Facebook Pixel

Women's Internalized Oppression: Undermining Your Own Sexuality

By Expert
 
Rate This

"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

This is one of the best articles I have read. Thank you so much! I would love a follow-up one that gives more specific ideas about how a woman can embrace her sexuality.

-K.

June 15, 2009 - 12:08pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

A woman could embrace her sexuality by being herself, by putting effort in personal development and not giving credential to all the myths that circle mass media. But for that is a lot of work with someone's self.

a male opinion,
v

September 12, 2009 - 5:32am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

There are so many myths about female sexuality and what it means to be a sexy woman. Thank you for a though provoking article. I too think personal development can help. I found a place for some down to earth practical information about pleasure, female orgasm and friendship between men and women. I've gotten a freedom from learning things at this website ( welcomed.com ) that have made me feel sexier and more fun in and out of the bedroom. So yes personal development, but with fun and pleasure at the heart of it, not work.

a female opinion,
r

October 6, 2009 - 11:03pm
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Sexual Health

Get Email Updates

Resource Centers

Related Checklists

Sexual Health Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.

ASK

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!