I wrote this piece about sexual freedom nearly a decade ago. I’ve pulled it back out of the archives in recognition of the Trans Day of Visibility, which was yesterday, March 31. But this isn’t about being trans. Or gay. Or bi. Or any of the things. But it is about acceptance. Of ourselves. Of others. Of things we don’t understand. Because we don’t always need to understand to be okay with something.
Although society puts pressure on us to confirm to the “norm” sexually, we can’t expect change until we’re willing to set aside our own inhibitions, quit censoring each other, and embrace all safe, sane, and consensual sex. Only then can true sexual freedom be achieved. Personally and culturally.
I’m sure many of us would like to believe that in this day and age, we live in a world of sexual freedom. And to an extent, when compared to other eras in history, we’ve definitely made progress. But in reality, our sexual freedoms are limited. And people are quick to judge. Add to that our own inhibitions and concerns, and sometimes we, both at a societal and a personal level, are rather lacking when it comes to sexual freedom.
When considering the larger scale, take for instance sex bloggers. How many have told co-workers, friends, and family that they write smut? How many of us use our real names? It took me six years and thousands upon thousands of words before I attached my given name to my writing. And then another three years before I actually came out to those I know.
It seems even in communities devoted to being sex positive, many of us struggle to be our true self. Why?
Because we fear people will judge us.
Because if someone knew I wrote about kinky sex or enjoyed anal sex or had consensual sex with more than one person, they might treat and view me differently. They may think I’m immoral, dirty, or even a perpetrator, simply because I’m open about my sexual likes and desires.
Even worse, many of us are fearful of sex ourselves.
We struggle to tell our partners what we like and what we fantasize about. We keep those things hidden, afraid to share them, sometimes even ashamed of them. All this leads to a relationship where trust and communication are not open, at least in the bedroom, where perhaps it’s the most important.
We become unhappy and unfulfilled. Resentful. We feel bad about ourselves and guilty about our desire, which only feeds our sexual inhibitions.
People are still afraid of sex and all that it entails.
They’re afraid to talk about it, even with those closest to them. We seem to be stuck in a puritanical mindset that tells us sex is something to be ashamed of and if you enjoy it too much, want something outside of the norm, or it becomes too much of a focus, you must be a slut or a whore or a nymphomaniac. A deviant.
Even I, a very sexual, open person, have struggled with this. I write about sex, have reviewed hundreds of sex toys for various companies, and run a sex blog, up until three months ago, there were less than a dozen people in my real life who know.
Even with my erotic writing, I used a pen name until this year. And, at one point, my shame about my desire to become submissive almost cost me my marriage. It took an outside event that threatened divorce to make me open up to my Husband about my want to add a dynamic to our relationship.
We must first learn to be sexually free ourselves.
If we want to create in a judgment-free society where sexual freedoms are truly given, we must be sexually free. We must learn to embrace all aspects and deviations, both in our own desires and in others. Let go of shame and guilt in relation to sex and sexual acts, and not judge others for their wants and practices. Only then will we be able to have a society that has true sexual freedom.
The original version of this article was published in SexIs Subjective on November 12, 2012.