My first personal foray into the land of sexuality was Little Birds by author Anaïs Nin. I don’t remember my age at the time but based on the 1979 publication date, I imagine that it was during my university course work, a time when my sexuality was taking form in ways that would influence my 20s and 30s, my relationships with men and of course, my relationship with myself.
As I’ve grown older and have delved deeper into women’s health issues, I have realized that sex and sexuality often come with a price tag for many, many women. And, as sex educator, speaker and sexual health writer Walker Thornton so aptly points out in her new primer — Inviting Desire — we really don’t have any other option than to take charge of our sexual desire in order to release ourselves from ‘distorted, unhealthy perceptions about female sexuality.’
Nin was helping women, like myself, do that at a very young age, awakening our senses through an exploration of characters’ sexual awakenings and blossoming. So, what happened? Aging happened, family changes, financial challenges, marriage challenges, empty nest challenges. For many women, these challenges became a priority and our sense of our selves as sexual beings took a back seat. At this time in our lives, Thornton offers us a way through the fog; she is the new non-fiction Nin, with a goal to help older women thoroughly explore imagination, language, thoughts and physicality. The main character? Ourselves.
Thornton writes that “learning to awaken your sexual desire is about you as an individual,” also noting that “life doesn’t always present us with what we really want, when we want it, and in the exact way that we planned.” Lord knows that as we grow older, we learn to accept and embrace those uncertainties. However, she also says that pleasure does not have to wait for (fill in the blank); we ourselves, have the ability to take control and create the sexual pleasure that we desire.
She simply asks for 30 days of your time, and in return, delivers the freedom from the chains that bind many women by the time they enter the second half of their lives.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anaïs Nin
Time to (re)blossom, don’t you think?!