Tantra Sexuality Versus Religious Dogma

The tantra viewpoint on sex has always been at odds with the aggressively marketed religions of the world. There is good reason for this. The fact is that most religions of the world require their followers to subdue their natural desires. Ancient tantra advocates awareness and acceptance of one’s desires, and the fulfilling of those desires in a spiritual and wholesome manner.

As a tantra teacher, I will readily admit that the prohibitive stance that the world’s religions take can have some benefits. For instance, the Catholic Christian faith considers gluttony a sin. We all know the dangers of overeating. It also advocates single-partner sex, which is definitely advisable in a day and age where AIDS has become a serious problem.

Here are clear instances where religion can do some good by wielding the ‘fear the wrath of God’ stick. But unfortunately, it does not end there.

The ‘fear of God’ is not based on awareness of the natural consequences of over-indulgence. As the term itself implies, it is based on fear. This fear is induced in order to elicit unquestioning obedience to the ‘Laws of God’, which human priesthoods enforce without being too sure themselves from where these laws actually originated.

Tantra advocates understanding of the human condition, and the balanced fulfilment of natural desires. There are no laws or rules. Everything is based on knowledge and scientific facts.

In any case, sex and sexuality have always been subject to a lot of religious sanctions and dogma. There are various reasons for this. One is that most religions of the world are male-dominated, and sexual insecurity is a real issue for almost all men to some degree or the other.

For instance, the fact that man is capable of only one orgasm within a certain period of time while women are capable of multiple orgasms has been the source of a lot of performance anxiety. Throughout the ages, men have feared the woman’s sexuality because they feel they cannot match it. No matter how much we appear to have evolved as a race, it is a fact that man still bases his innate sense of self on his ability to perform sexually.

The fear of woman’s sexuality has been so great that certain countries have been practicing female circumcision. Though they cite various religious justifications for this, the fact is that this practice is nothing but a means for man to re-establish his pre-eminence at the top of the gender heap.

If woman cannot experience sexual pleasure, she will never know if her man matches the ‘standard’ of virility or not. It is way for man to relieve himself of his chronic sexual performance anxiety.

In tantra, human sexuality is examined closely and understood in all its manifestations. There is no right or wrong, virtuous or sinful, good or bad. There is simply acceptance of the truth of human sexuality.

If you are a victim of religious misconceptions about sex, you are an unfulfilled, insecure and fearful person. Ancient tantra is a spiritual path that lets you shed your fear and inhibitions, understand and accept your natural desires and meet them in a natural, fulfilling manner.

Sexual Identity – What’s The Big Deal?

“Given that sexual orientation is innate and that we are all, in theological terms, children of God, to deny access to some sacraments based on sexuality is as wrong as denying access to some sacraments based on race or gender.”
– Jon Meacham

Judgment is something that, on some level, we all fear. Harsh judgment, whether it completely consumes your life or is barely a passing thought, no one can deny they’ve thought about it. What other people think of you, how they sum you up and mentally label you. If your sexual identity varies from the ‘norm’, chances are you’ve thought about how people might judge you for it.

It’s only common sense – evolutionarily, it’s in our best interest to please our peers. When we were in an age when survival was key, we had to have a good back-up system to keep us alive. Thus, we had to keep them happy. But those days are long gone, and still the fear remains – that other people won’t like us. Those people who don’t like us… Well, they’ll go and tell others, and then they won’t like us either. The eventual fear is that being disliked by a few will mean being unloved by all.

Let’s be honest – the days of needing a team to back you up are long gone. But there will always be the need to feel loved and cared for. If your sexuality differs from others, you might get to feeling as if you need to hide it, cover it up, or disguise it. And this is usually because of the irrational fear that we won’t be accepted.

Sadly, for many, this is true. There will be those around you that will not accept your differences. But here comes the big question – does it really matter? Do they have any right to say what is normal, correct, or different? The answer is that they don’t. They don’t have any right to tell you how to live. Just as you have no right to say how they should live.

Much of the time judgment is born out of a domino effect. You see it in siblings all the time. An older sibling will scold a younger one for doing something unwholesome, when someone comes along and remarks, “But you used to do that all the time!” Somehow you know that this is why the one child is scolding the other – they had been yelled at for doing a similar thing and taught that it was wrong. Now they pass along the anger they felt when they were punished. Most likely the adult that punished them had a similar situation, and it goes on and on.

The world is a much bigger place than it used to be, filled with a myriad of different people. You can find people who care for you, in all of your truth and honesty. The more truthful you are, the happier you’ll be and the more people will be attracted by your self-honesty.

The instinct to fear judgment that might be passed on because of your sexuality, works off of some assumptions. But mainly that those around you will have a negative reaction to your “big secret.” Don’t be alarmed if, in this day and age, those who love and care for you don’t immediately threaten to kick you to the curb. If people love you and know you, most of the time they won’t be that surprised.

A friend of mine was dating her boyfriend for two years, and they loved each other deeply, though many people had commented that something was a little different about them. One day her boyfriend began crying and made a confession – he told her that he was sorry, but he had finally realized that he was gay. He was afraid he would break her heart, but she was overjoyed at his truthfulness. She had never even guessed that his sexual preference was different than hers, but she was so happy that he was moving in the right direction. It was the sweetest break-up I’ve ever seen! They’re still best friends to this day, and they never stopped loving each other – they just had to admit that their love was different.

People who judge you for your sexual preference have no right, no designation, no finger given specifically to brandish, no laws or personal obligations. In the end, it boils down to choice. They choose to be the callous, judgmental people they are. They choose to be public with their opinions. And you can choose to listen to them or ignore them. After all, it’s your life, not theirs. At the end of the day, the curtain will close for all of us. And what happens after that? Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t pretend to know all the answers. I only see humanity, in all its diversity, in the here and now. For me, when people are suffering in the here and now, that’s all that matters. It matters because it’s real and in the here and now.

Plants and animals are classified by scientists. And since we, as human beings, fall into the category as that of an animal, we are also classified. It’s a fascinating and interesting subject that is only tainted by religion. The following is a brief breakdown of where we are as a species and how much we have advanced in terms of understanding who we are as sexual human beings.

Gender Brain Chemistry – Sharing Feelings Often Misunderstood For Complaining

Have you ever shared your feelings and then been told to quit complaining? When a woman shares her feelings, many times she is misunderstood and it is thought that she is complaining. I am going to show you a few reasons why a woman is not complaining when she is sharing her feelings. I will show you that a woman uses that sharing experience as a way of sorting, purging, gaining and giving trust and respect, relating to others, expressing creativity and creating new relationships and bonding.

When a woman shares her feelings, she is able to release tension and stress even if the problem is not solved. Just the act of discussing it helps her oxytocin level rise and that will reduce her stress level. It is a natural response for a woman to share her feelings, because of her need to raise her oxytocin which is her feel good hormone. Keeping the oxytocin level high for the woman will increase her ability to function in a positive manner physically, mentally and sexually.

Many times female clients have told me that when they share their feelings, their partner thinks that they are complaining or blaming and that leads to arguments. That is why I felt it important to write this to bring understanding to the female brain’s need to share feelings and to be heard. And more importantly, when a woman shares her feelings she is not looking for action to be taken or to complain or place blame, but because she genuinely wants to be heard, understood, respected, and related to.

When a woman shares her feelings and emotions, she creates a way of sorting out the many things going on in her multi tasking brain. It provides her a way of giving trust to her listener, and gaining trust once she feels understood and heard. Also a woman feels more respected if she feels she has been heard and understood.

Sharing her feelings also gives a woman a way to connect with others and to relate to another being in a way that says she understands and can relate to the feelings of another person. It is important for the female to tend, befriend and nurture. Not to mention it is important for a woman to relate to others and communicate in positive manner to keep her oxytocin levels high enough to keep her healthy and feeling good.

Do Human Pheromones Improve Your Sexual Attraction?

Human pheromones are natural chemicals produced by the body that are thought to cause the attraction between opposite sexes. While it is believed that there is some connection, the real analysis lies in how much do human pheromones and sexual attraction depend on each other.

Scientists have determined a marked difference in the pheromones between males and females. It has also been looked at as to why there are different pheromones for each gender.

Since there are still some unexplored aspects of human pheromones, there are also different opinions on its effectiveness. Some scientists do not believe pheromones are as important in humans as they are in other species.

Makers of synthetic human pheromones believe that they are very important in sexual attraction. In fact, these manufacturers sell these synthetic pheromones on the basis that they will help a person attract someone of the opposite sex. These synthetic hormones are used as a perfume or added to a perfume.

The idea is that by supplementing your own pheromones you will become more attractive to the opposite sex.

The use and effectiveness of pheromones in the animal kingdom seem to suggest that they will perform the same function with humans as well. Many people swear by using the synthetic pheromones to get a date.

It is all a matter of personal experience, really, because science still seems to be at odds with itself over conclusive proof. The most important thing is if you can prove it to yourself that there is a link between human pheromones and sexual attraction.

Satisfied and repeat customers are usually a good indication whether there is substance behind claims, and in this case it would seem to prove that human pheromones and sexual attraction are linked. Many customers buy again and again and will testify that the pheromones work.

Interiew with Aline Zoldbrod, Author of “Sex Smart: How Your Childhood Shaped Your Sexual Life”

We are pleased to have Aline with us today as she gives as insight on how non-sexual family of origin issues form a persons sexuality.

Irene: Aline, your book “Sex Smart” is a book like none other. Please tell our audience what your book is about.

Aline: “SexSmart: How Your Childhood Shaped Your Sexual Life and What to Do About It” explodes the myth that sexual development is simple and Straight forward. SexSmart’s central message is that healthy sexual development actually is quite varied and complicated. We each come to our adult sexuality having walked down our own special path. And many families in which there was no specific, sexual abuse actually do cause profound damage to childrens’ developing sexuality.

SexSmart explains how the way you were raised in your family– whether you were touched nicely or cruelly or not at all, whether you could depend on your parents to take care of you, whether you got empathy, whether you trusted your parents and your siblings, what the power relationships were, and even whether you were encouraged to have friends–all deeply affect whether you will be able to enjoy sexual pleasure, and also whether you will feel safe being sexual with someone to whom you are emotionally attached. In SexSmart I describe fourteen “Milestones of Sexual Development.”

Irene: How does whether or not you got empathy from your parents have any bearing on sexuality?

Aline: Good parents are empathetic. They let themselves feel what their child is feeling, and then they respond to what the child needs. The more that the child sees that parents will respond to her needs, the more the child trusts that the energy expended to communicate is worth the effort. And so trust, and communication skills, build.

People who did not receive empathy from their parents have many problems with sexual(and emotional) relationships as adults. For instance, if you didn’t get empathy, you might be deeply afraid of getting hurt, so you may avoid getting into relationships altogether. You may be lacking in practice in communicating, or believe that it is pointless to talk about what you want (since you believe no one cares about how you feel.) So if you then do get into a sexual relationship, it is difficult for you to talk about your sexual likes and dislikes, or even to talk about it when a particular sexual activity is causing you anxiety, discomfort or pain.

If an unempathic parent was neglectful or abusive, there is a good chance that you will be chronically tense. If you can’t let yourself relax and be soothed, by definition, you will not be able to enjoy sexual pleasure in the context of a tender, steady relationship.
(You may still be able to enjoy the excitement of a new, lust-filled one, though.)

Irene: What inspired you to write this book?

Aline: Being able to have a sexual bond with a beloved partner is one of the great joys of life. It’s a spiritual, deep, health-giving experience. Sex shouldn’t be a source of anxiety, doubt, shame, or pain. It saddens me that so many people haven’t experienced their sexuality as a force for good in their life. I believe that reading and working through SexSmart can be a path to sexual enlightenment and sexual freedom for many people. As a sex therapist, I have met and helped hundreds and hundreds of men and women who are unhappy with their sexual selves. But as an author, I can help people I never even met.

There are so many women and men in America and in the world who do not enjoy being sexual. They don’t enjoy feeling sexual as a solo activity, and they don’t feel safe and comfortable being sexual with a partner. Some of them feel guilty. Some of them experience sex as needing to be a perfect performance each time, which spoils it. Some of them have sexual dysfunctions caused by anxiety and lack of education. And some had childhoods that were flawed in such a way that they literally do not know what it feels like to experience sexual tinglings and urgings in their own body.

You would be surprised to know how many people think that in reality, sexuality isn’t that great, that sexual pleasure is nothing much, and that all the emphasis on sex is a big media hoax! I hope that readers will use SexSmart as a map, guiding them to un-do the damage suffered by growing up in a dysfunctional family.

Irene: Why would some people think that sex is a big media hoax?

Aline: Each of us only knows the experience we have in our own body. People who have never experienced sexual pleasure in their own bodies have no reason to believe other people who insist that sex feels great.

There are large numbers of people who never learned that any kind of touch feels good. Many people grew up in “good” families with parents who were responsible, but unaffectionate. So they don’t unconsciously or consciously link touch and love. Others grew up with parents who were unbelievably anxious, and they absorbed so much anxiety from their parents’ touch that they associate touch with anxiety.

Far too many people grew up in families where they witnessed or experienced violence, which is devastating to sexuality. Witnessing or experiencing violence alters one’s feelings about being safe in one’s own body. I believe it can be as negative an experience, sexually, as some kinds of sexual abuse. Witnessing or being the direct victim of violence in your family teaches you that it’s not safe to love or trust. It teaches you that it’s not a good idea to ever let down your guard emotionally. It literally changes people’s “BodyMaps” so that it becomes impossible to relax, let go of control, and allow another person to pleasure you. The body remembers! If you were slapped in the face, for instance, you might flinch when someone you love tries to caress your face. If you came from a physically violent family, you can learn to experience sexual pleasure. But to do so, you have to process what happened to you, not minimize it.

Think of your associations to touch and trust as the first step in a
cascade of good physical and emotional associations you must feel first in your body before you can feel the building up of sexual arousal:

love=> touch => trust=> love=> safety=> drift=> float

love=> touch => trust=> love=> safety=> drift=> float => AROUSAL

Consistent, good experience with loving touch helps you to make
crucial links which you need. You need to be able to link love with touch, and touch with safety. If you can’t make these associations, you need to re-learn touch. Otherwise, you may never experience sex as pleasurable.

Irene: You claim that “sexual abuse” can happen in families in where there was not, literally, sex abuse. Please explain what that means.

Aline: Most people have an inadequate, shallow sense of what the building blocks of healthy sexuality are. Healthy sexuality is not based just in what you were told about sex, or in your appropriate or inappropriate sexual experiences in your family. It’s about what you witnessed and learned in your family about trust, safety, touch, gender relationships, anxiety, power, self worth, your body, and friendship. One basic motivation to be sexual comes from what you learned about being in relationship to another person. Was it worth getting close to another human being emotionally, let alone sexually?

People completely underestimate the effects of neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, or having an alcoholic or drug addicted parent on their sexuality. I have begun to call these other kinds of abuse “non sexual abuse.”

Sexual abuse is a horrible thing. However, I am certain that in terms of numbers of people affected, more people in America have sexual issues caused by growing up in families in which there was NON-SEXUAL abuse–such as lack of loving touch, alcoholism or drug abuse, physical violence, emotional abuse, or neglect–than were hurt by actual sexual abuse.

Irene: What would be some sexual issues that are caused by, what you say, “non-sexual abuse”?

Aline: Well, as an example, let me just pick the Milestone of Touch, and show you two lists from SexSmart. Readers should ask themselves what are their associations to touch.
You can’t enjoy sex if you don’t like touch. I like to say that touch is the “Ground Zero” of sexuality. People who had a good experience with touch have wonderful associations to touch.

Here are some good associations from my patients. Touch equals: pleasure, relaxation, fun, softness, good memories, comfort, normal, help, connection, I’m worth touching, calming, indulgence, massage, deep breathing, good mother, good father, sensuality, a worthwhile activity, good sexual memories.
good sexual memories

Contrast this to the associations to touch that people have when there was lack of affection, neglect, or violence. Touch equals: fear, controlling, out of control, awkward, pain, numb, tense/anxiety, guilt, startle response, bad memories, discomfort, weird, danger, confusion, what does this mean?, jumpy, is this proper? Uptight, holding breath, no mother, bad mother, no father, bad father, boring, a waste of time, no sexual memories.

Irene: Your hope is that people who read “Sex Smart” will see themselves in the book, or that some of the information will speak to them. What particular areas do you feel are the most important for the readers to relate to.

Aline: It’s funny. I have to say that every person reading SexSmart responds to different pieces of it. SexSmart discusses sexual development sequentially, beginning with birth and going through my fourteen Milestones of Sexual Development. (For instance, touch, empathy, trust, body image, gender identity, and so on.) Different readers’ families created problems at each Milestone. Readers absorb the book and highlight the parts that speak to them, personally, along with the workbook questions that challenge them the most.

Irene: In your practice, do you see more of one particular issue, than others? If so, what is it, and please explain why this particular issue is more prevalent?

Aline: Well, Irene, coming from a dysfunctional family can lead to just about every sexual dysfunction in the world, but I’ll comment on a few which I see frequently. The first is probably longstanding low sexual desire. People who grow up in families where there is very little tenderness, touch, caring, empathy, or safety have a hard time trusting in an emotional sense, and they also have an almost impossible time relaxing in their body. So it is common to meet people from difficult families who have never experienced sexual desire in their entire lives, because they have never allowed themselves to relax, breathe deeply, and allow sexual feelings and impulses to emerge and percolate through their bodies. They literally don’t know, can’t identify, and can’t even tolerate sexual feelings. So they don’t believe they can have sexual feelings.

Another typical effect of growing up with “non-sexual sexual abuse” is sexual addiction, especially in men. It is common for boys who grow up in unaffectionate, neglectful, emotionally abusive, or violent homes to discover masturbation as a way to self-soothe. When they were sad or scared, they masturbated. Having an orgasm is like a drug; it changes body chemistry and temporarily dulls painful feelings. It creates a habit of using sex as a crutch, a pattern where men feel that sex is their most important need or that sex is THE cure to unhappy feelings.

Irene: Your book is of importance for parents who want their children to grow up and have positive views of their sexuality. In what ways do you believe parents can affirm to their children that their bodies and their sexuality be accepted in a positive manner?

Aline: I think parents’ biggest obligation to their children is to address their own sexuality. How can you create a child with healthy sexuality if you aren’t comfortable using touch to soothe, or if you don’t feel happy in your own body, or if you think sex is dirty or scary, or if you believe all people of the opposite gender are evil or cruel? If your sexuality was damaged in your own family of origin, fix that first.

Abuse of all kinds goes down the generations. When you take the steps to stop denying what went wrong in your own family, when you have the courage to say “ouch!,” to get into therapy to change things, the buck stops with you. The brave person who goes into therapy and admits the pain he or she suffered can stop the cycle of abuse (of whatever kind) for all the generations which come after him or her.

Irene: I understand you saying that parents need to address their own sexual issues first. However, I would imagine some people don’t feel they have issues because they actually believe their beliefs about sex are correct. Some may even be influenced by religious beliefs. How do you propose to address these parents and have them be aware of the damage they are causing their children?

Aline: I think that most parents want their children to be able to grow up and enjoy being sexual once they are married. Conservative parents do want to make sure that children are celibate BEFORE marriage. I hope that SexSmart can get the word out to all parents about how important affectionate touch, empathy, and trust, and good power relationships are to children. If children are allowed to explore their own bodies, which is important, and if they also have these basic Milestones of Sexual Development, they will grow into sexually healthy adults. If you want to raise your child conservatively, I think you’ll find a lot of useful information about how to insure that your child turns out to be both responsive and responsible sexually as an adult.

Irene: Taking self-responsibility is the most important aspect of creating a healthy view of one’s own sexuality and what one does with it. Why do you believe that others often influence unhealthy views? What are some of the most common unhealthy views that our society has imposed upon us?

Aline: It is normal to be influenced by the people around us. It’s a fact of life. I wish that there were more normal looking people on TV and in the magazines. With all these thin, perfect, surgically enhanced, never-aging bodies around us, it’s hard for many women and men to feel that their own natural looking body is sexy enough. Sadly, a lot of people, women especially, seem to feel that only beautiful, thin women “deserve” to enjoy sex. Actually, as they say, the biggest sex organ is between your ears. How you feel about sexuality and being sexual is the most important determinant of whether you will feel sexual. Normal people have imperfect bodies. And imperfect bodies are perfectly able to feel sexual pleasure!

Irene: Yes, TV and magazines do portray a specific stature that our society seems to think is “normal.” So do books. A lot of the romance novels portray “sexy” women and men and readers escape by becoming the character. Why do you believe that people create their own reality through what they see or read?

Aline: Well, as far as we know, fantasizing seems to be a uniquely human trait. As long as it’s in balance, as long as people aren’t avoiding dealing constructively with issues in their own lives, there is nothing wrong with fantasizing. Sometimes, our fantasies help us see what our goals and dreams for ourselves are, in a way that can be constructive.

Irene: You want to reach specific populations with “Sex Smart.” Who do you think would benefit most by reading this book?

Aline: I would recommend SexSmart to anyone who is baffled about why you are who you are sexually, or for anyone who feels confused, unhappy, or ashamed of your sexuality.

I do think that SexSmart might hold a special key to understanding for certain kinds of readers: First, if you are someone who is terribly frightened of getting both sexually and emotionally close to another person, you can use SexSmart to understand your own fears.

Secondly, I hope to reach people affected by physical violence. SexSmart talks in detail about the changes violence caused in your Body Map, in your sense of trust, in your beliefs about gender relationships, and in creating anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Family violence may be common, unfortunately, but it is NOT normal, and it shuts down the ability to feel sexual pleasure in close relationships for many people.

Thirdly, if you feel you were destined NOT to have sexual feelings, SexSmart may help you understand why you feel that way. If your sense of being asexual is partly because of your family of origin, SexSmart can help you discover how to become more comfortable with feeling sexual stirrings in your body and toward others.Ironically, on the other hand, many people who have sexual compulsions, who feel insatiable sexual feelings, also find answers in SexSmart. Lastly, I want to reach people who grew up in homes where they suffered emotional abuse or neglect.

Irene: “Sex Smart” is not only a book to read, but also a workbook. Please give us a little insight about the workbook aspect of it.

Aline: As a therapist, I assign homework between sessions. Writing down feelings is an important part of processing them. I find that my patients make more progress in changing when they are active participants. They get more insights, and they move through pain faster. SexSmart is so full of information that unless readers highlight the text and choose and complete some of the exercises which fit them, they won’t get the full benefit. In the homework, I always make the reader write down what the positives are that they need to focus on–what they wished they had said or done, or what they need to do now to fix the problem. The homework can help the reader transform some sad memories and realizations into targeted plans for change.

I plead with you, readers, do the workbook! It’s kind of like when you have a vivid, detailed dream at night, and you want to get up and write it down, but you’re too lazy. And so you rationalize it and tell yourself, “Wow, that dream was so amazing, so unusual, so wild. I’ll be sure to remember it when I am up.’ And then, at 7:00AM, when the alarm goes off, you wake up and say, “Man, that was a wild dream I had last night. Something about a cake. Hmmm. Blue cake?? Hmm.”

And you’ve lost the entire message your unconscious was sending you because you were too lazy to get your rear end up and write it down. Same thing. Use the workbook in SexSmart!!!

Irene: Do you believe it is important to work with a qualified therapist when reading and doing the workbook portion?

Aline: I think it would be a very good idea to work with a qualified therapist reading and doing the exercises in SexSmart if you had a very traumatic childhood. If you look at the diagram of the Milestones of Sexual Development at http://www.SexSmart.com/solvingproblems.htm, and you find that you had problems with the first three Milestones, Touch, Empathy, and Trust; you should find a good therapist anyway, because it will be an investment in the quality of your entire life.

If you grew up with alcoholism, drug abuse, physical violence, neglect,
or emotional abuse, trust me, you did have a traumatic childhood. I find that people tend to “normalize” what happened to them. It’s painful to think of yourself as a victim. Most people think of themselves as survivors. In my work, I meet the most amazing survivors. But it’s common that they are doing great in every way except sexually. That’s where all the pain and trauma resides, walled off from the rest of their life, of their success. If you’re ready to read SexSmart, then you’re ready to confront your past. But get yourself some extra support. Don’t go it alone. There are certainly some readers who will be fine on their own. If you are reading it because you are curious about yourself, but your family was basically quite a good one, you’ll probably be fine.

If you THOUGHT you had a good childhood and then begin reading SexSmart
and find yourself disturbed by what you read, yes, get yourself some professional help.

Irene: Thank you Aline, this has been very interesting. Is there anything else that you would like your reading audience to know about your or your book?

Aline: Thanks Irene. I am grateful to you for the chance to talk in so much depth about
SexSmart. I would be so delighted if this Reader Views interview encouraged people who have grown up with alcoholism, drug abuse, neglect, or physical and emotional violence to begin exploring the ways their upbringing has hurt their ability to enjoy their sexuality.