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Let's Talk About Sex. And Shame.

I have blogged about women and bodies and dating, and while it's been hinted at, it seems the time has come for us to straight-up talk about sex. And shame.

(a quick note here - the article that kickstarted this post comes out of a very particular church subculture that I was a part of for many years, and I know that many of my readers were/are not. But if my non-church friends will hold on for just a few paragraphs, I want to ask for your help with something...)

Last week I read an article called "Naked and Ashamed: Women and Evangelical Purity Culture." I thought briefly about sharing it/writing about it, but then I thought Too big! Too vulnerable! and moved on. Then a friend shared it with me on Facebook, and hints of a dialogue began with half a dozen people. But it seemed we were a bit reluctant to be personal in our responses.

I get that. Thoughts about sexuality and shame are not particularly easy to share in a public space.

So I want to make it a little easier. I don't want to simply share my opinion, but make this into a space to host many stories. Your stories. Because I think this type of dialogue matters. I think this dialogue is essential. Not just within conservative church circles (although definitely there), but inter-faith, extra-faith conversations.

There is much we can learn from one another, and much I think we need to learn from each other. The last few years have taught me that as terrifying as honesty is, whether the topic is sexuality or how rarely I clean the carpets, I have far more often heard "Me too!" than I have faced faces of shock or disapproval. And pushing through fear to healthy vulnerability is the scientifically proven way to live wholeheartedly*.
I don't know where this pic is from but I don't care. I love it.

So. I know we're really jumping into the deep-end with this topic, but here are the questions I'm suggesting as a starting place - you're not limited to these, nor do I expect you to answer all of them. They're just a starting point:
  1. If you read the article (link is above), what are your thoughts? Which part did you most strongly agree with? Disagree with? Why? 
  2. What was the dominant narrative around sexuality in your childhood/growing up years? How has that been a positive influence on who you are now? How has it been a negative one?
  3. What has helped you distinguish between healthy narratives around sexuality and destructive ones?
  4. What is a sexuality/shame-related question that you've wanted to ask but haven't had a chance? (eg, I've often wondered whether "modesty" is something that my non-church friends grew up hearing much about, but fear the blank look on their faces and the required explanation if I ask and it was not.)
And here are the parameters on how this conversation will run:
  1. The first rule is kindness. Gracious words spoken, empathetic ears hearing, grace all around. You don't have to agree, but you do need to be kind. I won't censor disagreement, but I will step in if I sense aggression or hostility. 
  2. You submit your thoughts to me via email/FB messages/pigeon carrier/paper and pen. Now I recognize that this is actually the riskiest piece of the puzzle. Because you're not fully anonymous. But I promise that I will honour your stories and your anonymity, and if that isn't quite enough reassurance, feel free to make a dummy email account to send your story from! 
  3. I will edit for anonymity/clarity/brevity before sharing your thoughts.
  4. We all discuss and learn and seek to understand. 
  5. If I get lots of submissions, I'll keep the series going however long I want to
  6. If I don't get any submissions, I won't share my own thoughts (motivation!). 
  7. If you don't know how to reach me privately (email or FB), leave a comment on this post with your email address or full Facebook name, and I'll be in touch. (If you're not comfortable leaving that in a public space, try leaving a comment & then deleting it - I get email notifications of all comments, and I think that includes ones that are later deleted.)
Ok. I think that does it for the details.

Sound like a plan? Think you'd like to contribute?

*Thanks for sharing, Kat.


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