Just like our bodies, sexual shame comes in all shapes and sizes. From body shame about our own genitalia, to shame associated with certain sexual acts, it’s commonplace for everyone to experience shame.
Learning about the different types of sexual shame that might be impacting you will help you begin the healing journey of working through them. In my book, Living an Orgasmic Life, I give very specific examples about how shame has an impact on our relationships and sexuality. Below is a short overview of the types of shame that you might be experiencing and some ways in which you can overcome it.
Pussy or Yoni Shame
It seems to be a well known, but seldom discussed fact, that many women are living with pussy shame. Genital shame isn’t something new, and is incredibly common amongst both men and women. When it comes to pussy shame, women have the strong and unrelenting feeling that their pussy must not be normal- they become deeply uncomfortable with the way their pussy looks, smells, and feels, and carry around this shame with a sense of inadequacy that can spill over into many aspects of their lives. There’s even a staggering number of women who have never taken a good look at their own genitals. Additionally, when compared to men, women have a much more difficult time touching themselves.
One of the key steps to overcoming pussy shame is the realization that there’s no such thing as a “normal” pussy, because all variations of Yonis are unique, beautiful, and normal in their own way. I have worked with many clients who were so distraught about how their pussy looked that they were seriously considering labiaplasty surgery. One of the biggest sense of relief that I am able to give to my clients is the realization that their pussy is normal, and beautiful.
Two activities that are powerful in shifting one’s mindset from feeling shame, to fully accepting your genitals exactly as they are include: normalizing your genitals in a positive way, and looking at your genitals with love and wonder.
If this is an issue for you, I highly recommend that you read Femalia, which is a wonderful book that contains pictures of all different types of Yonis. You should also check out this art exhibit, The Great Wall of Vaginas. You will be able to see the wide range of shapes and sizes that Yonis come in and identify with other Yonis like yours. This simple yet powerful practice can be so freeing for many women!
Additionally, I often have clients look directly at their genitalia with a mirror. I guide them to bring attention to every single part, shape, curve, and to send love and appreciation to each of those places. I invite them to explore the wonder of their own “Yoniverse”, which is what I endearingly refer to as a woman’s entire vulva, and is rooted in “yoni”, the Sanskrit word meaning lotus flower. This subtle mindset shift from feeling shame, to willingly exploring with a sense of wonder, can help women overcome pussy shame.
It’s not just women that experience sexual shame. Men experience cock shame at staggering amounts, and often experience the negative effects of carrying this shame around in many other aspects of their lives, from the way they physically carry themselves (posture and body language) to their confidence, and their intimate relationships.
Many men are under the impression that their penis is inadequate, and that their penis is of insufficient size, or shape. Oftentimes, men create false expectations for what the average penis size is based on porn- which typically only show the top 95% of penis sizes. To add to this, growing up with locker room banter and penis comparisons can do a number to a man’s confidence and self-perception of their genitals from a young age.
Similar to an exercise that can help women to overcome pussy shame, men can begin to overcome cock shame by simply understanding the truth of the normal and various representations of their genitals. I often share charts depicting percentiles of average erect penis sizes with my male clients, and I can visibly see it lifting a weight off their shoulders once they realize that they are much more average or even above average than they previously thought! Guys, the average erect cock is 5.16 inches.
Ladies, men benefit so much from hearing compliments about their cock! Try some of these phrases:
Yet another component of sexual shame that is different than purely body shame, is slut shaming.
Women who are sexually active and curious are stigmatized by society and labeled “sluts” or “whores”. This by the way rarely happens with men who sleep around; yet another double standard that society imposes on women. Slut shaming is often also used by male authorities when a woman accuses someone of rape or sexual violations. Her past sexual experiences are somehow supposed to justify the accuser violating her. Unfortunately, a lot of slut shaming is done to young women by other women for a variety of reasons including being over-judgmental, jealous, and succumbing to peer pressure.
This is a huge stigma that sexually expressive women face around their sexuality. And this shame, like all sexual shame, can cause blocks to intimacy, arousal, and pleasure. It prevents us from being able to fully surrender, connect and live a truly orgasmic life.
Slut shaming can sometimes be quite challenging to work through because many women feel like they are bad, as opposed to that they did something bad. I help these women understand that being empowered around their sexuality is a source of strength for them. We celebrate their desires and the lifestyle. Only women who are truly comfortable in their own skin are able to enjoy the full depth and range of their sexuality.
Masturbation shame often starts in early childhood, when a child is caught masturbating by an adult or another authority figure. This can lead to embarrassment, disapproval, and even punishment- all of which lays the groundwork for shame to be cultivated and reinforced about masturbation.
This common experience often leads to an inability to experience pleasure from masturbation. As we grow into adulthood, we often carry this shame with us, and it inhibits our sexual experiences. It can even cause there to be lack of sensation, which clients often describe as a general numbness. For women, masturbation shame and pussy shame are often inextricably linked.
Simply understanding that this shame is present and then taking steps to work through it can be incredibly healing, and allow a person to regain access to the physical sensations and pleasures associated with touch. One exercise that can be beneficial to overcoming masturbation shame is understanding one’s sexual blueprint- meaning, the layout and framework of their sexual experiences as it pertains to their own understanding of their sexual narrative. Freewriting in a journal about these early experiences and how they may have affected you or caused you to construct shame can be liberating, and a great way to openly explore and resolve masturbation shame.
Sex & Intimacy Coach, Best Selling Author and Your Guide To Healing Yourself With Sex, Awakening Your Pleasure and Living An Orgasmic Life