talkshop by xxTALK
week 1. identity, expression, and body image
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Welcome to Week 1!
We will start our journey by learning about sexuality and body image. Getting in touch with your sexuality and building a positive body image is the first step to sexual well-being.
This material is meant to stimulate your thoughts, and make the discussion during the session more fruitful. Please take some time to read and reflect.
For the best experience, we recommend you view this page in full-page view on desktop, but feel free to view it on mobile as well!
This will be fun - let's get started!
5 minute read
+ 2 videos (10 min, 6 min each)
5 minute read
+ 4 videos (10 min, 3 min, 5 min, 8 min each)
10+ minute reflections
People are often asked about their sexuality and/or gender, but there are many misconceptions or misuses of the terminology. Let’s talk about what sexuality is and how to discover our sexuality before talking about sex.
what is sexuality?
Sexuality is not about who you have sex with, or how often you have it. It is represented in your feelings, behaviors, and sexual identity. Your sexual identity is how you choose to describe or label your sexuality. Sexuality is diverse and personal, and it is an essential part of who you are. Discovering your sexuality can be a very liberating, exciting, and positive experience!
There are many different labels that a person can choose, including not choosing a name at all. Similarly to pronouns, it's crucial to refer to a person’s sexuality by their chosen label - just ask them if you're not sure, so you're not assuming.
a person attracted to people of the opposite sex.
a person attracted to people of the same sex.
a person attracted to people of both sexes.
the absence of sexual attraction. For example, some asexual people are in romantic relationships where they never desire sex, and some are not in romantic relationships at all.
a person's attraction to multiple genders. Some pansexual people describe their appeal as being based on chemistry rather than gender, but everyone is different.
Some people may be unsure about their sexuality and/or are exploring it to identify as 'questioning.’
many more variations!
Is sexuality fixed?
How do I discover my sexuality?
Sexuality is not necessarily black or white. Instead, it can be thought about on a continuum or in shades of grey. The gender unicorn, created by Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER), is a great exercise to see where you stand. Under this frame, gender identity, gender expression/presentation, sex assigned at birth, physical and emotional attraction are all on a continuum, not a binary. All these qualities can move on the continuum. For example, you can emotionally be attracted more to women today, and less so tomorrow.
an example of a person's sexual identity using a gender unicorn 
Sex assigned at birth is simply a classification of people as male, female, intersex, and other based on genitals, including internal sex organs, chromosomes, and hormones. There are three sex variations: Male (penis, XY chromosomes, high levels of testosterone), female (vagina, XX chromosomes, high levels of estrogen), and intersex (a person born with the sexual anatomy or chromosomes that don’t fit the traditional definition of male or female).
Physically attracted to describes a person’s sexual orientation. Note that sexual and romantic/emotional attraction can be from a variety of factors including but not limited to gender identity, gender expression/presentation, and sex assigned at birth.
Emotionally attracted to is your romantic and emotional orientation. These are other types of attraction related to gender, such as aesthetic or platonic.
Gender Identity is used to describe how someone feels on the inside, or a person’s internal sense of being male, female, neither of those, both, or another gender(s). People could have different gender identity from their sex assigned at birth. For example, the internal sense of gender identity of transgender people differs from their sex assigned at birth.
Gender Expression describes how someone chooses to present their gender to the world, through outfits, hairstyle, voice, body shape, and many other features. The traditional social roles for males and females play parts here. Do you know how society tends to announce a baby boy with the color blue or a baby girl with the color pink? Or how boys are given trucks and girls are given dolls? How are men encouraged to play sports and be a tough 'man,’ and women are encouraged to paint their nails and do their hair and wear makeup? These are societal constructs of gender. There are three gender variations.
a person who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a person assigned as a male at birth and identifies as male, or vice versa.
a person whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a person who was assigned as a male at birth, but identifies as female, or vice versa.
a person whose gender identity is not fixed and/or shifts depending on the situation. These people don't feel the need to act according to the sex they were assigned at birth and the associated traditional social roles.
Some transgender people might have surgery, take hormones, or change the way they look or dress to bring their body into alignment with how they identify, but not all transgender people can or want to do this. Being transgender is not dependant on your physical appearance or medical procedures. Hence, the importance of not reducing a person to their genitals (whether they have a penis or vagina).
and sexual pleasure
How do you feel about your body?
Do you feel good about your body? Growing up, did family members compliment you on looks or say nice things about your physical competence or agility? Body image is your perception of your physical self and the thoughts and feelings which result from that perception. It could be positive or negative, and may or may not bear how you appear.
Four aspects of body image
Perpetual body image
How you see your body, not your actual self. For example, a person can think she is overweight, but in reality, she is underweight.
The behaviors that result from your body images. For example, a person with low satisfaction could show destructive behaviors such as eating disorders.
Behavioral body image
How you think your body, not your actual self. This can lead to preoccupation with body shape and weight
Cognitive body image
How you feel your body. You could be satisfied or dissatisfied with your shape, weight, or individual body parts.
Affective body image
Why is a positive body image important for your sexual pleasure?
She craves desire, but feels defective — ashamed, really — because she is not as conventionally attractive as the models on TV, actresses in the movies, or the people in magazines. And because she feels ashamed of her body, she does not want to be sexual. She doesn’t even want to be seen naked. She may undress in a closet out of shame, or so that she won’t have to turn her husband down when he is interested in sex. And on the times that she does agree to sex, she has self-objectifying, hateful thoughts that prevent her from enjoying herself.
One phenomenon among older committed straight couples is while the man continues to be attracted to the woman, whose shape has shifted with childbearing or aging, the woman finds herself disgusted with her own body.
Spectatoring is a phenomenon when you are not in the sexual experience and not present, but remain outside, judging yourself. When this happens, your thoughts are critical, not erotic, and it prevents sexual enjoyment.
For the most part, this is a female issue. Men have ten times the testosterone of women, so many men who are critical of their looks still can enjoy being sexual. They even have a sex drive. But for women who continually compare themselves with media images, the libido can get shut down.