification. "Protected sex" is sex that satiates but does not satisfy. The human wreckage from this idea is vast and is felt most by women.

Since men are brought up in the "bottle it up" school of emotional development, they are better equipped to handle the isolation that is a result of this sexual pathology. Women, on the other hand, are unable to escape the inevitable loneliness, depression and isolation that results from this disconnected sex.

One only needs to look at adultery to see the emotional consequences that can result from sex. Even in a "free sex" world, something about cheating on a partner still registers as one of the greatest betrayals.

After having experienced the empty promises of sexual freedom for two generations, people are rediscovering chastity and the promises it holds. Chastity isn't a new concept, it is what we already know in our hearts but refuse to acknowledge with our lips. We want to be fully and deeply accepted by another person on all levels of our being and that is only possible be reserving oneself for that "special someone."

In books such as "The Thrill of the Chaste" by Dawn Eden, women retell their conversion from "sexually liberated" to "chaste" and show through their own experience that "protected sex" does not lead to the fulfillment we really desire. In embracing the true meaning of our sexual desires, we are free to approach others in a way where we can truly be connected and not objectified. It requires vulnerability not impenetrability.

The voices of chastity are increasing as more and more people see the broken marriages, broken homes and broken hearts that are a result of "liberated sexuality." Only in vulnerability and chastity can we truly find sexual fulfillment and the intimacy our hearts desire.

Author Dawn Eden will be giving a talk at 7:30 p.m., March 13th in Newman Hall's Lewis Lounge. She will also be at the chastity booth during Sex Out Loud on March 14.