By I.J Partow
This quarter, a good friend of mine encouraged me to inspect closely the language I used when speaking about sex. I remember I used the word “fuck” at a party one night in describing a scene in my past sexual history. “Watch it,” he shot back, “be careful with that word.” I wrote him off as one of those people who gets emotional about sex and tried to push it out of my mind. But that sentence stuck with me.
Over the next few weeks, on my nights out with friends when sex came up, I thought about that sentence. Being a young woman, and one who considers herself independent, I most often describe sexual intercourse with the verbs “to fuck” or “to have sex.” I can recall myself proudly bragging to my friends that “I’ve never made love,” and as cocky as I sounded when I said it, I wondered why it is that I felt that way and that my friends did not. “Do you think making love is possible?” I’d ask them, and most of the time they’d nod quietly yes. I’d like to think that it’s because I’m less sentimental, but I must think that there’s more to it than that.
So I sat down and thought about love. I wondered why I felt I’d never “made love” with any of my previous partners, and also why the word made me so uncomfortable. I wondered if it was a magic thing that just bestows itself on a situation, or if I would just know it when it hit me. Another friend of mine told me that he’s slept with upward of 30 women, but has only made love three times. I’m not sure if that’s three times with one person, or three times with three partners, but that elusiveness struck again. So there you go. I figured there was no rhyme or reason.
In the meantime, spring quarter raged on. Single, and determined to make the most of my last quarter at UC Santa Cruz, I willed myself to really live. And I did. I met people, I spoke with people, I kissed people. I thought about love when I saw them and when I touched them. I tried to actively love all of the people around me, sexually and not.
And things began to change. In my interpersonal reactions, I became more compassionate. I became patient, kinder, I moved more slowly. I relished people’s quirks and details, versus becoming estranged by them.
And when I encountered new partners, I forced myself to think about language. Maybe this isn’t fucking, I’d tell myself. Maybe it’s just sex. And just sex became sex. And sex became nice, and I started to push myself to care a little more. Maybe sex is loving. It’s connecting. I’ve got to love.
Now whether making love or not really exists, I haven’t quite figured it out there. I think it’s still too big of a battle for me to wage. After all, I can’t say it without cringing. But I do think I’m getting there. And I will say this — intention changes everything.
Physically speaking, what does sex do? Sex is the interaction of body parts for physical pleasure. But why do we long to give each other pleasure? I think that one could argue that it’s biological, the same forces that drive us to eat and drink. But like food, we have long evolved from simple gatherers of nuts, berries and the occasional wildebeest. Food is now duck confit and roasted rosemary potatoes.
Sex too, then, must have evolved past mere instinct. Coupled with human consciousness, it’s evolved past reproduction, to pleasure, to hedonism, to spirituality. So I would recommend taking some conscious thought and applying it to the physical act, just to see what comes up. I know that for me, it changed everything.