I recently read Judith Newman’s interview of Annabelle Gurwitch in The New York Times article “We’re not getting better. We’re getting older.”
I agree with some of Gurwitch’s points regarding women embracing our age. I, too, have abhorred the phrase “50 is the new 40,” which still implies that youth is better. But there are unconscious beliefs around aging and our fear of it that need to be addressed if we really want to age differently than our mothers or grandmothers did.
And the media ain’t gonna do it for us.
It’s our responsibility to rewire our beliefs, especially women, because ours is the sex most affected by our youth obsessed culture.
When I think about my own fear of aging, the first thing that comes to mind is my sexual desirability.
And in this world, a woman’s desirability doesn’t just apply to her sexual relationships, but to her social and even business relationships, where sexy and smart is better than just smart.
If we think of our sexual energy as our life force that is made conscious or directional/ relational through our desire, then our capacity for desire is our ability to awaken and direct our life force energy.
In the realm of desire and desirability, men have traditionally claimed and felt their desire —their ability to direct energy—more than women. Until recently women have for the most part settled to be the objects of that desire.
Why have we given away our feminine power to direct energy?
First, claiming our sexuality requires taking responsibility for and committing to our incarnation, our humanity and embodiment, all of which requires a deep acceptance and seeming loss of innocence. This is why we still unconsciously link sex with a loss of innocence.
The second reason, for women in particular, is that claiming our sexuality means claiming our feminine aspect. If we think of the chakra system as an interweaving of our masculine and feminine aspects, the root chakra, which holds our life force energy, is our masculine base. The sacral chakra, which holds our desire, is our feminine base. Our feminine desire awakens our masculine life force. Sexual energy, which is consciousness-infused life force energy, is the merging of our masculine and feminine aspects.
In Tantric and Taoist practices, sexual energy is the necessary ingredient for expanding consciousness. Women knew about these practices before Tantra and Taoism.
In matriarchal cultures temple priestesses used their sexual energy, as many people use psychedelic drugs today, to reach higher states of consciousness and even birth new states of being into consciousness itself. When matriarchal cultures were destroyed, the feminine wisdom and ways, including sexual practices, went underground with them.
Patriarchal leaders dethroned the Goddess from the base up, by calling desire the root of all evil, and sex sinful.
What was even more damaging to humanity is how debasing the Feminine distorted and misdirected our sexual life force flow from its original inner vertical channel to an outward horizontal channel.
In other words, we’ve learned to give our sexual life force energy away to the world, rather than channel it through our bodies for our own vitality, creativity, and consciousness expansion. We’ve learned to suppress our sexual life force energy, turning it on only with a lover and turning it off everywhere else in our lives. And since our understanding of our sexual flow is only outward toward other objects of our desire, the reverse is also true, that our desirability is dependent on others outward sexual flow toward us, leading to competition and comparison.
Our fear of aging and/or our fear of sexual undesirability runs deeper than just cellulite and wrinkles.
Women’s fear of our undesirability comes from a deeper fear of our feminine desire and ability to direct our life force energy. Even though most of us have forgotten the ancient erotic consciousness expanding practices, we hold the knowledge of sexual energy and its power in our cellular memory, as well as our fear of it. We don’t trust our feminine sexual energy. We don’t trust the Feminine period.
We’d rather continue to be “innocent” victimized objects of desire rather than take responsibility for giving our power away.
We’d rather blame men and the media for treating us like objects. And when we can’t be objects anymore because we’re getting older, we’re mad about that, too.
Sure we can drink wine and commiserate together, laughing about “how we can’t remember the pin number on our debit card because our estrogen levels are so low.” I’m not suggesting we stop being real about the aging process.
But can we also start having a deeper conversation? One that inspires us to not only work on changing things on the outside, but on the inside?
As I enter into my fiftieth year, I’m personally excited to see what happens as I practice channeling my sexual energy vertically within myself. I’m curious to see what’s possible with regards to my vitality, creativity and feminine expression in the world. I’m hopeful about how cultivating my own sexual energy enhances my intimate connection with my man. My only regret is that I didn’t know about all this and start practicing sooner.