On Desires I Should Never Have, And The Power They Give Me
I spent today on the phone from 8 AM onward. Back to back calls until 4 PM. Scattered throughout these conversations were several gems about desire, power, and relating.
I once told one of my aunts/my honorary stylist that I didn't think I could be a serious writer and a fully realised sensual being (publicly) in the same body. One of my calls today surfaced the realisation that that's why - that rejection of mutual existence within myself - is why I'm refusing to deal with the writing fellowship that's supposed to be part of my legacy and bears my name. That I don't think I deserve to - or can - inhabit both desires at once. I've been living in fear that this sensual, sexual side of myself would be discovered and then destroy this beautiful gift to the world the fellowship that bears my namesake could be. And now, after my choice to claim my autonomy as a sex worker, that my work with this container and anyone else associated with it would stigmatize everyone involved, and take away the significance of its meaning. This started my day off with thoughts percolating in the back of my mind about the ways in which my rejection of my desires around my body, sensuality, and sexuality have been creating friction in the ways I show up and the ways I've gone about my work in the world in general. They simmered and I continued about my day.
Then came my next call. This time - with this conversation with my aunt running in the back of my head - I shared the story about how confessing desire can change your life, while simultaneously comparing asking someone to tell you what they want to sitting down in front of a blank canvas as a beginner artist. You see, people don’t say what they want when they know - most of the time - because it means having to grapple with your sense of identity if those desires conflict with your expectations of your life, or who you think you should be. Further, Nature doesn’t do us any favours by making humans naturally more inclined towards knowing what we don’t want, because awareness and repulsion from uncomfortable things keeps us alive.That's why so many people don't say what they want when they know, and why most exercises around "what you want" and "what's your passion" are less than useless for the majority of people. We’re working against fear and biological imperative.
In my case, it was confessing to a lover that I regretted not doing adult film in my early 20s, and that if the pay was better and the stigma wasn't there, I'd do adult film now - no question - that set a ball in motion for me. As soon as it came out of my mouth, I was horrified. I totally agree with a mentor of mine who tells young women thinking of getting into the business that, "The only people who should do porn are people who want to have sex on camera for money." Which seems obvious on its face, but it's really not, if you run through the stories of people who end up on casting couches. But she's right. You gotta want to do the do. And I, good friends, am one of those people who wants to have sex on camera for money in some part of my soul and embodied desire. But what did that mean for me as ALEXIS? was the real question that terrified the hell out of me.
Now, for a myriad of reasons, you will (...97.9% sure...) never see intimate video of me. Unless a home video gets released, which, it very well might one day. So don't be shocked when I'm famous and my 38E tits of magnificence show up bouncing on the PornHub, aight? Don't act like prudes, but also don't watch. S'all I'mma say ‘bout that particular bit of possibility. Anyways. My reasons for shelving this desire - at least exploring and expressing it in specific ways, publicly - are largely private. But the fact that the desire was and remains there, and that I said it so boldly without apology, freaked me the entire fuck out - I was Mariah Carey with my own damn self, with a full on moment of panicked, “I don’t know her.” Because once a desire is witnessed - either fully by you, or in the presence of other people - you have to deal with it. You can't put that bitch back in its box. It's there! It's alive! Desire or implode, yo! And, admittedly, I not only imploded, I exploded, too.
Integrating this desire and the power that followed meant coming to terms with my fears of being abandoned by family and friends, and confronting the terror I had imposed on myself that the non-consensual things done to me were invited by some unspoken, jezebel demon nature that I uncontrollably, inhumanly, and whorishly ooze merely by existing. Notably, this is hilarious, because I’ve already written at length about how my gender is more demon than genderqueer, so...irony. Or some such wild, judgmental, cisheteropatriarchal, white supremacist, misogynist ugly fuckery about being a *person* with *power* and *desires*. The more empowering aspect of this was confronting that I have power, agency, and autonomy. Which was still awful, mind, but less awful than those first two things.
As I've been working on my #SavourTheSatisfying material to teach what I know about this triangle I’ve rolled into with Desire/Power/Relating, and processing through my decision to pursue sex work as a career again, I've realised how much truth is just the thing that destroys your expectations. It's not a lightbulb, it's a hammer. Sometimes it's a welcome relief, like if you're trapped in a corn maze and somebody bulldozes the hedges to save time or something. But more often than not, it's like the Tower in the Tarot. You're just free-falling through the "I don't know what this means" void in space that is your life, on fire, wanting *SOMETHING*, but not knowing what that something is. People ask you what you want and you sincerely say, “I don’t know!” because you can only think about what you don’t want, and because it feels hopeless to try to grab onto the tiny spark of power in the face of what feels like insurmountable and suffocating odds. What’s the point if we’ll just continue to struggle and suffer? Why desire if society punishes us for it?
My conclusion finds its way back to our fragility and impermanence as beings. In Ancient Egyptian cosmology, it’s noteworthy that stars are used to represent the dead and ancestors, and that the Latin etymology of desire - in its most original sense - may have meant, "await what the stars will bring," from the phrase de sidere "from the stars," from sidus(genitive sideris) "heavenly body, star, constellation." For my own purposes, those these things are materially unrelated in history, the connection between death and desire. I believe that in Euroamerican societies, specifically, we've pathologised death and people struggle with dying because we are actively discouraged from exploring for, confronting, and integrating our desires, and therefore don't actually do much in the fully living department. We fear the end because we feel like we never had a chance to begin, or middle. We’re discouraged from this because having desire means you recognize you have power, and you are a person. A whole, autonomous being. You are a person with a body and the ability to exercise your agency, choice, and will through it, one way or another. And you might, if you realise this too deeply and with too much empathy, be willing to fight back if you realise your sovereignty of wanting is being deliberately smoke-and-mirrored by society out of fear and longing. Or your humanity and agency are being systemically smashed to bits. You will take your power and you will channel it to reclaim more and more space. That's...dangerous, y'all feel me? Because it means you're alive, and if you're alive, then I'm alive, and that means we're all gonna die eventually. Scary.
#SavourTheSatisfying seems to be my way of figuring out how to unravel some of this complex thicket of feeling and being. The last 10 years of my life - but really, my whole life - have been a masterclass for me in the process of discovering desire, and how desire is power, and how suppressing both creates dysfunctional relationships and social structures.
And today - in the midst of back to back calls - I saw my power because I took ownership of my own desire that the world around me largely says I shouldn’t have, that feels and is antithetical to my acceptance and existence, and charges full bore at all of the trauma and violence I have endured while in this beautiful, sensual body.
Go figure, huh? 🤷🏾♀️
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