WOMEN'S SEXUALITY AND PLEASURE: WHAT ARE WE SO AFRAID OF?
JAN 12, 2020 @ 5.37PM
Nervous twitching and giggles preceded silence the first time I participated in my sex education class. I was 14 then, when ovary, uterus, fallopian tube and cervix labels hovered below a title that read “Female Reproductive System” in bold letters in a chapter of our Science textbooks.
As I approached graduation, the importance of protection was added to the list and we were shown how to use a condom. Back home, both my mother and grandma discussed the topic of sexuality within the context of marriage and were reluctant to discuss it any further.
It wasn’t until my marriage that I discovered the missing component – the pleasure piece of female sexuality when I started to question if there was a set of unspoken belief imbedded in our society that’s fearful of women enjoying sex too much.
While the classic diagrams of a woman’s reproductive systems are highlighted in early sex education instruction – the vulva, labia let alone the clitoris are totally blurred out. Boys, on the other hand are openly thought about erections, ejaculations and masturbation upon reaching puberty.
Trust, intimacy and respect
Most often, women shy away from topics concerning what to expect from a sexual encounter that affords them physical gratification. If a woman doesn’t understand this, how can she expect another to arouse her so she experiences pleasure and orgasm?
Trust, intimacy and respect issues are blurred along with confusion about female sexuality. When should women become sexually active? What enhances their desires? How many lovers are too many? Responses to these questions can boost or destroy reputations. The confident single woman who understands her sexuality, has a healthy libido and enjoys safe sex with different partners can be labelled ‘slut, ho, hooker, whore.’ These slurs are tossed around schools, the workplace and social media.
Convoluted sexual expectations make it challenging for women to untangle what it means to be sexualized by outside pressures and what it is to experience sexuality from within. Societal expectations teach women they’re sexy if they appeal to the male ideal of the ‘perfect woman.’
Christian Louboutin; high-end stiletto designer, admitted once that the core of his work is dedicated not to pleasing women, but to pleasing men. Being serially sexualized confuses perceptions about what’s necessary to achieve erotic satisfaction. There’s no problem with wearing high heels to look sexy from behind as long as there’s an awareness of what stimulates up front.
Taking it one step further, let’s look at the entertainment industry. Even though women make up half the ticket buyers, only 4 percent of the 100 top grossing films over the last decade were directed by women.
Like their internal pleasure points, women’s voices are kept hidden. But where films have failed, romance novels have stepped in to fill the void. In his review, “In the Mood for Love,” Robert Gottlieb notes that E.L. James’ ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy sold over 125 million copies in half a dozen years.
The reason is simple. Romance novels upend cultural conventions about what is sexually gratifying to women. Clitorises, vulvas and labia are abound in erotica. Women are encouraged to explore their sexuality as a way to receive intimate pleasure without judgment. And they are encouraged to do so without discrimination.
As a woman, you should be able to fulfill your sexual needs so that relationships are satisfyingly beneficial to you, as well as your partner. Understand how to prioritize your sexual gratification by knowing what it is that gives you pleasure. Be less afraid of offending and more willing to indicate what you desire.
Value yourself and know that what pleasures you is as important as giving pleasure to another. There should be no fear in saying no or indicating a strong yes signal. Give yourself permission to experience what you find sexually pleasurable and know that you don’t have to fit into any single model of gratification. Happiness and pleasure thrive with awareness and open communication between partners.
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