Tonight, I’ve Been Thinking About Sex

I am trying to remember the first time I understood, really understood, that sex was nothing but touch, that I wanted the sex I had to be about finding ways to touch people that would leave them feeling fully and deeply and irrevocably known inside and out, recognized, validated, appreciated as a human body, a being in a body, a person with a physical presence, with a stake in material existence that could not be denied; which meant that having sex was also about learning what I needed to feel touched in that way, about finding a vocabulary for it, a grammar and a syntax, a semantics, a language, in other words, that bespoke who I was and what I wanted/needed and why I wanted/needed it in a way that did not alienate me from myself and/or my partner(s); because once I understood this, even though I cannot remember when I understood this, I understood that sex was an ongoing exploration, a way of knowing–both a path and a methodology–something that did not have a discrete beginning and ending, that inhered in every aspect of my life, not because everything is about sex per se, but because sex is, ultimately, about everything. We bring all of who we are, everything we have lived, good and bad, to the bodies of the people we make love with, as they bring all of who they are to us; and I use the phrase “make love with” here because even though the moment when I understood that sex was all about touch was also the moment that I fully understood that sex was not love, that love was not sex, I do believe that when people have sex openly and honestly, with respect and care and attention, in whatever combination, in whatever roles, with whatever ancillary equipment, they are, quite literally, making love, creating in this world a space in which one person accepts and honors and celebrates the entirely independent, physically embodied existence of another person; and it does not matter if they are in love with each other or not; it does not matter if they know each other’s names or not; or if they will see each other again. What matters is that when they touch each other, they understand that they are touching a living, breathing, feeling, fully human being, and that even if they don’t know a damned thing about that person except that he or she is compelling enough to want to have sex with, what matters is that when they touch, they each know that they are also touching the entirety of that person’s life and that they are giving the entirety of their own lives over to that person to be touched. I am trying to remember the first time I understood this, but I can’t.

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6 Responses to Tonight, I’ve Been Thinking About Sex

  1. 1
    Doug S. says:


    I think that’s the longest three-sentence paragraph I’ve ever seen outside of a long-sentence contest…

  2. Actually, Doug, it’s four sentences.

  3. 3
    Grace Annam says:

    Clearly, Doug S., you have not read much by Clifford Geertz.


  4. 4
    Doug S. says:

    Actually, Doug, it’s four sentences.


  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    I have no comment, but I did want Richard to know I read and enjoyed his post; hence this non-comment.