When you associate shame and guilt with sex, you are facilitating sexual abuse.
I came of age when sexual activity was considered a normal healthy part of life. I was never taught that sex devalued you or harmed you. The idea that sex was taken by men from women who were giving something up was not part of the world I knew. When an older man forced himself on me, I was confused by the reactions of many. Why wasn’t I ashamed? Why didn’t I feel damaged and dirty? I thought, why would I? I didn’t do anything wrong.
In the 42 years that have followed, times have changed and my battle against the narrative, that I was somehow less because of what happened, has only become more difficult.
Making Demands of Sexual Assault Victims
How is it rational to demand victims of sexual assault maximize their pain in order to prove sexual assault is wrong? It’s wrong whether it hurts you or not, and the sexism of our society towards female victims is plain for all to see. You are now less.
I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to feel dirty, damaged, and ashamed, like so many people still want me to feel today. At first, I felt lucky to have been raised with a healthy attitude towards sex. It was a bad experience, but I was okay. As the decades have passed, I’ve become resentful that I am constantly pressured to be full of anger and pain, to have strangers exaggerate—even wish something worse had happened to me—to satisfy their own need to turn sex, a natural thing, into something ugly and harmful.
Sex as a Weapon
When we put these unhealthy thoughts about sex into the minds of our young people, we are helping set them up to be harmed or do harm. If you talk about sexual activity as if it causes injury or damage, people will use it as a weapon. If you tell young women that sex devalues and harms them, then they will feel shame and guilt even for consensual sex. The burden you ask them to bear, if they are ever assaulted, is nothing short of cruel.
Sex is a natural, biologically imperative function of humanity. It’s beautiful; it’s fun; it’s a great part of life. When those who try to force sexual morality on others though shame and stigma take control of the narrative, as they have done with the #MeToo movement, they not only become abusers but they encourage and facilitate sexual violence by weaponizing sex. They do not wish to empower women: they wish to control women.
They would erase our hard won sexual freedom and make us all victims, telling us we are too weak to live freely in the world and we should live in fear. If someone says or does something inappropriate to you, whether in the workplace, on the street, or in your home, it is the offender who should feel shame. We should not give up our power to bullies and bad actors just because we’re taught that we are the ones who should feel injured—we are, in fact, required to be injured. Sex is not violence: that’s just a lie we are told by those who wish to control us—not assist or empower us.
Abused People Aren’t Spoiled Goods
You get to decide how you feel about the things that you choose to do or that happen to you in your life. Don’t be used as a commodity by those who only wish to attack others under the false narrative of helping or caring for those who are victimized. They traffic in your pain but never in your strength or recovery.
Society needs to change its perspective. In every sex abuse case, there are humans. We abused humans aren’t spoiled goods. I will tell you who I am. I’ve had enough abuse for one lifetime, and I don’t need the further abuse society is recommending.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of child sexual abuse, you can find resources and support here.