A notorious supervillain, the Shame Drain, feels like a big empty vacuous hole in your heart sucking the joy from life. It disconnects you from yourself and others with sexual shame. Shame is feeling unworthy of love and acceptance because of a perceived personal flaw. Stay on high alert and fight it because it is corrosive to the happiness we all deserve. Sexual shame is shame about your body, your sexuality, your gentles (that’s Gamete for genitals), and how and where and with whom you desire sex. This stifles your ability to find the soul-fulfilling connection you desire and deserve. The Shame Drain creeps up in all sorts of insidious forms, so stay alert and be vigilant! Once you become aware you will start to see it in all sorts of places. Here are some ways I’ve seen the Shame Drain strike, and how to combat it for yourself and others.
- Media messages try to sell us stuff by making us think we need their product to be good enough. Sex is used to sell everything, usually with models and situations that leave lots of us feeling inadequate and shameful. Watch for such messages and dial them back. Call them out, speak against them for yourself and for others to neutralize their effects. Choose products that advertise with sex-positive and body-positive messages over those with Shame Drain.
- Toys never have gentles. Think about how a child might think of their own gentles when Mom & Dad just gifted them with dolls that don’t have gentles at all. How is that going to make a child feel about their own gentles? Next time you see a child playing with such toys maybe mention: “What happened to Barbies vulva? Maybe she lost it in an accident!”
- Parents who scold children for touching themselves. Instead, suggest “We don’t play with our vaginas/penises in public, we do that in private, and our gentles deserve clean hands to keep em safe so wash your hands first!”
- Sex education focuses on risk and danger, rarely mentioning pleasure even though 90% of sex is for pleasure. Ask questions about pleasure in such situations and supplement sex education for others with such discussions.
- Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals often instill shame in their messaging. Remember that they are just passing on the sex-negative zeitgeist. Call it out and correct them with a better way to deliver information.
- Religion instills shame when we venture out of their extremely narrow range of acceptable sexual activity. Remember that religion is based on ancient text often written by heteronormative men as a means to control the masses. Men so “wise” they didn’t even know that germs existed and they thought the world was flat. How wise are they again? Scientific research shows that sex serves much more functions than simply procreation. Sex also serves for emotional bonding, fostering love, exercise, health. You have a right to a fulfilling sex life, as long as you’re respecting consent and minors.
- When you hear people judge another’s sexuality, body, or gentles that can instill shame in you and others. Remember that such judgement is more often a reflection on the speaker’s jealousy, insecurity, and sex-negativity. Thwart such shame by correcting them to their face and/or to others or take distance.
- It is natural for you to be excited by certain kinds of sex and repulsed by other kinds of sex. It is also natural for others to have different tastes – some will be grossed out by the sex you like and enjoy sex that you find gross. These are natural personal preferences and reactions. A sex-positive approach acknowledges this diversity respectfully in the way we speak about sex. When someone talks shit about your kind of sex you can show them a better way to speak about it, for example: “No shame for cocksucking, just not my thing.” It is natural to have a visceral reaction when we are repulsed, but we do have a choice in the way we speak about and interpret that reaction. When you see someone else grossed out about your sex you can either feel shame or you can remember – their reaction is because of their own personal tastes, not because I should be ashamed of my own tastes.
- Adults avoid discussing sex with children. You can educate adults that the research shows: the more accurate information children have about sex and sexuality the more likely they are to avoid pregnancy and problems with sex.
- How can you shed your sexual shame?
- First become aware of it, look out for sources of it, and respond accordingly!
- Learn the name of your body parts. Get a mirror and get acquainted with your gentles.
- Find what pleasures you and share it with your partner(s). Remember their distaste for something you like is no cause for shame.
- Learn to be better lovers not with porn but instead by consulting experts, books, podcasts, friends.
- Silence or limit sources of sexual shame, or learn to reframe their messages. When you hear someone shaming another’s sexuality gently call them out and offer a correction and remember that such messages reflect the speaker’s shame, not yours.
Join me and plug the Shame Drain to fill your heart with the joy you deserve. Stand up for sex-positivity and the right to pursue happiness. How have you experienced the Shame Drain and how have you fought it?
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