Let’s talk about sex. No, not the anatomical and physiological aspects of sex. We’re going to talk about the societal perceptions of sex and the peculiar obsession with females and sex.
In Western society, women have been forced into a very strange relationship with sexual activity. For instance, in America, female sexuality is seen both as a taboo as well as something that every woman should be willing to give. If a girl has sex however much she wants, society tells her she’s a slut and has no morals. But if a girl doesn’t want to have sex, she’s a tease. But even worse than these sexist tropes is the balance women are expected to maintain. Show us enough skin, but cover up a bit so you don’t distract us too much. Have sex, but not too much sex. Essentially, they want you to keep up with impossible standards.
Now let’s talk about masturbation.
As women, we are held to insane standards; we are not allowed to even explore our own sexuality. For instance, whenever discussing masturbation, women are told to be quiet and not talk about something so ‘gross.’ ‘Good God, you’re a lady! Only boys can discuss that!’ I believe a reason people pretend female masturbation doesn’t exist because of the implication that women may be able to climax without a man. In fact, statistics show that approximately 75 percent of women are unable to have an orgasm through vaginal sex. Masturbation often involves the stimulation of the clitoris, which increases the chance of an orgasm, can be, unfortunately, ignored in heterosexual intercourse. By discouraging females from exploring the wonderful world of masturbation, we tell them they are not allowed to know their bodies better and discover what they like in bed. Ultimately, we say that men will know better about what sexual moves will work best, simply because they are male and have more “experience.”
Newsflash: women actually enjoy sex.
We also consistently shame the idea that women might actually enjoy sex. In most Hollywood movies, for instance, if a woman is shown enjoying sexual pleasure, the rating of the movie will at least be Rated R. However, we constantly see men in films without R ratings enjoying sexual acts. By dismissing the idea that women may like sex (a shocker, I know!), we make it seem as if the act of women having sex before marriage or even just casual sex outside of a committed relationship needs to remain a secret. It is something that cannot be discussed because if we decide to talk about female sexuality, we will have to address that women are sexually liberated. In order to keep women sexually repressed, to a certain extent, we shame them when they decide to be open about their sex lives.
Women are constantly forced into appealing to the male gaze.
From a college-aged girl’s perspective, what blows my mind is blatant sexism on college campuses with internal expectations that women are supposed to appeal to the desires of men. We’re supposed to dress sexily, but nothing “too” revealing as we don’t want to distract anyone. Because a shoulder in a tank top is extremely distracting the educational environment, of course. The clothing a woman wears is often closely tied to her sexuality. For instance, if a woman is sexually assaulted, one of the first questions that is asked is, “What was she wearing? Was she asking for it?”
Men, you are not entitled to our bodies, even after we share it with you.
Once a girl chooses to sleep with a guy, she is often expected to sleep with him again, whether she wants to or not. If she refuses, he may question her sexuality or force her into unwanted sex. For some odd reason, he cannot get it in his mind that maybe she does not want to have sex with him. He feels entitled to her body. As a society, after a woman has sex, we erase the notion that she may not even enjoy sex or want to engage in it. We tell women to adhere to heteronormative standards and to fulfill a role the patriarchy has set for them. We erase the idea that maybe she prefers sleeping with women. And if we discover we do, we turn that into a product to fulfill a heterosexual fantasy and objectify lesbianism. We also question why wives don’t sleep with their husbands. If they don’t, they are considered ‘bad wives.’ Thinking like this perpetuates rape culture.
Women who don’t want sex are shamed.
Women who choose not to engage in sexual activity are shamed just as much as women who do engage in sexual activity. They are called prudes or are believed to have something wrong with them. For some odd reason, we cannot accept the idea that maybe some women are asexual and do not even enjoy sex, which is totally okay! We have this idea that women need to maintain a balance between being sexually liberated and being pure and sweet but why? Why do we feel the need to control a woman’s body and her sexuality?
In order to eradicate this notion that women need to maintain a balance of purity and sexy, we, as women, need to embrace our own sexualities and know that what we do is our business. We don’t need to please anyone else but ourselves in terms of how often or with whom we are having sex. My value is not based on the sex that I may or may not be having. We as a society need to stop this insane obsession with female sexuality and recognize that yes, women have casual sex, and yes, women also have marital sex, or no sex at all. We need to move on and stop this obsession over controlling the bodies of women and policing their behaviors.
Image via mermaid.