In the baggage category... this is definitely one to throw out.
The age old myth that sex is dangerous, something to be afraid of, is a message that has infiltrated our culture on many fronts. From vampires to Greek mythology to the “natural man’ of Christianity… sexuality is often posited from a narrative of “something scary.” There is historic precedent for certain sexual behaviors to be blamed for everything from blindness and insanity… to the downfall of entire civilizations.
Women in particular have been fed the line that sexuality is something that will be acted upon them… something that they need to guard against. After all, within this story line “virtue” can be stolen… taken… with the possible consequence of altering the very worth and value of the individual. I don’t mean to minimize the criminal acts that too often take place within a sexual realm. But criminal acts are criminal acts -- and should be treated as such within their own category. Outside the context of criminality, this narrative does nothing to help potential mates feel like equals and mutual agents. It does nothing to help them learn how to approach each other as pleasure seekers... both owners of their own sexual identity, desires, wants and erotic sensibilities. Rather, they are set up from the get go as natural enemies.
Most insidious is the message that we ourselves are not to be trusted with our own sexuality -- an enemy from within our very skin. That due to “carnal desires” or “devilish temptations” we are subject to evil, sin and frivolity. That without strict moral codes inflicted by either religion, government or other authoritative structures, we would all fall into some type of mad, valueless, sexual process akin to wild, ravenous animals. Even the term “pleasure seeking” has negative connotations in our culture; somehow implying the absence of responsibility. This is just not true. Although communal accountability can be helpful in a variety of human spheres, there is research to support that people share an intrinsic moral code when it comes to basic principles of human behavior (see Moral Minds). And pleasure in of itself is something worth seeking... not a moral depravity. We are wired for pleasure and with good reason. Pleasure is chalk full of health and stress-relieving benefits.
So if sex is not intrinsically dangerous... how do we combat these messages we've been given, either directly or indirectly, by a variety of environmental sources that more than likely are affecting our sexual relationships with self and others? I would encourage the following exercises...