I don’t know what it is about sex, that when it comes to us women, it becomes a touchy subject. I’ve socialised myself around both men and women where the topic of sex has come up and boy is it a different experience hearing from the two groups.
With women, it’s always a scandalous affair of sharing juicy details (if you’re close enough) but if you dig a little deeper about the status of the relationship (or lack thereof) with the guy, how MANY guys you’ve been intimate with and exactly what you’re doing behind closed doors (or other areas you’ve taken your rendezvous) then the snide comments, quite remarks and shaming (direct or indirect) is brought to the forefront.
But men, gosh you have to love the simplicity of their understanding, it’s really not a big deal. They can pipe in adding where they’ve done it (they tend to be more adventurous than most of us who relegate it to a bedroom activity) and the more women they’ve bedded the merrier they seem to be. When it comes to finagling the details, basically asking for a play by play, then forgetaboutit! I don’t think they rationalise every move, touch, kiss and caress that their counterparts vividly remember. To them its more about the general experience of the sex than the parts we as women dissect, bisect and ingest.
Let me give you an example:
Man talk: I heard her taking a shower and realised we hadn’t tried it out there yet! When I got in, jeez it was amazing… (imagine me here waiting for him to continue. I’m literally screaming in my head because I don’t know what happened once they were both in the shower stall, yet the men seem to get it as they nod their head in approval and some take a quiet note to try it out themselves).
Woman talk: I was taking a shower and he came in, I was a bit surprised at first. We started kissing and I felt him getting hard as he caressed my breasts . When he pushed me up against the wall, damn! I’d never seen that side of him. It was intense. (Now this time, my curiosity has been adequately sated. She’s told me what I need to know but the group will delve further into the semantics of slipping and falling, can you use condoms in the shower bla bla bla-we just love detail)
Now that I’ve gotten the general view of sex out of the way I can delve into the discomfort around the subject of sex at a deeper level. The number of guys you’ve slept with, the places we do it and who we’re doing it with. To most men and women a WOMAN who has experience in the sexual arena is dubbed promiscuous. But let’s put the formal word away and insert the words we use in everyday speech; a slut, a whore, tramp, floozy… I’m sure you can think of many others.
Language is very interesting because when it comes to words there’s the connotation and denotation associated with each. Let’s take a look at the denotation (the most basic or specific meaning) of
- having or characterised by many transient sexual relationships
- demonstrating or implying an unselective approach; indiscriminate or casual
Now the connotation (the idea that is suggested by the word) is what should have you worried. Have you ever heard a man being referred to as promiscuous? NO (we tend to think of them as bad boys and players -it even adds to their sexual appeal in some cases). It’s the girls in high school with short skirts and the women who turn heads in their figure hugging, leg-baring, cleavage pronouncing attire that we tend to associate this word with. I implore you to talk to them and then their male counterparts about their sexual history because what we think we know and what is really going on can be two different realities.
I will attempt to point out two areas where this dissonance regarding sex and women come from:
As women we’ve been raised in a traditional sense to be good little girls, we’ve been put up in dresses and told how pretty we look. We’ve had our hair combed and styled and told how pretty that is. It’s very cute, really it is if you picture this happening. If you ask moms why they do this, most will tell you they are trying to instil self-confidence in their daughters and I can’t fault them on that. Positive reinforcement is imperative in our formative years. The issue begins when these girls hit puberty when the positive reinforcement that was centred around their image suddenly becomes negative. The tops, skirts and dresses that were cute back then are too short and revealing now. We tell them to cover up as if these changes in their bodies are something to be ashamed of. I must ask who are they covering up for? It can’t be us, fellow women, because we have what they have, maybe in a different shade, shape or form. Hmmm, who is it? Ah yes, the other group; our male counterparts. There’s this hypersensitivity around women’s bodies that comes from men where we begin to make conservative choices around our wardrobes in an effort to avoid a certain train of thought (insert promiscuity). In the Muslim culture, the women look like walking shrouds in an effort to not provoke sexuality.Even in the education of sex. we stress to out daughters the importance of giving our virginity away to someone special and maintaining this aura of chastity. My true irritation is in regard to the different rhetoric fathers and mothers give their sons. There’s no talk of attire other than looking clean and appropriate and during the sex talk, we stress caution and safety rather than chastity – if we dare touch on the topic of sexual relations in healthy relationships.
I will reference the story of Adam and Eve which forms part of the three monotheistic religions; Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Man came first and woman was his companion. Even across cultures with different religions, the man is considered the head of a collective and I can only think of The Amazonian women who headed their tribes, but even that is shrouded in myth – did it actually happen? where is the evidence to support this claim? I digress a bit, back to religions; Don’t you find it suspicious that God is often referred to as Him – a male pronoun- when God is not even human. And before you excuse it as the ancient’s attempt to personify the inanimate then ask why God could never be a Her. It’s been designed in the system by (who knows?) since the beginning of time. The idea that women are possessions and commodities to be kept as a treasure for their male counterparts and it would be romantic, dare I say, if our feelings and thoughts as individuals weren’t forgotten along the way. I’ve even heard of virginity testing in some cultures that still happens today before a marriage can take place. Who appointed these gate-keepers to monitor our precious purity and where is the equivalent gatekeeper for men? Let me give you a hint; they don’t exist and even more disheartening is that we don’t give much thought to it.
It seems that sexuality has never belonged to us, women. We understand that our bodies are ours yet we allow the insidious whisper of society to dictate what can be done with it. I suggest you trash it. TRASH THE NOTION OF ALL OF THE ABOVE! Let no one dictate what you do with your body and who you share it with. It’s yours! it belongs to YOU and only YOU!
I have made general statements that address mainstream society and if you were privileged enough to grow up without these impositions, I’m glad, but don’t take your individual liberty as the reason to dismiss the plight of millions of other women around the world who weren’t as lucky.