The Shame Clause (noun): the product of the mandate that any positive comment about sex repulsion must be followed with an addendum about not shaming sexual pleasure or expression.
Example: theplaceinsidetheblizzard’s repulsion acceptance post receiving numerous replies such as “But what’s not okay is shaming people who don’t feel the same way for liking things that they deem gross or repulsive. Respect everyone’s opinions so long as they’re not outright offensive or mean and everyone will be happy!” and “People is fine but a whole country is not. Women should not be taught to be ashamed of their bodies and neither should men. We should celebrate our bodies” and “But dont [sic] have them try and tell me how to dress. That’s not ok.”
All this in response to a simple “People are allowed to be uncomfortable with nudity.”
How often, I wonder, do these same people jump on a “People are allowed to like sex” type of post with “But what’s not okay is shaming people who don’t feel the same way” and “Women should not be taught to be ashamed of being uncomfortable with naked bodies and neither should men” and “But don’t have them try and tell me how to dress” …? Tell me, how often do you see that happen?
If support for sexual activity and sexual desire and general sex-positive messages don’t need a shame clause, then why doesn’t the same apply to repulsion acceptance as well?
Does our existence really need to come with a disclaimer?
The fact that (evidently) some people feel threatened by a statement of acceptance (“but don’t attack those who don’t!” in response to “people are allowed to feel this way”) is itself an indication that people see something wrong with us — or see us as potentially oppressive.
Why is it that some people disliking nakedness is fine “but a whole country is not”? Why not? Are sex-repulsed people only acceptable if their numbers stay below a certain percentage of the population?
Don’t tell me to celebrate my body. I don’t want to “celebrate my body.” Go jump in a lake.
The only connection I can see between “people are allowed to be uncomfortable with genitalia” and “but don’t have them try and tell me how to dress” is that the latter speaker presumes “I don’t want to see your exposed crotch” is equivalent to “telling me how to dress,” in which case: yes, you should absolutely not put people in the position of seeing your genitals if they haven’t consented to that. You should be allowed to dress how you want up to and only as far as that. I don’t normally assume that the “freedom from restrictive dress codes” movement is advocating for acceptance of flashers, but such a reply in this context would suggest someone believes full nudity in public deserves unconditional tolerance. Really, am I that much of a right-wing extremist for wanting to draw the line there?
Of course I understand that they probably just associate “doesn’t like sex” with “tries to control others,” but that’s part of my point: that there’s this unstated concern that sex-repulsed people have institutional control over society. Which, in case you haven’t noticed, we don’t. Otherwise our natural sentiments wouldn’t be considered a psychological disorder.
We are not hurting you by breathing the same air as you. We are not the threat that needs to be braced against. We are among the cold and hungry for acceptance, not the enemy at the gates. We don’t need a shame clause.
In conclusion, you all look like this:
January 16th, 2015 at 7:03 pm
This is an issue that has bothered me since I found the asexual community. To me, the disclaimer comes across as sex-repulsed/averse people having to apologize for who one is, or apologizing for choosing to not have sex. It makes me realize that people, even within the asexual community, assume the worst about sex-repulsed/averse people, unless they are apologetic.
January 16th, 2015 at 8:14 pm
January 17th, 2015 at 8:26 am
I’m trying to think of other situations where this sort of “unnecessary but-what-about-me disclaimer” happens.
The obvious one is the inevitable “men have problems too” disclaimer guaranteed to eventually show up in any discussion about women-specific social problems. I’ve also seen a few cases of anti-fat-shaming disclaimers in response to anti-skinny-shaming comments, but interestingly in that case I’ve also seen it go vice-versa.
I remember once an old guy in church giving, as part of a sermon, the advice “Do not despise age”, and thinking “Sure, so long as you don’t despise youth” – although I kept it to myself. I guess that’s a similar thing.
Struggling to think of other examples, although I don’t know if that’s because I just haven’t been looking for it or because the other discussions I’ve been involved with are sensible enough not to do it.
January 23rd, 2015 at 9:34 am
[…] Coyote wrote about The Shame Clause. […]
January 25th, 2015 at 8:49 pm
[…] is it really any wonder that I’m still ready to throttle someone over that “we should celebrate our bodies” comment, is it really, is it […]
January 31st, 2015 at 8:57 pm
I think I understand the sentiment behind this idea that sex-repulsion equals sex shaming. To me it seems that for such a long time, society was in the repressed place when it came to acknowledging that sex could be enjoyable. Now we’ve swung to the opposite extreme, and people take any mention of sex not be enjoyable and see it as a reminder of the repressed times.
Seems like it comes down to people just not really listening to what is being said. They aren’t hearing “I personally don’t like sex” they hear “SEX IS EVIL.” And it’s a shame, because you’re absolutely right–we should have to offer up a disclaimer for not liking something.
January 31st, 2015 at 11:35 pm
“To me it seems that for such a long time, society was in the repressed place when it came to acknowledging that sex could be enjoyable.”
What specifically are you talking about?
February 2nd, 2015 at 11:33 pm
In Christian communities, it’s only been in the last 15-20 years or so that talking about sex in any way that was positive has become acceptable. In society, sex was a secret up until about 40 years ago. Hippies were outcasts in part because of their freedom of sexual impulses, and that sort of carried into the 70s as it became more acceptable to be open about enjoying sex. But then as STDs became more known, enjoying sex openly gained a new stigma in some circles. I would say it’s really only been since the mid-80s or so that having sex outside of marriage has been deemed socially acceptable.
But specifically, I was thinking about in Christian circles, where even sex inside of marriage hasn’t been talked about in a positive light until recent years.
To clarify my earlier point: I think there are people who remember the times when it wasn’t “polite” to talk about sex, which wasn’t that long ago. It wasn’t acceptable to acknowledge that such a thing could be for pleasure and no other purpose. To some of those people, today’s “liberation” of the topic is a relief. An achievement, even. Look at how progressive we are, we can talk about sex!
But then when those people hear about someone who is sex-repulsed, what they hear are the gloom-and-doom messages of yesterday, preaching that sex is evil. They aren’t actually hearing what the person is saying (that they just don’t like sex) but instead the voices of those who tried to shame them for liking sex.
February 2nd, 2015 at 11:39 pm
“But specifically, I was thinking about in Christian circles, where even sex inside of marriage hasn’t been talked about in a positive light until recent years.”
Are you sure?
I’m going to need you to narrow down the timeframe a little.
February 3rd, 2015 at 12:40 pm
[…] possibly because they don’t want to be seen as angry sex-haters themselves and are worried they’ll come across as shaming sexual activity unless they bury their point in disclaimers. You don’t want to look like one of those […]
March 20th, 2015 at 3:44 pm
[…] I’m not aware of anyone arguing to the contrary, though, which makes this come across as a case of the Shame Clause. […]
April 2nd, 2015 at 11:27 am
[…] of values aren’t opposites, not by any means, but they come into conflict on the subject of the Shame Clause. The permissive impulse, Acceptance for All, (aces are condemned so condemn naught but […]
June 30th, 2015 at 1:36 pm
[…] Theist described this phenomenon as “The Shame Clause“. That the repulsed are pressured to put in those disclaimers is also a double-standard, […]
September 25th, 2015 at 8:01 pm
[…] how often I’ve seen the idea that disgust toward sex is haughty and oppressive unless paired with a disclaimer, I’m interested in how that erroneous cultural link formed to begin with. I can only assume […]
March 31st, 2018 at 9:48 pm
[…] Two, related to point one, body positivity is heavily tied up with sex, romance, and sensuality. Messages about ~celebrating~ and ~enjoying~ your body abound, all tied up with eroticism. I’ve written before about how I am averse to sex, romance, and touch. As a result, a lot of body positivity is actively anathematic. I live effectively severed from eroticism and limerence, so what is a heady perfume to most is a noxious sewage to me. Being aro ace with a triple helping of aversions and absolutely no libido means that I don’t have a body that I can enjoy, and certainly not one I can celebrate. To risk misquoting Coyote of The Ace Theist: “I don’t want to celebrate my body. Go jump in a lake.” […]