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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 agree with all the comments made about women during sex and the unreasonable things they do (or don't do). But to say that women should have sex when they need it with whomever they want regardless of the circumstance I feel is a little ignorant. Yes, it's true that women are stuck between the ideals of the past and the future--but so are men. That's what makes it hard. There are men out there that don't want a woman who has slept around a lot, and sadly, they are probably the men that you'd want to spend the rest of your life with. It doesn't make sense. You'd think a man would want a woman with experience, but if she sleeps with multiple partners, subconsciously (or consciously) men think she is disease or something. Truthfully, if she's a smart woman, she probably isn't at all. But these are the voices of the past speaking. So, yes, women are nasty and judge women who get more action than them; this is women's jealous nature. But at the same time, most women feel the pressure of needing to please a future permanent partner.

November 29, 2009 - 11:10am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I can't believe ANYONE would think today's women are withholding their sexuality. Do you get out......ever? What a bunch of liberal gibberish. By the way, I'm a slut, the difference is that I don't act on my slutty tendencies in front of just anyone.

November 25, 2009 - 9:48pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Read the book "The Ethical Slut", It is very interesting and deals with a lot of what is mentioned in this article.

November 21, 2009 - 3:16pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

women don't have to worry there little heads about these things

November 16, 2009 - 5:07pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I disagree. A "slut" by my definition is not a woman who sleeps with men without an emotional commitment, a "slut" is a woman who sleeps around with a lot of men.

November 5, 2009 - 4:09pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Thank you for sharing this link anonymous. It certainly adds to this discussion....

October 31, 2009 - 10:29am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

This article reminded me of another one that I found outstanding at speaking to women and the negative sexual stereotypes society uses-

When Is A Woman Used- When A Woman Has Had Sex Is She Now "Damaged Goods?" http://www.holisticwisdom.com/women-used-damaged-goods.htm

October 31, 2009 - 10:18am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I didn't read through all the comments, but I would like to say to all the women who have "a problem" with this article, to understand that this was a very short look at female sexuality. As we are diverse in many ways, there is no possible way the author could have taken every view point into account here. It certainly didn't describe me very well, because I think I belong to the pseudo-male-women, who feel quilt for not wanting enough and not being more slutty, rather than those who feel quilt for wanting too much. That doesn't mean that I didn't get anything out of it. It certainly made me think, and it's not easy for me to admit, because I like to think there's nothing wrong with my sexuality but it's MEN's fault that they can't turn me on... Because I want to be swept off my feet, as it was put in the article. So I'm basically approaching the matter from two opposite ends that never meet in the middle. XD

Btw, I don't usually call women sluts, (and when I do, my definition is very different) but I can criticise them for being uptight and too hung up on morals. So yes, I too feel the need to define how women should be sexually to be "right".

I think this was a great article, and I would certainly want to read more from this fellow.

October 30, 2009 - 6:28pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I am a woman who was sexually abused by her mother. My mother was a stripper and used sex to control my brother and me. When I was 1 I used to have s and m fantasies. I have been able to always give myself an orgasm in a couple of minutes. Do I feel sexy? I was marketed as such. Not a good thing, at all. I was far too sexual through my youth. Not my fault. It's taken me years to define my own self image. The problem with women is society owns our sexuality. We are judged constantly by our behaviour and dress. But to do with being sexy... Maybe too much sexuality is just as bad as repressed desire. It can run rampant and overtly sexual behaviour can destroy relationships. Sex can be used as a weapon, or as an act of expression of love. But it's power, and power can corrupt. My parent's overt sexuality drove them both insane. After 30 years, I am finally in control of mine. Remember, too much of a good thing is usually a bad thing. TV, food, drugs, and sex. Don't push people with what they are not comfortable with. Everyone has their own limits.

October 30, 2009 - 4:48pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

This is a great article... Nice to meet you (at least virtually) :)

October 28, 2009 - 6:54am
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