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Women's Internalized Oppression: Undermining Your Own Sexuality

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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

I don't call a girl a slut BECAUSE she has a lot of sex. I call a girl a slut because of WHO she is having sex WITH.

February 3, 2010 - 7:17pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I'm all for any article that suggests it's a good thing for a girl to get naked and funky!

January 1, 2010 - 7:52pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

there is a need for All of us to be more GENEROUS in our experience and judgements of each other. When we say "she is a slut" or "she eats too much" or " he is just using her", we are reducing both ourselves and those we are judging. We each make moment to moment decisions; we all hope and pray for good choices and outcomes. Sometimes the choices and outcomes are ok, no one is the worst off, and sometimes we fuck up and sparks fly. Woops! Judgements from friends and family are never helpful. Unconditional acceptance and humor are good!

December 22, 2009 - 7:55am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Interesting you linked food shaming in with it. Lets face it women are constantly watching each other for signs of fertility or pregnancy, weight and food watching is linked with sex watching. A woman eating a lot could be pregnant. This is a society that encourages women to spent time together and that could be a bad move.

February 4, 2016 - 6:25am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Acceptance isn't possible, hope for tolerance. Humanity isn't perfect.

February 3, 2010 - 7:19pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I like this article for it shows me how some girls think and why they act the way they do. Yet while i was placing it to be emailed to examined more thoroughly later the name of the website made me pause for a minute. You see i found it while stumbling and the only problem is I don't think I would join this website or even go to it otherwise because its name. If i read the name before visiting i would believe it would all say men are the devil and fear the almighty uterus and even now i feel while typing this i look like an person who hates women, but really I rather hate extremist.
i also left my email and would like some personal input on whether or not i should share this article with the girls i know because well i fear they may take it too personally. (do not fear to send me an email full of your feelings)

December 21, 2009 - 4:16pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I liked this article, even tho it was written by a man ;) The part I found most interesting was about what we learn from our mothers and teach to our daughters. My own mother spoke about and displayed her sexuality only very rarely (instead of having 'the talk' she gave me a medical textbook). If we disown the right to teach our girls about sex, all they have to learn from is the media. IDK about you, but I think that's exactly the WRONG way to go about it.
On the flip side, there IS a way to be 'too' promiscuious, and that goes for both men and women. It's not so much what they wear, but the actions they take. There's no denying that there are women who will have sex with anyone with no thought to the affect it could have on themselves and others (same goes for some men of course). Frankly, if a woman is begging, most men give in, regardless of prior commitments, and some women simply lack the common decency to take a step back and weigh their decision. And it must be considered that these women actually do so because of low self-esteem.
So it's a delicate message that needs to be conveyed to our girls: be comfortable in your own skin, with your own desires, but sex is a powerful action that needs to be considered and respected. Just because we think it would be nice to shirk sexual responsibilities the way men love to do, doesn't mean we should. In the end, it comes down to healthy self-esteem and careful consideration.

December 14, 2009 - 11:34am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

bla bla bla get a grip

December 13, 2009 - 5:37pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Thank you for this article! I have felt bad about my sexuality multiple times because I feel like I like sex a lot. I have worked on it a bit and I really like where I am sexually, now. This article just kind of validated what I've been thinking for a while. :)
Thanks!

December 9, 2009 - 7:20am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I've had my go with friends, both male and female friends, And my view of sex is the same I have for Sports. I enjoy having sex with someone in the same fashion I enjoy a tennis match with a friend. It brings us closer, is just another way of being friends, of passing time, of getting to know each other.
I am not saying everybody should see it as I see it, but yes feel a bit more freely about it. You are not being a slut, it's not about saying yes to whoever takes of her/his shirt and glance at you wondering. It's about saying yes to what you feel like doing.
We are social sexual beings. Sexuality is a trait of our social behaviour.

And about that thing a guy has over women who has slept around too much: I don't like this, because it comes from an idea and sense of owning a person you love. Yes it's true that guys will think less of you, and will be bothered by the fact. But you also deal with the girls they've been with, don't you? I do think that guys out there won't mind, and with a sex revolution, every day less and less people will

December 2, 2009 - 2:46pm
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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.

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