There are a few things that shaped my concept of sexuality, that allowed me to embrace it or be ashamed of it. The first two really don’t need much reflection (to me anyhow).
First and foremost was Catholic School.
Secondly, was being sexually abused as a child.
Thirdly, was being my mother’s daughter. She was open about sex, told us girls that boys are like shoes: you need to try on a lot of pairs until you find the perfect fit. Giving us an hilarious tale of her first blow job story, where she really blew on the man’s penis. Not judging us for our sexual explorations, and allowing us to be open and honest with her. I told her the first time I had sex, and she dutifully took me to the doctor and made sure that everything was fine (it wasn’t, I had torn horribly and needed to be cut in places to take away the jagged edges). She didn’t lecture me, she cared for me, and taught me to be safe.
Later, society and the trickle down effect in high school impacted. Talk of how much of a slut I was, the mean gossip, the truths and the exaggerations of my exploits. It was the boys feeling a sense of entitlement, because they viewed me as easy, and therefore I must say yes to them. It was the bad girls who embraced me and the good girls who rejected me. The slut shaming during these developing years lasted until my thirties.
It was my in-laws; how their view that sex was only to get pregnant, that if I wanted it more that I was a slut, unfaithful, unworthy. These people that became my family, that I loved, shaped me just as much as high school peers ever could. That I should have no friends of the opposite gender, that it was not proper. On the rare occasions where my drive was brought into conversations, mostly from conversations overheard at family get-togethers with my sisters, it was frowned upon. I was a deviant, and always viewed suspicious. How could I be a good wife and mother if I was so obviously a slut?!
A beautiful moment was my daughter feeling safe enough to confide in me when she first became sexually active, the strength to decide when she was ready, and the respect she had for herself in making that decision. I wish I had been half as courageous and confident in myself, in my youth.
It was my husband, who accepted my flirtatious manner, my curiosity, who taught me that while his drive is nowhere near my own, my drive is valid, authentic. He respects me as an individual, accepts and delves into the darker sides with me, makes me feel free to pursue and explore. He unweaves what school and in-laws have done. He lets me sort out of the pieces safely.
It is the blogging community; it is feeling that I am not alone, that I am not the only one who likes, does, feels, what I do. It is becoming educated on kinks, desires, and positive sexuality. It is unraveling what society has taught us, and reconditioning to a more broader perspective.
The biggest influence to accepting who I am is me. I have finally come to a place where I can sort the pieces of me without judgment or conformity, where I can (painfully at times) honestly look at me and love me for who I am. Where I can accept the bumps in the journey, the criticism from others and myself, and embrace me anyhow. I am not defined by my sexuality, but I do accept how it has shaped other pieces of my identity.