Women liking, needing or enjoying sex, an oxymoron if you are to believe what societal conditioning and gender stereotyping have taught us.
The perception around female sexuality is largely predicated by what we've been exposed to via our parents, family, church, social and peer groups, media/entertainment, and now, influenced largely by the porn industry. It's regurgitated, misogynist, objectifying nonsense and frankly, it needs to stop.
For generations, women have been encouraged to suppress their sexual or physical needs. In comparison, men are encouraged, even congratulated (like some right of passage), for their ability to have, talk or think about sex all the time. Boys reach puberty and the potency of their sexual desire is seemingly uncontrollable, unmanageable and expected, yet completely unrelated to their emotional, spiritual or intellectual wellbeing.
Our young girls and women are educated with a biological and anatomical approach to their physical/sexual self. To date, health education merely highlights their ability to procreate, manage menstruation, pregnancy or disease. Rarely, is a women's sexuality and pleasure discussed in a positive, proactive and progressive manner. The proliferation of porn and overtly sexualised material we are subjected to in the media is crushing healthy self-perceptions and how we are valued. Women are seen as submissive, an objectified and obliging reciprocal to boys/men's needs and physical desires. Our overarching happiness, physical and sexual needs are subjects that are avoided and ignored, or so that old story goes…
We've been force fed this nonsense for far too long and something needs to change, and quickly. Women and girls need to have fulfilling sexual experiences and we need to guide and educate out children around self-worth, esteem, moral and social value.
I have two girls; my eldest has just entered the death grip of the teenage years. Terrifying, yes, but nonetheless a milestone that I must embrace and respond to with compassion, love and due diligence. I want to ensure that my girls explore their sexuality without adhering to patriarchal control or mindless sexual content that makes them measure themselves against unattainable and blatant objectification. I want them to embrace who they are as females and help them to define their sexuality by what feels good and right for their mind, heart, physical pleasures and spiritual beliefs. I believe this can be achieved through a varied and open discussion around individual needs with a respectful appreciation for themselves first, in conjunction with the needs of their chosen partner. We need to teach our children a deeper level of understanding around desires, needs and wants and this need to be done with open minds and from a place of love.
Recently, I read “For Goodness Sex” by Al Vernacchio. The metaphor he uses for sexual relationships is quite simply brilliant and rather apt when looking at delving into the subject with our children.
Let's imagine that sexual intimacy and connection, is like sharing a pizza. Each person discloses what they'd like and what they don't like on that pizza. Through honest conversation and questions, you achieve clarity around what each person needs without compromising the experience or the reward. It’s ultimately about better communication.
Sex and intimacy are important functions for our overall wellbeing. Many relationships cannot be sustained due to a lack of intimate behaviour. I’m not afraid to admit that my marriage failed due to miscommunication and not adhering to a clearer understanding of what I now understand to be the ‘Love Languages’. The 5 love languages fall into categories that include words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. It's important to understand what makes you tick, and what love language defines you as a baseline to a successful relationship.
In contrast to this, we now live vicariously through another form of intimacy, lead via a digital interface. Alarmingly and disturbingly, this new identity is marred by the sinister underbelly of porn. Porn, at large, is male-dominated and demonstrates yet another destructive mechanism for the perception of women's sexuality and worth. Visual imagery consists of close-up glory shots of orifices and phalluses that have nothing to do with intimacy or love, accompanied by a plot that ensures that men achieve orgasm at the mercy, degradation, and objectification of women.
So. what do we do about it?
I believe we need to change the way we communicate. We need to educate ourselves and our children around values of respect, love, pleasure and fun. For a start, we need to stop making sex a dirty word, educating them from a place of fear. Let's focus less on having the ‘dreaded talk’ and replace that with honest and open dialogue around sex and values, with love and understanding. Let's help our children identify themselves without judgement or prejudice. Learn and understand the nuances of transgender, transsexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual, or asexuality, realising that ultimately we are just human beings wanting to feel happy, balanced, valued and esteemed. Let's focus more on enjoying the meaningful experiences, where belonging, love, tenderness and communication are fundamental to the way women and children understand themselves and their relationships.
Are there strategies you have around your relationships that have worked well? Let us know by commenting below. Until then, keep being beautiful inside and out, radiate goodness and coming from a place of love, celebrate your womanhood, loving every single part of yourself.
Further reading links below.