Let’s Talk About Sex
SEXUAL SHAME INHIBITS OPEN, INFORMATIVE CONVERSATION
Have you noticed that when sex is talked about openly people feel uncomfortable? This is because of sexual shame. Many layers have been delivered from the time we were born.
I hold classes to help people remove this embarrassment and shame so they can talk more openly with partners, lovers, and even friends.
I’m going to talk about it now, and I will let you know if I feel any embarrassment as I go.
I did a reading from a memoir I was working on in which I described giving oral sex. I described it in detail, each sensation of the penis in my mouth, changing shape, reaching orgasm, and again changing shape. I didn’t have any discomfort doing it, but I was really embarrassed as I read to a group of strangers.
Have you ever talked about masturbation? What the first time was like? Do you tell your partner, or your friends how you do it? What it feels like? How often? How long it takes? Isn’t it interesting that we know details of many other activities of people we know, but not much about this one.
Do you ever have the sense that you are the only one having sex? Even though you know that of course everyone does. But since you don’t know about their sexual activity, it’s hard to really believe it? This is because we need information and conversation to believe what is going on with others. If deception includes three components – lies, secrets and silences – then we are deceiving about our sexual activity.
I’m not suggesting that any of us should broadcast our sexual relating. It is private. But talking openly in general about sex can help us release some of the inhibiting shame that got attached from long ago.
A man I dated for a time and I use to kiss in parks. While we were experiencing passion, I was amazed to learn that people thought it was sweet. If teens or even people in their 20’s did the same, I expect people to say, “get a room!” Perhaps at our age they thought we had been married forever and were still enjoying sexual relating. We were an oddity.
HERE ARE SOME SUBJECTS TO TALK ABOUT:
I will be talking in a way that isn’t intended to arouse you – or me. If I talked in an arousing way, I would be inviting you to use arousal as a medication of the embarrassment that may come. But you may still feel aroused. If you do, just notice it. Ask yourself if the arousal is helping to not feel the embarrassment. Or if it is making you uncomfortable, perhaps wondering if I am trying to arouse you. I am not, but the incorrect use of sex in our culture may make you think so. We are influenced by the violation of sexuality that most people experience through parents, other adults, religion, peers, and the culture in general.
I am offering questions that you can use when talking with a lover, or when talking with friends to help reduce embarrassment.
We therapists who specialize in sexuality have heard so many sexual experiences that it is all normal to us. We know that it is possible to reduce shame about such conversations. Now, my oral sex reading was to strangers, and a group of them at that.
When you start to kiss someone, do you actually see her mouth, or his mouth? Of do you head in the direction and then feel your way into it? Do you check to see if it is received? Responded to? Are you aware of your partner’s pleasure or lack of it? How do you respond to each?
How do you take clothes off? Do you just get in bed with nothing on?
How do you first bring your bodies together? Are you already aroused? What parts of your body do you feel it? What kind of stimulation do you engage in next?
Notice how you are feeling right now. Are you embarrassed? Are you alone or listening with someone else? Imagine it both ways, and think if you would feel differently.
Breathe fully. Notice anything you feel physically. And emotionally. Accept the feelings. Let them flow through your body. As they move, they can leave you. If you hold anything back, it continues to stick inside you.
Here’s another one. What goes on as you approach orgasm? Do you focus inward? Is it a goal? Do you try to hold it off? Do you lose awareness of your partner? Do you share the experience, or is it solitary? Do you feel the need to fantasize?
Check out your other sexual activities, too. Are you making love, looking into each other’s eyes, expanding your awareness of each other? Or do you focus on arousal, enhancing it, pushing toward orgasm? Do you stimulate your partner because it feels good to do so, or do you do it because you are supposed to please him or her?
What happens after the orgasm, or whatever way you decide that sexual activity is complete? Do you roll over, go to sleep, or do you cuddle? Do you want to cuddle, or do it because it is expected?
How much of your sexual activity is performing and how much emerges from deep inside you, and from the relationship with your partner?
My book, Reclaiming Healthy Sexual Energy: Revised offers information about how to heal sexuality in order to use it in your next relationship.