While I was always aware of devotees of the sacred school of sexuality or neo Tantra in Melbourne, in Byron it is the only kind of sex-positivism I have seen. It’s not an approach to sexuality with which I am comfortable, but one I have tended to shy away from and I’m not sure why.

Last year I attended a Tantric massage course (hosted by the amazingly sex-positive Passionfruit The Sensuality Shop) to get a feel for what Tantra is all about, and while I saw much of value, part of the sacred sexuality approach still doesn’t sit right.

I don’t think it’s just because I don’t associate spirituality with sex, or that I don’t value spirituality on some level (a conflict me and my rational side need to work through at some point). And it’s not that I don’t believe sacred and Tantric sexuality have something valuable to offer—they do.

Much Tantric work focuses on mindfulness of the body and breath; it stresses focusing on pleasure and incorporating pleasurable practices into your every day. It deemphasises sex as a linear, goal-driven, male-oriented race to ejaculation, and provides a more holistic experience. So far so good—no complaints from me. So why does it feel so false, so full of wank that I cringe away? Even the voice I use in my head when I say it sounds wanky (‘Tah-n-tra’).

For some reason when I think of sacred sexuality, it sets off my bullshit meter. I picture caftans and communes (i.e. abusive sex cults), or people publicly displaying a kind of seventies big-bush sexuality that feels particularly unsexy to me. Have I simply been brainwashed to see sex in one specific way, through the male objectifying gaze, where sleaze equals sexy? Or is something else going on?

That I react so strongly tells me I need to hold this up to see what lies underneath. Does sacred sexuality resonate with a part of me that I have repressed? Am I hiding behind a false rational self, and then projecting my rejected spirituality onto others? Is it a mirror for what I don’t want to see?

Or do I see what Tantric devotees are trying to hide? The part that seems too much like sex-negativity dressed sex up as spiritual expression, a haven for those too frightened, ashamed or guilty to admit they are horny and want to fuck.

On some level, that is how it feels. As if those who follow the sacred sexuality path have never really addressed their shame around sex, but have simply found a more acceptable way to package it. Is this sex-negativity in spirituality’s clothing? I’m sure that isn’t true for many, but that’s how it can seem.

I’m not comfortable packaging my sexual urges as sacred, where every touch, every breath, every interaction, is an act of spiritual love. I feel the same when people say women only desire sex in the context of romance. For me sex isn’t always about love or romance. Sometimes it’s about being sad, anxious, happy, or bored. Sometimes it’s emotional, but often it’s not. Sometimes I am just horny and want a linear objectifying race-to-the-end fuck.

But what if Tantra (like romance novels) isn’t so much a costume to hide behind, as some makeup and muted lighting to help soften the shame of raw animal gratification, that makes sex more acceptable and therefore accessible? Isn’t sex in disguise better than no sex at all?

Maybe it’s time to push my preconceptions aside and find out what sacred sexuality is really about, and the many ways individuals experience it. I’d love to hear your stories along the way (please share your comments or email me). Who knows, I may become a convert. Just don’t let me start wearing a caftan and pronouncing it ‘Tah-n-tra’.

Related articles

Related
In the heat of the moment

In the heat of the moment

Negotiating safe sex should be straightforward. But when those involved fear rejection and judgement, when we associate asking for a condom with calling someone ‘dirty’, when we are socialised to defer to others, it gets complicated.