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Feeling lust is not a crime! Here’s why you need to reject sexual shame

Published on:5 February 2021, 18:16pm IST
We’ve been brought up in an environment that considers sex as a crime. Here’s how you can understand sexual shame and heal from the pain.
Geetika Sachdev
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how to feel sexy
There’s nothing wrong with having sexual desires. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Any person who has grown up in India will attest to the fact that conversations about sex happen in hushed tones. The act of sex, however natural it may be, is always viewed in a negative light. We are taught that talking about sex or indulging in it is a sin. This has made so many of us feel like criminals for wanting it. 

The truth, however, is very different from what society has made us believe. Feelings of sexual desire aren’t just normal but also healthy. There’s nothing to be ashamed about.

From indulging in casual sex to exploring your sexuality with a same-sex partner, the choice lies in your hands. It is your body and you’re the only person who has the right to make choices about it.

We’ve come so far in terms of modernity but there’s hardly any conversation that happens around sexual shame.

Most times, sexual shame is not limited to gender but it is seen more commonly among women. Men can sleep around with several women, and display their machismo, but if it’s done by a woman, society is quick to label her with some of the most derogatory terms. What’s more, the lack of discussion around sex only perpetuates more taboos around it, contributing to people feeling ashamed to be sexual. 

Before we discuss other aspects of sexual shame, we should probably look into its definition. To put it simply, sexual shame refers to all the ways people come to feel that who they are as a sexual being is wrong, broken, or even fundamentally bad. 

How does sexual shame begin?

The seed of sexual shame is planted in our brains when we are little kids. We receive subtle messages from our parents, relatives, society and culture that sex is bad. Most of us have internalised shame just by growing up in a culture that believes that sex and anything to do with our body is bad. 

sexual shame
Do not feel ashamed and guilty. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What makes sexual shame even more dangerous is that most people do not even recognise that they face it in their everyday lives. It’s so rooted in their being that they think having such emotions is perfectly normal! 

Here are five signs to help you identify sexual shame
  1. You are insecure about yourself: It almost always starts with you. If you are insecure about the way you look and are not comfortable with the appearance of your genitals, then you are most likely to shame yourself post-sex, or experience body insecurity during sex.

  2. Odd body language: Your body language says a lot about you, even when it comes to sexual shame. If you cross your arms across your chest, slouch often and find it difficult to make eye contact with your partner, then that means you have inhibitions to express what you feel. If you can’t express your desires during sex, then it’s going to affect your relationship sooner or later.

  3. Sexual dissatisfaction: When you experience feelings of shame, you can’t enjoy sex as much as you would want. Your sexual feelings will stay repressed, and that won’t translate well in the bedroom. Moreover, having shame can make it difficult for you to communicate with your partner, and make sex less pleasurable.

  4. Trouble with intimacy: When you shut yourself down sexually, you can’t enjoy physical and emotional intimacy with your partner. Shame can make you have high walls or boundaries that affect a relationship by restricting intimacy.

  5. Thinking sex is bad: If you experience feelings of regret after having sex, then there’s a high chance that you have internalised shame. This is damaging not just for your self-confidence but also impacts your romantic relationship. 
sexual shame
Morning sex is a perfect way to kickstart your day. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Here’s how to overcome sexual shame

To begin with, you need to confront your fears and shame with pleasure. You can try and arouse yourself using vibrators, masturbate often, and explore your sexuality without guilt, but you can only do this when you are ready to release the shame. You can also educate yourself with books. Keep in mind that it might be difficult in the beginning. So, try to not beat yourself up about it because healing does take time. 

Think and analyse ways in which you might be holding yourself back during sex. Do you have sexual desires that you want to fulfil? Have you been avoiding talking about what you want because you have insecurities about yourself? If you answered these questions with a ‘yes’, it means that you need to give attention to what you want, and not what others feel. 

The other thing to keep in mind is to avoid conforming to stereotypes. There will always be people who will believe that women must not have sexual desires, or men must always want sex. Try and understand what turns you on, what you want, and you are sure to have a steaming session in the bedroom. 

You can also look for a good psychotherapist who can help you navigate the journey better, and make the process of overcoming sexual shame much simpler.

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.