The Erotic as Power: Why Audre Lorde's Essay Still Resonates Today

Image by Carlota Guerrero 

Audre Lorde's essay begins with a bang.

"There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling."

She believes that this deep feeling of sensuality and passion can be used as a guiding force in our lives. Not only that, but it is an incredible (mostly untapped) source of power for cis women. Growing up and being part of patriarchal society, we have deeply embedded beliefs that the feminine is something to be afraid of and even scorn. Menstruation, female sexuality, the female genitals in and of themselves...the list goes on.

We have learned to distrust the feminine in us. Our passions, our intuition, our life-force. 

Audre describes the erotic as "an assertion of the life-force of women; of that creative energy empowered".

This sensual energy can be misconstrued as having to be sexual but this is incorrect. The erotic in Lorde's view, is not pornographic, but sensual. 

"...the sensual--those physical, emotion, and psychic expressions of what is deepest and strongest and richest within each of us, being shared: the passions of love, in its deepest meanings."

The erotic could be likened to intuition. A deep, knowing, at times beyond reason. Lorde encourages women to rekindle this incredible power within us and harness it. To use this passion as fuel to achieve our dreams. 

We encourage you to read the essay "Uses of the Erotic" by Audre Lorde for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments below. Copies of this work can be found in the link above or as a part of a collection of Lorde's essays entitled "Sister Outsider" that can be purchased here.

  • Do you believe the erotic can really be used as power?
  • Do you think there are certain aspects of masculine and feminine energy that reside in each of us?
  • If so, do you believe these differences can be used as strengths? Or do you see them as weaknesses and character-flaws?

Grab a copy of "Sister Outsider" or "Uses of the Erotic" and let us know.


 

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