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Women's Internalized Oppression: Undermining Your Own Sexuality

By Expert
 
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"Slut!"

Like children telling stories about a scary old man, women criticize each other's sexuality - from a safe distance.

"Slut!"

It's hit and run.

"Slut" is what women call a woman who is "too" sexual. It's someone who can enjoy sex without being in love. Someone who admits she enjoys sex more than a woman "should." In other words, it's a woman who can enjoy sex the way only men are supposed to be able to.

"Look at her, all over him. Is she even wearing a bra? God, anyone can tell what's on her mind...what is she, a nympho?"

But there are costs to this sisterly vigilance. Aware that others will be judging them, it makes women wonder if they're withholding their sexuality "enough." Or it makes them proud that they do. Either way, it says that repressing yourself is an important part of sexuality and relationships. And that's a destructive idea.

Women are caught in a historical collision between the sexual values of the past and future. Religion, the media and our families are sending out contradictory messages about sexuality that are driving women crazy.

Consider: Today's woman is supposed to be sexy, but not too sexy. She's supposed to be responsive enough to validate her partner, but not too aggressive or hard to please. Sexual, but not lusty. Not frigid, but not quite red hot. Her sexuality should express love, not lust.

In short, she has to be sexual in just the right way, regardless of her actual feelings or needs. To conform, to be an acceptable female, women have to carefully modulate, and therefore undermine, their own sexuality.

Monitoring, labeling and criticizing other women are only a few of the many ways that women sabotage their own sexuality. Let's look at several others; do you have a voice in your head saying these or similar self-destructive things?

* "Distrust lust; keep your privates private."

"My mother taught me not to dress too sexy," says one dynamic woman I know, "because I shouldn't attract too much attention." For years she followed this code, even as an adult.

Add a Comment113 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Wow I can't believe my comment regarding what a chauvinist Dr.Klien is got deleted.. It just proves as evidence to my point. Wouldn't want anyone questioning his motives right? "it's a woman who can enjoy sex the way only men are supposed to be able to". Please explain to us Dr. Klien what brings you to this observation? What kind of subconscious behaviors do you think you are renforcing in both men and women by saying this? And from those subconscious behaviors, how do you think this affects empowering woman?
Even in the event that you are trying to connect with the thoughts of your reader, your neglecting your other readers, the men, the boyfriends, the husbands, the sons. You're just repeating a vicious cycle, and have no place to be writing on empowering women or anyone for that matter. Your views are simplistic and do not have a large enough scope to realistically be writing on such matters.

March 17, 2010 - 11:41am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Could you please include the option to put the whole article on a single page. I find it annoying having to stop reading and click to a new html page.

A print option would be adequate.

The first page is interesting. Thanks!

March 15, 2010 - 9:29am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Thank you for a delightful article. I am a man who is dating a woman who is all the things this article says she ought to be. She loves sex and her sexuality and was taught by her delightful mom that sex is a good thing and she out to enjoy it and God do we ever!! This is great support and I'm sending her a copy for sure.

March 12, 2010 - 9:04pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Thank you so much! Just because we love sex has nothing to do with being a slut! If you ask a man to take his pants off he will! LOL

March 11, 2010 - 5:25pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

i dont agree, i think slut is what women call other peers than has a general behavior or appearance that is made to only appease men. for example, last night i went to the movies and this young woman was wearing high heals and no stockings. its winter and i live in boston. there was no way she was doing this for herself. she was giving herself to the man she was with.

I think the whole women judge other women that are too sexual is a generalization so wast it makes no sense. a beautiful sensual woman can be appreciated, can make us jealous (for not being like that ourselves or for the attention she's getting), put us in awe. a woman that is doing it to get mens attention is sad, even repulsive after all the work women have done to be seen as something other than an object! That's what angers me, the lack of respect they have for themselves, makes men fall back on generalization like the one above. sexual women act easy, women who are not, unjustly hate them.

March 8, 2010 - 11:53am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I think there is a scary overlooked fact about women that feminists are refusing to recognize. Women are the oppressors and its women who make each other afraid of their own bodies and sexuality. I think a lot of women do self destructive things to themselves to avoid other womens aggression, i think they are afraid to look at men incase other women are watching so thats why they do a side glance. Women may be very primitive in terms of reproductive competition to the point they want all over women to be over weight, in bad health and so emotionally and mentally broken they say sorry everytime they speak, walk with their head down and under sell their achievements. Most men have no idea whats going on.

February 4, 2016 - 6:21am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

This made me think about how i look at women. I have always loved women, i never thought girls were gross at anytime in my life. i was always taught at a young age women should be respectedI
My mother told me she was gay when i was 7. At the time i felt no effect by it because she was my mommy and would still take care of me. i'm 20 now and through the years i saw many women come and go through her life as well as mine and the whole time she was a mother, a lover and a woman who enjoyed her sexuality. I love her with all my heart, and she taught me to respect and enjoy sex as a shared experience. This article was very perceptive, i enjoyed and will shared the knowledge.

male perspective

February 28, 2010 - 2:46pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for sharing your valuable male perspective! Very insightful and I enjoyed reading (and thinking about) the differences in female sexuality from another's vantage point.

February 28, 2010 - 8:34pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

That's probably the best article of your blog. Its very informative. Thanks for sharing such a nice and informative article.

February 10, 2010 - 12:22pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Nice article. Yet, regardless of my consciousness of all these oppressions you mention, with a partner that is not responsive enough, many of these "habits" come back... This makes me angry, and that anger finds its way to our bedroom. The most progressive men apprear to be the worst: They suggest I should take control -as if it is something you can "simply do". They suggest I should not ignore "my responsibility" and so forth.
So, I would love a follow up on some coping strategies...

February 9, 2010 - 5:32am
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