I was given a copy of Audre Lorde’s essay “The Uses of the Erotic” in my first year of teaching at San Jose State by a young white lesbian M.A. student named Terry. It was 1978. I was in my early 30s. This essay came into my life and the lives of my students, friends, and colleagues at “the right time.” It became a kind of “sacred text” that authorized us to continue to explore the feelings of our bodies and to take them seriously.
The second wave of the women’s movement was about to enter its second decade. We had already been through years of consciousness raising groups. There we learned to “hear each other to speech” about feelings we had learned to suppress because we had been told they were not acceptable for us as women to have or to express. Those early days of the women’s movement were one big “coming out” movement. We were bringing our feelings and ourselves out of the closet.
Many of us had been exploring various forms of body and feeling based therapies broadly called “humanistic” that encouraged the open acknowledgment and expression of feelings. It was also the time when large numbers of women were beginning to “come out” as lesbian. Some of these were women who had theretofore not “known” or even had any idea that they were lesbian. The song by Lavender Jane Loves Women with the refrain “any woman can be a lesbian” was well-known in feminist circles. Women who did not stay lesbian explored their sexuality with other women. Women who did not do that were naming and recognizing the importance of female friendship and its life-saving and life-transforming part in their lives—an act that was in itself transgressive.
Audre Lorde told us that all of this was not only good–it was sacred. “The erotic is a resource exists in each of us on a deeply female and spiritual plane.” Continue reading “Remembering Audre Lorde and “The Uses Of The Erotic” by Carol P. Christ”