NOTE: This post is entirely based on my personal experience. Jeannie has posted a follow up (She Said: Shame? Shame!) because there’s a whole other, deeper, level of shame that she, and likely many women, experience.
Shame is a huge topic and I won’t do it justice here. However, it’s been on my mind a lot lately and I’d like to address a few things. Most importantly, why is there still shame associated with so many things that should otherwise be positive? This question comes to me as I constantly consider who to let into “my inner circle” – basically, who among my friends and family get to see the real me and know all the truths about my life and lifestyle.
Before I continue, let’s get something out of the way. Shame is a much bigger issue in society than it is for someone like me. I’m a white male who lives a privileged life. Here are just a few groups that have way bigger issues in society than I do:
- Any non-white skin tone
- Those with tattoos and/or piercings
- Someone with colorful hair
- Women (especially Empowered Women)
- Anyone who challenges the patriarch
Many people in these, and other groups live open, full, shameless lives. However, our society doesn’t openly and naturally accept anything other than “normative” behavior. Anyone in a non-normative category has to fight for their rights. And the fact that they/we are categorized in the first place is the root of the problem. While I won’t cover it here, I want to also acknowledge that “no categories” may not be the best thing, either. “I don’t see color” can be even worse as this results in whitewashing or even gaslighting by those that won’t acknowledge our differences. But I digress…
“I DO see color. And it’s BEAUTIFUL!!!”
First and foremost, it’s so important to acknowledge all of our differences. This is what makes individuals unique and what makes the collective (society) colorful, beautiful, and interesting. Too often, though, differences are acknowledged, and then pushed down and ignored because those acknowledging don’t agree with what they see. Instead of engaging in our differences, we (proverbial WE) shy away from them and this isolates everyone more and more. This is a big part of why we’re so divided in the current political climate.
What about me?
Jeannie and I have (mostly) grown beyond the shame we feel in our own lives. I say mostly, because, well, if there were truly no shame, we wouldn’t be using pseudonyms on this blog, would we?!? Jeannie has a “wall of unshame” where we’ve mounted a series of sexy boudoir photos in our bedroom. We also have a pole for Jeannie to practice and perform on. And there’s one enlarged boudoir photo printed tastefully in B&W on metal in our living room. Any guests to our home are invited to see all of this.
Meanwhile, I’m constantly putting effort into what I say or do on social media relating to my non-normative lifestyle. Should I share an artistic photo of Shibari ropes? Or will that offend someone? Or worse, will someone then ask probing questions about the photo that may unmask my secret life? At the erotic party recently, an intimate and artistic photo was taken of Marni and me: we’re both wearing masks, she’s bound in rope, and I’m sucking on one of her nipples with my hand on the other. The photo is beautiful and it tells a story I want to share. The ropes artist posted it to his Instagram. I liked the photo.
I liked an erotic photo. GASP!
The next day I felt a mild panic: what if a vanilla friend on social media sees that I liked that photo?!? What Pandora’s Box will that open?!? What will they think of me?!?
Well, for the most part, I’m totally willing to come out with my kink and tell those that don’t like it to just f*ck off. In fact, I’d really like to start sharing more publicly and being an advocate for the non-normative community. Hell, I’m an ideal spokesperson – a seemingly normal white male. And this is where the shame comes in…
Why don’t I share openly on social media more of the things I love? The short answer is that I clearly still feel some shame and I’m afraid of the backlash. Of course, these days, what the trolls can accomplish on social media is astounding and painful. But I’m in a position to take that on and possibly help those that are more vulnerable and less able to fight the trolls. Maybe more importantly (because we’re all concerned for ourselves first) would be the joy this would bring me – in uniting my “two lives” and just being who I am openly and all the time.
Part of me feels like a gay man who has lived straight and wants to come out. I’m also well aware that the risks to me personally are so trivial in comparison others. And I am slowly embracing my lifestyle in the open. The question now is how open? I will never foist my desires or beliefs on others, but I want to be able to share. And, ultimately, to be able to advocate.
I don’t know what action I will ultimately take, but I think that I’ll slowly share more and embrace more openness. And for today I’m going to ponder buying a shirt like this and whether I’d actually wear it out to a vanilla function. I hope I will!