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Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power

4.64  ·  Rating details ·  587 ratings  ·  30 reviews
"There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise." Thus begins this powerful essay; Uses of the Erotic defines the power of the erotic, names the process by which women have been stripped of this power, and considers how women can reclaim it.

Uses of the Erotic shines among Audre Lorde's powerful legacy of speeches and essays, and has influenced fe
Paperback, 16 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Kore Press (first published December 1st 1978)
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Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was absolutely blown away by the ideas presented in what was, in fact, a brochure.

What really resounded with me were two things; the postulation that the erotic lives in all of us and cannot be tapped because of its reformative powers in regards to setting our goals and life purpose, thus getting co=-opted into something that's dirty, immoral, and to be avoided, and the notion that what we do and enjoy and can share is erotic.

The erotic, Lorde writes, has the potential to give us an idea of s
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Yes! This essay is short and SO DAMN GOOD. Lorde argues that eroticism, which has been inappropriately relegated to the domain of sex only, should instead be understood as a basic life force of vitality and creative power that guides us truthfully in all interactions. It is a depth of feeling & engagement with ourselves and others. It relates to sexuality, but doesn't end there. It transcends all domains of life (that we've been instructed to keep in neat, separate boxes).

I especially love the
"Beyond the superficial, the considered phrase, 'It feels right to me,' acknowledges the strength of the erotic into a true knowledge, for what that means is the first and most powerful guiding light toward any understanding."

Thank you, Audre, for being the most important philosopher in my life.
Rosa Ramôa
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Tendemos a pensar que o erotismo é a excitação sexual como primariamente esta é conhecida. Eu falo do erótico como a força mais profunda da vida, aquela que nos move de uma maneira fundamental à existência."
Apr 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: women, intellectuals
porn vs. eroticism. try that on for size.
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This has very consequential ideas wrapped up within its few pages. That everything starts with the erotic, though she expands the term from merely a sexual connotation. That only the erotic encourages us to embrace the depth of our feelings. That the erotic is the opposite of the pornographic, which is objectifying instead of celebrating the sharing of feelings with the other. The erotic therefore should be a presence in all of our activities with others, because its like a compass that can info ...more
Baily Reese
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. I really don't know what more to say other than that this is the first text of hers I have read, but then upon looking at her other work on the poetry foundation I only grew fonder of her work.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
reread this for a seminar recently and it was even better reading the second time round. just incredible.
Molly Moreau
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not sure I necessarily agree with Lorde’s description of pornography as “sensation without feeling,” but regardless I will be thinking about this essay for a while. There were several points throughout that literally had me shouting “YES!!!” out loud to my empty bedroom
The finding of  Judith Shakespeare
Audre Lorde escribió uno de esos ensayos que cambió mi vida, mi percepción de mí misma en el mundo, del sexo, y mi concepto de revolución. Precisamente porque supo poner las palabras adecuadas (no en vano, Lorde es poeta) que definieran aquello que yo ya estaba construyendo por mi cuenta, junto con otras personas. En definitiva, se trata de un manifiesto brillante.

«The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, a
Jul 18, 2013 marked it as wishlist
Recommended to Dylan by: a certain someone in a certain forum ;-)
Was pointed to this (or excerpts of it?) online :-):

Currently reading through it, really intriguing and matches some of my own experiences. A whole lot of mysterious, undiscovered countries of the sexual, the sensual and the erotic out there for all of us, methinks :-).
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Definitely will have to re-read. Lorde has a lot of good stuff here. Uses of the erotic reminds me of bell hook's All About Love, but Lorde is compact and coming from a sort of different place. A more sensual and self-actualized place, if that makes any sense at all. I would recommend this essay to everyone everywhere especially those from marginalized communities.
Courtney Trouble
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
i wonder how this essay would be different in 2015, knowing how much pornography has changed. would she agree that the power of the erotic has been funneled into feminist art that operates as pornography?
Nov 28, 2012 rated it liked it
to the anti-erotic societies
Kelly Magee
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A new way of thinking about the erotic as that which gives us both pleasure and power.
Mar 28, 2010 marked it as to-read
CHAI 3/2010
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Completely and utterly life changing.
Aug 21, 2012 marked it as to-read
Found out about Lorde from "quote of the day" — look forward to reading this essay, and some of her poems.
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I loved this book - forty years ago!! I'll have to read it again. Bex - let me know what you think when you get to it.
Nov 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Noelle McGee
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've been curious about eroticism recently navigating this newfound space of desirability, and I really enjoyed this writing by Lorde. I had to read it more than once, and one of the comments said there's a difference between eroticism and pornography; it's an entity that exists outside of the bedroom, but it's still can take the form of sensuality and bring one physical pleasure.

I have a lot of highlights, and it's something I'm going to come back to as I think about how I've been defining ero
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Just wow. Not only is the message of this short piece so important and impactful, it is beautifully written. I was only introduced to Lorde this year (2018) and I have been missing out on this amazing woman creative works! I am so happy I found and read this. I definitely reccommend reading this. I know I will be coming back to this piece every year( or few months) to be reminded and encouraged of my self-power as a woman!
Nov 27, 2020 added it
BEAUTIFUL! This is a powerful POWERFUL piece on a different way to embrace one's emotions in this world. Everyone should read this, honestly - people from all points on the spectrum of gender need to embrace emotions as a tool of power and not something to avoid in this world, which we so often do. It's short, dense and impactful! Please, read and read again!
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of.”
May 24, 2020 added it
’It is a short step from there to the false belief that only by the suppression of the erotic within our lives and consciousness can women be truly strong. But that strength is illusory, for it is fashioned within the context of male models of power.’
Gracia Palma
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm so thankful that I read this.
Mónica Arreola
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for the students of feminism and gender.
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was so empowering to read. I completely fell in love with the way Audre writes. I am so inspired, and I feel so heard.
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My bible
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Audre Lorde is a revolutionary Black feminist. Lorde's poetry was published very regularly during the 1960s — in Langston Hughes' 1962 New Negro Poets, USA; in several foreign anthologies; and in black literary magazines. During this time, she was politically active in civil rights, anti-war, and feminist movements. Her first volume of poetry, The First Cities (1968), was published by the Poet's P ...more

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“The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation. For this reason, we have often turned away from the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information, confusing it with its opposite, the pornographic. But pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.

The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire.”
“We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. For the demands of our released expectations lead us inevitably into actions which will help bring our lives into accordance with our needs, our knowledge, our desires. And the fear of our deepest cravings keeps them suspect, keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, and leads us to settle for or accept many facets of our oppression as women.” 5 likes
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