|Posted by [email protected] on February 24, 2015 at 4:00 PM|
Internalized kink-shame is very real
One of the criticisms of this movie is how the main characters portray how negatively they feel about kink, even while doing it. Anastasia’s horror at what Christian does only serves to reinforce this traumatized man’s feelings of shame about his desires and his very Self. Christian has a strong dose of internalized kink-shame, stemming from his low sense of self-worth as a result of his birth mother’s treatment of him as a child. He believes that since his sexual arousal is tied so strongly to acts of sexual dominance and sadism that he must be “50 shades of fucked up,” as he says in the movie.
Many people who are actually in the kink scene revile this movie, saying that Christian and Ana portray their lifestyle as something to be ashamed of and that it perpetuates stereotypes about BDSM that link kink and abuse. The fact is that many people, when they first discover their inclinations in this direction, feel shame and confusion. This culture teaches us NOT to hit or hurt others, but some of us find ourselves drawn to and turned on by the act of striking another. This can look and sound and feel very wrong to someone. Others of us pride ourselves on being feminist, on working to end the violence toward women, and then feel utterly confused when we discover we like the sensation of being struck with a flogger or a cane or whatever. What is wrong with me?
What is wrong with me?
I remember going through this stage myself, and I was fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded people who could help me think through it and learn to accept myself and my desires. Poor Christian is so completely isolated, due to his celebrity status and the societal stigma against BDSM, that his lawyer has advised him to have any potential partner sign a non-disclosure agreement prior to engaging in any interactions. He is not part of any social groups related to kink, he doesn’t go out to clubs, dungeons, or play parties, and he has no one to talk to (except his therapist, who we meet in the second book). He also doesn’t get to witness how anyone else might handle this role and responsibility.
Ana is forbidden from discussing any of this with anyone either, so she has no other outlet besides her online research. And unfortunately, what you can find online is often the most extreme examples of what we do. It’s not usually the best way to learn about kink, or to find support for your journey, unless you’ve connected to others through a social/educational site, such as Fetlife.
Allowing feelings of shame to overtake your enjoyment of your sexuality can stifle your experience. These internal emotional states can actually take a toll on the physiological functioning of your body. In other words, your sense of shame can interfere with your ability to get aroused or to reach climax. Feelings of shame about your sexuality can lead you to hate yourself, to fear your own impulses, to fear and hate others who do express this aspect of their sexuality. There are so many ways you can wound yourself and others by not learning to accept and embrace who you are and what you desire or find pleasurable.
The road to sexual self-acceptance
The journey to self-acceptance around one’s sexuality is a circuitous one. It requires a lot of soul-searching, personal experimentation, discussion with others, exploring and experimenting with others, more discussion.
We all receive numerous messages about sexuality and identity while growing up, and our parents, peers, and popular media all influence the development of our own beliefs and values. Without examination, however, these values that we learned as children and young adults simply exist as “shoulds” in our minds. For example, boys are often taught, “boys shouldn’t hit girls.” Maturity requires self-reflection and a conscious examination of our beliefs and value. Where did we learn these? What do they mean? Do we agree with them or some part of them? Do we wish to keep and reinforce each of these beliefs and values, or would it make more sense, given who we are (or are becoming) to rewrite some of these beliefs and values? How can I bring my beliefs and values into more alignment with who I know myself to be? These are the questions we must ask ourselves in order to grow into the authentic, self-confident, and self-possessed individuals we can be.
Self-reflection often needs outside assistance. Another perspective or a different reframe can help us enormously in the process of belief evaluation. We may feel intuitively that a certain thing doesn’t seem right to us, but have trouble putting words to it. Finding someone else with knowledge and acceptance in these areas of inquiry can give us the words and tools we need to continue our self-assessment.
This is where The Sex Positive Coach can help. We are familiar with and accepting of all types of sexuality. No one is shamed for how they feel here and we can give you a safe space in which to explore your own internalized shame regarding kink or sex in general. We will help you work through your angst so that you can get your needs and desires met in ways that are safe, healthy, and fully consensual for all involved. Let us know how we can help you on your own journey toward sexual self-acceptance!