Breaking Free From Shame

Religion, friends, family, school — everywhere we turn, we are getting messages that shame us for wanting sex for pleasure, for enjoying our bodies if we aren’t physically perfect, or for exploring sex in unconventional ways. 

In this stream, sex educator Luna Matatas talks about breaking free from shame: specifically, our body shame, performance anxiety, and shame about our “weird” sexual desires. 

Body Shame  

Despite how close or far we are from society’s rigid standards of beauty, we all experience some level of body shame. While unpacking body shame is difficult, there are few ways to combat it. 

Matatas suggests first curating your content. This means choosing to surround yourself with media that highlights people who represent you. Find images of people with your body type being sexy to help you redefine what sexy even is. You can also try locating where your shame is: “maybe it’s in your butt, maybe it’s your skin,” etc. Then locate the parts of your body “where there are seeds of potential self-adoration” and focus on those body parts instead. All these exercises are easier said than done, but they can be useful tools to start breaking free from body shame. 

Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety may come from internal or external messages, like from porn that gives us ideas on how we’re supposed to look and act during sex. We may also experience performance anxiety when we feel pressure to stay hard or pressure to orgasm, or to make a partner orgasm

To work through this, Matatas suggests trying sexual acts that aren’t orgasm-focused, like a sensual massage. Communicate to find out what you’re both actually into and look for signs of arousal, like if they’re wet, hard, etc. Making your goal to give your partner pleasure, not an orgasm, can lift some of the pressure that results in performance anxiety. 

Shame Around ‘Weird’ Sexual Interests 

We often feel shame for our kinks and fetishes because society deems them as deviant. Of course, society’s definition of “deviant” changes all the time — After all, same-sex relationships were considered “deviant” not so long ago. But as long as your desires are not emotionally or physically hurting anyone, and are not violating consent, who’s to say what is “normal” anyway? 

“We don't understand a lot around sexuality, and we want to create a pathology where there was potential harm or sort of a problem with someone's development that created this desire. Sometimes that's true, but most of the time, people just like what they like,” says Matatas. “And so, if you think about things you like that other people don't like, creating that empathy for people who have desires you don't understand is a really important way for all of us to sort of collectively reduce shame.“ 

If you have a partner who has a sexual interest you’re not into, Matatas suggests approaching it sensitively by simply saying “Oh, well, thanks for sharing that with me, it's not really my thing.” Or if you’re willing to experiment a bit, you can say something like, “Oh, interesting. Tell me more.” It’s important to keep communication open and honest and to check-in throughout any sexual experience. 

No matter how you dice it, it’s extremely difficult to get over body shame, performance anxiety, and shame around wanting sex society deems abnormal. This feeling is so ingrained, it can often be hard to even pinpoint it. But taking Matatas suggestions to heart is a good first step toward breaking free from shame.

Video transcript

So, I'm Luna Matatas, and I'm a sex educator based out of Toronto, Canada, and I love teaching all types of pleasure education that's really focused on us being more accepting, more adoring, more worshiping of ourselves, of our bodies, of our desires, of our partners, and really increasing and using things like sensuality and fantasy and eroticism in order to take up more space, unapologetically in our sexual and erotic experiences. And so moving shame out of the way is one of the ways that we can make space for things like eroticism or sensuality or exploration or creativity, you ever heard, kind of spicing it up? A lot of the times, exploring shame can make room for openness around spicing things up. So we'll talk about that as well. I've been teaching sex education for about 10 years, and lots of it was, lots of years were spent in sort of public health sex education and sexual health communications and informing people around reducing their risk for particular types of infections that are transmitted sexually and I worked in eastern and southern Africa with farmers and cooperatives to be able to get access to information there too. So I really enjoy working with communities that don't have a lot of access to the types of education. One thing that was consistent across eastern and southern Africa and Canada, where I'm from, was that people were always interested, curious about, kinda delighted by any spark of conversation that included pleasure. So feeling good, and how can we talk about sex, even if it's around sexually transmitted infections, and not talk about pleasure. And when we talk about consent, it's really important for us to know what feels good so that we can empower our nos and be able to help people navigate what our consent landscape looks like that's particular our experiences. So let's see who's up, New Gal, hey New Gal. Welcome, I'm so glad you're looking forward to this. Me too, me too. Welcome everyone. If you're just lurking, you're quiet, that's okay. Maybe you can come in chat a little bit later. Tonight we're gonna talk about breaking through shame and breaking free of shame, and I'll explain why shame holds us back in such a way that prevents us from accessing the types of pleasure and desires that we may naturally be curious about or really playful about. So tonight, I'm gonna focus on three types of shame. I'm gonna talk a little bit about body shame and what that looks like and how that can get in the way of us having a really sexy time. I'm also gonna talk about performance anxiety and how that can be a form of shame and really not being able to do the best that our bodies and our erotic minds can do, and by holding ourselves to other standards, and then I'm also gonna talk about shame around weird sex and what we consider deviant or not normal, and things like kinks or fetishes and how fantasies can often be a real source of shame for a lot of people, and maybe not sharing them with our partners is one of the ways that we lock down that shame and kinda lock it up in ourselves. And all of these things are really connected, all three of them, body shame, performance anxiety, and shame around our desires are connected to not feeling good enough, and so not feeling good enough is a really powerful motivator for us to chase things that would make us good enough. And who decided what was good enough? So largely, particularly around something like body shame, we have such a narrow sliver of attachment to kinds of beauty that 99% of us don't possess, and so it kinda keeps us always in motion towards possessing something that may not even really be our truest and most attractive form of beauty or body or the way that we express our sexiness, but it is a really powerful motivator, and from a very young age, we're told that there are certain types of attractiveness and beauty and bodies that are more deserving and worthy of attention, love, companionship, success, friendship, desire, lust. And so all of those things sound really good, right? So why wouldn't you want to pursue those things? But the reality is, is that the same way that we learn shame, we can unlearn shame and create new pathways to the same things that we all want to have. I want to be desired, I want to be attractive, I wanna have partners, I want to experience really great sex, but what society tells me, is to do that, I have to look a certain way, I have to perform a certain way sexually, and behave a certain way sexually, and adhere to sexual desires and practices that are accepted by everyone else. And so unless I'm fucking everyone else, it's really none of their business, but it's really hard to let go of our attachment to types of shame that are really guiding our understanding and our exploration of our bodies, our desires, and our sexual behavior. So we're gonna talk about body shame. We're gonna talk about performance anxiety, we're gonna talk about weird sex or shame around our fetishes, kinks or our desires, and how we can, one, sort of unpack what that looks like for us and what are the sources of those shames. Sometimes that shame's internal, sometimes it's external, from our partners, our families, from society, from cultures. Excuse me. Aw, damn, I forgot to bring my water. Then we've also got, when we think about performance anxiety, that also has sort of external shame when we're presented with ideas of sex and behavior, largely through porn, that is performative. And porn is hot, so I mean, if you've ever seen porn, I want you to be raising your hand at home. And if you're not raising your hand you're a liar. But we all watch porn, some of us enjoy it, some of us don't enjoy it, some of us can leave it or take it. But what it does is it sort of gives us our only access to a connection to sex outside of our own minds and our own bodies, because we don't have strong sex education, we don't have sex education that includes pleasure, we don't think sex is a skill and that we need to be able to learn how to relate to our partners and be responsive to our partners. And so a lot of our performance anxiety can come from watching images of sexual activity and behavior that is over the top. And so it's because it's performative. So we can look at hard-ons or squirting or wetness or how many orgasms someone's having in porn and thing that maybe that's what the standards are that my partners are gonna expect of me, right? And that's how, subconsciously, they're gonna be expecting me to behave, sound and look this way. Hey, Jeanie, hey Queer Kid! Welcome, thank you for being here. And around our shame of our desires, we also really experience internal and external shame because depending on where you are in the world, depending on sociopolitical and historical cultural factors, there are certain things that are considered obscene or deviant. I mean, generally we have sort of an understanding of things that are hurtful and harmful and injurious to people, especially around things like non-consent. But we don't have really good guidelines on whether or not face sitting is obscene. And so a lot of the things that we consider to be obscene or deviant or different are just things that haven't yet been brought into the mainstream, and so we can feel shame around not being like other people, or wondering if there's a pathology of deviancy or disruption in our sort of development that has led to us feeling like we have desires that are abnormal. So when someone says they're into feet or they're into public sex, or, you know, and then their partners, or they may feel like, why can't I just be into normal things like missionary and kissing and penetration? And the reality is, is that there aren't normal things. There may be popular things, and those popular things are dependent on what's represented and mirrored back to us through culture and movies and TV shows and what we know of other people's sex lives, but we don't really have insight into the types of things that people are doing, and to gauge whether or not they're normal based on how many people are doing them. Okay, wait, I'm going back, I missed something. Tiffany says, sex is a skill, I like that. Yeah, I definitely think, and I'm glad that all of you are here in a learning environment, because it's definitely a skill, emotional and physical, in trying to learn things in the same way that we learn anything else. And in the beginning of the stream, I mentioned that we learned a lot of the shame around our performance, our bodies, and our desires, and so we have the opportunity to unlearn them, as well. Lupins, can we discuss the worry shame that someone needs to have a fetish to find your body type sexy? Yeah, no, I get it, I totally get it, Lupins. And so, for example, I'm a plus size person, so BBW, the term big beautiful woman can sometimes be seen as a fetish, and so, and particularly, this is just an example, but it can apply to any other type of fetishized body, but the idea that someone would only find me sexy because they are into BBW or they have a fetish or a strong desire towards BBW women is actually a myth, and so fetishes, the word fetish, and the understanding of fetishes actually comes from, sort of, the religious understanding of fetish, where you imbue or you give power to something that's not necessarily seen as innately, innately connected to sex or eroticism. So, for example, you wouldn't have a fetish for kissing, because kissing is seen as sort of sexual, so when someone attaches a sexual desire or they're turned on by something that's not seen as sexual or conventionally sexual, like feet or latex clothing or a certain body type, we call that a fetish. And so a lot of times people, particularly around body shaming, we think that there is only one type of body that is acceptable, that is beautiful, and anyone that's into bodies outside of that must have a fetish for that body, so they must have some sort of special attraction to that body. And while that does exist, someone can totally have a fetish for a certain type of bodies. It doesn't mean that you necessarily, A, need to participate in that fetish with someone, just because they're attracted to you. So if they only like you because you're BBW or super tall, or whatever it is, unless you also want to participate in that adoration or worship of that particular characteristic of your body, you can do that, but you can also kinda be like, neh, that's just one part of me. And so if you're busy kind of worshiping that and forgetting that I'm also a whole intricate, creative, sexy, sensual person who has also desires of their own, then it can feel really objectifying. When you get fetishized and you're not participating in the fetish other than existing as the object of the fetish, it can really feel like you're just an object, and so that doesn't feel super great. Does that sort of address things, Lupins? I worry people only find me sexy 'cause of a fetish for my body type. Yeah, and do you mean people finding you not sexy because you like mainstream sex? Lady Hob, are you, I don't know if you're asking a new question or you were trying to interpret Lupins's question, ah, I have a fear that sometimes too, because I'm a big girl, yep. Is anyone getting a delay? Oh, are you delaying? Hey, Nicole. Yeah, so that's definitely a thing. So there's definitely a stigma around people who are into plus size or bigger bodies, because we normalize the beauty of smaller bodies. So as soon as someone's like, oh, she's cute, or she's sexy or he's hot or he's handsome, we think that, oh, well, they couldn't possibly be into that body type unless they have a fetish for it. And even the word fetish comes really loaded. It comes as something that we associate with weirdness or abnormal, and so that beauty definitely doesn't have to be reflected to you in that way. You are sexy and hot outside of that, and unfortunately, it's really tough because we can start to internalize that. And the difference between being shamed about a body that, we all have body shame. All of us have some kind of body shame, regardless, even if we look really close to what the sliver of acceptable beauty is. But the difference, for those of us that don't, aren't able to or we don't mimic what society has decided is beautiful is that we can want to feel good about our bodies, we can want to feel amazing, but when we walk out our doors or outside of our head, we're confronted with reminders and aggression that we are not beautiful and we should feel bad about taking up space and feeling beautiful. And examples of that are not being able to find clothing in our sizes, being called, not just a bitch but a fat bitch. Having just random aggression because you're a bigger person, not being able to fit into certain normalized things like seats or belts or things like that, and so it's a real thing, and someone may just tell you to think positively or feel yourself. It's not that easy. It's not so easy to unlock shame. But what we're gonna also talk about is how you detach shame from its root so that you can make more room for self-worth and self-celebration. That doesn't mean that you're not gonna have moments where it's just too much and you really feel upset about the messages that you're continually getting about shame you already feel. But what it means is that you'll have tools in order to sort of draw on, to build space where you feel is sacred for your self-celebration. I did a podcast recently on rimming and at the end of it, the podcast, called VagEsteem, and she asked me, you know, what do you do to raise your VagEsteem, so your vaginal vulva self-esteem? And I was like, well, I touch her a lot because I want to adore my body and my pussy and my sexuality so that when I share that with someone, I already know what the standard is. I already know what feels amazing, and if I can do it better myself without having to change my sheets and have shitty small talk, then I'm gonna do that. And so one of the reasons for us trying to move the shame is not only to feel better about ourselves, but to actually get off more and to feel more pleasure in the experiences that we do have, and be able to say, okay, so you're fetishizing me in this way, or you are trying to change how I feel about my body in this way, but that's okay, because I also know that I am able to also feel this way. So that's body shame. We'll also talk about performance anxiety and weird sex. I'm just gonna read the chat a bit. Hey Queer Kid, I'm dealing with body changes, menopause, after feeling my lack of sex drive is really affecting my partner. My shame around changes to my body is becoming a real issue. Yeah, Queer Kid, that's a really good question. Thank you for, or a story. Thank you for sharing that with us, 'cause a lotta times our shame and control over, or shame around our bodies comes from things that we can't control, so changes to our bodies and whether that's to the ability of our body, or whether that's to the way our body physically looks or behaves or acts, and it can be really challenging when we also are in relationships with other people and we're sharing an intimate space. So that's real, that is really tough, and sometimes people even find it on a cyclical type of basis, like, you feel sort of good about it and you feel connected, and then all of the sudden something reminds you that you aren't in the body that you wish you were in, or your body isn't behaving in the way that you thought that it should or you want it to. I think definitely, talking about it with your partner, if you're comfortable, Queer Kid, and maybe writing it out first, and doing a little bit of a spatial writing exercise where you're able to clarify what some of these feelings look like so that you can express it in a way to your partner that gives them space to have empathy for you, and to really figure out, at this moment of vulnerability, there is information in that sharing that can allow you to create new paths to pleasure that might feel different than what was before. But that can actually maybe discover new things that might feel different than the type of sex that you were having before, the type of desire that you had before, and so you may decide to do things that are more sensual and not necessarily sexual. You may decide to think about other types of ways that you want to engage and spice up your relationship, 'cause it sounds like there's still a lot there. So I definitely think chatting with your partner, and also reading a little bit about menopause and sex after menopause, 'cause there's definitely a lot of information and strategies out there and lots of people that are dealing with this, that you don't really have to reinvent the wheel. There are things that you can draw upon that might work for you, and it'd be great to discuss them with your partner. Hope that helps, Queer Kid. Jeanie says, is making me feel better about my skill level, but inexperienced, but I guess that could be appealing. Yeah, Jeanie, I think people are often at varying skill levels, and it's not really a scale or a continuum. Sometimes, changes like Queer Kid's going through makes us shift back to a different space on the continuum, when we're learning a new skill we may feel a little bit unconfident about, or the technique, or how do I do this with confidence? How do I learn dirty talk with confidence? And absolutely, I think being open about, you started exploring and you're exploring your own body through solo pleasure, and maybe you're exploring partner pleasure with someone, and what's appealing about that is that you'd be curious, communicative and playful, and enthusiasm is such a huge part of desire and sexual satisfaction and one of the big motivators for sexual confidence, so there's absolutely no shame in being inexperienced at all. Lupins's, okay, good. Lady Hob, you were trying to interpret. You didn't fail, I was just like, I wasn't sure which question it was. New Gal says, yes to all of that. It helped me so much, and amen to feeling objectified if that's all someone sees. Yeah, absolutely. Queer Kid, yeah, you're welcome, no problem. I'm glad that that helps kind of move through what you're dealing with. Okay, so we talked a little bit about body shame, and please keep dropping your questions and your stories. This is your space and your time to chat with a sex educator, so I'm happy to chat about and give insight or input or conversation around whatever you would like to hear. We have about 40 minutes left, so we've got lots of time to talk about performance anxiety and also around desires and shame around desires. I am gonna just leave you with body shame stuff and that body shame can also manifest itself in ways around, where it can be connected to the other two, so it can be connected to performance anxiety and it can also be connected to shame around desires, and feeling not good enough is one of the toughest things to uproot around shame because, whether you're, I don't know, if you're a people pleaser, I'm a people pleaser, but whether or not you're a people pleaser, there is this desire to feel loved or liked or accepted or like you belong, and so if something that is sort of inherent and natural about you, like your body size or your skin color or your ability or your mind and the way that you think about things is creating shame and disappointment in your sex life, then it's really tough to just sort of say, well, you know, brush it off or do a mantra. And so one thing I'd love to leave you that's helped me with body shame, a couple of things, actually. So one is curate your content. And so, if you're only looking at sexy images, porn, fetish stuff, Instagram accounts of people of your desired body type, you need to open it up. You gotta follow some babes of different body types of different sexual expressions or styles, and look for ones that are sort of a dimension of what you already like about yourself. And so for me, I had to, I grew up in a time in my 20s, where there wasn't a ton of plus size clothing options, and so I largely wore my Spider-Man T-shirt and cargo pants to university every day because I didn't want to be seen. And now, I'm sitting here in this giant flower dress. And I'm okay with taking up space with color and dresses and femininity, and so if there are choices that you are making and waiting for when you think you're gonna have that ideal body type, whether that's a weight or maybe you're doing something that involves changing your appearance or building muscle or, I don't know, getting taller, I don't know, but if you're sort of waiting to live in your body that you have, then you're sort of missing out on the moment where you can celebrate what's already sexy about you. So the first thing is to curate your content, and the second thing is to redefine your sexy. So you really need to say that, yeah, Beyonce's sexy, but she's just one version of sexy. There's infinite versions of sexy, and sexy isn't only located in the physical. I rarely use sexy as a word to describe myself, because my sexy is definitely expressed in creativity and playfulness and curiosity and open-mindedness, and those are things that I also find sexy in other people. So, you can even take your piece of paper, write sexy in the middle, draw a circle around it, and do a little bit of a brainstorm around what things come to mind that are sexy, 'cause guaranteed, when you're thinking about someone else, you're not only thinking about their body. Our mind is our biggest erotic organ, so we've got a space to fill with different ideas of sexy. So you're gonna curate your content, you're gonna redefine sexy, and then you're gonna try and locate where some of that shame is. So you may want to think about doing a body scan. And so, I hold a lot of my body shame in my tummy. I feel terrible about my tummy on some days, I always thought if I had a flatter stomach that I would be happier, I would have better partners, I would be more liked, and I can tell you that I'm probably at my heaviest weight that I am right now, and I feel most beautiful. So all that shit that I told myself in my 20s and probably up to about five years ago, was a story that I was telling. I was taking it from messages that are real and that exist outside of my head, but I was taking that story and using it in my own sort of play of life. So you wanna locate where your shame is. Maybe it's in your butt, maybe it's in your skin, maybe it's in your hair or your height or whatever it is, I'm sure you could label off all the parts of your body that you don't like, and then you wanna figure out, locate the places of your body where there are seeds of potential self-adoration. So do you kinda think your smile is cute? Do you think that you're a really good flirt? Do you think that your eyes are bedroom eyes, or whatever it is, find the things about yourself that you also like, because you wanna have those as anchors for when those things that come up that you don't like about yourself can feel really overwhelming and like they've rooted in you and they're taking it over. Think about any moment where you've been having sex and all of the sudden, the part of your body that you don't like the most becomes the part of your body that you are most focused on. You're focused on its jiggle, you're focused on its wrinkles, you're focused on its bulge, I don't know, whatever it is, imagine instead, if you were able to be focused on the parts of your body that you really do enjoy and that you can feed adoration into. So you're curating your content, you're locating your shame and you're redefining sexy. That's how you're gonna try to move and make some headway with body shame, how does that sound? Enthusiasm, I got it, just nobody to take it out on. New Gal says, how do I get over feeling body shame when pursuing someone who is considered more acceptably physically attractive? Yeah, New Gal, that's a really good one. So when I'm on Tinder, I often have swiped left, so no, on people who are what I see as conventionally fit, so particularly, like they were a personal trainer and if I matched with them, I was like, wait, do they just want me as a client? 'Cause I'm not going to the gym, and I couldn't believe that they would be interested in my body type. And so, one of the ways that I got over feeling body shame when pursuing someone who's considered more attractive is, one, redefining what is attractive, opening up space in your mind for thinking about what is more, what is attractiveness beyond just sort of physically attractive, and then I also challenged myself. I had to also explore and expand on my ideas of beauty, and so I really noticed that I was swiping left, so I was swiping no, a lot on people who weren't physically, conventionally attractive. So I would swipe left on shorter people, on fatter people, whatever it was at the time. And so I tried, kind of like swiping right on the first 10 people and just seeing what would happen. And then I started just, sort of like, looking at profiles and not making decisions based on photos only, which is hard. We're in a dating app and an online dating world that is dependent and is driven by photos, and so it's really pushing the physicality at us. So I tried these little experiments with myself to see if I could also be more accepting of other people's body types that weren't conventionally attractive. And there was a great article that was out, you can see if you can find it. It was, I think it was The Reductress, but it was like, oh, am I attracted to him, or is he just tall and white? And so, a lotta times our social conditioning is creating a bias in our dating and in who we find attractive. And so when we start to unpack that, we can make more empathy for ourselves around our own bodies not being perfect or not being seen as conventionally attractive. Another example, New Gal, is to kind of figure out what do you find is sexy about you and be more present in your body by slowing sex down, and so really, maybe taking their hands and putting it on the areas of your body that you really like or that you don't like, or whatever, mix it up. But creating that experience of teach me to touch you and doing it very slowly and sensually and intentionally, even if you're into rough stuff, even if you're into kink, or it's a throwdown, whatever. That slowness creates a tension and a tease, and there's no better way to get more present in your body by having that sort of tension and tease and oh, what's coming next? Using things like eye contact and breath and scent, taking them in with more than just their physicality can also make you more receptive to whatever they have to offer you. I mean, obviously, they're there because they desire you too, so sometimes, it's sort of being able to receive that desire and that adoration in the moment. Aw, thank you, yeah! I know, I love this dress too. Hey Control Freak Two, hey AJ. New Gal says, me too about my belly. Also, you are both sexy inside and outside. Not gonna flirt, and you already know this, but I find affirming others makes me a little bit more confident too. Yeah, awesome, thank you. I agree, I totally agree. When I affirm someone else, and you kinda watch them be like, ah, you start to feel really great and generous about the abundance of adoration that's possible. So it's available to you, it's available to them, and we really have a lot of influence around unlearning shame. Thanks, Justin, for reminding people about the tip jar. Lady Hob says, I have been told so many times that I'm going for men that are below my hot level and I'm never sure how to respond to that, but I get told this so much, and kind of find it a little insulting. Yeah, that's interesting, Lady Hob. I think even being able to respond to, oh, I have lots of dimensions of hotness, and kind of just really clapping back that there's not just a ladder of hotness. I mean, when we ask people, what do you find attractive, that's sort of different than hot, and so attraction and chemistry, we all know that a body is a really important and really fun and exciting part of sex, but the physicality of sex usually doesn't do it for lots of us alone. And so think about trying to masturbate without having a fantasy or porn or some other mental input or mental stimulation, it just doesn't get us going. So I think we're even responding to that with, my sexy is way more sophisticated than you understand, could be a way of kind of saying, that yeah, your sexy and what you find sexy is not just based on sort of a sliver of sexy that has been made available to us, which is largely confined to three or four characteristic that only Matthew McConaughey fits, and so there's lots of people that we can be attracted to but we don't necessarily celebrate their beauty, so they wouldn't even be on that hot level, we wouldn't even find them there, 'cause we're too busy all sort of worshiping one type of hotness. New Gal, that helps, thank you so much. Oh, you're so welcome. Good on you, Lady Hob, for loving more than the ridiculous hot norm. Yes, exactly, yeah, good for you Lady Gal, or sorry, confused both of your names, Lady Hob, for kind of going beyond the norm. I had a thing around height, and so I didn't wanna date anybody, particularly masculine people that were under six feet or six three or something, like the typical kind of consideration for an attractive hot partner, and then one day, I was like, this is fucked, I'm missing so many people and I went out, I swiped, and I tried to not look at height and not think about height, and I ended up going out with someone that was significantly shorter than me, and I'm pretty tall, and it was one of the best dates of my life. It was so amazing, and I sat there thinking, I would have missed out on this person. I would have missed out on this experience. I would have missed out on how this moment is making me feel so connected and sexy, because of a few inches. And so we'll get to that, also, when we talk about performance anxiety, but absolutely, there's way more than just what we think of as the hot norm, and testing our own boundaries and our own confidence around what we find attractive can also help in reducing, sort of, the fetishization that we also experience. Matthew McConaughey ain't even all that anyway. Yeah, that's true, I just watched a movie by him yesterday, so he's stuck in my head. You're right, you're right. And also, it's very gendered when we think of body shame. I mean, there are way more acceptable body types for masculine presenting people than there are for feminine people, and we often see that projected in movies, where some dude who's not very conventionally hot is still getting the hot thin white blonde at the end of the movie, and so we don't see it the other way. I mean, only in Hairspray did the chubby brunette end up with Zac Efron. So we don't have a lot of those stories that are setting sort of a cultural tone for us around pursuit of not conventionally hot or not hot normal. Okay, I'm gonna talk a little bit about performance anxiety and then shame around our desires, but feel free to keep dropping your questions and your stories, they're so great, especially around the body shame. It's such a powerful one. And it's one that I still struggle with, lots of people really struggle with. So when we're talking about performance anxiety, we're referring to things like not being good at sex, and so what makes you good at sex? And so is that having a giant penis? Is that having giant breasts? Is that being able to squirt six feet across the room or have 94.5 orgasms in a row or be hard for three hours? And so performance anxiety can also come around us not being able to give someone orgasms, and so our focus on orgasm-focused sex also makes us miss out on all of the amazing hotness and creativity that's available to us in sex that isn't orgasm focused, and so think about, if you're wanting to explore with sensuality, sensuality is often seen as feminine or romantic or for long term relationships, and that may be true, but it's not the only expression of sensuality. I like to think of sensuality as being present and available for our senses to open up to receive more stimuli, and so that stimuli is all pleasure potential, so whether we're increasing or decreasing input into any of our five senses, that might be a portal for pleasure. That might be a new way to get turned on. And so think about the difference between sort of touching someone and feeling someone. So that feeling someone comes not only from slowness and me saying it weird, it also comes from the intention behind it, and so performance anxiety makes us think that sex is all about the activity, so the penetration or the oral or the spanking or whatever. But sex is actually way more than that, and way bigger than that, and so even when we masturbate, we understand that sex is bigger than the thing, because we're giving pleasure to our bodies, but we're also usually heavily engaging our minds, either through porn or erotica or a spanking. And so, one of the problems with performance anxiety is that it sets expectations that we often don't communicate around, so we don't say, hey, it's okay if I don't orgasm. I love how this feels, this is so amazing, and I feel so good. We're sort of doing the steps to lead to orgasm. And that can be really challenging, because especially as our bodies change, as our desires change, as our experiences and our partners change, those steps may not always be the same, and so developing skills and being able to have a sexually exploratory experience makes you a more responsive lover, it makes you more present in the kinds of sex that you're having, and it usually gives you more of an option than just orgasm focused sex. One of the reasons I got interested in kink was, I was like, how the hell are people calling this sex, and how are they getting turned on by types of clothing and candle wax and whips? Kinksters have accepted and embraced the idea that sex is more than genitals and more than just our orgasms, 'cause you can often mimic and also access different types of mental erotic states through play and kink and roleplay and dirty talk and engaging our mental side of our erotic selves, and that those things actually create similar states of pleasure. And so, while you might not have genital stimulation from engaging in different types of sex that isn't necessarily orgasm focused, performance anxiety starts to go away a little bit, 'cause you start to accept and plug into and tune into whatever the things are that are going on that make you feel good. So trying to discover what those things are, also, affirming for your partners. You know, someone's not getting hard, someone's not getting wet, those are signs of one kind of arousal, but there are other signs of arousal for people, and particularly people with vulvas, often our arousal in our genitals can be disconnected from our arousal in other places. And same thing for people who enjoy anal sex, so sometimes you're gung-ho and your mind is into it and your ass is like not today, and so you can kind of imagine the experience of trying to push through a mental or a physical barrier. When they're not in sync, then we start to have anxiety about the ways that we are approaching our techniques or the sexy things that we're trying to do. If your goal is always to give someone an orgasm, it's really different than a goal being I wanna give this person pleasure. I wanna get turned on by giving this person pleasure. I wanna ride the waves and sensations of this person's pleasure. Lady Hob says, how do you get over someone liking something about yourself that you don't find sexy at all, like my boyfriend is very into smells, and I've always been self-conscious about smelling strongly down there, but he says I smell so good. Yeah, I think, Lady Hob, there's a couple of things. I mean, you don't ever have to get over something that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe or not good, but I'm glad that you're bringing it up as an exploration, I mean, you are entitled to be able to explore, is this something that I can shift? Is this connected to shame that I want to move? And sometimes people can bring that into our space, sometimes people bring shame into our space, and sometimes they bring an opportunity for an affirmation. And so you're boyfriend's telling you that you smell so great and you feel that it smells strongly, I mean, that's a fair one. People with vulvas have been told since the dawn of time that we stink and we smell bad and we need to smell like roses and lavender. Meanwhile, vaginas are self cleaning and dicks are not. So that insecurity around our smells has been ingrained into you and is probably present in any sort of sanitary napkin aisle in a drug store. So it's not uncommon or surprising that you have that shame. If your partner is really taking you in and smelling you and tasting you, you can also try and smell and taste yourself when you're masturbating, and at first, that might feel gross or disgusting or try it in the shower and try to be neutral with the scent. And if that feels even uncomfortable, you may try kissing him after he's gone down on you, and feeling how excited. I often find that tuning into their enthusiasm and kind of like being a little bit of a voyeur to their delight helps me forget about the story that I was telling going into that moment. And you know, hearing it from him, acknowledging when he says, be like, oh yeah, tell me more, and just soak it up. It's really tough to receive in an area where we locate a lot of shame, so that's a good one. I keep fighting the feeling that he's just over compensating with it because he thinks I smell bad and doesn't want me to feel bad about it. Yeah, that's a story that you're telling, because he's telling you something different, and you're looking for validation of shame that you already have, and I do the same thing, and lots of do this, and so it's about you being able to tell a different story, and you can do that through experiences like smelling yourself or tasting yourself off of him, but you can also do that by maybe exploring where the shame came from. It may be similar places to mine and other people with vulvas, but it also may be located, in particular experiences that are in your memory, like maybe someone at school liked saying, something smells like fish or, whatever it is that's particular for you. It might help to unpack it a little bit and write a new story, you're gonna write a new story that you smell delicious. Scent is such a powerful portal of pleasure for sensuality, like, inhaling someone and saying, you smell so good is such a connective and intimate way to increase confidence during sex as well. Lupins says, I have lots of shame about taking so long to come and/or needing a certain something to get there. How does one get over that shame? That's a really good one too, Lupins. Lots of people feel that, again, orgasm focused sex or having an orgasm in a certain amount of time or in a certain way or with squirting or with semen or whatever it is is something that could cause friction with a partner. I had a partner go down on me once, and while they were down there, they were like, oh, they popped up, and they're like, yeah, it kinda takes you awhile to come, huh? And I was like, so I'm never gonna come now. And so, you know, I think that really kind of, even setting the stage for someone and just being like, babe, I can't wait for you, for us to fuck, or for you to go down on me. I'm a slow comer, but I am enjoying every moment of it, and so kind of prefacing for your partner what the expectations are, that you may or may not come, or it takes you a long time. And needing a certain something to get there, the people who know their bodies and know what it takes for them to get to the place where they feel good are the best people to sleep with. So I'm so glad that you know that, because people who are able to articulate and, you know, I want you to teach me to touch you. Teach me what feels good about your body, what feels good in the way that you like to be touched, because then I can be more responsive. So that's actually something to be really proud of, and it's a sign of confidence as well. Yeah, dick cheese, exactly. And ball butter, yeah. Voyeur to their delight, tell me more, quotable. Oh, I'm so glad, New Gal. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It's an opportunity for affirmation, and lots of us struggle to receive. I struggle to receive compliments. I struggle to receive, and it's about taking up space. If we take up space, there's a particular vulnerability in showing up and being ourselves and being authentic and taking however long we take to come and smelling however we smell, and that authenticity is incredibly erotic but incredibly vulnerable at the same time. And so making sure that you have the conditions to be vulnerable are also important. Do you have a partner that respects you? Do you have a partner that's communicative? Do you have a partner that listens to you? Do you have a partner that wants to know how to please you, is curious about your body, respects your body, doesn't make snide comments about your body or desires or performance. Those conditions make it really easy to be able to be more confident. So the last one I'm gonna talk about in the last 10 minutes, but keep, feel free to drop your stories or comments or anything you'd like me to talk about in the last 10 minutes, so weird sex. So if you have desires that people might think are weird, and usually what we think is weird is determined by a particular set of conditions or criteria by whatever society thinks is acceptable at that time. So for example, same-sex sex is considered illegal in lots of places in the world, and so that's considered obscene or weird or deviant. In Canada and the US, in most parts of Canada and the US, I mean on a grand scale, it's not considered in that way. So when we think about desires that are not putting anyone in harm, are not violating consent, and are not causing injury to someone, and that feel good for everyone involved, in whatever way that they experience pleasure, we're not talking about things that actually deserve the title deviancy. So a lot of times, sexual desires that fall outside of what we consider the normal range by the psychiatry community, has been considered deviant. So a lot of things in kink used to be considered deviant. BDSM, sadomasochism were considered deviant. If you think back to, sort of, how we approach sexuality and very much from, not a pleasure focused sexuality, of course things that weren't really leading towards procreation, like spanking, or sniffing shoes or something like that, or cross dressing, those things are gonna be considered deviant, 'cause why would you do them if you weren't in pursuit of procreating. And also, we don't understand. We don't understand a lot around sexuality, and we want to create a pathology where there was potential harm or sort of a problem with someone's development that created this desire. Sometimes that's true, but most of the time, people just like what they like, and so if you think about things that you like that other people don't like, creating that empathy for people who have desires that you don't understand is a really important way for all of us to sort of collectively reduce shame. And so one, you can remember, just the easiest thing possible is, you don't need to yuck anybody else's yum. If someone finds it yummy and you're not into it, you can just be like, oh, well, thanks for sharing that with me, it's not really my thing. If someone says something to you and shares a desire that you're like, well, I don't really get why you're into that. Instead of doing that face and saying that, you could be like, oh, interesting. Tell me more, what turns you on about it? Oftentimes, the activities that we put forward in our desires or as representations of our desires are just the activities. The mood, the intention, the flavor, things like fear or humiliation or intimacy or lust or have to have you are the things that actually turn us on. And so the context could be explained to you if someone, if you give someone the opportunity and permission to tell you more about their fantasy or their desire. So if someone says, oh, I wanna be peed on or I want you to pee on me, you may be like, ew, gross, or you know, you might also wonder, is that safe? Or does this mean there's something wrong with you? And so you could say, you know, if your immediate reaction is that makes me feel unsafe, it makes me feel triggered, I'm never gonna do this, I want nothing to do with it, then you don't have to do anything. If your reaction is kind of like, okay, I'm not completely against this, I'm also not signing onto it, but tell me more. You can invite someone to tell them more about your desires or fantasies, and if you're the person that has a desire or fantasy that might be weird or considered weird, find being able to articulate some of those other things around it other than just the activity. Tell the person how you want to feel in the fantasy. Do you want to feel like a goddess? Do you wanna feel like a submissive? Do you wanna feel like the center of attention in a six person orgy? And so really thinking about communicating the whole scene. What is this little vignette? What is it that you're trying to share with someone beyond just I wanna have a threesome or want someone to pee on me or want to be spanked. That doesn't give someone enough information to connect to your fantasy or for you to connect to theirs. So we have five minutes left. Do you have any other last comments? I'd love to know how you're feeling. Like, can we do a check-in, like what's going on, what are you feeling right now? When we talk about shame, sometimes a lot of things come up and also we can feel like it's a insurmountable task. You might feel like, oh, it's something that's just so beyond, I'm never gonna be able to get over belly shame, I'm never gonna be able to get over this, and by reducing the goals for body shame, performance anxiety, and embracing your sexual desires, to more about how can I navigate it when these shameful pieces come up? Then you have an opportunity to kind of not make the goal so far away. You don't have to eliminate body shame to have really good sex, you just need to know how to navigate it when it's getting in the way of your pleasure. Next month, in my newsletter, so if you're not signed up for my newsletter, I'm putting the link here too. I'm going to be releasing an article on how to talk about your fantasies, and also a video on sexual confidence. And so those are only available to my newsletter subscribers, so sign up, it's free, and stay in touch if you'd like. I do offer pleasure coaching, so if you want some more specific coaching for your desires, we can always chat over Skype, otherwise, I will see you the next time on, and I think Q is coming up with sexual confidence next, so check out the calendar and tune in to the live streams that you think are interesting and there's also lots of other information on the site that can get you started in the direction of pursuing your most pleasure possible. Thank you for being with us tonight on and thank you for your vulnerability and your awesome questions, it was amazing to kind of see everyone participate and share and support each other, so you know you're not alone, you know that lots of us out here are experiencing very similar things, and there are options for how we can deal with it. New Gal says, feeling empowered, impressed with your approach and hopeful. Aw, amazing, New Gal. That makes me feel really awesome. Thank you, thank you so much. Thanks Justin, for modding for us tonight and keeping our space safe. Lupins, you're so welcome. My pleasure, and I will see you all next time. Bye!

Breaking Free From Shame

Sep 26, 2018
2:00 pm
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
2:00 pm

Sex is intimidating. From body shame, to performance anxiety to worrying our partners will think our desires are 'weird'. Join this class to get tips on communication, navigating shame and getting creative with erotic tools to upgrade your idea of 'sexy'.