Smashing the Shell of Shame
by Alex (she/her)
I am on the road to sexual liberation, but I’m not quite there yet. The years of sexual encounters in which my pleasure was dismissed and denied makes it difficult to know what I want and how to name it aloud. The majority of my past sexual encounters were intertwined with violence, pain, and fear. Now, as I claw myself out of that darkness and into a sexually liberated life, I leave behind the shell of shame I would cover myself with during sex. Leaving behind this shell means I give myself the freedom to exist as I am. Without this shell, I can move my body freely and see every corner and crevice of beauty that exists in and around me. I can sweat, moan, laugh, cry, beg, search, and explore. I can do all of these things knowing I am worthy of finding exactly what I like and experiencing it to the fullest. Sexual liberation is the untangling of sex being for someone else and the recognition that it can be for me, for my own pleasure.
One aspect of my sexuality where I recently found liberation is my breasts. For so long, I felt that in order to be sexually attractive, I needed full, round, plump breasts. I waited and waited for them to grow, trying every kind of push-up bra imaginable, buying “chicken cutlets” to stuff my bra with, anything to give off the illusion of a full-breasted woman. In high school, my partner was told he must be bisexual because “I was as flat as a guy.” Suddenly, my womanhood became connected to my body’s ability to mold into that of a conventional woman with breasts. Was I less of a woman if I had no breasts to show for it?
I spent years trying to appear full-chested, but for what? I was letting everyone around me and their patriarchal views of gender define my sexuality. Perhaps true sexual liberation is giving up the need to be sexual for others and recognizing my inherent sexual beauty independently.
Last week, I went to my favorite lesbian club for Halloween. On the dance floor, surrounded by people of all kinds of gender expression, body type, and breast size, I took off my shirt and danced wearing only nipple pasties. Silver, sparkly stars covered my pointy nipples and the veiny skin of my chest was exposed for all to see. I danced, and for the first time, I accepted my body just as it was. I slid off my shell of shame and replaced it with glitter and sparkles. I didn’t need anyone to tell me I was sexy, because at that moment, I knew I was. To me, this is sexual liberation. Finally liberated from the need to appeal to or please others, I experienced pleasure all on my own.