How to Deal with Repression
Repression is not what you might think it is. I recently wrote:
A lot of us think it’s about working to suppress sexual desire. And while the early stages can be at least partly conscious, after a while you’re not actively blocking anything. You’ve simply lost sexual feelings and energy. Plus, plenty of punishing messages targeted at women’s desire get internalized. And sex is too often used as a weapon.
Now add body shame. Girls are bombarded with perfect, Photoshop images that model what they “should” look like. And then women can spend their time in bed worrying about how they look — or maybe enjoying how they look — and not enjoying how they feel.
So what to do?
We must change the culture
Obviously, we must change the culture. Stop hiding sex, whispering about it, and shaming women over their desire and their bodies. And stop using sex as a form of punishment and control.
All of that deserves loads of discussion, and will take years — at best — to change. Though we are taking small steps, even now.
What can we do for ourselves, right now?
But what can we do right now, for ourselves?
1) Therapy can help at all levels of dysfunction, especially sexual trauma. However, keep in mind that male therapists are less effective for women facing these issues.
2) In lieu of therapy, many women have healed with the help of popular self-help books. Lonnie Barbach is one helpful author. These can help whether we’re talking sexual dysfunction or body image problems.
3) We can also start speaking in sex-positive ways to our partners, our friends and our children. Because sometimes attitude follows behavior.
I learned this when I began teaching sexuality in my women’s studies classes. I wasn’t interested in passing on the shame I had grown up with. And as I worked to communicate a positive message to my students I ended up communicating the same message to myself.
4) Also, don’t be shy about buying a helpful tool.
5) And be sure to check out erotica to figure out what gets you going.
6) Finally, begin exploring your body to appreciate the gift of sexuality. But the exploration should not focus on orgasm — because that focus often incites fear of not climaxing, instead of producing pleasure. Not helpful at all! Instead, notice the sensations and feel into them.
And let go of the guilt. Understand that these life-sustaining pleasures were given to us for good reason by God or nature.
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Posted on November 17, 2014, in body image, feminism, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged body image, feminism, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.