Madonna? Whore? Getting in Touch with the Erotic Self

Tue, 12/01/2009 - 09:31
Submitted by Shula Melamed
Betty Dodson original drawing

After taking my first (and admittedly last) pole dance class I had the kind of juicy participant observer experience that nosy, action oriented researchers such as myself just love. Although I did enjoy the experience of taking the class my intention was to unpack the phenomenon rather than get swept away in it, hence one class.

Something that really struck me after taking the pole dance class was the whole concept of the "erotic creature". The instructor led us through a series of exercises that involved mindful, sensual, and positive appraisal of one's own body. The idea of attending to one's shape, especially one's curvy, feminine shape is not an activity usually practiced at the gym - the idea usually, is to get rid of it. The moves were organic and the vibe created by the instructor was somewhat meditative. It was all feeling pretty great until the instructor started asking us to have a conversation with our erotic creature, this got me thinking about an old dichotomy.

Women have always had pressure to compartmentalize their sexuality. Most classically this is illustrated within the Madonna/whore dichotomy, in other words there are two types of girls the kind you bring home to mom or the kind you bring home, period, without even taking her to dinner first. Jokes aside, we are allowed many other expressions of female sexuality currently than in other points in history. This being said there are still "sluts" and good girls and we are reminded by our culture, parents, peers and media that it is better to be one than the other. Oh and of course there are always exceptions. In this constrained vision of the world the ideal woman or girl should be superficially sexy but not materially sexual.

In the class we were asked about our "creature" that was kind of a part of ourselves, yet referred to in the third person (i.e. instructor asking us to ask our erotic creature questions - "How is she feeling right now?" "What is she telling you?"). Pretty safe compared to the body salience through self-touch. The creature is wild and expresses the erotic energy, while the self monitors its states. I wondered about this split as the students were presumably silently asking their erotic creature how it was feeling. Wasn't the point to get in touch with the erotic self?

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Interesting. I don't

Wed, 12/02/2009 - 10:23
Anonymous (not verified)

Interesting. I don't necessarily see it as a split bit as part of a whole. However, I can see how the teacher was telling the class to speak to it directly as if it was it's own entity because some people have no relationship at all to their female energy, to their "creature", oftentimes, disregarding it altogether or bashing it with self-hatred. Perhaps a relationship and a true love with your "creature" first needs to be established before you get in touch with your whole erotic self.