‘All your waves … have gone over me’

I walked along the sand, in my blue bikini and cotton sarong, heading way up the beach, away from others. The sand underneath was very warm and the waves tumbled into shore. My belongings were left under the shade of a tree as I strode into the cool, wet liquid which sparkled with a late summer light. I didn’t venture too far, I never do. There was no one in case anything should happen. I have more fear as an adult than as a child. I grew up near the water and spent long days swimming, making sure I was far out to sea, away from the reach of adults and alone with the see-sawing waves.

This summer’s day, I swam, gracefully at first, allowing the cool water of the shallows to touch my hot skin. Eventually I was fully immersed under the rhythmic, salty water. I relaxed and began to float too, allowing myself to be carried out a little, feet first towards neat little breakers, as the sea enveloped my body. After hours spent in a hot van, the watery goodness was invigorating. I became more courageous and ventured out a little further. The waves came in rounds, knocking me over with repeated force, enough to make me laugh rather than cry. I got up and was knocked over again and again, don’t know how many times, but later on realised it must have been going on for hours. I had the distinct impression that the ocean was playing a game with me. Water cascaded over every part of my body through the fabric of my swimmers, flowing down, carrying sand and rushing into my warm, dark spaces, cooling me down. Inhibitions and body shame fell away and I began to feel ecstatic as the sand rubbed itself into me. My skin tingled with foamy spray that surged and retreated. There was personality in these waves, which seemed to delight in arousing and teasing me, as I roared with laughter, stumbling, drunk with erotic energy in the blue sea.

This was my first day on the road. Suddenly it became late as darkness fell. Time had lost meaning while I played with the waves. I quickly left the beach, feeling frightened, why had I neglected the time? I had to find a secure camping spot for the night. This was a lonely beach north of Coffs Harbour, a place locals go, not where I wanted to stay. I hurried back to the campervan, and took off towards town.

This experience became a faded, happy memory until recently when a new understanding of these type of natural encounters developed as I listened to feminist pornographer Tristan Taormino interview the legendary Annie Sprinkle and her partner Elizabeth Stephens. They are leaders of the ecosexual movement. Basically ecosexuality is carving out a creative space within environmentalism for queer and alternative sexualities, including nature-based sex expression. Sexecology, as it is also known, is likewise concerned with political and environmental activism, but with an edge. Ecosexuality is humorous, it’s theatrical and it’s provocative.[1]

“The environment is full of sensuality and sexuality everywhere, if you let yourself see and experience it. We want to recognize and engage that erotic life force energy as a way to inspire people’s empathy for the Earth, engender their creativity and to fill them with wonder and delight as well as be a source of power to nurture and defend the earth from damage caused by exploitation.”[2] As Stephens says, “We’re changing the metaphor from Earth as mother to Earth as lover.”[3]

There are so many ways to discover the erotic in our lives, especially in connection with the environment. One of the ways we lose out by living in a highly regulated heteronormative system is through the silencing of many of these ‘other’ small, subtle and unusual sexual and sensual stories. In my own experience of the erotic shared here, there was a playful loosening up of my sensual nature in the dynamic back and forth between wave and woman. Eros (and the ecosexual movement) is here advocating mutuality and intermingling. “It’s about connecting energetically, with others, and with nature and with the sky, the sea.”[4]

According to renowned theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, the original concept of eros meant a “passionate participation in the beautiful. … Eros was neither an androcentric nor an anthropocentric concept. It was a cosmic expression for the divine mystery of the world.”[5]

According to ecosexuality and theology, the erotic is a sacred, alluring energy that awakens our innate desires for freedom, for bodily, creative expression and authentic community, in accord with all life, with deep, sexual delight and with a strong sense of meaning. For me, the ecosex movement has something profound to offer queer politics and environmentalism (and maybe even people of faith) through this dynamic, contemporary combination of ecology, sex, playfulness and justice.

Or in the words of Beyoncé:

‘You like it wet and so do I’[6]

 

[1] Wagner, D. “Beyond Tree Hugging,” San Francisco Chronicle (Saturday July 16, 2011), E4.

[2] Davis, B. “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens’s New Ecosex Art Movement, But Were Afraid to Ask,” Artinfo.com (August 10, 2011).

[3] Wagner, “Beyond Tree Hugging,” E4.

[4] Davis, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know.”

[5] Moltmann, J. The Spirit of Life – A Universal Affirmation. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), 262.

[6] Knowles-Carter, B. “Blow,” Beyoncé (Columbia Records, 2013).

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3 thoughts on “‘All your waves … have gone over me’

  1. A lovely piece, sweets! Still beats me why you didn’t connect with David Abraham ~ “Humans are tuned for relationship. The eyes, the skin, the tongue, ears and nostrils – all are gates where our body receives the nourishment of otherness.” and “for the largest part of our species’ existence, humans have negotiated relationships with every aspect of the sensuous surroundings, exchanging possibilities with every flapping form, with each textured surface and shivering entity….”

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