In Bali recently I inadvertently overheard my neighbours having sex. Whoops! Before I could swiftly move past their villa and earshot, I heard her say to him (in a russian accent):
" I don't want to do that"
to which he replied (in a french accent)
" A man expects this"
and the conversation went on and as I past the corner I heard her say
"A woman should choose what she wants to do".
He was obviously disgruntled retorting:
"No man would accept this".
Boom! There you have a clear cut case of sexual shaming.
I felt for her and yes I even felt for him.
I wanted to rush in to their bedroom and teach them both embodied breathing, communication tools and how to be present. But how can you teach someone to connect with another when they are not connected with themselves.
Thus this generalising of what " all men want" was actually a deflection from his own alarm at not getting what he wanted. Perhaps he felt ashamed or powerless. One thing is for sure there was alot of ego and little compassion involved in their scenario. I saw them later that day arm in arm as if everything was hunky-dory.
Asking to have our sexual needs met does not have to be a shameful harrowing experience. Yet so many of my clients disclose their obvious discomfort when their sexual boundaries are transgressed or their requests for something different or more connected are neither acknowledged or addressed.
Sex is the powerful union of two souls through the pathway of our bodies. Its sacred stuff. Even a good shaft up against the wall is sacred if done with presence and honour of each other.
So where do things go so askew in heterosexual intimacy that a man shames a woman when his demands are not met?
( By the way, it could just as easily be the other way around.)
It stems from how we feel about ourselves, our bodies, our worth and our esteem. As well as how we really feel about the opposite sex. These beliefs are shaped by our childhood and young adult experiences.
Yes our infant and adolescent role models have alot to answer for! Most of our sexual education comes from our parents attitude towards sex, our inane High School sex ed class focusing on how to avoid pregnancy, film and social media, pornography and schoolyard gossip. Not necessarily leaving us well equipped to navigate all the levels of our sexuality and intimate relationships.
If you have ever experienced sexual shame you know it impacts your ability to speak up and out, often triggering old memories or trauma of feeling sexually unsafe. Shame binds and paralyses until its bought to the light. Then transformation is possible. It takes great courage and self-love to open again when you've been hurt. All you can deal with now is you and the context of this shame.
So here is a ritual to heal sexual shame:
Lie down in privacy.
You may want to light a candle or some incense to clear and honour this space, you and the ritual.
Breathe into your belly for 20 cycles of breath.
Invoke your energetic guides and protectors to enter this space.
Invoke some form of a protective shape around you.
Take yourself to an experience where you felt sexual shame.
Breathe and land fully in your body.
Where do you feel sensation ?
Go to that area of your body. Place your hands gently there.
Breathe. Land fully in the discomfort of the sensation and welcome it. Breathe.
Invite that sensation to sit at your imaginary kitchen table with you.
What does it look and feel like?
How does it feel to have this guest with you?
Do you feel compassion for this guest?
Ask this guest what it needs.
Listen. Be present. Breathe.
If need be ask an energetic guide to enter closely near your guest.
Could you love this part of you?
Perhaps present this part of you with a gift.
Show that you love this part of you. Breathe.
Could you forgive this part of you?
Could you forgive what happened?
Could you forgive the transgressor?
Ask this guest what it needs now?
Respond with kindness and compassion.
Is there anything else this part of you wants to share?
Breathe into your pelvis. Relax.
Thank this part of you for having the courage to come forth.
Bathe your guest in light.
Witness any transformation.
When you feel complete you may wish to make an agreement to meet regularly.
How does that feel for both of you?
Or if it feels healed and complete then simply thank your guest with a gesture of kindness. Bring it back into your own body.
How does your body feel now?
Thank your guides and protectors.
Release the energetic boundary around you if you feel to or keep it around you for 24 hours while you integrate.
If the ritual opened a can of worms you may need some professional support. Reach out, talk about your experiences, even if it's with a trustworthy friend.
Write about it.
You may find support in unexpected places, especially from within yourself.