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Stigma in a World of Sexual Pleasure

Or How I Gave up Shame and Embraced My Sexuality

One of the things that we all know is that sex sells. It is relatable, it is desirable, and more than anything, it awakens something in us that we enjoy on a whole new level. Sex was sold to me from a really young age, making me both confident in being a bit more different than the image portrayed by other girls around me, and confused about the stigma surrounding a woman comfortable with her sexuality—a woman that seeks and desires sexual activity and is not ashamed of it. Everywhere I looked around me, the man was the one acclaimed for being open, being out there and experiencing intimacy, while women were simply there to comply, and their task, given from themselves as a form of self-protection, was to be quiet about it. Tale as old as time.

This was how I viewed the world the first time I ever touched myself, when I kind of knew that what I was doing was not wrong at all, but at the same time, treating it as the most taboo thing that I have ever done. Me, seeking sexual pleasure, would just involuntarily and irrationally put me in the category of a whore, because this is just how times and people were.

The shame only got to me when I had my first steady boyfriend and we decided to have sex. I truly loved him and wanted to share this experience with him, so I first had sex right after I turned 15, a month and a half into our relationship. And the need that I got afterwards to protect this and the fear of someone finding out were the biggest impediments in being happy with this part of myself. Two years later, after being with him for so long, I would still try to hide this even from my closest friends. How can people know that I had sex and, even worse, that I enjoyed it? How could I be open about it when every gossip I was hearing was about another whore in our year that had sex? And how could I not feel like one when some friends were waiting for more than a year to have it with their boyfriends? Was I wrong to "put myself out" so soon even though it didn’t feel wrong at all?

But the times were changing and people were growing up and soon, sex started to not be so taboo anymore, and I started to feel comfortable openly expressing myself, realizing at the same time that shame put its mark on me for a very long time. Having so much time to explore my sexuality, and having to do it in the "closet" of sexually active teenagers made me develop kinks and quirks deemed unethical or mainly fucked up by the society, sometimes even by myself. Was my need for pain in bed derived from the idea that a woman shouldn’t enjoy sex? Was the early thought that women shouldn’t desire intercourse unless a man takes it from them the root of my rape fantasies? And, most importantly, was the fact that I spent four years in a sexually unsatisfying relationship the reason for my insecurity on a topic that, deep down, I was so confident about?

When I broke up with my first steady boyfriend two months ago, I was ready to experience everything that I wanted to during this "sexual awakening." I was ready, as most people are after a terrible breakup, to say "fuck you" to love and to start to love fucking. The timing couldn’t have been more right, since I just started university and everything was just a huge fuck-fest. And this is what I did; explored every fantasy, being as loud as I wanted and building my confidence back. Seeing how better exists in sex, but bad doesn’t, really. Trying new positions and feeling empowered when I reviewed them in a pub with my guy friends, laughing and finally being proud and open about having sex. Feeling like the word whore has no power on me anymore and that shame has no place in my brain. I slowly lost some of my kinks, not because I found them repealing, but because I could finally experience the things I wanted without guilt-tripping myself, and my desire for some pain in bed became just a way to describe my way of having sex rather than an excuse to it. And finally, I understood that you can experience intimacy even at a one-night stand and that, overall, sex is being sold to every one of us as a means of feeling less lonely.

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Stigma in a World of Sexual Pleasure
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