So… I wrote an article about regular sex being good for you and I got some emails from people who didn’t like my piece. After discussions here, I have come to think the article must have challenged their desire to shame (other people, themselves?) for wanting/having sex. We live in a sex negative culture… so lets see hat some of the problems are.
One of the big problems people have had with critically analyzing sex, and its regularity, is that there is a parallel anti sex movement from people who believe all sexual desires are shameful. While this does have some historical roots in various religious traditions, that’s not the point. The point is that for lots of people, feeling embarrassed about their sexual desires feels “normal” and “correct.” As a coach, I have learned that some people live around others who instinctively want to perpetuate these feelings of humiliation. Shaming for sexual desire is another way of perpetuating those feelings.
Young adults, understandably, are curious about sex and sexuality —they seek to know themselves better. Wanting to know ‘yourself’ isn’t a bad thing. For many people, the vast majority of their sexual activity involves only what they have been taught growing up, and they want to know/feel more. In the face of those desires comes the age-old push to keep people from knowing who they really are as a subtle way of control. If you can keep people in perpetual shame about their sexuality, you functionally control them by offering the path of “forgiveness” or “righteousness.”
I wholeheartedly challenge this unhealthy perspective. I don’t think there’s anything shameful about sex, the same way I don’t think there’s anything shameful about eating supper or having a beer. Sexuality is, on some level, the urge that drives humans to connect with other each other. I do think, though, if all you eat is junk food, you’ll end up fat. I like the analogy between sex and food. So here’s another thought; maybe porn is like junk food — some is ok for you, but too much isn’t. That being said, the analogy breaks down a little because, unlike food, we have deep rooted cultural moralistic overtones around sex. We have a culture of keeping people from knowing their true sexual selves by telling them that their sexual desires are wrong and/or bad.
Another problem created is this: for many people who have been shamed for ‘non-standard’ sexual desires, there is no safe haven outside of pornography. Its mere existence provides some evidence to them that they’re not alone. For them, it effectively functions as a low risk space to explore what things might bring them pleasure. However, porn too functionally controls people through a similar means of preventing true self-knowledge. If porn keeps you disconnected from other people, unaware of what you’re really needing but also giving you something that’s good enough, you’ll keep coming back to buy more porn. Once aware of that, here is the real problem: porn is just too low risk. Watching porn is a lot safer and easier than being with other people and it lets people develop habits, in their head, with very little real world experience.
Then they get into trouble.
So — anyway, I’m not trying to get moralistic or have a discussion about porn. I just don’t believe people should feel shame over their sexual desires, no matter how unconventional. You can’t help what you feel.
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Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative. You can see Frank’s other website, www.frankhopkinlifecoach.com on line as well.