Happy / Sex & Love / Society & Culture

Celibacy: Enlightenment Or Insanity?

As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent. -Socrates

The word virgin means not yet used, touched, or exploited—a novel concept. Long soiled by the hedonistic grime of New York City, I’m always searching for paths to purity. Celibacy seems like an insane and viable option. Throughout history artists, intellectuals, and God seekers have renounced the pleasures of below the belt in exchange for something better.  That “something better” usually translates to a heightened sense of intimacy, discipline and purpose.

When the carnal drive to wrap your legs around a warm body is suppressed, that energy gets displaced in powerful ways.  Which begs the question, to what extent can we harness our sexual restraint to enrich other aspects of our lives?  Fix Yourself A Drink

It’s common practice for boxers to abstain from having sex for weeks preceding a big fight. Not getting off keeps up the competitive flare, blue balls keeps the blood lust burning .  Robert Frost has said that writing is an athletic endeavor; working the mechanics of language is labor intensive. A frustrated libido fuels not only one’s athletic prowess but can also spearhead creativity.

Courtney Love, the whip smart and ever wounded chanteuse, recently went on a four year celibacy kick while making the album Nobody’s Daughter. She wanted to put every ounce of her psychic energy into that record.  And while Nobody’s Daughter pales in comparison to the cathartic bite of Live Through This, it’s hard to imagine that a prodigious song like Sunset Marquis could have been written in any other state than chaste dejection.  Despite her drug battles and fiery whims, Courtney Love has an unparalleled self preservation instinct. Fresh out of rehab, Love intuited that the only way she could properly heal and make a quality record was to embark on a rock’n’roll monasticism.

Courtney Love, making love to herself

Courtney Love, making love to herself

***

After a break up that left Tim Gunn on the brink of suicide, he vowed never to put himself in that position again. And with a Gatsby like resolve, he’s been celibate for 29 years. Although his celibacy was prompted by getting his heart ripped out, it seems to have fueled an uncanny sense of ambition, focus, and achievement. Tim Gunn, through hard work and laser focus has become wildly successful, but he’s also a workaholic. His asexuality has freed him to pour himself entirely into his work and create a fashion empire. Tim Gunn has become not only an arbiter of style but also a champion for a robust vocabulary and good manners.   And despite his celibacy, he is by no means frigid, stating in a recent interview that “It’s not as though I’m some barren forest.”

Tim Gunn WonderfulPhilosophers are notorious celibates, to name a few: Friedrich Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Immanuel Kant, Simone Weil, Spinoza, Aristotle, and Pascal were all a sex free zone for prolonged periods of time. Even Beethoven shut it down. Many of the top minds in science, mathematics, painting and music found it imperative to recoil from their sexual impulses to create something visceral and honest. Even my beloved Johnny Weir (who yes, belongs in the company of Aristotle and Nietzsche) has spoken about his dry spells when training.  Unless you’re Michael Fassbender in Shame, there is simply no time or energy to think about sex when in the midst of intense output.

Gratuitous Michael Fassbender shot. Yes, please.

Gratuitous Michael Fassbender shot. Yes, please.

And so, by muffling down the impulse to dry hump the sexy bartender it’s possible that we can redirect that energy towards more substantive endeavors.  Bouts of celibacy can spawn a journey of transcendent inquiry, self ownership and artistic production.

Sex is a way to affirm life, to affirm one’s virility, desirability and youth. To voluntarily reject sex means to welcome a period of personal incubation. And  to reject sex at one’s physical prime is like welcoming winter in July-which is perversely romantic. One can emerge out of a chastity cocoon a more potent version of oneself. When making the choice that you will not screw anyone (but yourself, masturbation is allowed) one projects an intoxicating air of self sufficiency.  Not to mention that the euphoric rush that comes when the sexual valve is finally released, is well worth the wait.

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Nathalia Perozo is a Chilean born poet and LGBT advocate. She received her MFA from The New School, and her BA in Comparative Literature from Queens College. Nathalia lives in New York City.

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7 thoughts on “Celibacy: Enlightenment Or Insanity?

  1. Pingback: Becoming A Spiritual Warrior Through Sex and Vulnerability |

  2. Thank-you for this, it’s great to find a feminist article that doesn’t speak negatively of celibacy. I often feel like I can’t be a ‘real’ feminist because I’ve chosen not to embrace my sexuality for the time-being. But I think what it comes down to is that it’s my choice, I’ve chosen to focus my energy elsewhere, and I will embrace my sexuality when I want to.

    • I’m so glad this piece resonated with you, as it’s something that I struggle with a lot myself. How we choose to express our feminity, power, and sensuality is entirely our choice and we should not feel shamed or pressured. Kudos XX

  3. I love this. Celibacy can be a really great “reboot” after years of unceasing energetic output. When it is a conscious “just because” decision coming from a place of joy/self reflection instead of a reaction to desperation/pain than the insights that may be gained from it are beyond description. However, regarding being more creative…a person can produce great things while being sexually active with a tantric partner/s. That is, if you can find partner/s that have an actual daily mental practice above and beyond mere “freaky” positions.

    • Thank you for your insights Tayannah! Tantric sounds amazing. Once my juices are done marinating, I look forward to exploring new ways of wedding sexuality with creativity. Beijos XX

  4. Nathalia, You have a brilliant way with words and you’ve made me feel so much better about my self-imposed celibacy. I’ve found that it really does get my creative juices going. How has celibacy changed your life?

    • Thank you Stephanie! The biggest change has been my heightened appreciation for SATC. It really is the best (worst) show ever written.

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