If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen a couple of posts pop up in recent weeks that are, well, a bit sexy. I debated whether or not I should go ahead with these posts, concerned that they might lose me a few followers or give people the wrong impression, but then I realised, these were the very reasons I should be posting content about sexuality, relationships and female pleasure. The very fact that I had to think twice, or that I was worried about what people might think hints at a problem: the problem of shame culture. This is something we need to have a chat about.
Generally here in the UK, we’re offered limited sex education programme in schools which basically teaches us that safe sex is important, and that’s pretty much it. We also learnt how to put condoms on bananas. We tend not to learn about the normalcy of sex, about gender and sexuality or about pleasure, especially from a female perspective. This means most women grow up feeling a bit awkward, ashamed, frustrated or even negative about putting their own enjoyment first and don’t really feel catered to, let alone empowered when it comes to sex.
How many of you feel like you can’t relate to products meant to improve your sex lives? Like the garish packaging or raunchy messaging just isn’t for you? Or how many of you feel awkward or ashamed when you talk about or think about pleasure and sexuality? From an early age we’re taught that female orgasms are secondary to male orgasms and that exploring our bodies is either a secret and shameful or distasteful and performative act.
Porn, sex toys, lube and condoms aren’t made and marketed in a way that reflects women’s personalities, our lifestyles and our likes and that’s a problem. We deserve better. We deserve to feel good about things that are supposed to help us feel good.
I’ve teamed up with Smilemakers to share some truths about the importance of sexual wellness, knowing yourself fully and being sex positive and unashamed. Smilemakers are an amazing femtech company striving to normalise female sexuality, end shame culture and help you glow with cool, contemporary design-led products created by sexual health experts. The kind of products you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have in your home or in your bag, which is a start.
But what does it mean if you’re ‘sex positive’? Is it the same as pro sex? Well, sort of. The sex positive movement is a social movement and philosophical movement that champions sexuality and sexual expression, with an emphasis on safe and consensual sex. Being a sex positive person means that you view sex as a natural, healthy part of your identity and you disassociate with the shame culture surrounding sex.
As a woman, being sex positive is particularly important. Primarily because, although change is happening, we’re still faced with a hell of a lot of double standards. For example, if a man of 25 years old has multiple sexual partners, he’s usually perceived as a bit of a hero, whereas a woman of the same age indulging in the same behaviour is often viewed less favourably. Women are often criticised for enjoying sex or for taking the lead in their sex lives, but why?
Feeling comfortable with your sexual self, feeling like it’s an extension of your natural personality and feeling relaxed enough to enjoy it solo or safely with other people is important for our mental and physical health. Studies have proven that regular orgasms are great for your skin, your nervous system, your sleep cycle, mood and even good for moderate pain relief. They also help us to feel more in tune with ourselves physically, calmer and more focused and closer to others. Is this something we should be ashamed of?
Being sex positive means shutting down shame culture, embracing and owning your sexual identity and having as much or as little sex as you decide is right for you. It means practicing safe sex, respecting your body, respecting other people’s bodies and shaking off your prejudices. Above all it means having fun free from judgement, feeling well and being happy. So tell me? What’s shameful about that?
I’ll be posting more content with Smilemakers in the coming months so let me know what you think on Instagram or in the comments below…