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Dirty Thirty: Some thoughts on maturity

I celebrated my thirtieth birthday recently, as the shot glass full of penis candy covered by a condom pictured above indicates. My affinity for talking and writing about sex prompted my dear friends to throw me a Dirty Thirty, and it was a lovely time.

I admit I had to work through a few hang-ups around the big three-O. Typical worries about if I have made the most of my time so far, where I want to be in the next ten years and how to get there have been swirling in my mind for a few years leading up to this milestone. And the ever present knowledge of my disability and chronic conditions weigh heavy on my heart some days when I think about my future, my loved ones, and my writing. But I continue to be grateful, give thanks, celebrate life, and make decisions that the future me will thank me for, whatever that future may look like.

But a topic that is most pertinent to this blog and my sex writing is a word that has gnawed at my thoughts since before I even became a sex writer. And that word is: immature. As my friends geared up to throw a penis and breast decorated soirée, as I outlined the work I wanted to tackle in the upcoming year, as I planned for ways to celebrate both my sensuality and my professionalism, I kept grappling with a long held insecurity: that talking about sex is immature. Being open about sex is immature. Expressing pleasure, sexuality, and desire is immature.

This insecurity has its roots, for me, in many places. As a visibly disabled person, I was often asexualized and my agency belittled. As I grew into my sexuality and battled to balance it with the rest of my life, I was particularly sensitive to attitudes that purported nice, civilized people don't talk about THOSE things.

My work in promoting sexual fantasies and all the trimmings that come with that-- such as masturbation, pornography, and erotica-- also often comes under the scrutiny of “immature”, for being selfish or a sign that a person is out of control, letting their instincts and desires drive their actions and decisions.

Indeed, there has been more than one time in my career that I've taken pause to wonder if the work I do stems from a place of obsession, selfishness, or a need for attention. I find myself belittling my own work, shrinking to shame, and wondering when I will reach an age where I will grow up and be normal already, with interests that are polite and mature.

But age has brought me the experience, patience, and tools to quiet those thoughts and rise above them. Sex is a wonderful part of life, for the entirety of our lives. Desires, fantasies, expression, and sharing sexuality with other people is a tremendous gift in life. But like anything in life, if we don't explore, learn, and understand our sexuality, it can bring pain to our lives and we can hurt other people. In being open about sex, sharing information and experiences, and giving others a place to explore, discuss, question, and taste aspects of their sexualities, I hope to nurture the ability to turn pain and fear into control, understanding, and happiness.

I’ve been thinking a lot about power recently and perhaps I will explore some of that in later posts. But I know how much pain we bring on ourselves and others when we feel powerless. If we don't understand our sexualities or harbor shame around aspects of our bodies and sex, we often take it out on other people or are unable to make the best decisions for our health and mental wellbeing.

Some people might not be able to see how discussing porn, writing smut, or being open about things like sexual fantasies is a way to restore power and diminish shame. But I've lived it. I have witnessed it working in myself and those around me. It can be scary and vulnerable. But the results are more pleasure, better relationships, and a more mature way of experiencing the beauty in this life.

This age is a gift and an opportunity. I wear it with confidence because it has given me experience and knowledge. I will continue to celebrate that with those I care about.

So let’s celebrate and raise our glasses to the all the years to come… pun most definitely intended!


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