This past weekend was our local Sexapalooza. 2013 marked my third year working with the show on an organizational level, and my first year being sole point of contact for the dungeon.
Together with 50-odd generous souls we created an fun, educational, open space where people could ask questions, play, learn, and experience. At one point I looked over and not only were all 6 “official” stations in use, plus 4 random spots on the ground, but it all audience members in pairs or more learning from our community members. Some were learning flogging, some were learning bondage; some were learning sensation play; other still were simply talking about how to get in touch with their darker fantasies and support each other after the session was done – it was beautiful.
Sunday, however, left me with a bit of heart break as well.
With more Sexuality Trade Shows under my belt than I can count on my fingers and toes, I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting the people who want to know more, but can’t come out and ask. They don’t usually need much of a push; perhaps someone friendly to engage them or let them directly know that they’re in a safe space, sometimes a little tease about how the perverted can always spot their own, or pointing out this is their 4th time in the dungeon this weekend. It usually it doesn’t long before their opening up to you, and you’re showing them how to cane someone, or giving them a sample of bondage, or discussing strategies for bringing up their desires to their partner.
I met a woman this weekend, however, who was different. Everything about her screamed that she wanted to know more – the big eyes, the wide smile, the nervous giggle, the chugging of her drink when I came over…. and she came with a husband who doted on her. He paid just enough attention to me to be welcoming, keeping his eyes most of the time directly on her, smiling and squeezing her hand with reassurance. They were a lovely couple.
I felt for her almost immediately. Like me, she grew up in small town Ontario. Like me she was raised in a conservative religious tradition. But unlike me, the amount of fear she had over her sexuality kept her from naming anything she wanted to explore. She would literally catch her breath just when it seemed like the words would finally fall from her mouth.
Eventually her husband and I coaxed her onto a St. Andrew ’s cross in the corner of the room and I gave her her first flogging over her shirt and jacket, while her husband stood in front of her and spoke encouragingly. Within a movement I saw her hands move, and I asked her if she was signaling to stop – she confirmed she was and when she turned to face me her eyes were filled with tears. And not happy tears. The shame she felt over what she had just experienced radiated off her in waves, and no matter what I said, I couldn’t get her to open up to me anymore.
It broke my heart.
A grown woman holding herself back from something she clearly wants, that her partner clearly would be willing to explore with her because the exploration of her sexuality is too shameful to bare.
It breaks my heart.
Fuck you shame. Fuck you religious organizations that think sexuality is anything but a natural part of a wholehearted life. Fuck you parents who can’t handle talking about sexual desire with your children so you shame them instead of teaching them that sexuality is fine…it’s just not a part of ourselves that we tap into at, say, the family breakfast table. Fuck you media for perpetuating the idea what sexually liberated women are great to fuck, but never to marry, or than men are nothing without Alpha status.
This is not a world I want to live in.
I know a world without shame is probably not going to be something I will see in my life time; shameless may even be a pipe dream. But it`s experience like these, and ones I know will come that inspire me to keep on striving to create a space where we shame less, connect more, and all breath a little bit easier.