I am a 25-year-old man. I am facing the biggest crisis in my life as I am going to get married. My brief background would make it clear.
When I was a kid, around 10, my female cousin (around the same age) and I would sleep together. On one such occasion, her hand accidentally touched my thigh and she felt something bulging. She asked me what it was. In my child-like, innocent enthusiasm I opened my shorts and she saw my erect p****. She got excited and started rocking it, saying that she had now seen my ‘shame-shame.’ Later, in the same excitement, she told all this to her mother as though it were some achievement on her part! For this, both of us got a good spanking with a warning that it is shameful for boys and girls to see the “shame-shame” of one another.
As I grew older, I saw the same notion being reinforced in various situations. But the situation I am going to get into — marriage — demands that this shame be considered desirable, in the name of sex! And till now I have no idea how a grown-up girl/young lady will react on seeing a p****. Pray tell me whether she would feel shameful, angry, shocked or worse still, mock my shame-shame.
How do I even hope to face the ‘blasphemous’ prospect of her having to touch it with her hand? I do not see any escape from this situation I’m about to enter.
~ Ka (Not real name)
Hi Ka, usually I don’t discuss sexual topics on PE because I want to create a family-friendly, G-rated environment here. However after reading your question, I think it’s important that I address it. Firstly, I don’t see this as a sexual question but more of a personal development situation tied to a sexual situation. Secondly, I think it’s precisely because many people, especially those in conservative cultures, avoid discussing/understanding sexual topics openly that results in predicaments like this. This is unfortunate, so my aim of featuring this question today is to create a conscious conversation around your predicament — one that many others, especially those in traditional cultures, are probably facing.
If you’re a young teen or a parent whose kids are reading PE, know that exposure to this topic (discussion about private parts, sexual organs and the like) is inevitable, and that it’s better that you and your child read about it here first as opposed to growing up with an undeveloped understanding about it and learning things the hard way later.
Showering with My Brother
Perhaps I best start off with a childhood story.
Some of you may have read from some of my articles that I’ve an elder brother. While my brother and I care for each other, we pretty much don’t talk, sort of like how things used to be with me and my parents. It’s been this way since we were kids, and if I were to trace it down to an incident, I would say it was when I was in Primary/Grade 3 (and my brother was in Primary/Grade 5; he’s two years older than me), and when my mom yelled at us and rebuked us very harshly… after she caught us showering together (in a sibling way of course).
Now, the thing is that up until then, we were really close. Super close. Showering together was a normality for us then; it was fun and we would play around and splash water at each other etc. So when my mom rebuked us that day, I didn’t understand why. Neither did my brother, I think. Subsequently whenever I invited my brother to shower, he would say that we shouldn’t and that we would get scolded by mom later. I would be disappointed and took it as my brother not wanting to spend time with me anymore. Over time, we began to distance, and then the internet boom happened, and almost all every kid in the world began to recede into his/her bubble with IRC chat and what not.
Was my mom at fault? No, not at all. When I later reflected on the incident as an adult, I realized why she did what she did. It was an absolutely normal thing that any mom would have done. If I were her, I probably would have freaked out and done the same too, but subsequently counseled my kids and explained why.
Growing Up with Fears of My Future Boyfriend/Husband Seeing My (Naked) Body
Now, fast forward to many years later. I grew up from kid-Celes to adult-Celes. As adult-Celes, I sometimes worried about the day I would have a boyfriend / be physically close with a guy, because of my fear about how the guy would perceive my body/private parts/etc. This had nothing to do with the childhood incident above but rather my own negative body image due to media/societal conditioning and what now. This is something I’ve shared in my body image series and have since overcome. My negative self-body-image encompassed my entire body and naturally included my private parts as well since they are part of my body.
So I would occasionally worry that I wouldn’t be appealing or attractive enough to my future boyfriend, whoever he might be, and that I needed to keep my body in tip-top shape — like being physically svelte, going for brazilian hair removal, shaving, having minimal body hair, etc. — to mitigate my concerns and also out of personal hygiene and self-care.
And then I got together with Ken (who is now my husband), and realized that all my fears for all these years were unfounded.
All my concerns, fears, shame, etc. I’ve ever had about my body, he doesn’t share them at all. In fact he thinks it’s ridiculous that I could ever have any of this thought, and to him I’m the most perfect and beautiful girl with the most perfect body that he can ever want in a woman. While I had previously busted a lot of my negative body image and concerns, being with him made me further realize that whatever fears and concerns I had about my body are totally silly, stupid, out of place, and were every bit false and in my mind.
Our Shame and Fears about Our Private Parts / Body
My point of sharing these experiences with you Ka is that whatever fears we have about our own body / sexuality / private parts are likely unfounded, ridiculous, and based on nothing but long-held cultural-yet-nonsensical beliefs. If we break down your current predicament,
- You feel ashamed about your private parts on a certain level.
- You are not sure how a grown-up female would perceive a male’s privates; likely negatively as that seems to be the default view of your culture and your understanding of how females were raised.
- You are getting married soon and you’ll soon enter this inevitable situation where a female, your wife, will see/touch your privates, whether out of desire (physical intimacy) or necessity (to have kids).
- You are afraid your soon-to-be wife will feel negatively or even mock you about your private parts.
Notice how these four fears/concerns are based on nothing but the notion that it is shameful for males and females to see each other’s private parts? A notion that’s part of an age-old belief (I’m guessing you’re from India based on what you’ve shared and your name which I didn’t reveal here — from my experience, this thinking is prevalent in more traditional Asian cultures but not so much in western countries), but a notion all the same.
And how did this notion come about? Probably decades or centuries ago, when a bunch of people decided that unmarried males/females seeing each others’ private parts should be considered taboo because of possible implications like triggering of lust, unplanned/unprotected sex, underage sex, unwanted pregnancies, or even rape. And this belief, this taboo, might have come about because there were real cases of such things happening — meaning it started with a positive intent — so people started thinking “It is shameful for opposite genders to see each others’ private parts.” Subsequently perhaps this belief degraded to “Our private parts are shameful objects that cannot be seen by the opposite gender or anyone at all” and even possibly “We are shameful for having private parts.” Of course, religious views and conservative cultural views might have played a role too.
Our Bodies/Private Parts – Nothing to be Ashamed About!
If we look at the male and female bodies objectively, there is nothing to be ashamed about them — any part of it. Our bodies are a natural part of the world. For those of us who are religious, our bodies were created by God; for those of us who are non-religious, our bodies are simply a natural creation of the universe. Why on earth should there be anything to be feared, shamed, mocked, scorned, or sneered about our bodies, when they are really the holy temples of our minds, hearts, and souls?
Hence, if you feel shameful about your body in any way Ka, don’t. Because there is nothing to feel shameful about it. The only reason why any of us would feel shameful about our body, any part of it, is because of our childhood stories — stories where we were told when we were young that our body or private parts are disgusting, taboo, unworthy, unholy, unsightly, undesirable, undeserving, or even unnatural. And that’s why we then grow up perceiving them as such.
In your case, it could well be that spanking and scolding incident you got when you were young. For others, it could be a different situation. Either case, childhood stories can be rewritten, as I’ve shared in my childhood stories article. It’s about identifying the incident(s) that has/have impacted you, uncovering the beliefs that you formulated from the incident(s), challenging them, and then correcting them. I recommend to read the article and apply the steps to slowly release yourself from the chains of your past or even your society. Just because the people around you and your society think that opposite genders seeing each other’s private parts or even that private parts are shameful doesn’t mean that you need to carry this belief.
How about Your Wife?
As for your soon-to-be wife, the same thing applies.
- Maybe she feels the same way as you — grossed by the thought that she will have to see a male’s private parts soon. She may feel angry, shocked, and outraged that she would have to go through this “ritual” of married life, and she’s dreading the day it happens.
- Maybe she doesn’t feel grossed out, but fearful about the situation, because she agrees that a female shouldn’t be allowed to see a male’s private parts. She feels ashamed that it’s going to happen soon, because it will mean that she is now “tainted” and “unpure”. She doesn’t know how to handle the situation, and she’s freaking the heck out about it.
- Or maybe, she’s actually not grossed out nor concerned about seeing your private parts at all. Instead, she is fearful about YOU, her soon-to-be husband, seeing HER private parts, because she has been raised to feel ashamed of HER own private parts. She believes that having any male see her privates is a shameful, blasphemous act. (Sound familiar?) She is worried that YOU, her soon-to-be husband, will feel “shameful, angry, shocked or worse still, mock” them! Maybe she’s scared that YOU, after seeing them, will think they are gross, ugly, disgusting, unsightly, and not good enough [for you]!
Now, if your soon-to-be wife belongs to the first two schools of thought, it doesn’t mean anything. The reason why she would think this way would be because she had the same conditioning as you when she was young, growing up in the same society at all. If so, she needs your help, as her soon-to-be husband, to know that this — spouses seeing each other naked and private parts — isn’t a shameful act, but is simply a natural part of a couple in love coming together and becoming physically close. (Hello, how else do you think most of us in today’s world came about???)
If so, your soon-to-be wife would your help, as the other half of the relationship, to guide her through this process and understand that this is okay and normal, and there’s nothing to feel shameful or scared about. Give her time to adapt to the situation; don’t force or accelerate anything (not that you will); let her know that you love her as who she is, unconditionally, independent of physical intimacy. Remember that physical intimacy is simply a natural result of your love, not an objective to be achieved in a relationship/marriage.
Now, how about if it’s the third school of thought, where SHE herself is ashamed of her private parts and you seeing them??? In fact, if you ask me, I think this is more likely the case, given media’s frequent targeting of the female body! Also, notice how you have been worried about your wife seeing YOUR private parts as opposed to you feeling abhorred/disgusted by you soon seeing hers?? We’re often harshest critics of ourselves, when to others, our concerns have no place at all! If so, it’s more even more important that you are her support and anchor who lets her know that everything IS okay, that there’s nothing shameful or unattractive about HER body, and that you love every bit of her and find it attractive! It becomes even more important that you sort out your own insecurities/fears about yourself / the circumstance so that you’re in the best position to help her to sort out her insecurities/fears. Because if we’re too buried in our heads about our own problems, then how can we be able to help others with theirs?
Regardless of her belief, she’ll realize over time, with your love and guidance and also her own self-reflection, that this thinking is just a myth and that there’s no basis to be ashamed, fearful, or even mortified by this act.
Remember, You’re Not Alone
My final note to you is that what you’re experiencing now, your fears and all, isn’t isolated to yourself. Ten thousands of people get married every day. A chunk of these people see their spouse’s private parts for the first time that day, with some seeing another person’s private parts for the first time in their LIVES. At the same time, a portion of these people have likely fearing this moment for the days, weeks, months, even YEARS, leading up to that day, only to realize that subsequently… Hey, this is nothing but just a silly fear in my mind, and it has absolutely no consequence in my life, my marriage, or my love with my spouse! It is my wish that you will realize that soon, perhaps with the aid of this article, that your fear is totally unnecessary and you’ll soon look back and laugh at how silly this anxiety and emotional roller coaster has been.
Good luck Ka and let me know how things go! 🙂
Here are related articles to check out:
- How to Develop a Positive Body Image (series)
- How to Embrace Your Femininity/Masculinity (series)
- What Childhood Stories Are You Reenacting Today?
- Why I Used to Hate My Feet – The Stigma Against Women with Big Feet