There are people that cannot enjoy their bodies or sexuality because they were raised to be ashamed of both; I am not one of these people. Since as far back as I can remember I knew that what my parents were teaching me about sex and sexuality was flawed therefore I rebelled against their standards.
My parents wanted to make sure that I remained a “good” girl that would be worthy of being chosen to be a wife. Both of my parents tried their very best to assure that I wouldn’t become one of those “loose” girls that had sex outside of marriage. Neither of my parents told me much about sex other than that I shouldn’t do it, that if I did do it that no man would marry me and that it was a dirty thing that I should save for the man that would become my husband.
What they told me about sex made absolutely no sense whatsoever to me but the feelings of desire that ran through my body for my boyfriend and the orgasms I was enjoying from masturbation did make sense. My Junior year of High School I decided to throw caution to the wind and lose my virginity have penis-vagina sex for the first time. If marriage was anything like the misery my parents shared I for sure would rather be a “tarnished” girl that followed the rush of orgasms.
From the first time I had sex with another person until now I have been lucky enough to have mostly all positive experiences. I enjoyed sex and pleasure thinking that all the shame that my parents had tried to force upon me about enjoying my sexuality had been completely avoided. That’s what I thought all these years during which I openly confidently and mindfully enjoyed sex for pleasure with all the people that I met my standards.
You know there is a but coming right?
Going through San Francisco Sex Information’s Sex Educator training taught me a lot about emotional triggers and that was when it dawned on me that shame might have not changed the way I approached my own sexuality but it triggered me. Anytime that people spoke negatively about “promiscuous” women or used derogatory terms like slut or whore I would have a shame reaction.
My shame reaction always starts of as a sick feeling in my stomach which bubbles into intense anger which causes me to become defensive and then I verbally attack people I perceive as enemies of women. Realizing that this particular trigger caused a physical and emotional shame reaction helped me become more aware of my other topics that trigger me to have shame reactions.
Shame is an inevitable powerful social control tool that causes us to disconnect from others, retreat into secrecy and avoid vulnerability. Knowing that our bodies have physical and emotional shame reactions can help us better manage shame. It can help us learn that although shame is often thought of as a negative thing being able to navigate our shame reactions can help us turn shame into a positive thing.
Instead of disconnecting completely from people that shame women for their sexual choices I allow myself to step back just enough to realize that they’ve triggered my shame reaction. After knowing that my button has been pushed I talk myself off the ledge by changing the internal dialogue in my head that would have previously lead me to verbally attack these people. I tell myself that this person is not an ignorant enemy of all women but someone that could use a calm conversation about sexuality with a nonjudgmental person that is equipped with accurate sex information. I take a deep breath and I open up the conversation with a statement that leaves me open and vulnerable.
“As a proud slut I would love to know why you feel that way about women that have sex for pleasure.”
These conversations don’t always produce the outcome that I want but with each one that does I am helping reduce the shame that surrounds sexuality.
The shame my parents tried to instill in me about sexuality might have not caused me to forego enjoying my own sexuality but it definitely helped guide me towards a purpose in this life.
Shame is powerful but it always isn’t a negative.
Do you have any triggers that cause shame reactions?
Has shame ever been a positive force in your life?
© Anaín Bjorkquist July 18, 2012 ~ All Rights Reserved.