Liberating Sexual Guilt
By Dr. Rachel Allyn
It is tragic how guilty so many people can feel about their natural desires, and this is especially true for those socialized as women. There are many reasons for this: women have been raised to believe their needs aren’t as important as mens; that their body is flawed unless they look like a supermodel; that their sexual desires are not only unimportant but actually dirty. Enough of the slut shaming. Let us reclaim the word slut — or any of the words (promiscuous, whore, floozy, tramp, hooker, hustler, tart, scarlet, loose woman, hussy, trollop, harlot, wanton, vamp…) that denigrate women for owning what is naturally theirs.
We must let go of the associations that sex is dirty, sinful, secretive. One could argue: why did nature, did evolution, did God (or whatever your higher power may be) give us a body capable of such energetic union and pleasure if it were not meant to be celebrated?
Let’s break this down. Guilt is the feeling of having done something wrong or bad. It’s defined as a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, or wrongdoing, whether real or imagined. How fascinating that the opposite of guilt is defined as innocence. Let’s exit this moralistic, puritanical highway that is a remnant from ancient times.
The truth is you are a sexual being, as were your parents and their parents and so forth. Beyond the perfunctory efforts at procreation, sexual pleasure is your fundamental birthright as well. Yet many people have conflicted feelings around giving and receiving pleasure to themselves and in their sexual relationships. Some find pleasure a lavish, gluttonous indulgence, others fear they will become too attached to pleasure and not have the boundaries to create a balance between work and pleasure. Balanced pleasure free from guilt IS possible.
Here are some tangible ways to reduce guilt and begin to own your right to sexual desire and pleasure:
Start with giving yourself permission to honor what works for YOU, not what other people have told you your relationship with sexuality SHOULD be. Recognize that healthy sexual relationships can look many different ways to different people — whether they be a 20 year monogamous relationship or a single night of passion for whom you never see the person again. Each of these represent a sacred charge and union of energy that is powerful and worthy.
Get reacquainted with your sensuality. Open your eyes to the acid green lushness of the leaves; close your eyes as you slowly take your first bites of food; smell the lilacs draping off the bushes; feel the wind in your hair; hear the echo of the grasshoppers at night; strip off your socks and enjoy your bare feet. Reunite with the little sensual moments around you. Notice areas of ease in your body as well as areas of tension. Bring loving touch to the areas of tension. Start to feel more at home in your body.
Be curious about the dynamics of your body. For starters, many women are unaware of their own anatomy. The sanskrit word for vulva is “yoni” which means sacred space, so start viewing it as such. Additionally, tap into your breath — your life-force — on a more regular basis. Yoga can be excellent for teaching different styles of breath. In addition to yoga, engage in a variety of different styles of mindful movement such as dance, paddle boarding or hiking, which help you feel more fluid and less rigid.
Connect to sound. Release stuck energy within your throat — the bottleneck between the head and the heart. Let yourself make guttural sounds like sighing or soothing sounds like humming. This helps you practice expressing yourself and asking for what you want and need.
Sexual guilt severs your relationships, including the one with yourself. Begin to reside more fully and unabashedly in your physical body and it will lead the way, liberating you from the old storylines to a new narrative which reclaims what is rightfully yours.
Dr. Allyn is a licensed holistic psychologist and a pleasure expert.
Her area of focus is relationship and intimacy issues, including sex therapy and body positivity.
She blends Western and Eastern philosophy and integrates the body and mind. She created a unique style of psychotherapy
called YogaPsych® based on research that the body stores emotions and other experiences, which get stuck within us unless we have
a safe way to discharge them from the body.
Dr. Allyn helps facilitate connection and release of these stuck emotions and behavioral patterns through
yoga, breathing, meditation, chakras, the aerial silk and outdoor therapy - all methods that help develop body intelligence.
She also has a monthly wellness/relationship column called Ask Dr. Rachel, and leads international wellness retreats each winter.