In a conversation with Allena Gabosch and Teri Ciacchi nearly seven years ago, I was lamenting the hindersome impact of sexual shame on the process of supporting families through the birthing experience.
“I feel like I need to help them take the shame out in order to get them back in their bodies so they can feel free to birth. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the shame had never been placed there in the first place? I wonder what birth preparation would be like for a generation of people who never had the experience of being sexually shamed.”
Allena immediately responded with,
“Well, why don’t we try and find out?”
In no time at all, Allena and I held our first facilitated discussion on Raising Kids Without Sexual Shame at what was the Little Red Studio in South Lake Union, Seattle. We were thrilled when 20–30 passionate community members attended; it appeared that more people were interested in this than just us. Five years, three locations, and 100s of people later, one thing has become crystal clear: adults need a WHOLE LOT of time and space to discuss sex if they are ever going to feel sufficiently comfortable educating their children about it—without passing down sexual shame!
During these facilitated discussions, brainstorming sessions on how to deal with present situations involving children always came back to impactful childhood stories pulled from the lives of those present in the room. For example:
Every discussion was emotionally charged as people faced their own sexual shame, confusion and memories. Community dialogue would dive into intimate discussion and sharing, affording people the space to clear their own emotional distress around the topic. In turn, this would give birth to new wisdom.
Clarity would arise where before there was only befuddlement. People would connect with their personal values, see where they may need more knowledge, and recognize that they could just respond to children in the moment based on their values and knowledge base. They didn’t need a special, prepared answer.
They even figured out that they could share with children when they didn’t have an answer; instead, they could look together for more information or just have an open dialogue with no time pressure for clarity. Through all of this a false sense of panic and urgency would fall away and sex education would begin to feel like just another important topic to educate our children about. This was always a moment of beauty.
To sit with such high levels of discomfort in a group setting was a testament to each participant’s desire to find it within themselves to be present for the next generation on the topic of sexuality. We ended every meeting by inviting everyone to look around at each other and recognize the courage it takes to be a part of this discussion.
As it became clear that Raising Kids Without Sexual Shame is predicated upon increasing adults’ understanding while simultaneously decreasing their own sexual shame and distress, Allena and I decided to focus on just that. So, we created a series on Sex, Intimacy, and Relationship and have been teaching it for The Foundation for Sex Positive Culture here in Seattle, with plans to take it on the road. So far, turnout has been fabulous and participants continue to express gratitude for what they are getting from the workshops. If you want to check out what we are up to, join us June 14th at The Center for Sex Positive Culture. Register at www.nekole.com to ensure that you are kept abreast of further offerings.