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Sexual repression, is a state in which a person is prevented from expressing their sexuality. Sexual repression is often associated with feelings of guilt or shame being associated with sexual impulses.[1] What constitutes sexual repression is subjective and can vary greatly between cultures and moral systems.

Sigmund Freud was the first to use the term widely, and argued that it was one of the roots of many problems in western society.[2] Freud believed that people's naturally strong instincts toward sexuality were repressed by people in order to meet the constraints imposed on them by civilized life. However, Freud's ideas about sexual repression have not been without their critics. According to sex therapist Bernard Apfelbaum, Freud did not base his belief in universal innate, natural sexuality on the strength of sexual desire he saw in people, but rather on its weakness.[3]

Some researchers have hypothesized a relationship between sexual repression and rape. However, they have been unable to find any support for this hypothesis, which may be in part because sexual repression is extremely difficult to measure.[4]

Sexual repression is viewed as a key problem in nearly all forms of feminism, especially radical feminism.[5]

See also[]


  1. Karen A. McClintock, Sexual Shame: An Urgent Call to Healing, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN. (ISBN 0800632389) (2006).
  2. [1] Wilf Hey "Sigmund Freud: Psychoanalysis and Sexual Repression",
  3. B. Apfelbaum. "Sexual Reality and How We Dismiss It."
  4. Mary E. Odem, Jody Clay-Warner, Confronting rape and sexual assault, Rowman & Littlefield, 1998, p. 104.
  5. [2] Alix Kates Shulman, "Sex and Power: Sexual Bases of Radical Feminism", Signs, Vol. 5, No. 4, Women: Sex and Sexuality. (Summer, 1980), pp. 590-604.
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