Imagine a world where a girl grows up hearing about sex and her body in an open and loving way.
As she develops, she is provided with a wealth of books and resources on her anatomy and inner workings.
She feels proud when she starts her period and is given a comprehensive education about how her cycle works.
She and her male peers throughout adolescence are thoroughly instructed on boundaries and consent.
It is reinforced to her over and over that she is worthy and her body is good. Pleasure is her RIGHT.
Purity culture doesn’t exist. There is no shame, no such thing as “covering up” to keep the boys from having dirty thoughts.
On the flip side, there is no such thing as her feeling like she needs to “show more skin” to appeal to the boys and gain their approval.
In this world, period products are free and accessible.
Skinny supermodels and airbrushed photos are not a thing.
Sexual harassment is unfathomable.
Cosmopolitan magazine does not write articles about the so-called “G-Spot” or what positions a woman should contort herself into in order to blow her man’s socks off.
Rappers do not sing about getting p***y from bitches and hoes at clubs.
All birth control is covered by insurance. Women AND men alike are provided with endless resources that cover the pros and cons of all methods of birth control. Women do not feel solely responsible for preventing pregnancy.
Women do not get raped.
Men do not make abortion laws.
Women’s bodies are respected no matter the shape or size.
Pornography does not exist.
Men and women fully understand how each other’s bodies work, along with their own. There is mutual respect in all sexual relations. Nobody ever feels used or misunderstood. Communication is natural.
If a woman doesn’t orgasm, she feels no pressure to fake one or lie to her partner. She would never feel ashamed for not having one. Her partner would never feel hurt or defensive if she didn’t have one. He knows it’s normal but he still deeply cares about her experience and educates himself as well as talks openly with her about it.
She knows the stats.
She knows the movies lie.
She knows there’s no “normal” or “right”–that every woman, man, body and relationship is different.
She knows these things because she was taught them.
She approaches her sexuality EMPOWERED. She OWNS it.
Why Isn’t This Common Knowledge??
If you’re like me, you’re struggling to imagine all of that. Unfortunately, there are so many things we cannot change about the unhealthy, toxic sexual culture we are all immersed in. But, there are so many things that we CAN. And as women, mothers, wives, teachers, aunts, friends…we HAVE GOT to do our part to fix what’s broke. So let’s talk about what’s broke.
A couple of nights ago, I came across an informative article about women and sex. I read some things I already knew but I was surprised by some things, too. Here is one particular paragraph from the article that struck me:
“Each woman’s ability to orgasm during sex depends almost wholly on physical development that occurred while she was still in the womb. Researchers said they have figured out that the distance between a woman’s clitoris and her urinary opening can predict whether she will be able to orgasm during sex. It is different for every woman, but between 70 and 80 percent of women are unable to achieve orgasm with penetration alone due to their unique anatomy.”
I read those words and I kid you not: I felt instant RAGE. Not because of the info but because I immediately thought: WHY IS THIS NOT COMMON KNOWLEDGE?!
I handed my phone to my husband to read the article. He too felt frustrated. Why? Because he agrees that our society SUCKS at educating and empowering women when it comes to sex. Men are affected by this too, because they also do not know how to help their partners feel empowered since they have not been properly educated on a woman’s body.
Catering to the Male Experience
We all know that patriarchy leaves women behind. Patriarchy caters to the male experience when it comes to well, just about everything (that’s a post for another day). Turns out SEX is included in that. As a result, women don’t know their bodies, they fret about their inability to enjoy sex, they wonder what’s wrong with them, they resent their partners, they lie about having orgasms. Women feel shame about not having a mind-blowing experience like what’s portrayed in the movies.
Nobody is talking about how rare it is for a woman to orgasm in the same way a man does. Remember those statistics? Between 70 and 80 percent of women do not orgasm from penetration. Cool, glad that was taught to me.
Nobody is talking about how a woman’s anatomy determines whether she will be able to orgasm. Oh, so it’s not just us being “all up in our heads?” It’s not because there’s something wrong with us? IT’S THE WAY OUR BODIES FORMED IN THE WOMB?!
The Sexual Status Quo
Look, I realize that women CAN and DO have mind-blowing sex. I’m not discrediting that at all. But I want you to think about your experience with sex…learning about it, having it, maybe being frustrated about it at times. Do you know any men who fret about it in the way women do? Who have struggled with it, cried about it, been puzzled by it? Probably not. It’s pretty basic for most men, right?
But instead of going, “hmmm, what’s wrong with this picture? How can we be more honest about womens’ experiences in the bedroom? How can we make things better for our daughters? How can we normalize what so many women deal with?” Instead of asking those questions, we continue to perpetuate the “sexual status quo” that forces women to over and over again find out information about their bodies through late-night tear-filled google searches. Going YEARS without knowing the MOST BASIC THINGS about their anatomies that could have saved them from so much shame, frustration, stress, self-loathing, confusion and more.
Society Does Not Empower
Society sure loves to blast explicit, dramatic, mind-blowing sex scenes all over the movies and shows we regularly consume, yet in real life we are whispering about sex in scared, hushed tones. We may admit a few secrets to our closest friends if we are feeling brave. We tip-toe around the topic with our kiddos. We treat our sons and daughters differently, never acknowledging the harm that these double standards cause down the road (case in point: in my church growing up, girls were told to cover their stomachs, legs and shoulders. But was a boy ever told those things? No.)
We women go to male doctors to tell us what’s wrong with our bodies, read articles that explain to us how to find the G-spot, rely on sex therapists to tell us what to do to spice up our sex lives, feel shame about our experiences not matching what we see on the screen, agonize over not being sexy enough or having a higher libido (forget that nobody tells a woman that certain birth control pills will cause her sex drive to literally tank overnight).
It’s Not God’s Fault
After reading that article, I laid in bed for a while feeling mad at God. Whyyyyyy did you design our bodies the way you did?! This is what I wanted to ask Him. And then I thought, “Wait: what if society has just gotten it all wrong?! What if God is up there shaking His head, mourning with His daughters because patriarchy has actually screwed us?!” (pun intended)
Tell The Truth
Here’s what I want to say: TELL THE GIRLS AND BOYS THE TRUTH. Teach them young. Take away the fear and shame. Stop tip-toeing. There are no more excuses for the secrecy, the double standards, the lack of knowledge. We have information at our fingertips. We can empower ourselves and we can pass our knowledge and confidence on to the next generation.
Girls need to know their bodies. Boys need to know girls’ bodies.
Boys need to know their bodies. Girls need to know boys’ bodies.
They need to know that sex in the media is not real sex.
That what the magazines offer is nothing but bullshit fueling the patriarchy.
That sex is so much more than a physical act. That there’s no “right way” to be intimate. That there’s a million ways to be a sexual human being.
That their bodies are good, their anatomy is normal (and unique), their experiences are valid, that their sexuality is divine.
Women, Step Up
I love men, but men will not make things better. WOMEN have to step up. We women have been complicit in our oppression. If you have ever lied about an orgasm or know someone who has, that is PROOF of being complicit, of catering to the male experience. That’s just one example of many.
Let’s start talking, being honest and standing up for ourselves. It’s time to smash our toxic sexual culture to smithereens.
Ladies, it’s time to get real so we can heal.