Creativity & Sexuality

By Nicola van Straaten

When I speak of the erotic, I speak of it as an assertion of the lifeforce of women; of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.

Audre Lorde


A while ago, my sister sent me a link to some online article. I could never find it now… the Internet has eaten it; it has disappeared into the world of invisible information flying above our heads and through the oceans.


I remember the gist of the article, which highlighted a specific and scientific connection between the clitoris and creativity. Something about corresponding hormones and chemicals released in the brain and and and…

(I can’t remember exactly)

It reminded me of something I don’t usually discuss or pay too much attention to. Something that occurs in a natural way, a process in my personal life that just sort of unfolds; something I’ve decided to share with you right now.

Confession time:

Sometimes (not always, but sometimes) when I’m thinking about an idea for a project, or a film, or a poem, when I’ve been reading and researching about creative topics that excite me or when I’m planning my next zine or working on an edit…

I get horny!

There is arousal. The creative process can make me so happy (to put it simply) that my sex responds with a joyous bounce. Sometimes – I simply have to masturbate. It’s like I’m high-fiving myself for pursuing creative artistic paths that enliven me.

Or other times –

Right after I masturbate or have merry sex with my lover, I get a great idea! It unleashes a bit of energy that I have to engage with immediately because often this energy turns into a small but satisfying idea for an artwork!

Of course,

Not all my post-orgasm ideas develop into ‘proper’ art works. What follows is essentially work, the process of unravelling and moulding into something shareable. This part depends on my schedule, finances and will at the time.

But still…

Sometimes just having the idea is enough to satisfy me mentally and artistically. So I’ve been thinking about this link between sexuality and creativity. And I’ve been thinking about the word pleasure and I’ve been thinking about the word create.

And so?

This leads me to reject or question one idea. Then I would like to propose a different idea idea, one which I believe to be worthy of embracing or engaging with. Both ideas have played their own roles and served certain purposes in our culture, history and context.

Rejection or questioning of idea one:

The tormented artist. I think this is a stupid idea. True artists are often perceived to be unhappy, isolated, disillusioned or depressed. That’s why the poets commit suicide, the writers are alcoholics and the musicians all overdose. That’s why the dancers have eating disorders, the sculptors are mad, the painters chop their ears off and the filmmakers are just maniacal douche bags. That’s why the actors and actresses have all the money, but none of the love!

When did creativity become such a source of despair and loathing?

I’m not sure when it happened (maybe post-enlightenment and pre-industrialism?) but at some point the creative act was glorified, commodified and separated from the humble pleasure of just pottering around and making shit.

Perhaps the simple and enjoyable act of production has been complicated by the out-dated and totally archaic cash-money-system we currently find ourselves in. Or perhaps the act of creating something useful or beautiful is just taken too seriously and the playful part of the process has taken a back seat? Or maybe Queen Victoria is to blame for the absolute suspicion our culture has of pleasure, play and joy?

Who knows?

Whatever the case may be, I really don’t think one has to be unhappy to make art. I don’t think the creative process has to be traumatic or terrible (even though it can be). It’s inevitable that in life there is pain and death and shit.


Maybe the pain and death and shit could facilitate growth. Fertilizer is shit and shit makes plants grow. Maybe all the fucking muck, with the right conditions and a bit of intention, could be used to create new stuff. This brings me to my proposal of the second idea.

Proposal to embrace and engage with Idea Number 2:

This second idea is trickier to articulate without coming across as a bit ‘yuppy’. But fuck it – who cares how I come across? I’ve already shared certain intimate habits…

Here goes: I propose we start to look at sexual energy and creative energy as something that could propel you towards balance (aka your sweet spot). After all, isn’t balance simply an act of negotition between motion and stillness, affected by multiple contributing factors?)

I suggest we begin to embrace the sensual, sexual feelings that enable motion and emotion. I advocate pursuing pleasure and joy in ways that are not derisive, abusive nor cynical.

I think everyone should practise being authentic and frank about positive feelings and life-giving desires (particularly when those feelings and desires are about sex expression). Or at least we should start thinking about sex within our own, very personal and unique frameworks.

Culture and society will have always something to say about sex. Mostly it’s just fed to us through a lens and language that really gets off on control and capital.

I suggest we reject the lies and seek honesty and generosity in our physical, spiritual, sexual, artistic habits in whatever way that makes sense to us.

While I’m at it, let me add that I also propose working steadily on practising a specific rejection of the whole mind/body split idea. (Thanks for nothing, Descartes).


Creativity and sexuality will always be wherever humans are. Or perhaps, they’ll be there wherever life is. They are both powerful things that could either make you end up with your head in an oven or making art, making love and living your best life.

And so.

I will end off in the same way I began, with a quote. Because sometimes someone else’s words make the most amount of sense when your brain wades through the nonsense…


Sexual energy or ‘eros’ is a life force that permeates all of creation and is part of the joyfulness of life. It is exactly the opposite of ‘thanatos’ – the force leading to death. For too long, our culture has dwelt on ‘thanatos’, without a balance from ‘eros’. It has taught us to fear, denigrate, and suppress our own eroticism, instead of using our erotic feelings as a sure sign that we are getting in the flow of a healthy and fulfilled life. Your body will tell you when you are heading in the direction of life-giving pleasure…
Christiane Northrup