Having a Type 1 Enneagram personality (The Perfectionist) comes with many advantages. I’m naturally organised, righteous, and really good at coming up with solutions. What it also comes with is the desire to be good and moral, while any blurring of boundaries regarding the good-ness of something upsets my perfectionistic mind. As a result, the contrasting connotations around sex we’re constantly bombarded with, and my, sometimes rigid, experience of spirituality, meant that my relationship between the two has been rather uneasy.
Fortunately, being conscious of this uneasiness I knew I had to find someone to rock my boat, shake me out of rigidity and introduce new ideas that’d help me to find a healthier, more balanced perspective. I knew when I met Lisa Lister, “menstrual maven + spiritual guide-ess dedicated to sharing fierce + feminine mastery + badass-ery with gutsy girls in a practical, no-BS way while wearing leopard-print and maybe busting a Burlesque move or two,” that I’d found the right person to do so! Do I really need to say why?
Her answers rocked my boat, shook me out of rigidity, introduced new ideas, and I’m now a different person:
Sex and spirituality don’t mix very well in text or conversation. Is sex fundamentally unspiritual?
Hell no! Unfortunately, over the last 2,000 years spirituality and sex have become mutually exclusive, and the act of sex has become one that we’re made to feel dirty or shameful about. Yet, we have more access to visual representations of sex than ever before thanks to the internet, so our view and perception of what’s ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ has become incredibly distorted. FYI: There’s no good, bad, right or wrong – just a glorious range of different flavours of both sex and spirituality.
We’ve been made to believe that sex and spirituality are opposites, but just as spirituality does not equate to ‘good’ or ‘pure’, sex does not equate to ‘bad’ or ‘dirty’. Spirituality is an apple, sexuality is a pear. There is no cosmic grade system, no scale of purity or holiness in which we find spirituality at one end looking like a pre-pubescent boy-band member, while sexuality is at the other end working it like an extra from Game of Thrones, all bearded, dirty and wearing a top knot. They’re both totally necessary and healthy ingredients to experiencing an awesome life.
There seems to be a lot of shame and guilt surrounding our genitals, yet they are determining factors in the way our life unfolds. What is it about that area of our body that brings up such contrasting feelings?
This is such a big question, and I can only speak to my experience of my lady landscape. Society isn’t very nice to vaginas/vulvas/yonis/our lady parts. From a really young age, we’re taught that they are somehow bad, wrong or dirty. We’re taught that they’re offensive and disgusting. It’s become expected that we groom them, or remove hair all together to meet the aesthetic expectation of men – there are girls as young as thirteen worrying if their vulva is ugly because they’ve found an article online telling them how to ‘fix’ their lady parts.
It’s assumed that the purpose of a vagina is for heterosexual sex. When we were young, we all discovered that touching or rubbing our ‘lady parts’ felt good. Yet pretty soon after, (or even before) we are told that women touching themselves is not normal or acceptable, and that doing so is dirty and shameful, as are our bodies – while a boy masturbating is seen as totally normal and acceptable. Basically, vaginas are the objects of a cultural hate-fest, and while, in the words of Tay Tay Swift, haters gon’ hate, the impact of this hate-fest runs deep.
It effects self-worth, self-esteem and how we show up in the world, because there’s a disconnect between us and our power source. When women are disconnected from their lady landscape, not only will they be more likely to experience ‘down there’ dis-ease like PCOS, Endometriosis, fibroids, heavy bleeding, cramping and PMS, they will also be more susceptible to depression and anxiety because they feel powerless and have no idea as to why. It’s like asking Wonder Woman to function without her lasso. Not cool, right?
How can we have a healthy, spiritual relationship with sex and our genitals?
We need to reconnect with our sexual and sensual nature.
We need to understand that our cultural conditioning is not necessarily our truth.
We need to know that talking about sex, touching ourselves or other people’s genitals (with their consent, obv) and most importantly finding pleasure in doing that, is totally okay.
We need to know that it’s not dirty, it’s not shameful, it’s not wrong, and that it’s actual fun, pleasurable, spiritual, love-fuelled orgasmic goodness.
In SHE Flow, I invite women to move their bodies in a way that feels good. I do this because I want them to forget about what it looks like, and simply let their bodies be led by their innate feminine essence. This is so important, because when we stop looking outside of ourselves for validation or for the answers as to what’s right and wrong, we stop being concerned about how it looks, and instead just turn our attention to how it feels.
We begin to hear our own inner call. The call that, for women, lies in their womb, and for dudes in their hara. When this energy is awakened within us, we can begin to fully reclaim our power. We are then able to trust that we know exactly what we need, want and require, and that it’s okay for it to feel good and pleasurable. And if it does feel good and pleasurable, to have the confidence and self-worth to ask for more, and if it doesn’t, to have the self-respect to say ‘no’ – both in and out of the bedroom.
Lisa Lister is a writer and a menstrual, fertility and reproductive health practitioner. She is the founder of the SHE Flow system, which invites women to celebrate the fiercely feminine, sensual pleasure of being a woman through movement, massage, mysteries and magic. Lisa is dedicated to helping women crack their lady code, reconnect with their body wisdom and love their lady landscape. www.thesassyshe.com