As a woman, being shamed for enjoying pleasure. Taught that desire strips us away from our purity and elegance. Taught that we are made to perform for a man in bed, without receiving our own pleasure in return.
I started to feel my own sexual energy present at an age that some may consider young. I was never one that attempted to suppress these feelings. As a child, you don’t think – you feel. Even in Elementary School, I had always been confident in my body and sexuality. I wanted to explore, I was filled with curiosity. Growing up as a female, we all have been exposed to similar ideas regarding men and sex.
“Men only want one thing from women. Men are allowed to feel pleasure, women are not. Women are only desired for sex and their body. If women show too much skin, they’re asking for it. If women talk about sex they are asking for it. If women don’t want sex, they are prude. Women who have sex are sluts. Men who have sex are applauded.”
When this is the only information you are exposed to, it makes it very difficult as a young girl to explore yourself. As I grew older and as these sexual feelings became stronger, I began to visually express them. By this time I was a developed teenager and was of course, on Snapchat. I was never shy with the camera, I would post sexual photos of myself that made me feel proud and empowered. I was a woman – and I wanted to show it.
I remember the times I got called out in my high school classroom for my photos. I remember feeling the blood rush to my face with humiliation when one of the kids in my class would make a comment in front of my teacher. I remember girlfriends calling me a whore when they knew I was a virgin. I remember the constant comments such as “you deserve to get raped.”
It shocks me to think that at that point I had allowed other people to determine my consent and sexual worth. I experienced sexual trauma and had led myself to believe I deserved it because of what I portrayed myself as. I would have sex with men I didn’t want to because how could I ever be seen as undesirable? I never allowed myself to experience love or intimacy because I didn’t believe I was worthy of it, I thought I was a quick smash and pass. I wouldn’t leave the house unless my tits were out because otherwise, I felt I was undesirable. For years I had let these thoughts control me – believing that all I was is a sexual object. My body didn’t belong to me anymore, it was simply a tool for male pleasure. I felt embarrassed and disgusting in my own skin, yet I continued to show it because if I didn’t have male validation, I had nothing.
Moving away from high school, I moved away from that energy and entered a completely new scene. I finally realized and accepted that there is no shame in making myself vulnerable. I participate in projects where I’m encouraged to express and embrace my sexuality in creative ways. I have no more feelings of guilt with showing and speaking on this honest side of me. We as women are deserving of pleasure and the freedom to express our sexuality as we desire. Modesty may empower some, but nudity empowers me.
I encourage all my ladies out there to explore themselves sexually, for yourself.
Beautiful photos by Yasmin Gross.