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Let's Talk About Sexual Shame
Episode 43rd August 2022 • Breaking Free Authentically: The Sex Positive Relationship Podcast • Karine Bedard
00:00:00 01:07:09

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Episode4: Let's Talk About Sexual Shame


What is Sexual Shame?

“Sexual shame refers to the feeling of profound responsibility and deep remorse associated with participation in and/or thoughts and fantasies about sexual activity.”  - Dr. Kelifern Pomeranz, Psy.D., CST (Clinical Psychologist, Certified Sex Therapist, Coach, and Relationship Expert)

"A high level of sexual shame can place an individual at risk for sexual dysfunction, impaired relationships, and sexual acting out.” - Dr. Kelifern Pomeranz

What do people feel shame about?

  • Body acceptance
  • Pleasure
  • Intimacy
  • Desire
  • Lust
  • Intercourse
  • Masturbation
  • Orgasm 
  • Arousal
  • Felling Sexy

Where does it come from?

  • Religion
  • Sex only in marriage
  • Only for procreation in some cases
  • Pleasure is not a reason in itself
  • Sinful
  • Conversion Therapy
  • Family
  • Reaction to child masturbation
  • How sex was talked about in the home
  • Values/morals
  • Society/Culture
  • school sex education (sex positive vs abstinence)
  • Nursing in public
  • The Media
  • Idealized versions of sex
  • Slut shaming
  • Social media constantly blocking posts including words like sex, erotic, vulva….
  • Trauma
  • Sexual abuse
  • Rape or attempted rape

Why do sex and shame often go together?

  • Sex historically has been connected to value and virtue
  • Patriarchal
  • Virginity/Purity is equated with value
  • Men as a conquest
  • Women have been taught that their sexuality should be hidden
  • Slut-shaming vs conquest
  • Modesty - women are often taught that they are responsible for the thoughts and actions of men
  • Sexual deviance was often considered a mental health disorder
  • Sexual identity
  • Gender identity
  • Religious Control
  • It’s the one thing that most people universally desire and therefore need to keep coming back for forgiveness or conform
  • Make it sinful and shameful
  • Make pleasure selfish and sinful

How does it affect us?

  • I clearly remember that when I got married, my husband tried to call me “sexy” and I was so uncomfortable with that term
  • I didn’t want to be seen as a sex object
  • It aided to shut down an erotic side of our relationship
  • We end up struggling to talk about sex
  • It’s bad
  • We don’t enjoy it
  • We have an aversion to it
  • Bad feelings about it
  • Judge ourselves and others
  • Struggle to orgasm
  • Feel stuck
  • Feel trapped
  • No intimacy
  • Embarrassed about our bodies (body shame)
  • Struggle with nudity
  • Judge Sex
  • Feel guilty about wanting sex, or having fantasies and desires
  • Hide away
  • Can cause mental health issues like anxiety and depression
  • Don’t feel like they fit in

Types of Sexual Shame

  • Thinking your body doesn’t work right and shaming yourself for lack of erection or pain instead of realizing everyone is different and we can talk about these things
  • Shame about Desire and Fantasies going against one’s personal values or moral character (programming)
  • Internalized Homophobia
  • Slut shaming
  • Trauma survivors unable to be authentic and honest about parts of their experience (eg. experiencing pleasure)
  • Feeling Responsible for Someone else’s pleasure
  • Underlying questions and guilt about kinks
  • Sexual health - anything from periods to STI’s

What can we do to kick guilt and shame to the curb?

  • Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • CBT
  • Sex Therapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Breathwork
  • Meditation
  • Somatic Body Work and Healing
  • Connect to our bodies and learn to be present
  • Breath Work
  • Energy release
  • Sex Positive Relationship Coach
  • Shift the Societal and Religious Programming
  • Creating Safety
  • Learning to communicate your truth to yourself and others/partner
  • Inner Child work
  • Self-Love
  • How we talk to ourselves
  • Sex Positive Education
  • Open Minded Thinking
  • Build a community
  • Journal

Sexual Shame — Dr. Kelifern Pomeranz, Psy.D. Clinical Psychologist/Sex Therapist-Palo Alto - Great resource if you are trying to understand sexual shame.

How to Overcome Shame Around Sex | Psych Central by Taneasha White

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