Shame is one of those things that I love to talk about but that makes other people squeamish. Shame is to blame for so much of the deceit that exists in today's world.
I have been having an interesting conversation of late with people about coming out - meaning telling people in your life that you're queer. So many people fret so much about it, and fight so long to avoid that moment of truth when you say "Mom, Dad, I'm gay." And the reason they anguish and moan is because of shame.
We are taught early on to be ashamed of our bodies and their functions. Toileting activities are not to be discussed, unless everyone involved has had too much to drink. Sex is another thing we are taught carefully to be ashamed of. Aside from being an occasionally undignified experience, there is really nothing shameful about sex, pretty much no matter how you do it.
But shame drives us to hide things that are natural. Things that are hidden are unfamiliar, and things that are unfamiliar are frightening. It is no wonder that the Christian Civic League folks get so worked up about gay stuff. To them, we are as foreign as though we were dropped here from outer space. They can't even talk about the sex that they're having, never mind what anybody else might be doing. Good grief.
I think we should create a program to get people comfortable with sex. The idea, the concept, the act, and all its variations and accessories. Betty Dodson did ground-breaking work in this area, but has largely lapsed into semi-retirement. Oh, she still does stuff, but does not have the workshop and lecture schedule she once did. Hell, one can hardly blame her - she's been at this stuff for something like 40 years. But nobody has really picked up where she left off. Susie Bright is good, but seems to focus more on politics and age of consent stuff that makes me uncomfortable than anything else.
Nobody seems to want to talk about shame.
We are ashamed of our bodies.
We make up names for our vaginas: "down there", "coochie", "hoo-hoo", "pussy", "twat", and all the rest. I'm not a cast member of the Vaginal Monologues. You want more euphemisms, talk to one of them. We make equally silly names for our breasts, which do double duty as post-partum nutrition source and pre-coitus recreational area. We call them "boobs", "titties" and a handful of other silly things. There seems to be some kind of fear (shame) around the word "breast" and the concept of a woman's breasts. Why the fear? Why the shame? What horrifies us so much about a piece of our anatomy?
Judgement and morality play a twisted role in this as well. Random assignations of nature play a part in how a woman is perceived by society. A woman with large breasts is widely viewed as more sexual than her lesser-endowed sister. Large-breasted women hold more appeal to men (broad brush here and I know it - work with me) and are seen as having a more vibrant and sensual sex life, while women with smaller breasts are steretypically portrayed as bookish, bitter and shrill.
Is it because breasts can be a source of pleasure that we get freaked out? OR, is it because that pleasure is generally sexual in nature that we go batshit?
If you think "vagina" gives people fits, try working "labia" or "clitoris" into a conversation sometime and see how quickly people start stammering and changing the subject. It's much the same with "penis", "scrotum", and "foreskin." Try it sometime. People go nuts. Even when you are talking, in an intellectual way, about what makes people uncomfortable. They can't even discuss their discomfort. That's sad.
There are a hundred different directions I could take this thread. There is so much more to be said and explored. I guess I will ask now for reader input. If all three of you would please offer some kind of comment or suggestion, I'd appreciate it. I'd like to write more, but need something on which to focus my thoughts. Please help me out.