The Yin of Sex, Part One

Women Are YinPole dance classes at your local “Y,” burlesque and striptease billed as “female empowerment,” fetish shoes worn as ordinary daywear, cougars on the prowl, and porn star sex not only ubiquitous on the Internet but expected in every bedroom – contemporary sex is all about the yang.

You’ve seen the yin/yang symbol: the white and black teardrops coexisting inside a circle, each half complimenting the other, each essential for the other’s existence. In the East, the timeless symbol demonstrates that all in the manifest world exists as a pair of opposites: fast/slow, hot/cold, passive/aggressive, male/female. These opposites exist only in relation to each other, creating a world of perfect balance.

In terms of sex, yang is outer directed (like a penis): aggressive, hot, noisy, fast, focused on technique, and headed toward the goal of orgasm. Sex is often voyeuristic, a spectator sport, with a preference for the visual. In prior times, yang was the sole province of men, the masculine.

Yin sexuality is the opposite: inner directed (like a vagina): passive, cool, slow, quiet, meandering, with no other goal than shared sensuality. Yin is full of secrets, soft, yielding, private, hidden, shy and reticent. Women, the feminine, were the sole holders of yin.

Women in the sexist past had no choice but to embody yin, or men yang, with dire consequences for those who strayed from their stereotypes. Most people of today enjoy our potential for greater flexibility and the openness toward people of all persuasions. Ideally, both men and women would embrace their inner yin as well as their outer yang, but that is not what is happening.

Yin is no longer an option anywhere in the West, including the bedroom. Women are boldly exhibiting their yang qualities — nobody wants to be seen as weak. We are prejudiced against the slow, the soft, the passive, the diffuse, the meandering, the unfocused, the yielding. Self-help books and seminar leaders encourage eradicating any yin qualities in oneself in order to be always assertive, bold, virile. Porn promotes a preference for yang sex. We devalue the yin, both in ourselves and others, which is misogyny in a subtle, insidious form.

It is a timeless truth that both yin and yang are essential, and that everything and everyone carry both qualities. It doesn’t help to repress or pretend you don’t have yin. If you do, you will never know yourself. The next time you notice you are feeling shy, or reticent, or passive, or slow, that you don’t feel like sharing, or that you want sex that explores aimlessly and doesn’t go anywhere, instead of finding it wrong, you begin a fascinating exploration of what this hidden part of yourself is all about.

© 2014 Catherine Auman This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth

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Catherine Auman is a Los Angeles psychotherapist specializing in transpersonal psychology, also known as spiritual psychology.

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