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Shame is a Women's Health Issue

Shame is a Women's Health Issue

From our women’s circles around the nation, we have developed some beliefs, among them: Shame around “women’s issues” (such as beliefs of being dirty, not being a complete female, not being adequate) inhibits women’s willingness to talk about a wide range of concerns. Shame also inhibits seeking family or spousal support, inhibits or delays a willingness to seek professional help, and impacts subsequent rates of healing. In addition, lack of education on what’s “normal” with regard to genitalia, menses, reproduction, sexuality, and sexual appetites, STDs and pregnancies,  lifecycles and normal changes in hormones leaves a lot of people suffering unnecessarily.

What we’ve noticed is that women’s health concerns are often treated as if they didn’t live nested in a larger cultural, familial and personal context of hiding and shame. Sexual and reproductive health concerns are treated as highly speciated medical conditions. While quite often that is the case, the optimization of a woman’s psycho-emotional experience of sensuality, embodiment, arousal, and sexual pleasure is hardly discussed at all, and when it is, it's quite often treated as a libido deficit, not a communal cultural issue. 

Attitude Changes Can Drive Healing for Women

We believe that some needs that are currently medicalized can be solved with awakening attitudes, examining and changing thoughts about anatomy, sensuality and sexuality.  We recommend and propose providers hand out information on examining inherited beliefs. For many women receiving this information from a provider legitimizes it and as a result gives women “permission” to view their bodies in a new light.