Article: Self-Care Tips For Sexual Activists

If there’s anything that the actions of recent political leaders have shown us anything recently it’s that sex is a radical act.

Sex is something that people try to keep in the dark, regulate, or in other ways repress.

When a country comes after sex people also don’t tend to bat an eyelid (at least not at first) but this is a grave error. The act of trying to regulate sex is the act of trying to regulate some of our most intimate actions and emotions. It comes straight in to our homes—in to our bedrooms—and aims to regulate our bodies and thoughts—our very being.

Sex may not be everything, but it is a pervasive aspect of most people’s lives, and so attempts to suppress sex and sexuality carry a huge amount of significance and, again, I repeat…

Sex Is a Radical Act

Given the above I’m sure most people are on board with this idea.

After all, if systems of power typically try to either control or subdue sex and sexuality, then any act that involves you reclaiming power over these things (including sex) is a radical defiance of these systems of power and their intentions.

And if this is the case (which it is) then just imagine what writing about sex, selling sex toys, or otherwise making your enthusiasm for (or experiences with) sex be known can do? This is where sex itself can become a form of activism.

Credit to David Shankbone.

Sexual Warriors Are Social Warriors

Or social mages, social bards, or whichever character class you’d rather play outside of warrior (props to Dangerous Lilly for this sentence).

By being explicit in highlighting sex, those who make sex more visible essentially strike out against harmful or restrictive presuppositions about sex and help people realize that sex is dynamic, empowering, emotionally diverse, and (here it comes again) radical.

And this doesn’t just include positive sexual experiences. People need to know that sex can hurt just as much as they need to know that sex can feel awesome. They need to hear about sex and depression, as much as they need to know that the G-Spot is a thing and it (can be) fucking amazing.

Sex isn’t perfect. Sex is complex. And the more we normalize discussing sex the more we support each other and disrupt the harmful thinking patterns that are propagated through systems of suppression and sexual glorification.

Sex is neither dreadful nor perfect, but it is important.

If ever you doubt that, just click through some of the links included in this section. You’ll soon realize just how important sex (and visibility) can be.

When The Battle’s Lost and Won…

But, as you can probably imagine, if you decide to take up sex with the same passion and energy as any other form of social activism then eventually your batteries will get drained.

Sometimes such activities can feel like an ongoing war—with multiple battles, not all of which will be successful or fulfilling.

So what does a sexual warrior (mage/bard/druid) do when they find themselves running on empty?

Tavern time.

Okay, this analogy isn’t perfect (especially if you don’t drink) but you get my point. Every now and then it’s important to take a step back, find a point of refuge, and do the things you need to do in order to find enjoyment and lift your spirits.

Why?

Because your mind is like a hot air balloon and self-care is the fuel that keeps it in the air. Any tasks or duties you take on go in to the basket and weight you down, but as long as you have enough fuel then you can stay in the air and enjoy the view with equanimity.

Balance is key.

However, begin weighing things down too much and/or not applying enough fuel and you’ll soon find yourself hitting the ground hard. This doesn’t help anyone—not yourself nor those people/tasks that you’re carrying in your basket. In order for things to stay in the air a balance must be achieved. So how is this done?

Of course, your ‘tavern time’ will be very different from mine and may vary greatly depending on your approach to sexual activism. Someone who runs an adult store might have different needs to someone who is engaged in grassroots activism, for example. But here are a few tavern-tips that work well for me and that I hope will work well for others.

Take A ‘Self’ Day

Sometimes you need a day just for yourself to do thing for yourself on your terms.

And, no, this doesn’t mean you can’t write or can’t go on social media (or anything else that is involved in your sexual activism) but it does mean that you’re doing so with the intension of taking care of yourself rather than managing your cause or the needs of others.

We’ve been taught to believe that time to ourselves is selfish—that we owe ourselves to the world. But guarding our time, space, and wellbeing is a necessary part of life which then allows us to give ourselves to those we care about when such action is required.

This ‘self’ day can be whatever you want too. Perhaps it’s lying in bed and marathoning your favourite show. Perhaps it’s doing an actual marathon (or some other form of physical activity). Or perhaps it goes on for more than just a day (we all need a holiday from time-to-time).

The important part is nurturing yourself and allowing yourself the time and space needed to reapproach your cause with renewed energy. You deserve it!

Spend Time With Friends (or Peers)

Just like time alone is important, time with others is vital too.

Humans are social creatures and we thrive on interacting with others. It’s not just for extroverts either—we all need to interact with others from time-to-time.

This one is hard to remember at times (at least in my experience). We may make arrangements and then suddenly feel overwhelmed by the obligation or that we’d be better huddled up at home with a yummy hot chocolate.

Sometimes this is, indeed, the case, but here’s something I’ve learned—motivation does not always come before action. You could be dreading something (or feeling apathetic) but then come the end of it all look back with fondness and a huge grin on your face. But you’ll never know until you do.

So go spend some time with friends. Meet all the people. Do all the things. You may just surprise yourself with how much you enjoy it.

Peer-based events are invaluable.

Equally occasionally it’s vital to be around people working in the same field as you or championing the same cause. Communal bonds are at their strongest when empathy comes easily and being around people who ‘get you’ can be incredibly validating and assuring.

This became instantly apparent when I attended Eroticon last week and I am sure that such events are crucial. But if you want to read about that then go here instead.

Embrace Insults

Slut shaming. Body shaming. Queer phobia. The list goes on.

When you talk about sex people sure do love to insult you. Yes—insult—not discuss, nor debate, nor disagree. Those are all different (and valid) forms of engagement, but insults are never constructive.

Until you subvert them.

Credit to Bill Burris.

History has shown that sometimes the most powerful way to devalue derogatory slurs is to reclaim them with vehement enthusiasm and pride. Just think of certain activities among the LGBTQI+ community, or even slut walks. How about the word ‘cunt’ too? That’s one I’m still personally trying to reclaim so I know first-hand the power that can come from reconciling your relationship with terminology.

I could go on about this more, but I personally think that Caitlin Moran has this covered:

“I am a massive slag!” I think to myself, in a motivational way. “I’m a Lady Sex Adventuress! I’m a Pirate of Privates! I’m a swashfuckler! I’m a friendly, noble, massive slag – and now I’m going to have my slag breakfast. I think of “Teenage Whore” by Courtney Love as by way of my personal anthem.

Damned straight.

Seek Reassurance

But, by way of balance, sometimes it’s necessary to reach out and seek validation too.

Sometimes people will make you doubt yourself. Sometimes words do hurt.

They may even be moments where you ask if what you’re doing is even worth it. Perhaps even if you have worth.

If this is the case then please, please reach out.

There is an entire community around you and they will make it swiftly known that you are never alone.

They’ll also be able to talk through any issues with you, offer care advice, and perhaps even help you address any legitimate concerns that may have emerged.

Just remember we are here for you and there is no shame in approaching us. We want to help, and you deserve help because you are, without a doubt, worth it.

Aaaand, finally…

Fuck

Fuck in your own way.

Fuck for pleasure.

Fuck for yourself and for whoever you enjoy fucking it.

Fuck until everything else fades away. Until you’re completely immersed in the moment—in your own pleasure.

Thank you Durex.

It’s amazing how rarely sex writers and sexual activists actually enjoy sexual activities solely for themselves.

Reviewers are typically appraising a product. Erotic authors may be thinking about how an experience would be perfect for their next chapter and so on and so forth.

When sex is your cause sex, your cause can often manifest during your sex and this can become a problem.

So nip that shit in the bud and allow yourself to have unapologetically work-free, activism-free sex. Even if only rarely and even if it’s hard at first.

Sex is at the heart of what we do but so is personal autonomy and individual liberation and just as we fight for sexual freedom so, too, do we deserve it. That includes freedom from our cause too, and there’s no shame in that.

And That’s All For Now!

This article is not exhaustive and I feel like there’s so much more to be said, but I’m only one person.

What’ I’d really love is if the discussion continued in the comments (or on social media) and we all shared our best ‘tavern-time’ tips. Buuut no obligation. My fight is not yours, after all.

A huge thank you to Formidable Femme, whose Eroticon talk ‘Sex Blogging as Feminism and Social Justice’ inspired this talk. A big thank you to Knicker Rocker Glory, too, who sponsored my attendance at Eroticon. Please support their work and support each other. As fellow sex enthusiasts y’all are all allies in the fight for sexual freedom and expression and (as the cliché goes) ‘y’all’ means ‘all’.