Listen to “210: Colonization and its Impact on Modern Sexuality – Anne Mauro” on Spreaker.
Colonization and Its Impact on Modern Sexuality
We tend to think of colonization as something that happened and is over and is done, without realizing that it set up processes and expectations, beliefs, and systems of thought that we are still living with in this current day. This has created historical trauma that remains today.
There is a legacy of shame and of limitations that came with settlers in North America. Anne Mauro has been studying this, and we talk about this whole concept of the sexuality that the settlers brought in and what this has come to mean for all of us. We discuss the ways in which it could be manifesting and limiting us, and how it is certainly impacting how people of color, women of color are treated still in this culture.
What is settler sexuality?
We know that when the settlers arrived in North America, some were coming for a better life and to avoid persecution for their own religious beliefs. And when they arrived, they had their own ideas of what sexuality was, and a lot of that was a belief that it was solely for procreation.
But with indigenous people, they saw two spirit people, or a matrilineal model, instead of a patriarchal model. They saw homosexuality, and they saw indigenous people engaging in sexual play outside of marriage. They were completely appalled by this. Their idea of sexuality was no sex before marriage, you are property of your father until you’re married, and then you are property of your husband.
“We don’t want you masturbating, or talking about menstruation, that is bad. You’re not supposed to be nude. You’re not supposed to have inordinate affection, or too much desire or affection.”
Also, women are supposed to dress a certain way. They’re supposed to be homemakers and don’t work outside of the house. You’re supposed to stay a virgin, not just for the religious reasons, but there was economic value in virginity if you were seen as pure.
The shame came across with the settlers
If you didn’t fall within the settler sexuality model, you could be publicly shamed, whipped, or tortured. People were burned for masturbation and for homosexuality. They were shamed for anything that was falling outside of this model. If you got caught, you could get in trouble. When the settlers came, they brought with them their own historical sexual trauma.
Still impacting today
Anne believes that with the sexual script that’s inherited in American sexuality, there is a maltreatment especially of women of color, but of people of color in general. This legacy of the settler sexuality construct has dramatic impacts today, leaving people feeling like there is something wrong with themselves if they don’t fit into it, and very few people do.
Anne Mauro is a Licensed Couples and Family therapist, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, and AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator. She has earned her M.A from Antioch University Seattle (AUS) and a Doctorate of Human Sexuality from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Her private practice, Mending Connections, in Tacoma, Washington, specializes in couples counseling and sex therapy. Anne serves as adjunct faculty at AUS, where she created and taught a course titled Colonization and Sex for the Sexuality Certificate Program.
Additionally, Anne works in the Couples and Family Therapy program providing clinical supervision to graduate student interns. In partnership with a colleague, Anne is an American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) continuing education (CEU) provider. Through this venture, Anne co-created the Beyond Settler Sex Sexually Attitude Reassessment (SAR).
Her first Routledge publication, More Than Ebony and Ivory: Complexities of sex therapy with interracial couples, can be found in An Intersectional Approach to Sex Therapy: Centering the lives of indigenous, racialized, and people of color. Anne is working on her second publication, The Colonization of Black Sexuality: A clinician’s guide to relearning and healing.
Anne has served on the AASECT Awards Committee since 2018 and the AASECT Ethics Committee since 2021. Anne is an active WOCSHN member and one of the original members included on the WOCSHN Membership Directory, the first of its kind directory featuring Black, Indigenous, women of color in the sexuality field. In service of the profession, Anne is a member of AASECT Awards Committee and AASECT Ethics Committee.
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Listen to “179: The Logic of Our Fantasies with Michael Bader” on Spreaker.
The Logic of Sexual Fantasies
Michael Bader, the author of the book Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies joins me in a fascinating conversation about sexual fantasies. We get to hear his ideas about sexual fantasies and what they mean.
Decoding Sexual Fantasies
Michael recognized the need for an applicable approach to sexual fantasies to help patients with their shame and guilt surrounding their sexual fantasies and preferences. His arguments originated from a theory from Joseph Weiss. Michael argues that sexual fantasies are constructed to express our sexual desires and arousals in a way that is acceptable to our guilty conscience.
Michael gives an instance of dominance and submission, and the fantasy of having or giving up control over our sexual stimulation. That control could look like a masochistic fantasy or desiring partners with a rough exterior or self-centered. Curating this fantasy is exciting because ‘they don’t have to feel guilty about hurting the other person.’ A person assuming the role of a dominant knows that they are going to assume control over this person and that person would feel aroused by it and not be hurt and the same goes for the person assuming the submissive role. This fantasy dissolves the guilt of hurting each other. Sexual fantasies are strategies that our mind unconsciously develops to allow us to free our sexual excitement from things like guilt.
The Purpose of Sexual Fantasies and their role
Michael believes a person’s sexual fantasies act as a window into their unconscious psyche. When a person harbors feelings of guilt, shame, or responsibility for another person’s wellbeing, it inhibits the person’s sexual desires and thus resulting in the development of sexual fantasies to avoid such feelings. These inhibited sexual desires can interfere with other aspects of life. In the consulting room, when we analyze these sexual fantasies what we discover is “the revelation of someone’s core beliefs’’, which show up in the other parts of life and not just sexually. Analyzing these sexual fantasies can help the patient’s guilt and shame around their desires and also inspect the roots of their beliefs that caused their sexual fantasies.
Sexual Fantasies Are Not Meant To Be Changed
As long as there’s an innate need for attachment, the feelings of worry, care, responsibility, and guilt towards loved ones will be present. These needs tend to almost always show up in people’s sex lives. There won’t ever be a time where people will stop feeling these that stem from our core needs. And since sexual fantasies arise to overcome those feelings, they will always be needed as a way to express our sexual desires.
Are there Problematic Fantasies?
Every fantasy is enjoyed by somebody. Porn has tons of types of pornography for every population and some of the unpopular categories wouldn’t exist if there weren’t people to consume it. The problems with these fantasies coming true are they produce porn and sex addicts that take people away from being emotionally and sexually present in relationships and marriages. These fantasies could be anything.
Talking about limits to our sexual fantasy, Michael says, unless our sexual fantasies take us away from being psychologically present, being aligned with our values, and doing something meaningful from other people, sexual fantasies are not problematic. Michael also believes sexual fantasies that are illegal in reality are not problematic to think about unless they’re acted even slightly in any way.
Michael Bader, DMH is a psychologist and psychoanalyst with over 40 years of clinical experience in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has written extensively about the interaction of psychology, culture, and politics and has produced a podcast – Mysteries of the Mind—about these issues. He is the author of Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies, and Male Sexuality: Why Women Don’t Understand It, and Men Don’t Either.
Resources and Links:
Dr. Belous is an Associate Professor, the Director of the Couple and Family Therapy Center at Purdue University Northwest, and a practicing therapist. He is a certified sex therapist and educator, a certified family life educator, and a certified gay-affirmative psychotherapist. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy and the American Journal of Family Therapy. He is the founding chairperson of the Couples and Intimate Relationships Topical Interest Network and is the treasurer of the Queer and Trans Affirmative Network for the AAMFT. He is a sex and sexuality researcher focusing on social justice and couple and family therapy education and supervision. He has over 20 published works, has given more than 40 presentations at national and international conferences, and has completed 7 different research grants.
Domina Franco is a New York City based sex educator, coach, and writer. Franco completed her Masters in Human Sexuality at Widener University and helps clients of all genders and orientations clarify, explore and enhance their sex lives. She guest lectures at universities around the country and provides one-on-one coaching as well as trainings and workshops that cover pleasure exploration, empowerment, kink, and alternative relationship models.
Creating Relationship Satisfaction
Dr. Sara Nasserzadeh is a global thought leader in psychosexual therapy, couple counseling, and social psychology. A former member of the International Federation of Journalists, Dr. Sara combined her journalism experience with her expertise in sexuality and relationships, to host a program called Whispers for the BBC World Service. The show received the BBC’s Innovation of the Year Award in 2007 and continues to gather Farsi-speaking viewers around the world. In 2007, she earned the World Association for Sexual Health runner-up award for Excellence and Innovation for her human development work. Harper’s Bazaar named her as one of the Best Love Doctors, and DatingAdvice.com named her one of the 10 Best Sex and Dating Experts in 2015.