Sunday, February 25, 2024

Sexual Shame in NZ: How We’re Raising Sexually Dysfunctional People & What to Do About It

This Masturbation May (yeah, it’s a thing!) an upcoming webinar aims to help those struggling with negative thoughts around sex and sexual shame and embrace their sexuality.

If you think about how you were first introduced to the concept of sex, what can you remember? A lot of hush-hush, a lot of red-faced parents trying to avoid the subject? Or perhaps just a blanket ‘DON’T DO IT’.

Mean Girls GIF - Mean Girls Coach Carr sexual shame

It’s a confusing topic for many teenagers – and still, many adults says Adulttoymegastore’s sex educator Emma Hewitt.

“We all grew up hearing contradictory messages about sex,” she tells. “It’s terrible, it lowers your self-worth, but also you need to be amazing in bed. It’s a confusing place! Although we’ve come a long way, there’s still so much shame around sex and masturbation in society, and it’s a problem because it can lead to sexual dysfunction in adults.

“Shame isn’t just personal, it’s systemic. We have an education problem. We don’t teach people how the body works, or how arousal works, and we instil them with shame and all the ‘no’ messages around sex, masturbation and pleasure. This creates deep patterns of feeling and thinking. These messages are not innate, they are learned. And they are learned early in life.”

Luckily, we can unlearn these harmful patterns of thinking and swap them for them healthy patterns that promote confidence, joy, satisfaction and pleasure – all of which will be covered in Adulttoymegastore’s free webinar, ShameLESS Masturbation, says sex and relationships coach Michelle Kasey.

“Despite sex being everywhere in mainstream media, most people encounter shame when it comes to connecting with their own sexuality. In order to form a healthy and empowered relationship with your sexual self, it’s essential to rewrite limiting belief systems, face off with your sexual shame, and get to know your authentic wants and needs,” Michelle tells.

Where does sexual shame come from?

  • It is learned
  • ‘Erotophibia’ and sex negative societies
  • Our family, our peers, media messages, advertisements, church etc. In many religions, bodies are considered low and spirit high, so anything to do with pleasure of the flesh is considered low or animal like. So many of us are taught that sexuality is dirty, and that masturbation is sinful
  • Historical links to value and virtue – very Bridgerton!
  • Masturbation being a sin.

How sexual shame impacts us:

  • Mentally – anxiety, lack of desire and arousal. Even the wanting of pleasure can disappear due to shame. 
  • Physically – This idea that the body is gross in some way, particularly our genitalia or the fluids, smells or sounds that our bodies create when we are aroused or having sex. Disgust is a social emotion that we have learnt. Disgust in the body is akin to parasympathetic freeze. It slows your heart rate, closes your throat and stops your gut. Research has shown us that disgust impairs our sexual functioning and is especially associated with sexual pain disorders.
  • Shame can also limit our access to good sexual health advice. Maybe we don’t want to go to a doctor or seek out more information about something we are interested in for fear of judgement.

The sex negative culture has trained us to judgemental and self-critical of our own bodies – how we look and how we function.

So how do we move beyond this?

  • Self-compassion and being nice to ourselves!
  • Cognitive dissonance – ignoring the negative voices and allowing the good thoughts to take the forefront
  • Consuming better media. We have all heard that Instagram and Tiktok are terrible for our self-esteem, but we can choose to unfollow those who make us feel bad. Awareness of these messages helps. Media literacy helps. Knowing that what we see on social media, in film, on TV, in mainstream porn is not real. And it is not something we need to aspire to
  • Learning about our bodies. Exploring our bodies. Focusing on mindfulness and somatic activities.

Sexual shame in society is a big problem. It’s about time we spoke about it and started moving towards a more sex positive society.

Adulttoymegastore will be hosting a free webinar, Shameless Masturbation, on Thursday 19 May 2022 from 6:30pm – 8:00pm (NZST) or 4:30pm – 6:00pm (AEST) to help people overcome their sexual shame and embrace their sexuality.

The webinar will be facilitated by sex educator Emma Hewitt and sex and relationships coach Michelle Kasey, and everyone who signs up will be offered a free sex toy valued up to $106.95! Find out more and sign up for the free webinar here.

Emma Hewitt is Adulttoymegastore’s sex educator, trained through ISEE and host of popular sexual wellness podcast The Electric Rodeo

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