Thoughts on Sexuality Growing up in a Culture of Shaming

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I hate society’s notion that there is something wrong with sex. Something wrong with a woman who loves sex.
Alessandra Torre

It’s 2022. Has the perception of women’s sexuality changed in the society?

So, how’s the dating world for a woman not looking for a serious relationship in a (Indian) society waking up once again (yeah, the land of Kamasutra) to the existence women’s sexuality?

Does a fully covered woman still score brownie points for her “culturedness” compared to her mini skirt wearing friends?

What if she is mid-thirties and does not see the urgency to settle down with the next guy who responds to her texts three weeks straight.

How could a woman enjoy conversations, great sex (yikes!), have fantasies (that audacity) and despite it all continue to walk without a hint of shame?

Why do we turn a woman against her body before she could find the workings of pleasure?

Sexual liberation has been portrayed through the male-gaze.

But it’s also propagated by the woman who wanted to show her virtues to be the better than the next woman.

The epic dialogue:

“I am not like her”

Trust me, as someone who has told these lines with pride pointing at other women, nothing gave a better ego boost.

I am a good woman. I am pure. Yeah, I am saving it up for the “right man, right place and the right time”. — Unlike her.

While the above lines does not seem any harm, it’s the ending that is dangeous.

The need to have another woman to compare.

Woman believed and were taught to believe that by pointing to a “lesser” women we somehow become better.

We can’t blame men for the patriarchy, the male-gaze alone because it’s women who encourage it. If men go revenge porn then women have been going revenge gossip for centuries.We all are equal culprits.

The worst name you could ever be called was a “sl*t”.

No shit.

The Culture Training Of Shame

How we date, explore our pleasures and accept our bodies is as dependent on the society as much as it does on us as women. I am a 30 something heterosexual female from India and all these views are from the culture of growing up in the 90s.

I grew up in a culture where the dignity of your family resides in you maintaining your virginity. Or more clearly in the intactness of your hymen?When in reality the state of your hymen has nothing to do with sexual activity.

And when your gang of girls gather in your hostel, the next room girl’s soft porn adventures are unmissable news.

What if you are taught in educational institutions to cover up your chest your legs, your arms for your safety. And the male principal of the college could actually point to the “length and coverage” of the dhupattas and send circulars to wear t-shirt covering the zip front.

But what they do about the male professor who touched our backs (which was covered per all dress codes ever written) “accidentally” in physics lab.

So much that we dreaded the class — He got a “gentle warning” and a happy retirement.

And what if you hear the men in your circle arguing that women in a certain city are more prone to rape because they dress that way and ask for it. The casualness of it, instead of angering you convinces “this is the way world works” and you shudder.

What if all the movies you ever watched portrayed the survivor getting married to the rapist, the father committing sucide and for good measure handing over the poison to the rape survivor (who drinks it with pride) because their dignity is lost.

What if men ogle at you at the bus stands and your father advises you never to wear make-up again because it attracts attention.

All the above has happened to me, to my friends, to our mothers and on a regular basis.

And what if the guy friends you have known for ages read your Medium articles on dating and sexuality and “look” at you in a different light. I have outgrown the person you knew, boys — thanks.

You accepted them all because that’s culture, men will be men.

And you are taught to self-love like that. Nope. You can’t.

You waited for the man of your dreams, to sweep you away in an Audi (with your parents approval of course) and you drive into the sunset (with your hymen intact till then). Wow!

Marriage as been taught as the end goal to a woman and calling motherhood as the completion of it. But the moment she gets married bombard her with questions on “when is the next child” Or “why are you unable to concieve”.

And label her sterile if she cannot bear a child.

That folks, is the end to a journey that never was allowed to began.

But what if life does a 180 degree and you realize that you have sexual needs?

What if you realise a your best friend telling she is not happy in bed matters so much to her mental health as much as it does her emotional one.

What if you learn that getting only the woman tested for infertility and advising her to take up in-vitro fertilization while easily ignoring that it could be on the guy’s side too is based on patriarchy.
You change.

No, you don’t become the whore. You never do.

You apologise in your heart to all the women you called names.

Like you and the rest of the women, they were never the labels.

Embracing your sexuality means breaks a hundred myths you been fed over ages.

It’a long journey. Here are some takeaways:

1. Nope You aren’t Giving The Middle Finger To Society

When you set out to embrace your body and your sexual energy, there is a lot of resistance.
Women have been taught shame and to shame.

We have been told that sexual energy nor your body cannot be enjoyed without the right man (in a right mood). Lies.

Educate yourself about your body, exploring your pleasure, practice safety first and always say No when you mean No. Layla Martin’s videos are a life-saver for me.

By embracing your sexuality you are not proving anything to the society.

Nor are you setting out to smash patriarchy.

It’s not about making you a lesser or better woman than you were before. It’s returning back to deeper parts of yourself.

2. You Do Not Owe Anyone Your Sexual History

Single, married, divorced, whatever be your age.

Your count is nobody’s business. Your consent is.

Its not a joke nor it’s a topic for light discussion neither are your sexual adventures. If you feel someone might be judging you, then yes they are. Feel free to walk away. In the middle of date. In the middle of the night.

Your call.

You will only feel the urge to make light your sexual experiences if you continue associate your self-image with it.

You don’t gain anyone’s approval by telling the truth. Attempting to prove that despite your sexual appetite you are a virtuous person is stupidity. That’s exactly the belief what you are trying to leave behind.

And don’t get it all mixed up.

Your intelligence, your kindness, your sexuality, your life struggles are all different aspects of the woman you are.

You can be a businesswoman, a mother, an artist, and a feminist — whatever you want to be — and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive. — Beyonce

3. Understand Consent

Be clear with consent. What is consent? The agreement to have sexual activity.

According to What Consent Looks Like article in Rainn:

Consent is about communication. And it should happen every time for every type of activity.

Consenting to one activity, one time, does not mean someone gives consent for other activities or for the same activity on other occasions.

Those who don’t respect this don’t deserve your time.

And you can refuse sex at any point, feel free to express discomfort. Just because it had been your fantasy in first place or that your partner resembles Hugh Jackman in the dim lights — no reason is worth giving up your consent for.

All the above rules applies to your partner too.

4. Understand the Diversity Of Exploring Self-Pleasure

According to Jessica Bo, a blogger and women’s rights advocate, the misconceptions stemming from religious and cultural views make us see masturbation as “dirty”. She says:

there seems to be an air of discomfort or misconceptions surrounding the action, and this often overshadows its scientifically proven benefits. It’s critically important for women of all ages and backgrounds to have access to information on their own sexual and reproductive health.

For me nothing releases the pent up tension like a good masturbation. It’s to find what gives you pleasure. And the means like shower head, toys, hands, reading erotica, watching porn (other other safe ways) etc. to reach them. The power of orgasm, especially the self-induced is woefully underrated.

When I found out Bare female channel in Youtube and tried the yoga poses to awaken feminine energy, it changed my life. Masturbation gave much more of a pleasure. As a yoga person, it was beautiful how I could connect back to my sexual energy flow.

 

Jessica Wildfire, puts it this way:

It[Masturbation] doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. And if you’re in a relationship with anyone who thinks that, you might want to educate them — or just dump them.

Final Thoughts

Women need to support women. More than ever.

We live in a society where only place where a women’s sexuality are spoken out in public are in swear words directed at her body, her mother’s and her sister’s. Or in case of a guy, it’s directed at the women of his family, ofcourse.

May we stop labelling, may we realise that tarnishing other is but a reflection of how broken we are within ourselves.

May we realize that sexual needs, sexual expression are unique and to not judge ourselves by them.

May we call out prejudices and stop using shame as a weapon to put women in place. May we know that all that we were taught could be wrong and seek out the truth and continue doing so.

May be go back to the space within us- forbidden as “dirty”, by religion, culture and even by the people we love and trust. May we know that embracing sexuality is empowering. And it’s powerful.

May we respect our bodies enough and teach our friends, our children and ourselves better.

May we acknowledge the shame residing in our bodies (yes, the mere awareness makes a huge difference)and watch the illusions shatter.

May we know that sexual health finds an important place in the physical, mental and sexual wellness realm. May we practice consent, safe sex and non-judgement.

May we know that no milestones of life — marriage, motherhood make us a complete woman and not ticking those boxes does not make us any lesser.

We are already complete.

That my friends is the beginning to holistic empowerment.

This post was previously published on medium.com.

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The post Thoughts on Sexuality Growing up in a Culture of Shaming appeared first on The Good Men Project.

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