What I Learned About Sex, Consent, and Boundaries at Burning Man
Chances are you have probably heard of Burning Man, a great big gathering that happens once a year in the desert of Nevada. Perhaps you have seen photos (that's me, in the one above), or videos, or had a cousin or friend who went. Maybe you have ideas or judgements about it, maybe some curiosity. But unless you have gone, there is simply no way you can understand Burning Man! It’s like trying to understand what an orgasm feels like by watching someone have one in a movie. In the pics, Burning Man can look like a sex and drug party, full of tiny bikinis and tribal wear, but it is so, so much more than that. Just like an orgasm, there is truly no way to understand the experience unless you feel it for yourself.
That being said, as your resident Sex Goddess, I get to attempt to share with you what happened on my magical Burning Man journey this year, using my magical tool of choice for sharing: writing. In a land far, far away, a woman, me, left L.A. in search of her true self (and maybe some sexy adventures too!). It was my second year. Last year, I was like a kid in a candy shop. MIND BLOWN. I had three romances in one week—with an Argentinian artist, a Buddhist named Ocean, and a Chilean man in a white suit who broke my heart in the best way possible. I returned home last year feeling like a raw, bloody, beating heart. So. Much. Connection. This year, I decided to head into it with a bit more caution. Boundaries, my friends. BOUNDARIES.
In a place like Burning Man, boundaries are key. Where are your limits? They will get tested, so you must get to know them.
Example: I was running ice over my neck on a 115-degree day when a man asked me, “Can I do that for you?” I thought about it, and was like, Alexandra do you want to try to play and be open? Can you have a good boundary, but experience something new? I said yes. It was uncomfortable for me, but I was enjoying flirting with that edge, until he asked, “Can I put the ice on your breasts?” I thought about it, then said, “No, thank you.” And that was that! In that moment, I was reminded about the importance of consent. Even in the land of conscious exploration and loving, consent is key!
Now, I have had plenty of life experiences where someone has touched me or kissed me without asking. It's even gone much further than that, sadly. So, I appreciate the cut and dry nature of consent. Clear boundaries. Of course, as someone still learning this lesson, it came up several times for me over the week.
Another time, I was dancing in a state of post-cacao-ceremony bliss and felt someone blowing on my back. I had been hot and sweaty, and my eyes were closed, and this felt amazing. But then I was like, WHOA, whoa whoa! What if the person standing behind you is a creeper?! And he didn't ask for consent! I slowly turned around and saw this very cute drummer behind me. Yes, he had a nose ring, which isn't my thing, but I was willing to overlook it because of the sexy nature of the skin blowing. That being said, if he had been someone I was disgusted by, I am sure that the blowing would have felt somewhat violating! In this case, it didn’t. We held hands, stared into each other’s eyes, spoke Portuguese together, and then left the connection at that! Which brought me to the thought: How many times do we take the connection to the next level physically when it was only meant to be a moment in time? I wanted more, but letting it be just that one moment was really important for me. Score on the boundaries chart for Roxo!
Next up: An attractive man offered me a “massage.” Did I want it? He had a girlfriend, but she was okay with it. Because he was attached, it somehow felt “safer,” but was that an illusion? When is a massage not a massage? As much as I could have used one, I let the connection remain non-physical, except for his hand running up and down my thigh for a quick moment, which I did not consent to ahead of time but still was okay with and found very loving. That was definitely a gray area situation in the realm of consent.
Similarly, I found a new female friend who was beautiful and sexy, and I had so much fun with her. One day our conversation turned into a Yab Yum energy healing moment. See this for explanation. It was an edge for me as a queer woman, and the position reminded me of sex. Perhaps it is purely “spiritual” for some to be in that position, but for me, genital-to-genital touching, even when there are clothes on, is edgy. I took a deep breath and felt the moment as a yes and went with it. I felt safe, and that was key. But I was still like, Um did we just have spiritual energy sex?
Another little lesson in boundaries was a conversation I got into with an older man about sex. I had misplaced my bike and asked him for help. #DamselinDistress! We started talking about sex, and how important it is to have the “When did you last get tested?” convo before any clothes come off. Soon, he was saying, “It’s okay, you have a hungry pussy!” I was pissed. Triggered. How dare you assume you know anything about my puss?! I shut down. I said I was at my edge. I started crying because I felt so pushed to my edge by the boundary pushing in general. And I went to bed. And that was okay!
The last night at the Burn I thought, Okay I could at least use a sweet, I mean HOT, makeout session. Lo and behold, a tall Afro-Brazilian man approached me on the dance floor and started dancing with me. I am half Brazilian, and as we were dancing, I recalled my first Brazilian lover when I was 14 and living in the Amazon—how he put my tiny hand on his you-know-what and said in words I didn't understand, “Make me cum!” I had no idea what he said and pulled my hand away. Now, almost 20 years later, the same thing happened! But I used my words. I said, “No. I would like to dance and kiss, but that is all.” Man, it was tempting, but what I am looking for right now is an in-depth connection and not a sexual fling. I ended up having a beautiful connection with this hunk of a Brazilian sailor with the most gorgeous body and soft heart. I stayed true to myself, the 33-year-old woman who has had her fair share of wild sexual adventures and is now looking to settle down. And so I slept on my air mattress alone. With my crystals. And woke with my friends close by. Surrounded by deep and beautiful love.
Burning Man is a human growth accelerator, a week long ceremony, a crash course if you allow it be one. Whatever you need to work on finds you. For me, my work was discovering clearer yeses and nos when it comes to sex and connection. If that's something you're working on, too, read on!
The 5 Most Important Things to Remember About Boundaries & Sexual Consent:
1. When in doubt it’s a no. Your “Umm…maybe.” is a NO until it’s a HELL YES.
2. It’s okay to go at your pace. Just cause everyone else is getting busy doesn't mean you have to.
3. You can reclaim lost parts at the edge!Your inner slut, submissive, find whoever needs some love and find a healthy way to explore that.
4. Listen to your body. If you shrink away, want to hide, cover yourself, chances are you don't feel safe. If you wanna shine bright like a diamond then go for it!
5. Have an accountability buddy.Set some limits and check in with someone about them.
Finally, have fun exploring your edge! You can go to a play party, a cuddle party, or even engage with friends or lovers, or your Tinder date. Just make sure you understand your boundaries and communicate them with clarity! (And go easy on any drugs or alcohol as they will hinder your judgement!) Have any questions for me? I'm here for you! Email me at [email protected]!
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