Shame gets a lot of attention in sex coaching: almost no one is completely free of shame, and it manifests in a multitude of forms. Sexual shame limits desire, expression, exploration, communication…the list is endless.

As sex coaches, we are trained to recognize sexual shame, find the source, and support clients as they work through their feelings with information, reframing, and permission to explore their authentic sexual expression. Did you know that BDSM offers opportunities for addressing and transforming sexual shame?

Transform Sexual Shame Through Self-Awareness & Self-Acceptance

Almost by default, BDSM asks participants to confront their desires and expression authentically and deliberately. There is a stigma surrounding many practices—power exchange and intense sensation play are not exactly part of what is typically considered acceptable behavior between partners—but they can be part of a loving interaction when it is desired and consented to. However, partners must accept themselves and each other’s interests and cravings to be able to share and create these experiences together.

Self-awareness and self-acceptance are powerful. Knowing who you are as a sexual being, naming your desires, communicating them, and acting on them doesn’t leave a lot of space for shame as a deterrent. In fact, self-awareness and self-acceptance are shame kryptonite!

Erotic Shame

Did you know shame could be erotic? Maybe an individual likes their shame and wants to play with it. Kinksters are notorious for their ability to “perv” or eroticize nearly anything, and shame is no exception.

Role play allows partners to experience and explore humiliation as an erotic element. Extreme D/s (Dominance/submission), interrogation scenes, medical play, and even games as innocent-sounding as “school” or “house” offer opportunities to eroticize shame via humiliation, objectification, and control. A Dominant might make their submissive beg for something they feel ashamed about wanting or punish them for wanting to engage in that shameful behavior. Done carefully, deliberately, and against a foundation of mutual consent and respect, these encounters can be extraordinarily exciting and fulfilling.

Bringing It All Together to Transform Sexual Shame 

A woman happy about overcoming sexual shame

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

People can feel shame about nearly any aspect of their sexuality. BDSM can eroticize nearly anything. Put these two together, and there are opportunities for joy, play, and even healing.

Here are some questions to get you started in coaching a client who wants to explore erotic shame:

  1. Get to know your shame

What is your shame about? Where is the root, and is it important? Can you name the shame? How is it stopping you? What do you see on the other side of shame for yourself?

  1. What do you want?

Do you want the shame to disappear? Would a safe re-enactment of an event help you assert control or reclaim an aspect of yourself that feels lost?

Can your shame be eroticized or is it already? Would engaging in a certain behavior, role, or act generate sexual excitement?

  1. What do you need to make this happen?

Support talking to a partner? Communication and negotiation skills? Permission to try this?

Do you have a willing partner, or do you need help finding someone to explore this with you? Is a specific skill or knowledge needed?

  1. Know your limits

What are the potential risks of acting on this? Do you feel safe moving forward? How will you and your partner communicate before/during/after this experience? What might you need if something goes wrong? What care will you and your partner need afterward?

Use these questions to help your client navigate their sexual shame and desires. Notice if there is any connection between the two and where there might be potential for transforming sexual shame into something fun and exciting. This won’t work for every client, but for those who are inclined to play with their shadows, it can be very rewarding.

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