October - November 2001

Power, Pleasure, Anger

We think of erotic energy as a form of power, which it is, except that we typically confuse power and power over. We do this because just about the only form of power we're familiar with is power over, and usually we're not the one on top. So the crossover is often between pleasure and submission. Submission can be deeply pleasurable: to render oneself to the desire of another, or to release one's resistance and surrender to one's own long denied or withheld need.

But usually we don't perceive ourselves as making such a choice, or not for long -- we can even decide a free choice was really something else after the fact, which is usually false. Because sex is so often considered a moral issue, we are taught that we're all victims of its power. We rarely feel safe choosing pleasure. Power is somehow more wholesome or honorable. As a result our relationships frequently end up as power trips rather than pleasure trips.

When the erotic energy of another is experienced as power over us, as coercion, manipulation or control, anger is the natural result. When anger is stuffed, the result is resentment, and its cousin, manipulation. Sex is a highly effective manipulation tool, often used as such to regain a lost sense of power. Pass these responses back and forth for a while and the cycle can to on and on.

The way out is to be honest about your pleasure, and your anger. You might say all the trouble begins when someone else says we can't be angry and we can't feel good (usually both are implied at once). So these are the places to begin healing. Power as a primary healing focus is subject to much greater corruption than expressing anger or pleasure. It is playing the same game that was played on us. We would have no need for 'power' if we were in communication with our anger and pleasure, and able to let them out. But if we're taught that these feelinigs are sins, we resort to power, or suffer guilt. Choosing power, we become captives in either case.