A client of mine was distressed over some recent sexual activity in which she had engaged.
Because it was out of the realm of that what she has been taught as “normal”, she felt ashamed of her actions. This sense of guilt and degradation caused her anxiety and had caused a somewhat depressed state that she was having difficulty moving through.
She called herself a slut for engaging in a unusual sexual act, even though it felt good while she was doing it.
I have experienced similar fears and I hear variations of this story all the time from clients and friends.
The self-recrimination seems to stem from not understanding our sexuality in general and from the mixed messages that we have received from society.
Many women try to move through some sort of sexual trauma. Sometimes this is a violent or extreme trauma such as rape or molestation but many times it’s an overlooked (and often repeated) trauma such as being catcalled, felt-up, harassed or even watching a loved one be shamed.
The messages we receive around sex are ridiculously mixed and we perpetuate them among ourselves constantly.
We’ve all heard the locker room talk but women also propagate the double standard. Many call other women sluts and whores if they enjoy sex and uptight prudes if they don’t.
And through all of this we are attempting to navigate two extremely polarized messages—“just don’t do it” on one side versus “do all you can to make the man happy” on the other.
Women are shown through media that we should dress provocatively and that we need to be at the man’s beck and call. The interests and desires of men are shown to take precedence over ours. It is a no-win situation. We are groomed to believe this.
If we make sure that we look pretty, wear the right clothes and cook for men then how on earth would we feel comfortable setting sexual boundaries that feel good to us?
On the flip side, we receive a message that sex is bad and that sexual impulses should be repressed. So when we do go beyond “acceptable” limits, we feel ashamed and despoiled.
How can we get to a space of balance in this paradigm where we feel trapped?
How can we learn to appreciate our own personal and sacred sexual signature? Here are a few strategies that can help us connect within so that we may better understand our needs and wants.
1. Tuning in.
This is much easier than it sounds. If we take a few moments every day to connect to our higher selves we can learn to discern what we truly want without the noise of society or others distorting it.
By dropping into the heart space we can learn to differentiate between our ego and our essence.
We can ask questions and receive loving and authentic responses. These may come to us in the form of symbols, sounds, visions or feelings. When we receive the message from a space of integrity and align our actions with it, we honor ourselves and our highest good.
2. Tuning in, part two.
Our feelings guide us, they don’t define us.
Because of this, we can allow our bodies to be our guides.
We have the tendency to believe that we are the thoughts in our heads, as in “I am depressed” or “I am happy.”
These feelings are actually fluctuations in our perceptions and they resonate/vibrate within our body.
So when we feel sad, we can actually sense that in our physiology. We all know what some emotions, like anger, feel like in our body but we tend to discredit our right to feel them.
All emotions are in our bodies for a reason, though.
Pain and discomfort are really methods of communication that come to warn us that something is not right. We can connect with these emotions by scanning the body. We can find the points that feel constricted versus open and then ask what they would like to tell us.
If we honor the body information we receive and act in accordance with it, this helps us to build a sense of communication and trust between our mental, emotional and physical bodies.
3. Determining what we really like and don’t like.
Most of us don’t really pay attention to the subtleties of what we like or don’t like. Often we do things so that we or others won’t feel discomfort in the moment. Each time we do this it’s like a little betrayal that gets pushed down into ourselves.
We can commit to honoring what feels good and what doesn’t feel good by learning to stay present in the moment to the awareness that arises in different situations throughout the day. We can heighten our awareness by playing games to sense what we do and don’t enjoy, such as trying new foods, striking up conversations with strangers or going someplace new.
Sometimes we need to make compromises but this can also be from a place of honor and integrity as long as it’s carried out in a way that uplifts us.
With respect to our sexual signatures, it is important to learn specifically what our bodies do and don’t like.
This may require some sacrifice done with love and honor for our vessels.
We have been trained to avoid our body’s signals for transient pleasure. If we are constantly forsaking our bodies by putting it in harms way, what prevents us from betraying it in other ways?
We can shift our experience through awareness and when something doesn’t feel good, we can change it or eliminate it.
Not only do we exhibit radical self-care when we do this, but we feel better in every way.
4. Exploring what feels good sexually.
Learning about what turns us on and off can create an entirely new playground.
There is a lot to be learned by spending some one-on-one time in the bedroom, but we can also glean a lot through quiet reflection and with paper and pen.
When we think back over our sexual history, we can connect with moments we loved while also becoming aware of things that contributed discomfort or shame.
We may even notice that some things felt good with some of our partners but not others and we can explore these questions for even more clarity. Once we have gathered this information, we are also able to look forward to exploring things we might enjoy trying.
5. Changing up routines in the bedroom and experimenting.
Once we know what we like, we can check into what limits we are willing to push. Experimentation is great as long as we take care not go beyond what feels good and exciting.
It is helpful for us to sit down with our partners and acknowledge beforehand that if we begin to feel uncomfortable at any point, we can shift the dynamic. We can discuss the yes’s and no’s of what we wish to explore and agree to go as slowly as feels good for everyone involved.
Practicing communication of our desires can lead to more intimacy and greater comfort.
The man will most likely instigate, so it helps the women to be sure that we have clearly established guidelines.
Creating a few safe words invites a sense of safety. One safe word can indicate that slowing down is necessary, while the another can call an end to all experimentation and shut everything down, get dressed and talk about our feelings.
By being fully present in the act, tuning into our body and our inner voice, we learn to respect what we hear.
In turn, we can create a situation that doesn’t seem scary or dangerous.
There is a huge spectrum of sexuality and every person is at a different point. Some folks will never explore sex at all and some love seeing a dominatrix.
As long as it truly and fully feels good to us in our heart and soul, it is right for us.
6. Detaching from the judgment.
Sex sells and sex repels. By learning about our bodies and feeling confident in our ability to explore and honor them, we will naturally feel less swayed by the thoughts and memes of others.
Their views on sex are just that—their views. That is how they express—or repress—their sexuality. Not necessarily how we need to express ours.
When someone remarks that someone is a slut or a prude or that they shouldn’t have done something in the bedroom, we can detach from the words and the degrading and constrictive energy that they carry.
We can then see if there is anything for us to learn there and then move on.
I have a friend that calls herself a slut. She is a sweet, loving, cupcake baking femme that also writes hardcore porn and travels around the country reading it in front of others. She revels in her slut-ness and even has the words “Lucky’s whore” tattooed across her breast.
I will never in my life call myself a slut or tattoo that word on my chest because the associations I have with those words don’t match what resonate with.
But they do for my friend, fully, completely and with love. And I love her and her slutty self with all of my non-slutty heart.
Everything about sex is a personal choice.
It is an act that we choose to share or not share with others and we have the opportunity to expose more of ourselves on those occasions than we do at any other moment of our lives.
Being fully aware of ourselves can open us up to a more authentic and intimate sexual experience that we don’t have to feel guilt or shame over.
We are only sluts if we want to be.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Janet Raftis
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock