longing, ecstacy & oneness

TEDx SF 2011 Alive - Nicole Daedone ©Suzie Kat...

Before I jump into my critique of Nicole Daedone’s TEDx talk (see YouTube clip below) I want to get something out of the way:   Hell yes.  I want to experience what she describes.  Intimate, tender, mind blowing orgasms.

Daedone’s perspective is important and her contribution to a dialogue about women and pleasure is meaningful.  While I honor and appreciate what she offers us– a different way to view and appreciate sexual intimacy– I want to offer a critique.

First, I question the title of her talk:  Orgasm:  The Cure for Hunger in the Western Woman.   Orgasm is a birthright of every woman.  Why put western women at the center?

As one of my friends pointed out, this can conjure stereotypes of the western woman as frigid and in need of liberating her repressed libido.  It can also evoke other damaging stereotypes– the non-Western woman as exotic and more primal or sexual.  I’m sure this was not the speaker’s intention.  Yet, it is important to question her choice to focus solely on Western women.

In the U.S. our culture can inhibit us from being honest and authentic about the hunger Daedone describes. Consumerism and busyness keep us distracted.  And the objectification and abuse of women can impede us from taking full pleasure in our bodies.

Yes, it’s true our relationships to our bodies, nudity, and sexuality is shaped by culture.  But the hunger Daedone describes is not a by-product of western culture.  The hunger she describes is an existential yearning.

Second, Daedone’s argument is intriguing, partly because she’s identifying universal truths.  But I question claiming one technique can satisfy an existential craving or hunger, as she puts it.

She’s right, we should absolutely embrace more pleasure, bliss, and joy in our lives.  And let’s not pretend that orgasms will miraculously cure our hunger.  Even when you have occasions of ecstasy and oneness– and I hope you have many– it is a moment.  It is a peak experience in the ebb and flow of life.

Many spiritual seekers have described having this craving or hunger satiated through other practices.  What Daedone describes certainly sounds  like a healing experience, but it is not the only experience.  Other meditative practices, chanting, prayer, or even life events like pregnancy and childbirth, can also satiate this hunger.  Why promote it as THE practice?

Lastly and most importantly, curing our hunger should not be the goal.  Your longing is a guide.   I hope you never satisfy that hunger.  Hunger for life.  Hunger for purpose.  Hunger for intimacy.   Hunger for relationship.

I hope you never feel completely satiated. Longing is the creative spark.  It is the thing that makes us risk in life and in love.  It is our muse.  Our impetus to design, create, build, forge ahead.

The goal should not be curing the hunger.  The goal should be to be   a w a k e   to our hunger, our craving, our yearning.

Maybe it is possible to have or meet a partner who will practice this with you every week or every day.  Even if you are so lucky, life requires us to continue to explore it fully, intimately. There are tools like orgasm but there are no shortcuts.  Our task is to engage with the mystery of life and to cultivate a relationship with our longing.

Daedone’s recounting of her experience eloquently describes some universal truths:

  • The value in moving from the chatter of our brains to the wisdom of our bodies.
  • The power in accessing the place in us that is knowing and not thinking all at once.
  • The primacy of human contact and relationship.
  • The significance of joy and pleasure.
  • The gift of being seen, received.
  • The strength in vulnerability.

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