Shame is an emotion which has become very caught up with the idea of sex. It seems to be almost obligatory for women to be ashamed of their bodies – a girl who claimed to be completely fine about her body might be considered a bit weird – one of your authors has occasionally made up body insecurities just to fit in. Conventionally, men are supposed to worry less about their physical appearance. Edna has found that sleeping with women has at times involved a recognition that both have body insecurities. Edna and Aggie have both also found this to be a liberating experience, as it helps us realise that thigh-burningly hot women come in a variety of sizes and shapes.
Performance shame can happen to you regardless of gender or orientation. Within a heterosexual framework it is perhaps harder for the guys. According to some unreconstructed notions of sex, all a girl needs to bring to the bedroom is her vagina -The men are responsible for the sex and the end is heralded by the male ejaculating. When you think about sex like this, guys coming too quickly or not at all can end up with everyone involved feeling frustrated or inadequate The shame of seeming too experienced or completely inexperienced has probably affected most people at some point, not helped by porn and the unrealistic expectations of people that go with it. Is there any easy solution to this problem? Personally we think communication – ie talking about sex a lot – helps (However, Don’t be mean about the pene and don’t whine about the vagine – spreading unflattering descriptions of other people’s genitalia is never cool). We have found it helpful to talk through our sexual experiences, as a way of confirming the lack of shame we feel about our active sex lives. Perhaps though, we find it easier to talk about the good things than the bad things.
Both Aggie and Edna have experienced some kind of sexual violence on more than one occasion. The incident which most bothered Aggie very much fitted into the narrative of ‘bad thing happens to drunk girl in short skirt’. For Edna a consensual one night stand turned violent. Neither Aggie nor Edna reacted to these situations with the kind of righteous feminist rage we bring to far less significant incidents in our daily life (‘2000 CALORIE MASCARA?’ WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF NAME IS THAT FOR MAKE-UP? FUCK YOU MAX FACTOR/THE PATRIARCHY!). We have felt ashamed of ourselves because we felt as if we had failed as feminists, and to some extent we both blamed ourselves for what happened (although we would never respond to other women’s experience of the same things in this way). We have both felt guilty for being upset by these incidents because so much worse things happen to so many other people – we question whether our feelings are appropriate or legitimate. We realise that we fit into cultural narratives which aren’t entirely flattering and which put the blame for our experiences on us. However, we have both eventually come to the conclusion that these narratives are stupid, and the guys who hurt us are dicks. Not being able to resist is not consent. Consent to one thing is not consent to everything. Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
This column has been harder to write this week, but we see sharing about our good and bad sexual experiences as a part of the same political project. When women feel that they should not talk about either, it makes it much easier for society or individuals to pretend to confuse one for the other. In which spirit we will be back next week with more wanking anecdotes and stories about bums. We enjoy our sexualities – Please refer to our hopefully gloriously reinstated picture at the top of this article.