The Fears and Concerns That Come with Living in a Sexually Repressed Society
Having grown up in a country that shames and even prosecutes unmarried couples for sexual
relationships, I knew never to kiss a boy in public, and to be very careful who I talked to about
any of my high school experiences. Sex was not beautiful if you were not married. It was sinful
and it made you dirty (or ‘easy’ depending on whether or not the person found you attractive).
I’ve recently returned back to my childhood home of ten years after spending the past five in the
U.K and the U.S, and since being here I’ve been chewing on a couple questions: Is it possible to have a sex positive relationship in a country that will literally arrest you for it? And what does growing up in a sexually oppressive country do to your relationship with intimacy?
To start, sexual repression is mentally and physically detrimental. Christopher Ryan Ph.D on
Psychology Today explains that when an individual ignores their valid sexual needs “the human
psyche tends to grow twisted into grotesque, enraged perversions of desire”. This repression
also makes people angry, as undeniable feelings of “guilt, shame and ignorant pride” fester
inside them. It’s truly a poison. That’s scary.
Now imagine that multiplied by the millions. Entire countries who do not want you to have sex -
let alone enjoy it - filled with people being denied the ability to explore their bodies with a
consensual sexual partner. Two words come to mind: fear and shame.
The physical repercussions are equally distressing. As Linda Kay Klien, author of PURE: Inside
the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free
explains, withholding from sex can mean that when the time eventually comes to get down and
dirty, you might be physically unable to have sex when you actually want to. For women, this
might mean their vagina muscles tighten to the point that it is impossible to have penatrative
sex. For men, it might look more like erectile dysfunction.
But let’s say you aren’t sexually repressed, even if you live in a country that generally is. Let’s
say you have sex regularly, and depeding on the partner, you even get to orgasm from it (I say
this because orgasms via peneration aren’t always easy or even possible for some women). But
something’s still not right- at least it wasn’t for me. Of course, I probably could not have chosen
worse partners to do the deed with, but it was something else...A deep part of me felt gross.
So, what can you do if you live in one of these sexually oppressive countries? My solution is to
be unapologetic. Normalize sex. Normalize having it, talking about it, and most importantly,
taking pleasure from it. This may seem like old news for those growing up in sexually liberated
countries, but for those of us who still worry about getting catcalled or slutshamed on the daily-
this is today’s fight.
To be honest, even having written this makes me feel embarrassed and anxious. What if
someone I know reads this? What if they are a super-religious family member? Or even worse,
a bitchy girl I barely knew from highschool? The fear of being slut-shamed, even as an adult
who so desperately wants to learn more about and enjoy her own sexuality, is soul crushing. I
watch Youtube videos of sex symbol Dita Von Teese and so desperately want to emulate her,
but I’m not a burlesque dancer living in an extravagant Los Angeles mansion. I’m a young
woman who lives with her (very cool) parents in a society that would probably freak if it knew I
never wear a bra.
I want to be able to have sex, connect with a partner on a deep and sexual level, and at the end,
orgasm from it. Is that so fucking hard? The idea of relaying that to a man who has been raised
in a mysoginistic country that barely even touches on sex education and positivity in school
seems like a fantasty. It all feels impossible and honestly, a bit lonely.
by Yasmina A