What is Eroticism and Why is it Important?

The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.

Audre Lorde, “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” 1978

With this course, I am inviting you into a deep embodied connection to your unique erotic style–not only your sexuality, but your aliveness, your radiance, your depths, your power. The erotic is an ineffable space of intrigue, paradox, and dynamic tension. Our deepest desires and our most paralyzing fears interweave at our center. They dance through both darkness and light and birth our unique erotic style. We can experience eroticism in a moment of eye contact with a lover or in an indulgent bite of a delicious dessert.

It may seem selfish to focus on one’s own pleasure, especially in the midst of deep-seated injustice, environmental collapse, and systemic inequity. However, a deep connection to eroticism enhances not only our personal experience of life, but can help us find ways of being and ways of being in community that allow more of us to thrive rather than merely survive. Black Feminist thought leaders like Audre Lorde and adrienne maree brown beautifully articulate the power of the erotic and its relevance to social justice movements, and I highly recommend you read their work. Lorde’s definition of the erotic is fundamental to the notion of eroticism I hope you connect to through this course. She argues that we often misrepresent the erotic as a plasticized and narrow version of sexuality. Insodoing, we overlook the true power of the erotic to guide us toward our most fulfilling experiences and richest, multidimensional lives, personally and collectively. As we seek and empower our unique eroticism, sex gets better along with, well, everything else. As we prioritize the erotic–truly connected and attuned to life force itself–we create individual habits and collective structures that enhance life for all beings on this planet.

In this course, you will gain the self-knowledge and tools needed to cultivate the revelatory, liberatory, and revolutionary power of YOUR unique erotic style. We focus on the sexual as one part of the holistic tapestry of the erotic. A part that requires some extra attention because of the ways it has been shrouded, shamed, and silenced, while also hyper-valued, over-represented, and highly romanticized. As a society, we accept and depict a very narrow range of sexual expression, leaving many to feel disconnected from parts of themselves. But, when it comes to the erotic, one size does not fit all.

Using the language of the mind to talk about the erotic is a little silly, seeing as it is an ineffable force that by it’s very nature is hard to pin down. Consider sexual desire–it does not follow the neat and tidy paths our minds have created for it. Bring into your body a time when you felt a surge of erotic energy, a sense of turn on. Where does it come from? How often have you felt surprised by the situations, people, images, activities, etc. that bring this about? Our erotic energy is shaped along deep grooves in our being, places that we can’t always see clearly. It’s all a bit mysterious how it works. Our job isn’t exactly to understand why our eroticism is what it is–although we will likely have some clues–but what our unique eroticism is. We learn to attune to its energy and let it lead us toward what this deep part of us wants, even when it doesn’t make sense or feels uncomfortable.

I want to note that not all sex is erotic and not all eroticism is sexual. They just go great together. There are many other reasons to have sex other than erotic desire–stress relief, to make a child, to connect, to make money, to have fun. As long as its consensual for everyone involved, there is no right reason or way to have sex. Similarly, there are many places to experience eroticism other than sex–on the dance floor, in the garden, or in the shower, to name a few. 

In this course, we specifically explore the places of overlap between eroticism and sexuality. I want you to experience more eroticism in your sexual life, which will serve as a route through with to experience more eroticism in general.