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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

This is one of the best articles that I have ever read. At the end it says that it will take a few changes for a woman to be able to understand, accept, & apply this perspective, but I am going to start working on it right now. I have been wanting to dress in lingerie for my boyfriend for a while now. We have been dating for 6 months & I decided I would do it for his birthday. I went out found something hot, bought it, & got too shy to do it...& that is not normal for me because I am a very out going person. I'm only 24 & I live in a college town, where my friends & I dress hot & go out a couple night a week, so I'm not afraid to look hot & go be social, but actually being so vulnerable...to a guy I actually like...just made me doubt myself. After reading this article I felt very empowered...I think this weekend I'm going to try that sexy outfit! :)

October 21, 2009 - 6:08pm

The don't make much provocative clothing for men....

October 16, 2009 - 12:48pm

Beautiful article. Very true about our world. Every woman needs to acknowledge these things and apply solutions. What is the truth and what we are told are two different things that tend to skew together. I'm very happy to say that that your advice and information is something I discovered years ago and has changed my life. I'm in love with my sexuality haha. I'm 23 and I feel as though I have the sexuality of a woman of mature age; it seems like it takes that long enough to get to a stage when we have the most awareness and comfort in sexuality and oppose the social ideals. Honestly, being around less woman has helped and given me more personal time to work on "issues".
Really though, All Women Should Masturbate With An Early Start. That'll do the trick! It's easy for men to discover there bodies because it's right there. Someone needs to teach a little more on female arousal in sex education! I don't recall learning the importance of that, but I sure learned what an erection was. Know what your body loves to feel! My private time brings a lot to my sexy time with anyone I choose and more so when I have an exclusive partner. I'm able to be straight forward with what I want, what I can do and what gets me off, and the confidence in openness is quite enjoyable. Any partner is grateful for the sexual creature I am and how my directness will give him an ego boost because he knows exactly how he's "useful and needed" to me.
I think there are two different kinds of "sluts". There are the woman who are struggling with these conformities , the woman who don't wuite understand where they fit in within the sexual world and appear to be looking for attentive feelings in general. Then there are the woman who are just plainly comfortable and knowledgeable about their own sexuality but may be hard to distinguish from the sluts that are just hurting themselves. Sad I say. Make a change. Be your own sexy self. It's okay to take what you want lady! You're not going to overdo it because you sure are under doing it. Everybody wins when a woman embraces herself and gives herself the extra love that is pure when it comes from only her own self.
One thing I've noticed, men don't notice our physical flaws until we point them out. Well, maybe it's a good idea to not point them out to ourselves! They really don't matter or make happiness. The day these double standards become okay to go by and not refuse, is the day men have received their own that impairs them, which would be much harsher and longer by the way. Of course I'm not looking to have anyone go through these things. I intend to be a "real" example.
Stand up for this issue, yourself, and each other! I don't need a man to make my body feel good because I'm in love with it on my own. God or whatever you think wants us to love ourselves how we are, maybe you should try that and see what happens. Answers follow. I worked hard to be in love with myself the way I am. I deserve it. You do too.

October 16, 2009 - 12:38pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

im a women that believes in equality and the "terms" discussed are absolutely incorrect. this is highly stereotypical and does not express how all women percieve things..times are changing and i suggest that you change with them!

October 10, 2009 - 2:17am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Well this is stupid. I’m all for woman to embrace their sexuality and openly at that. But there is a difference between being comfortable and assertive with your sexuality and throwing yourself at everything with a cock. As a woman, when I see another woman obviously throwing herself at anything male in a room, I don't necessarily think "SLUT!" My thoughts more border on "Well that girl must have low self esteem."
As far as it goes, I agree that a lot of women are guilty of "girl on girl crime". I’m sure more then just a few of us has judged a girl in the past, maybe thinking something like “Oh she must be a slut". However, you make it sound like all women should be throwing themselves at men, just because we can. I personally am proud of my sexuality, however I wouldn't go braless and throw myself all over some ugly guy, just because I have a right to be a sexual being. I think this is a matter of being sexually proud, but not losing your self respect.
All in all this article is pointless and stupid. Sorry.

October 1, 2009 - 7:18am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Im going to be honest... i only read the beginning 2 paragraphs however, "sluts" are not women who enjoy sex... they are women who exploit it to feel better about themselves.
Please realize that this is coming from someone who enjoys sex without being in love and is tired of all the SLUTS giving me a bad name.

September 29, 2009 - 9:06am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have read many comments to this article about the article not being productive, the author is calling women "sluts", he did not cover all the angles, he is making unsupported generalizations and so on. However, how can anyone improver anything if they do not examine and find faults? The author had to be general and say "most" women. Would you prefer if he said "all" women? There are many people who like this article and many who don't (see i was being general because i do not know every person who likes or dislikes the article). I will not go any deeper because i have much more to say about some comments but i will say this. There is some woman out there, that hates the fact that a woman she doesn't know is trying to be sexier than her; there is a woman out there that see's another woman walking down the road in skin tight clothes and has to say something about it; there is definitely a woman out there that this article can help by making her think about the things she says about other women -HONESTLY, no woman has ever felt bad about wearing a sexy black dress or whatever color it is and see a woman look at her as if she smelt some rotten eggs? Honestly, any woman or man that has some major problem with this article is in denial or as i call it, thick headed. Open your eyes and see message or re-evaluation. You either know someone that do or have done some of the things mentioned in the article or you yourself have done or currently doing it.

Before you get mad and say how dare i or how dare the author imply such things, examine you life; look at the things you have said and done and think about how you felt; and think about how you felt when others was saying it.

September 18, 2009 - 12:17pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I think it is okay for us woman to express ourselves in any way we like, even if it means pooping on each others chests. Its all about finding out what truly satisfies you as a woman, whether it be missionary sex or a 25 man gang bang. Be free spirits and think for yourself sisters...

September 13, 2009 - 2:31am
(reply to Anonymous)

Do whatever you feel like doing. My point is that you should not feel like you are required to dress any certain way in order to "catch" a man. That is true freedom. Freedom is being able to be with someone, having connected with your minds, and then your bodies, if that is both your choices. When you become my age, you have usually experienced and experimented with many different ways of attracting men and having sex. Yes, be free, but don't feel pressured by society. Truly make it your own choice. Make sure you are comfortable. Be yourself, and most importantly, choose to be safe. You are truly choosing between life and death.

September 13, 2009 - 11:29am

To me, feeling sexy is a state of mind, not a certain way of dressing. Sometimes, I feel sexiest in a very conservative outfit. I don't feel that women should have to show off their bodies in order to attract a man. That can be saved for private moments.

September 12, 2009 - 6:05pm
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