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Alyson Thiessen

This is excellent!!! I am SO aware of that 'shame'…. I get it all the time. The men wanting to put me back into their box called "good girl/normal/and don't forget to blow me…". I have yet to find a romantic partner that wants to see 'all of me'….but I keep trying.

Thanks for putting this out there!!!

Brian Sandman

Very insightful and well written. Everyone is equal and walks the same bridge:not looking or looking down, but at eye level. No one is fit to judg.

Paul D. Waite

Good crikey, thank you for writing this.

I do feel like women have it harder than men with regards to sex and shame, but just like you say, I don’t find it at all easy to communicate sexual desire, because I really don’t want to be that creepy guy. It’s nice to have that recognised.


Read Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma by Ronald Goldman if you really want to go deep on this question.


Arden, I appreciate the questions you're asking. Give me a week or two, and I'll post a full response.

Michael Cargill

It has always seemed strange to me that our culture praises male sexual conquest, yet condemns female sexual freedom. Especially when you consider that, in most cases, both sexes are required to participate. I actually find an experienced and free-spirited lady to be quite desirable.

JOnathan Skydancer Schwarz

the Goddess I am in a committed relationship with says I am a sex positive and self actualized man, I don't know about that, but what I do know is I am bi and out, I have 20+ years clean and semi serene in Narcotics Anonymous,a veteran , and was raised by the best parents, including an awesome step mother, because I was raised to believe that self pleasure is completely normal, my sexuality and desire for is completely natural, but as importantly to respect women and honor their yeses and nos. I have made mistakes, hell we all do, but for me I am completely comfortable in my skin and tell Goddess all of my deisres dark and otherwise. I would love to chat and discuss this further and I love Reid and Monique


Both men and women (i.e. human society) deserve equal blame for the "shame" & ridicule that people must endure and face in their quests of self discovery via sexuality/erotic desires.

The trials and tribulations can (& quite often do) begin as early as puberty. This all being subjective to intolerant cultures &/or families, as well as the hate-filled rhetoric & practices of both governments & religious institutions. When you factor all of that in w/ a person's "friends" & peers then it creates an irrational and unbearable environment.

One that further ostracizes and isolates an individual to the point of developing an inferiority complex. It is then only a matter of time before the hopelessness, resentment, and self-loathing begin to flood the mind.

Further negative aspects and detrimental elements can be found in a large % of films, the media, video games, pop-culture, television, the internet, & the Adult Film industry.

While these entities do offer positive contributions to the debate, they are far too often guilty of doing little more than bombarding the human brain with false, laughable, and petty claims of fact, policy, and value.

I do not care if someone is SLGBT. If the intimacy/love affair is safe, sane, consensual, non-predatory, and non-violent then I say more power & happiness to all parties involved. My hope is that someday in the future, the human race will truly embrace this outlook/notion of equality/respect.

Thus, finally taking another step forward to owning up the belief that we are somehow these evolved and superior lifeforms. It was Mark Twain who said/wrote, "Man (I prefer to the term Humans) is (are) the only animal(s) that blushes (blush). Or needs to."

I have one for my fellow human beings. Humans are the only animals that are intolerant. Or desire to.

You are an open-minded, intelligent, compassionate, & brave person. That makes you a positive role model (for all genders) & a quality human being. I do sincerely hope that a lot more people will take the time to not just read your article, but to really think about how all of it pertains to the human experience.

You should really consider letting this article serve as one of the templates for your next book. Take care, stay real, and please keep on writing.

Mark Pemburn

Thank you. You provide some valuable insights.

One thing I might add, concerning the "men are scum" comment: It is due in large part to the way we're wired and it's only scummy if it comes out in hurtful behavior. For an interesting look at this, I suggest listening to the "This American Life" show titled "Testosterone", specifically, the segment with the transgendered man's experience with taking testosterone supplements. (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/220/testosterone)


Mark - I think you misunderstood the point of my including that conversation. You might want to reread that paragraph, in particular my comments in its final sentence.


I think this is one of the bravest posts that Arden has posted. High Five.

Mark Pemburn

Arden: No, I understand your point. Do listen to the piece I linked to, though. It profoundly changed the way I regard my own habits of thought about sex.

The way we behave in the 21st Century is a product of millennia of socialization and the result of this, like it or not, is that our sexual instincts have been pushed into our shadow selves where they emerge willy-nilly under stress or when encouraged by group reactions against the norms. Grasping this intellectually helps in understanding why we behave as we do, but doesn't change much in the real world. Perhaps someday we'll evolve into a healthier relationship with sex. Work along the lines of your blog posts are helping to turn the tide.


Wow! Great observations. It's too bad that all of the bad examples of men seem to get all of the attention, but there are many good and respectful men out there. It's just not easy for them to come out, especially among their peers.

You did a great job preaching to the choir on this issue, but we need to bring more conversations like this out in the open for everyone's benefit -- for the men who need it the most, and women, too.


Thank you for your thoughtful posts. It was a great reminder for me to clarify with my boyfriend what I really did like, but had objected to in the past due to social norms and other people's comfort. This also reminded to ask my boyfriend to not just ask about what he liked during sex, but what he liked physically. Where he liked to be touched while cuddling/snuggling? What was comfortable for him in terms of sleeping together etc. This post has taught me that I still have a lot to learn about my boyfriend despite how open and honest we are with each other. Apparently, I just need to think of the right questions to ask.


Hi Arden,

Male or female, we all have a sexual mechanism and I am sick of both sexes being shamed for it. If having sexual desire is something to be ashamed of, then shame me now for digesting food, breathing air, circulating blood and then worst of all - having a set of balls that produces an average of 1,500 sperm cells per second. Oh the shame!!!

If someone wants to shame me, they should at least shame me for my CHOICES - not for desires, instincts and mechanisms that I have no control over. Do I visualise what women will look like without clothes? You're damn right I do - this is my male heterosexual mechanism at work. I can't stop it or fight it and it isn't a choice. What I CHOOSE to do about it is what matters, and I would rather choose humor, charm, wit, intelligence, loyalty and love over deception, coercion or much worse.

I've read The Rules too. In fact, I read it while wondering how miraculous it is that men and women are able to hook up at all given how much bulls**t information we're given by centuries of religious and social pressure which tells us that sexual desire is a sin.

I realise I've only written a few paragraphs, but it's just taken me half an hour to write this because I've been so caught up in the thoughts that your blog has evoked and there is so much more I want to say. It's time to make some coffee and say thank you for such a great read.

Steve Dee

This is the best thing ever! So important, so what I need to hear and what I think we desperately need to talk about. I feel like none of this is being said to men and because of that, they have nowhere to take their shame, and they end up on the Return of Kings side of things.

I want to find a way to get this kind of information to the world, especially to young people...

Steve Dee

My own experience is that my partner's sexual shame was extremely contagious. She was unable to deal with her sexual desire, so repressed it to the point of asexuality, making all sex grudging where it wasn't non-existent. Slowly, over the years of being rebuffed I stopped asking, then stopped wanting to ask, and just hoped one day I would stop wanting.

Arden Leigh

Thanks Steve. Feel free to share the link out wherever you feel it might help.

Sent from my iPhone

Brian Kaz

Hi Arden. I've read several of your articles, think I even commented on one in the past, and while I find I don't agree with everything (I can't remember what, not important, nor the point of this comment), the one consistency that I've appreciated from them (you) is the notion of honesty in the context of relationships and sexuality. It's preached again in this very article. And I think that's something that people from every persuasion and ideology should adhere to. Being up front about desires, strengths, insecurities, curiosities, expectations eliminates mystery and annoying guesswork that usually kill or at least hamper relationships. Raw communication is tough, but, it's always been preferred and more rewarding. Also, it gets the nonsense out of the way and allows to build a rock solid foundation. Best - Brian.


I think that this article is more about relationships than simply sexuality. In other words "if you i show all the parts of me even the parts I am ashamed of, would you still accept me." and eros in a relationship is one such area. That being said it is a briiliant and insighful article. Most Women cannot fathom how difficult it is to cope with rage and urge that is the male sex drive they have no point of reference, you are right that most decent men have this perennial struggle with shame thrown into the mix. It is refreshing to read from a woman trying to come to grips and succeding in most part with this subject.

alpha male traits

Great article. I really think that good guys should get a little more attention by women, instead they always look at the bad boy and blame him as the generalisation for all men.


Hi Arden

I could have cried when I first read through this. I am in therapy right now, in part due to a childhood of sexual shame that had stunted my ability to connect with women as an adult. There is no support network for men to discuss any of this, probably because men are so scared to discuss their weaknesses, and for a while all I found online was the crazy AlphaMale stuff and guys insisting I "just get over it."

When I was young I heard comments from the women in my home ("girls will love you, you're not threatening [read: assertive] like other guys"), from school ("if a man looks at a naked woman and starts thinking about sex right away, he's a pig"), and friends ("all men are perverts at least a bit").

The message I got as a young boy was that my default sexuality was a perversion. It made me a de facto aggressor who needed to be shamed out of these gross compulsions. I thought my sexuality was tantamount to sexism.

For two years I'd only spoken with my therapist about these issues, but then I found this article. My whole life I thought I was alone in this, but here you are, a woman "on the other side" validating these feelings. The flip side of being taught that male sexuality is evil, is that women must not want it, so to see someone spell all this out and put all sexual desire on equal footing is the biggest mindfuck ever. A part of me knows it's true, but I also know that the shame is so internalized that it's going to take years before I can cast it aside completely.

Like I said, I seriously could cry. Great article.



I find almost nothing but shame within my sexuality. I have no sexual experience whatsoever. At 24 the last time I went on a date was 8 years ago (last kiss as well). Depression took me over early in high school, and that went all throughout college. I'm coming out of depression nowadays, but when I think about the topic of sexuality (god forbid MY sexuality) all hell breaks loose within my mind. The topic quite literally tortures me and it gets to the point where the question pops up: do you want to feel good today or do you want to dwell upon sexuality and feel terrible?
A huge reason I don't feel good about myself is that I have consumed an excessive amount of porn throughout my life, and plenty of it was hardcore. I'm not happy about this. I'm sick for doing for this. It was like a dirty secret all those years. Over time my sexual fantasies became more aggressive and rough towards women. I've mostly put that to rest though because of overwhelming shame, as well as a newfound submissive side (less shame). While fantasizing I would think more about the politics of the fantasy than the fantasy itself, and it would ruin everything. But honestly, having these fantasies while being a sociology major learning about feminism terrified me. I went to school each day feeling like a broken egg in a carton full of fresh eggs. Then I learned that some people who are feminists engage in S&M and similar behaviors. I used to speak with a sex blogger named "Girl on the Net" who opened my eyes to this, but over time sex positivity just made me very VERY confused and more nervous about the subject. And nobody seems to get where I'm coming from anyway.
I really do not feel comfortable with male dominance, and the shame makes me feel very tormented inside for being that way. You wrote, "I fear that some men who are turned on by male dominance might worry that their desires for D/s correlate to actual misogyny." I actually had to re-read that line over and over again because of the very complicated feelings it struck. Never before have I seen ANYONE acknowledge this, like, EVER! So in many ways this great article was a dream come true. The down side is that I can confirm that fear for you. I really can't help but believe I'm a set-in-stone misogynist for liking S/M type fantasies and porn. I don't understand how this behavior can ever be ok, and not be a product/side effect of patriarchy.
It also hurts to know what a failure I am with women even though depression hurt me so much. For almost everyone else sex is a no-brainer but for me I'd sometimes prefer asexuality. I'm 24 but having no sexual experience makes me feel like a teenager inside still.
Alright I'm done before I get more upset. Sorry for being depressing. And sorry for being the shameful guy of the bunch.


That the first comment up top is apparently from a woman who assumes that the subject must be women's shame illustrates how rarely male sexuality and shame are discussed and/or how inconceivable it may be in the minds of many to have that discussion. As a straight man, I appreciate the discussion and Arden's piece. The passage from the Philosopher Mail article, in particular, speaks to me; I plan to go read that.

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