Often times if a women is found celebrating her sexuality, she can be labeled with dark words such as: whore, slut or even sleezy. This is a serious claim that has created a society that believes that a woman is to act a certain way. A way that not only has suppressed strong feelings of sexuality, but it has created a horrible name for women who celebrate it. The term erotic is often connected with the female race. A woman that comes off as “erotic” can be seen as inferior and irresponsible in our culture today. Expressing these strong urges has been feared Audre Lorde on the other hand, encourages women to embrace the erotic roots and satisfactions that urge them. In her essay, the Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, she states:
“The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, and plasticized sensation. For this reason, we have turned away from the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information, confusing it with the pornographic.” (537)
Many people often connect pornography with filth and wrongness, therefore, by relating such things with the female erotic, it’s image has been tainted.
Here she explains how men have used something so wonderful and used it against women in order to create a sense of inferiority. Women are made to believe that being the farthest thing from erotic is what they should strive to be. Going back to the idea that they have other things to worry about in the home and with the children.
By repressing this eroticism, these women are then not allowing themselves to be empowered. Through this expression of feeling, it is possible for women to then gaining the knowledge to them become empowered. It allows women to know that satisfaction and joy is possible. With this huge release of pleasure and creative energy, women can experience things in a completely different light. This is something that Lorde feels needs to be released.
“I find the erotic such a kernel within myself. When released from its intense and constrained pellet, it flows through and colors my life with a kind of energy that heightens and sensitizes and strengthens all of my experience.” (539)
Here she is expressing her own feelings and desire for these sensations. Understanding that through her writing she is to reclaim her own sexuality and means of eroticism as an example to other women.
In her poem, Love Poem, Lorde uses symbols of nature to show the importance of the anatomy of a woman’s body. Not only does her use of nature empower her writing, but her way of telling about this deep erotic relationship between two lovers shows how positive expressing these feelings can be. Lorde describes:
“Speak earth and bless me with what is richest
make sky flow honey out of my hips
spread over a valley
carved out by the mouth of rain.
And I knew when I entered her I was
high wind in her forests hollow
fingers whispering sound
from the split cup
impaled on a lance of tongues
on the tips of her breasts on her navel
and my breath
howling into her entrances
through lungs of pain.
Greedy as herring-gulls
or a child
I swing out over the earth
over and over
She describes the woman’s body as something positive and sensual. “hips rigid as mountains” this is a topic that at this time wasn’t discussed therefore it was quite radical. She is blatantly showing society what has been repressed for so long. While attempting to claim what she is: her sexuality.