The effects of sexual shame are deeper than you think! I have been in the sexual health industry for over 15 years now and one would imagine that I have heard and seen it all. I say this not as a challenge to the universe because I really have seen my fair share.
I am almost always offended when someone pops into the Lola Montez Shop to buy something, usually a toy, and then proceeds to tell me that it is for a friend! I am always polite and make as if I believe them, but I remain offended. I think that they underestimate my intelligence but worse than that they try to allege that they are ‘normal’ and the friend somewhat ‘deviant’!
It leaves me wondering why it is so difficult for us to talk about sex and when, if ever we are going to do so without shame.
You have to talk about sex at some stage of your life. Whether it is answering, ‘Where do babies come from?’ to dealing with vaginal dryness or erectile dysfunction with your doctor, you are going to have to speak the words.
When it comes to talking about sex with our partners, the ask is almost too much to bear.
So this week’s question is; Why?
Why do we find it so hard to talk about this fantastic, perfectly normal, life giving act?
Most of our problems begin with the horror and shame we feel when we want to talk about sex. How many of you openly read and discuss this column in public? I’d put money on it that there are not that many of you, otherwise the subscriptions on my blog would reflect the number of page reads and people would pay to advertise!
Where does all this sexual shame come from? Our opinions are formed as a result of a million little paper cuts that leave us feeling this debilitating shame. Even if you’re an enlightened parent, who has given body parts there proper name and discussed sex and pleasure in an open and honest way, your child may still not escape unscathed. They may even be shamed for having enlightened parent. I am a case in point.
My son came home from his upmarket, private school to advise me that his Life Orientation teacher had taught them that sex was a sin and filthy. There were children who tried to humiliate him for what I do until he was strong enough to counter with ‘but I saw your mother shopping there!’
Parents and children, playground hushed giggles, ‘sis’, shameful messages on television, radio, religious leaders, nurses, teachers, colleagues, parents, doctors, caregivers and friends all add their own brand of shame to the discussion.
Women bear the biggest brunt of shame. They are discouraged from exploring their sexuality until after marriage but by then the damage is done and many cannot recover. If by some miracle she does explore her sexuality, its almost never through masturbation but rather through a series of inappropriate relationships, she gets branded those marvelous words, slut, bitch and whore! She can’t really win!
Sexual shame is experienced by the mere thought of sexual pleasure. Can you imagine having so much guilt and shame about something you think and have never acted on? It’s like getting fat from reading a cheesecake recipe.
We experience this shame because of the hundreds of sexual myths and lies we have been fed including the one that says, pleasure is bad!
Really listen to the conversations and innuendos around you and you’ll start to hear it. If you are one of the guilty parties that perpetuate sexual shame I hope someone calls you out, loudly and in public, in the most shameful way possible.
My next couple of articles are going to be about how we go about dealing with sexual shame and how we move into a place where we can talk openly about pleasure with our partners. In preparation I would like you to repeat after me: arm, nose, penis, vagina, knee, finger, mouth, anus, clitoris and orgasm. Repeat until you no longer blush!