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  • Writer's pictureEsther

My Sex Doesn't Need To Be Made Into Art To Be Acceptable

When I used to tell people I was an exotic dancer, I would get a hugely varied response. Generally the response would be positive, especially from other women, but the most frequent thing a person would do when I told them was begin to try to justify it to me, and I suppose to themselves. They would say it’s no different from burlesque, reference pole fitness (which takes its technique from strippers, in strip clubs) and talk of belly-dancing and other scantily-clad cultural dance practices.

I remember my mother talking about how it was almost like an art-form, or a performance, becoming a new character, painting my face and adorning myself in a certain way.

But it never felt like an art-form, not in that way; it never felt like burlesque or belly-dancing.

It was more primal, intimate and viceral than that.

It was a performance of sexuality, seduction and desire.

Women’s bodies have been treated like commodities for so long, our nude silhouettes cover canvases, gallery walls and the ceilings of cathedrals. We’ve been taught our bodies are sacred, to be kept for one person only - and only after marriage. We’ve learnt that nudity outside of our morning shower, or our intimate time with a partner, is only acceptable to others if it is in the form of creative artistic expression, by someone else or by ourselves but always for other peoples enjoyment.

Burlesque, modelling for life-drawing classes, posing for glamour shoots to be sold to magazines or alternative lingerie shoots where their only saving grace is that they can be called art. Artistically lit, artistically draped, beautiful lingerie, immaculate make-up, perhaps making some political or social statement.

Our sexuality is treated as though it is only for others, never for us. It is for a partner or an audience. Anywhere else and it has to be given excuses.

I dispute this.

My sexuality isn’t art, but it is artistic.

My sexuality isn’t a gift I keep to give away, but it is sacred.

My sexuality is fluid and constantly transforming who I am and how I feel and express myself.

It is the root of my feminine power, the root of my creative energy, and my root back to the divine within me.

It is all of these things, and on occasion it has also been something I have used to create an income stream to support and sustain myself, in the form of exotic dancing (lap-dancing/stripping).

Exotic dancing has been a lot of things for me, it has been a spiritual experience of getting back to my body, stepping into my power, taking back control, reconnecting with my sensuality and desirability after trauma. It has been a form of abundance that my body created for me and that gave me a very positive relationship with my body purely for this reason. It has been empowering and disempowering, just as many things can be at different times. It has hurt me and healed me, as many things can.

It’s brought me friendship and sisterhood, belief in my ability to take care of myself, unshakable boundaries, and a deeper knowledge of who I am as a person.

It requires skill to create and step into a new character, although at times I danced as simply me. It takes time to design a creature of desire with make-up and lace and leather and learn to walk and dance in high heels. It takes stamina to work shifts sometimes up to 15 hours long in those heels, and perform dance after dance on the pole and in private booths. To be able to find some way of connecting with every stranger you meet and creating a human experience that is more than just a transaction.

It has involved ritual at times, visualisation, affirmations, spell-casting, blessing perfumes, gemstones in the stuffing of my bra and taped to the inside of thigh high boots. Lucky charms and manifesting rituals like kissing and thanking each note I have earned before it is counted and paid into the bank.

Like everything in my life is has been at some point a sacred experience and a toxic one, an art form and a chore, both painful and pleasurable, deeply joyful and cripplingly sad. And thats fine.

I don’t need anyone to provide me with excuses, or tell me its like belly dancing or burlesque, if it were I would have done those instead. It wasn’t.

Sexuality in all it’s expressions does not need to be an art form to be worthy or right.

It is not for others, though we may share it with them when we want to.

It doesn’t need to be covered in feathers and glitter, painted in oils on a wall, or beautifully lit as erotic music plays in the background. It doesn’t need to be kept for a god or a person, though you may choose to do this and that is perfect for you and your sexual expression.

As it is, it is perfect, and does not and will never need justifying.

With BIG love and deep bows,

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