Kaouthar at Nyenrode

I teach ‘Gender & Erotic Capital in the Media’ at University and was once asked by my students: what is the difference between Madonna and Anaïs Nin when it comes to women’s sexual emancipation?

Madonna is of course an amazing example of a ‘Wild Erotic Woman’; but Nin did it 60 years before Madonna! Nin was admired but also ridiculized and even hated, which was less the case for Madonna.

Nin was not only a living example of a modern emancipated woman, she was also a role model that women can have both: intellectual and erotic capital; in a world where women are expected to have one or the other.

Personally, I experience this constant dilemma: in the academic world I was often criticized, ridiculized because of my ‘other’ work, outside of the academia: a body work with the ‘dubious’ name of goddess belly dance. Not only was it not ‘academic-intellectual’ enough, even worse: I was practicing a ‘sensual erotic dance’! Scandalous! I was bringing shame on the academia!

The same discrimination was happening in the artistic dancing world: I was not taken seriously enough as a dancer because I was ‘intellectualizing’ the dance and using it as a feminist statement.

Same story amongst the feminist circles: how do I dare pleading for women rights and emancipation by using the feminine ‘sensual’ body as an empowerment and statement tool? ‘This is ‘Vloeken in de kerk’ like the Dutch say (‘Swearing in the church’, blasphemy).

All these reactions of rejections were coming from the limiting belief, especially when it comes to women, that a woman is not allowed to combine, at work, brains and body power; especially not a body using its ‘erotic capital’. As a woman, you must choose one or another. You are not allowed to walk on two legs.

Contrary to Anaïs Nin, I am not interested in the feminine sensuality and women’s érotique for the sake of sexual experiences and multiple orgasms. I think many Western cultures are ‘oversexualized’ and ‘pornified’, and érotique lost its original sacred meaning. For me érotique is a much larger concept than sex. It is a diffuse energy, a life force situated in our belly. This life force goes beyond sexual practice. Sex is just one little part of the full potential of this amazing energy.

I think Anaïs Nin like Madonna played a prominent role into women’s sexual liberation in the West, and it’s great to see how Western women achieved (relatively) free sexuality in the public space. But it also reduced women’s erotic potential to sexual practices and orgasms. If you don’t have sex, and a lot of it, if you don’t have orgasms, and a lot of them, you are a loser.

In many ancient cultures, erotique and sex were two different things.
For example in ancient Mesopotamia (5000 B.C.) érotique was activated in the whole body through sensual dances meant to connect women and men with their life force, with the vitality in their body and the wisdom in their belly. The goal was to create an alignment between brain and body intelligence.

The wild energy that we feel when we tap into the erotic energy in our belly is absolutely phenomenal. And wouldn’t it be wonderful, for women and men, to learn how to ‘recycle’ that energy, that ‘erotic capital’ into our daily life? Also at work? To make the world a better place?

Sounds like a crazy plan but … think crazy… think different… think with your belly for a change!

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