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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

Most of the issues relating to womb men and their sexuality stem from old conditionings from the Patriarchal religions who were too scared of the power of women and therefore set out to demonise them in every way imaginable. This demonisation of women- brainwashing of women to actually judge each other is just part of the old thinking. However, once real men and women wake up to the truth of what was forced upon us over thousands of years, then we can all be free to express ourselves totally.

Men have also been so conditioned into taking from women whatever they want and especially the concept of conquering strong women.

The one thing many men do not realise is that strong free women create strong free men.

When a man feeds a woman on all levels first and is then fed in return by the woman- then both are satisfied and strong.

The Patriarchal thinking wants to keep men and women weak and under their elite control- but it tricked the males into believing that they were superior to women.

All the while elite men enjoyed the services of those "whores" who empowered them, but they wanted to keep that secret to themselves and so demonised the sacred whore through propaganda.

August 6, 2009 - 7:03pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Wow! So many women trying to validate themselves with reasons to call other women sluts! It only goes to show the article is in fact correct! Some women clearly take delight in name-calling if they feel the other party deserves it. I would counter that if overly provocatively dressed women who are promiscuous in an unnecessarily overt way do in fact have the problems professed here, such as insecurities, STD's and the like, then they hardly need the sharp judgements and put-down's that other women seem so keen to assert. Some loving kindness might be a better approach for the 'slut', and the women who is so happy to deride someone so instantly based on her looks and behaviour at a given time. It always comes off as jealousy and insecurity on the behalf of the name-caller. Why would someone comfortable with their own appeal feel the need to put someone down with such a vile name? If these women do infact feel real pity at the sight of an overtly sexual woman, they would be less likely to call her a name than give some loving attention to her.

I believe that many of the women that responded to this article defending their rights to call other women sluts are insecure and have trouble containing their jealousy at another woman's sexuality, body, and the attention she attracts from men.

How do I know this? I've done it myself. I've felt threatened by women I've met who I perceived to be more sexy than myself, and have resorted to put-downs in a silly effort to elevate myself above the woman. But I'm hardly proud of it! As I continue to grow as an emotionally and spiritually mature woman, I choose to make myself aware of my uncomfortable feelings and behaviours, and strive to change my negative attitudes. It is NEVER helpful to put another person down or call them names, even if they truly are everything terrible you imagine. How on earth does it help anyone? I'm surprised women would defend the idea that calling certain women sluts is ok.

Being an attractive woman has garnered me much jealousy and judgement from other women, and I sense these kind of ladies the minute I enter a room, and avoid them like the plague. I believe they are the insecure ones with problems. I don't dress overtly sexily, and although married now, have only been in long-term relationships as a young adult. Nevertheless, just the ease I have with myself and other people is enough to have been called all sorts of terrible untrue things over the years . It's easy to sense when you're being judged negatively.

I think that the women who attest to vile name-calling need to have a look at themselves, and ask themselves what they get out of it. I know from the odd occasion I've succumbed to it that my honest partners have openly told me how unattractive they find the behaviour. Unfortunately it's always negative, and shows the insecurity of the name-caller.

Now for the rest of the article (the slut part was barely a chapter out of the many!), I wholeheartedly agree with the writer. It is so wonderful to finally be liberated of my earlier conceptions about how I should be sexually, to just fully be myself, and to have learned how to enjoy sex in a deep and connected way. For me, even though I consider my husband incredibly attractive, and our sex wonderful, an active imagination and fantasy life helps me 'let go' and soar into intense orgasms. Well, that and the freedom to touch myself during sex (without embarrassment) to bring things up a notch whenever I feel like it!

Needless to say, I've got a great sex-life, and my husband can't believe his luck being with someone who knows how to please herself, thus making things less confusing for him! And I don't need to feel threatened by other women that show 6 inches of cleavage in skin tight clothing and suggestive behaviour (next to my small breasts, and more modest attire). Being secure in your own sexuality and attractiveness - at least to one person - should make name-calling and put-downs a thing of the past.

Please women. Think about yourselves in an honest way. You're not fooling anyone.

August 4, 2009 - 2:04pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I completely agree with you here, and can totally relate to the personal experiences you've mentioned. Wonderful observations.

January 24, 2010 - 9:12am
(reply to Anonymous)

All I can say is Bravo, Bravo! How fantastic it is to hear from a secure woman that is enjoying herself and can admit that in the past you did the same type of things that are so negatively seen by all. You are a fantastic person and I hope that you will continue to share your happy well adjusted story and insights with us all.

August 4, 2009 - 4:21pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

My boyfriend and intimate friends would say that I am comfortable with my sexuality, although I chose to remain mostly modest in public and have only had a few partners. My choices with regard to attire and behavior are driven much more by the rape culture in the US than by how I "feel" about sex. It is easy to say a rape or sexual assault "shouldn't" be the woman's fault for how she was dressed or behaved. The reality is that many Americans, upon hearing someone was raped after a night at the bar, will think that she probably had too much to drink and was acting like a floozy around the men in the bar. No one comes out and says "she asked for it" but that is unfortunately what is implied and what the victim often feels after telling friends and family about it. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR RAPE AND ASSAULT, but I have seen it happen time and time again (I am an advocate for sexual assault victims...even their families, mothers, sisters can react this way when confronted with the truth).
My advice is to do whatever you feel comfortable doing, don't take drinks or anything else from a man, even an acquaintance, that you don't plan on having sex with, and learn how to defend yourself. When a woman you know confides that she has been raped or assaulted, don't ask her what she was wearing or why she got in the car/didn't fight harder/took the drink - just listen and ask what you can do to support her. And if you are ever in a rape or sexual assault situation, I have two words: Shoot him.

July 27, 2009 - 8:32am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I hate it when someone tries to tell me why I do or say something - especially a man - and especially when he's wrong.

A slut is a person who uses sex for approval from someone, most often without realizing this is the reason. A slut learns this is the only way that someone will love them, probably from distant or otherwise poor parenting.

A free spirit is a woman who decides for herself when and where she wants sex and isn't intimidated by social norms.

July 22, 2009 - 2:39am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

What Is Up With The Sexist Remark You Posted? "I hate it when someone tries to tell me why I do or say something - especially a man - and especially when he's wrong." We AS A Culture Mainly Acquire Advice From The Opposite Sex. I Am A Housekeeper At A Hospital. I Also Happen To Be Male. Needless To Say, My Co-workers Are Women. I've Learned So Much From Them About Myself. Don't Knock Good Advice. Thanks

September 18, 2009 - 1:42pm

As much as I respect the author of this post for his diligent research and knowledge, I have to agree with many of the women who have posted replies.

The presentation of the information creates a "something is wrong with me" attitude and I think this is incorrect and not productive.

With that said, I still believe there are many good points made in this article. Western society has created a deep-seated belief that women need to act in a certain way to be socially acceptable. As an evolving society we need to discard this perception and release the inhibitions that have been built into it. It is to our detriment to propagate this belief.

Women need to be able to feel free to discuss and explore their sexuality without the judgment of some antiquated belief system.

Why am I qualified to even express myself on this subject? My father left when I was 6 years old. I grew up in a house with my mother, 2 older sisters and a younger brother. I believe this gives me a unique insight and a tad bit more understanding than most men.

With the experience of observing my sisters, girlfriends and friends growing up, I saw a distressing trend. Most men are always trying to figure out what is going on and most women have a hard time expressing what they are feeling because of the emotional detachment most men demonstrate regarding emotional issues and the social stigmas that are associated with sexual behavior.

One of my sisters passed away at 44 a few years ago, after a very long bout with self destructive behavior. I adored her and honor her memory with the lessons I learned from her directly and from observing her, as much as it may seem appropriate, you don't need to express sympathy for my loss. She is and will forever remain my sister, I have made my peace with her passing. So, let's move on.

My sister was very attractive, yet had no self worth and a complete inability to feel she "deserved' anything. Her attitude towards sex was that it was a tool to gain what she wanted, what she wanted was emotional validation. Good idea, wrong road to head down. We were best friends growing up and did ALOT of things together until she was 20 years old and started to spend more and more time searching for her emotional validation through these practices.

The point of all of this, is that it is not healthy to search for any kind of external validation through your sexual encounters. On a baser level, your sexuality needs to be explored with a confidant and secure attitude. This is not a "something is wrong and needs to be fixed" attitude, this is an observation of the societal dysfunction that we live in and propagate to this day.

Exploring what makes you feel good should not be anyone's business but your own and possibly your partner's if you are comfortable with sharing it. Taking the time to discover what makes you feel good and what states of arousal can be achieved through this exploration can be a very private matter. The results can be extremely pleasurable when they are incorporated into a relationship with someone that understands what you are trying to achieve and respects your desires.

My wife experienced a deep state of sexual indifference for years and I made the commitment to help her and we have discovered ways to bring her to states of arousal prior to any sexual actions that make the actual act much more enjoyable for both of us. This has brought new life into every aspect of our relationship because it has rekindled the intimate bond between us. In other words, we are a happily married couple after 14 years and 4 boys. We are becoming a minority instead of the majority and I long to have more women and couples join us in the ranks of the happy people.

I feel all of the articles and studies have worth when they are presented in a non-judgmental manner. Women need to feel empowered and given tools to enhance their lives, not judged and told they need to be fixed.

I am open to comments, questions and input of any kind regarding this topic.

July 21, 2009 - 11:10am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to helpfulhubby)

Actually, I believe this article counters the "something is wrong with me" attitude. I think the author is making a point to say that there is nothing wrong with a woman's individual definition of sexuality and appropriateness.

-remaai

September 12, 2009 - 2:57pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I'm all about male feminists. But this article just doesn't feel right. It sounds like a man telling women that the way they've been going about things sexually is all wrong and that they need to change. We aren't publicly or privately sexual enough for his taste. To me, feminism is about respecting the individual. You can't generalize us all even with good intentions.

July 18, 2009 - 7:25am
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