Confronting shame

We’re taught to be ashamed about sex.  Parents are often embarrassed to talk to their kids about sex.  Schools often don’t teach sex and, if they do, it’s about the mechanics of sex (if they can even teach anything more than abstinence).  Once we’re out of college, talking about having sex is just not done.  But yet…sexual imagery is everywhere around us from advertising to movies/tv/music to classic art.  So to pretend that sex is not of interest to most people is silly.

But we’re frequently ashamed about our desires – whether those desires are to have more sex with more people or to try kinky things…people don’t want to talk about them.

I don’t know how many men have mentioned to me that they would like to be pegged or wouldn’t mind experimenting with another man (or have experimented with another man).  Many of them have even thanked me for letting them say it because they’ve never said it before.  I guess I come across as someone who won’t judge.  I’m proud of that.

While I feel like I’m at a point where I’m not ashamed about sex, I’m still uncomfortable talking about sex with most friends and, for the most part, most friends, etc would have no idea that my personal life consists of more than rather wholesome activities.  I don’t know if that will change because, even if I’m not ashamed about sex, I don’t want my career to suffer because of my lack of shame.  I don’t know if this can or should be equated to being in the closet about one’s sexual orientation…after all, it wasn’t until people started coming out of the closet that we all realized “hey, who that person chooses to love doesn’t impact me, so good for them.”  Maybe if we were all a little more open, we would realize “hey, who that person chooses to fuck, and how they choose to do it, doesn’t impact me, so good for them.”  But still, I don’t want to be one of those busting down those doors.

Still…why are we ashamed? There is certainly a religious component.  But as we become less religious as a country, we’re not necessarily becoming more open out our own sexual escapades.  Maybe we all think we’re doing it wrong – having too much, too little, too weird, or too vanilla of sex? (But then, that goes back to being ashamed about the topic).

Before I meet someone, I almost always ask him what he likes sexually speaking.  I can tell a lot about someone’s attitude that way. A lot of guys can only speak in generalities “I just like sex!” Ok, great. That’s fine. But…what about it? So then I might try asking if they have any things they don’t do/won’t do/turn offs.  Sometimes that list is pretty obvious “No cutting, poop, or animals”. Ok, then that makes a general statement mean something more. This person has thought about their absolute nos and their list is specific and expected.  But then other guys will say something like “I don’t kiss and I won’t do oral”. Um, ok…so, when I asked about liking sex, you mean you just like sticking your penis in a vagina and getting blow jobs…that’s fine, I guess. Not very fun sounding to me, but fine for a partner who is into that.  But I’m not sure your “I just like sex” comment is that accurate if you are so limited in what you like (my own judgment, I guess).

The most exciting (to me) prospects are guys who can talk in detail about what they enjoy. And they clearly have thought about both the physical and psychological pleasures of sex.  They often start trying to figure me out quickly (and they’re often right) and when they say they enjoy sex, I know that they mean more than the orgasm.  I’m sure a lot of people might judge them for having such a thought-out way of talking about sex and what they enjoy, but I think that’s silly. We tend not to judge someone who spends hours upon hours to perfect their ability to hit a ball into a hole, but judging someone who spends hours upon hours to perfect their ability enjoy all holes in play in bed (and whatever other body parts are in play) is normal?

I think that dealing with shame relating to sex is an ongoing process. It gets easier, but it can come back when so many messages are thrown at us about how we should be ashamed.  I’ve somehow developed some chatting relationships with men I’ll likely never meet who are also very sex positive. We talk about what we’ve done. What we’d like to do. People we’ve been with.  Kinks. Fantasies. Etc. It’s nice to have a conversation with someone that can shift from running to the kinkiest of desires and back to how work is going. It makes sex feel like nothing abnormal.  Some people I’ve met swear by communities and meet ups…and maybe someday I’ll do that stuff too.  But I have realized that I do have to make conscious decisions to avoid getting caught up in shame.

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