Messages We Receive about our Sexuality:
- Be sexy, but not sexual
- Don't initiate sex; don't be too aggressive (it's a turn off!)
- Be sexually available, and expect little or nothing in return
- Women should primarily concern themselves with attracting a man
- The game is to be pursued; “catch” a man's eye and attention
- Act like you do not want to have sex; be coy; say “no”
- You are the “gatekeeper” to sex
Can you think of more?
From an early age, we are bombarded by subtle and not-so-subtle messages that are contradictory; as sexual beings, woman must be, “sexy and innocent”, “virginal and experienced”. (Source: Jean Kilbourne, Killing us Softly 4).
What is the cumulative impact of these messages on our sexuality? Even if we intellectually dismiss these messages, and believe we are stronger than societal pressures to act like “a lady in the street, but a freak in the bed” (to quote a popular song), these mixed messages are no doubt soaking into the subconscious of many young girls and women.
Just conduct a quick search on EmpowHER, and you will find numerous questions from concerned women regarding the lack of sexual response from their male partner, and these girls and women want to know why their male partner has “lost interest” in them sexually. Conclusions are automatically jumped to: “am I not sexy enough?” “what is wrong with my appearance?”. “He says he is tired, but men always want sex, right?!”
Interestingly, men also receive harmful messages regarding their sexuality:
- Men either always want sex, are in the mood or are thinking about it
- Men are expected to be sexually experienced
- Men are expected to initiate sex
The messages men receive are not as “contradictory” as women's (how to be virginal and sexually experienced at the same time, for example), but their messages are no less damaging.
It is difficult to have an authentic relationship--to be vulnerable, empathetic, compassionate and real--when we must fit into these restrictive definitions.