How do know if you’re sexually repressed or if your partner is holding you back? What is sexual empowerment and how can you overcome repression to feel more empowered? Jess and Brandon discuss their experiences and share personal insights.
How do I know if I’m sexually repressed and if my partner is involved in making me feel this way? I hear about sexual empowerment and that’s how I want to be.
Sexual empowerment and sexual repression are not static states of being, but experiences that fluctuate over time.
You may feel repressed one day and empowered the next.
You may experience empowerment in one sexual scenario and struggle to overcome the repression with which you were raised. The experience of sexual repression (which is universal) does not mean that “repressed” is a part of your sexual identity, as sexuality is fluid.
You may feel empowered on your own, but you may be socially repressed because of your gender, sexual orientation, race, age, ability or body type. While empowerment and overcoming sexual repression may be admiral goals, it’s important to look at the ways in which systemic oppression wreak havoc on our sexual identities and sexual expression.
If, however, you feel that your own attitude or behaviours (or those of your partner) are resulting in feelings of sexual repression, you might consider whether or not…
1. Your partner (or society) shames you for your sexual desires or fantasies. This is a serious red flag and a sign that you may not be compatible. Compatibility can be cultivated, but if they judge you for your sexual desires, you may find difficulty finding common ground.
What to do: Talk to them about the judgment. Call it what it is. Ask them to explain the source of this judgment. How does it make them feel? Are they struggling to overcome a sexual issue and are they projecting their negative feelings on to you? If they’re willing to work on this, you can find a path to compatibility. If they continue to shame or judge you (without acknowledging their own hangups and baggage), you may want to consider whether they’re the right sexual partner for you.
2. You feel guilty about masturbating or enjoying sex. Masturbation is common, pleasurable and healthy for people of all genders. However, many of us are raised to believe that it’s a dirty little secret and overcoming these negative messages can be a challenge.
What to do: Examine the reasons why masturbation is shameful. Make a list with two columns: Why it’s bad and why it’s good. Consider the pros against the cons to approach sex and masturbation with a more rational (and less moral) lens.
3. You enjoy sex, but feel ashamed or embarrassed after engaging in sex that brings you pleasure.
What to do: Consider the messages you received about sex growing up. Look at them from an evidence-based perspective. Look for scientific reasons why you shouldn’t enjoy sex and why you should feel ashamed. And then look for reasons why you deserve to enjoy sex.
Here are a few:
Improved sexual functioning. Self-pleasure can help you to become more familiar with your own body and its unique sexual responses. You’ll likely become better at asking for what you want during partnered sex as a result of your self-pleasure sessions.
Boosted body confidence. Masturbation not only fosters a positive connection with your body, but it can boost self-esteem. When your body performs (through a sport, a dance or a session of pleasure), you experience an increase in confidence and tend to focus on its strong points as opposed to its “problems”.
Heightened sexual desire. Masturbation is elemental to increasing desire in many cases, as it helps us to learn about our own bodies and reactions. Self-pleasure also increases the likelihood of orgasm and is connected with higher self-esteem. Moreover, as your body relishes in the dopamine and endorphin release, you are more likely to crave more,