No More Sex Shaming!
Let’s talk about sex sham-ing (sing it)! Y’all know I am a strong advocate for all things sex positivity, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need the occasional reminder to practice what I preach. This has been on my mind recently because the other day, I ran into one of those situations where a sex-positive reminder would have been especially helpful.
I was home alone (or at least I thought I was) when my favorite sex toy as of late, the California Dreaming Orange County Cutie, started calling (ok, begging) my name. So, I started masturbating and right in the middle of one HOT sesh, my husband walked in on me. I immediately felt a swelling of guilt arise as my eyes widened and my cheeks reddened. I felt really self-conscious about it, which was only amplified when I saw that he was laughing. F-ing laughing! I know masturbation is healthy and normal, but that didn’t stop me from feeling ashamed in the moment.
A lot of these feelings of shame are so deep rooted that we don’t even know we have them. I mean, think about all the times we were told as kids, whether by our parents or by our peers or whoever, to be ashamed of masturbating (or expressing our sexuality altogether in the first place). The subtle, “I don’t masturbate, do you?” and the not so subtle, “That’s gross!” or “Nice girls don’t do that” remarks. No doubt it continues to affect us!
Luckily my husband and I talked about the situation soon after and our discussion eased my initial discomfort. He said he laughed, not be because he thought it was funny, but because he didn’t know what else to do. Laughter is a perfectly natural response in sexual situations and otherwise. Normally that would have been my initial understanding, but in that moment, I was too caught up in my own embarrassment to see it that way.
Sex-shaming is such an ingrained part of our culture. When it comes to sex, we are taught from a young age to feel shame about almost everything -- for natural bodily functions like queefing and squirting, using lube or sex toys with your partner, for being a slut or a prude, too kinky or too vanilla, too thin or too big -- we all know that’s bullshit, but I still think we could all benefit from a few sex-positive practices.
Evaluate Your Own Shame
You can be sex positive and still hold feelings of shame around sex. It sounds funny, but you don’t need to be ashamed of feeling ashamed. As someone who speaks out so often about sex positivity, I can feel pressure to have all the answers figured out for myself. But as they say, It’s easier said than done! It is only once you are really really honest with yourself about your feelings of shame around sex that you can then decide to change that narrative. Getting over that cumbersome mental block can allow you to feel more empowered and transform you as a sexual being.
Be Open With Your Partners and Loved Ones
While internal work is a must, I find that openly processing that internal work with others really takes it to the next level. A lot of working through my internalized shame about sex comes through active communication with my partners. If my husband and I never discussed the masturbation incident, I would have mistaken his laughter for judgement, which would have reaffirmed my feelings of shame. Instead, we were able to break down that barrier together and grow as a couple and as individuals. Moreover, when my husband tells me it’s sexy that I masturbate, when I speak up and ask for what I want, when I bring sex toys into the bedroom, etc., it reaffirms those positive messages that I tell myself. Requiring some level of validation from your partner does not make you weak! I have also grown so much through talking with friends, family, and like-minded people. Having others that truly understand those vulnerable parts of me, and that have maybe even felt and experienced the same things, gives me important insight into how and why I feel the shame I do about sex and sexual activities.
Remind Yourself...You Are Not Alone!
We are all on our own journey to self-love and acceptance. It is important that we respect where we and others are on that journey to allow everyone the time to heal. Speak up for yourself and others and understand the vastly different experiences we have all had that shape our views of sex. Understand that the healing process looks different for everyone. For instance, some women might feel empowered by reclaiming the word slut and some might not. Some men might feel empowered by reinventing traditional ideas of masculinity, like by presenting androgynously, and some might not. There is no right way to heal.
So spread the message! No more sex shaming!
~ Miranda Buzzlove