Most Western societies have come a long way since the Puritanical days of reserving sex for reproductive purposes. But the road to sexual freedom can still be complex, and everyone's personal experience of sexuality is different. Let's talk about what sexual freedom really means, and how to overcome shame on the journey to liberation.
What Is Sexual Freedom?
Sexual freedom means a lot of things, which makes it hard to assign a concise definition. So, first let's talk about what sexual freedom is not. Sexual freedom is not just about the ability to have sex, nor is it about the number of sexual partners a person has. In fact, sexual freedom has much more to do with the concept of independence, liberated thinking, and shame-free pleasure.
Essentially, sexual freedom is the opposite of sexual repression. It refers to the idea that people have the undeniable right to lawfully and consensually prioritize pleasure without being judged or shamed by others. This includes having the right to choose who you want to sleep with, whether or not you're in a relationship, and even if you don't want children. It also means that even sexual acts that aren't considered "conventional" should be respected instead of stigmatized.
It's important to note, however, that sexual freedom doesn't have to include the act of having sex. In fact, you can be a 90-year-old virgin who's reached sexual freedom by living an authentic life and letting go of shame and repression. Again, it's not about how much sex you've had; it's about your frame of mind.
In many ways, sexual freedom comes from within. By overcoming internalized shame or loathing, you free yourself and open up to the pleasure you deserve. You become empowered to make choices that are aligned with your values and desires, not the traditional values upheld by a patriarchal society. Of course, overcoming shame is easier said than done. It takes time, patience and, sometimes, therapy.
With that in mind, let's look at some ways to set yourself up for success! Read on for some helpful tips for embracing sexual freedom and ridding yourself of shame.
Ways to Embrace Sexual Freedom
In order to truly understand what sexual freedom means, you have to work toward being sexually free yourself! Not sure where to start? Try putting some of the behaviors below into practice.
- Start with you. Empowering others to be sexually free is a great way to show support, but don't forget to show up for yourself too. Dancing, masturbating, and meditating are a few common examples of self-empowering behavior that can encourage sexual freedom.
Let yourself explore. If you've been avoiding particular aspects of sexual exploration because of internalized shame, try to let that repression go and allow yourself to discover what feels good. To start, read up on the things you're interested in trying! Remember: knowledge is power, especially when it comes to sexual freedom.
- Take your time. For many of us, sexual repression starts early in life, and is often a result of generational dysfunction. That's why the road to sexual freedom is a process that takes time and patience. It may also require you to unlearn some of the things you were taught and seek out new forms of education.
- Set boundaries. Embracing sexual freedom has a lot to do with setting boundaries, and enforcing them in order to protect yourself. Try to foster a peaceful environment that's nourishing to your mental health, and say "no" as much as you need to.
- Revel in your energy. Find things that make you feel good in your body. Whether it be through physical movement or mindful awareness, finding a way to release pent up energy and invite new, good energy in can open you up to sexual freedom.
- Nourish your body. Are physical selves are just as tied to sexual freedom as our minds are! So be sure to treat your body with care however you can. Whether that means eating your favorite foods, staying hydrated, going to the gym, or just laying flat on the Earth while you gaze at the stars, be sure to take good care of your body (like it takes good care of you!).
How To Overcome Sexual Shame
Now that we know what sexual freedom means and how to open yourself up to it, let's finish up with some ways to deal with sexual shame.
- Daily Affirmations. One of the first steps to overcoming shame is knowing your value, and that you are worthy of pleasure. So, try adopting daily affirmations as a daily ritual. Look in a mirror or close your eyes and say to yourself, "I am worthy," or "I am free" or any other affirmation that makes you feel loved and validated.
- Educate yourself. If you've been taught to believe that certain types of behavior are shameful, then you may need to unlearn those beliefs. Oftentimes, sexually repressed behavior is a result of things that were taught early on and retained through adulthood. So take some time to unlearn toxic lessons and re-educate yourself.
- Seek therapy. Perhaps the best way to overcome shame is by working through it with a trained professional. If you're open to therapy, take some time to research professionals who specialize in sexuality and/or PTSD. Getting the perspective of a person who is unbiased and trained can be incredibly helpful!
Become trauma-informed. Trauma survivors often experience sexual shame due to past experiences that left them feeling helpless and ashamed. It's important to learn more about trauma so you can better understand your own story and work toward healing. Even if you haven't personally experienced sexual shame, becoming trauma-informed is a great way to be a better support person for someone who has.
Go easy on yourself. The journey to sexual freedom and healing is ever-evolving, and might sometimes feel hopeless. That's okay! There will be days when you're not really feeling it, and there will be days when you feel on top of the world. Just remember to go easy on yourself when you feel like you're backtracking a bit. The road to healing is not linear.