Rad Reading: "The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power"

by Abaki Beck

Text: The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power

Author: Audre Lorde

Quote to Highlight: “We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings...The fear of our desires keeps them suspect and indiscriminately powerful, for to suppress any truth is to give it strength beyond endurance. The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our oppression as women.”

Quick Summary:  This article is about the erotic in each of us - and how it is suppressed as it is associated as "female" and thus seen in Western society as inferior or irrational. Lorde does not define erotic in a purely sexual sense, but in an emotional and spiritual sense. She emphasizes that Western society often distorts the erotic to be pornographic - sensation without feeling. Thus, there is a separation of the spiritual/emotional and the political. She challenges this narrative and views the erotic as a source of untapped power. The erotic is most simply about love - which can build a bridge to deeper understanding. She also argues that once we access the erotic, our deepest joys and feelings, we will hold other aspects of our lives to that standard, and realize our worth and power.

File it under: Woman of color feminisms, heteropatriarchy, racism, intersectionality, emotions, self love

Type of text: Lyrical, creative non-fiction with some heavy/academic jargon


POC Online Classroom strives to make readings and resources that celebrate the intellectual tradition and knowledge production of marginalized communities more accessible. Rad Reading is a new series that highlight texts to read and writers to support! We will post every Tuesday.