When you fit the bill of ‘sexually liberated’ you can cop a lot of flack. From well-intended jokes, to downright horrific instances of slut-shaming. It’s a double-edged sword – freedom does not mean freedom from judgement, it means the confidence to continue operating, business-as-usual, despite that judgement.
As a result, we hear people say, ‘own it’, ‘just own it’ – in reference to so many things that don’t fit the bill of social norms. Although, you’d think by now we would have come far enough that nudity and sex would be less scandalous, but the outrage following every celebrity nude photo or sex tape ‘scandal’ suggests otherwise.
The idea of ‘owning it’ is sound, when you own something no one can use it as a source of discomfort. No one can use it to belittle you. To ‘own’ an aspect of your personality begets pride, shamelessness.
Sex-positive feminism gave us the pill, and the free-love movement of the 1960’s. We developed our rights to education, careers and a guilt-free expression of the people we wanted to become.
Still, the layers of a sex-negative society – particularly when it comes to the female experience, and the sexualisation of female nudity, and culturally normative behaviour designed to keep society intact. Sex is still shameful, the female form in all it’s iterations is still policed (even thin, pretty white girls will be told they have something ‘wrong’ with them – is it even possible to be considered beautiful these days?).
My interpretation is that to own one’s sexuality, is to create one that is relevant to the person themselves, their mental and physical health, their emotions, their experiences and their personal boundaries and morals. It is not something that can be inherited – particularly via the unconscious collective of a society that was not built to help people, but to control them. Even modern science suggests that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ version of sexuality.
Yet when it comes to the female experience, we’re born into cultures worldwide where any creation of a sexuality befitting our unique life, personality, values and beliefs, is squashed or shamed before we even become sexually active, or curious.
How can we ‘own’ something when our collective social upbringing leans toward the suggestion that we don’t own any part of our sexual experience? These cultures promote the objectification of women, except for when women create their own sense of objectification appropriate within their bounds of consent. As soon as we realise and maintain our boundaries, we’re often told that we’re defunct, freakish, ‘sluts’, or disgusting.
Developing the level of confidence, and sense of self to eschew the internalisation of shame surrounding your comfort-ability with sex takes time, self-education and a self-assured internal monologue. Rest assured, you’re doing the right thing – and you are learning to ‘own’ it, and paving the way for others too, the more you accept your own unique sexual experiences and complexities.
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