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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 (reply to Anonymous)

This is a wonderful thing to tell children. I wish my mother would have been open enough to tell me that sex can be beautiful when shared between loving partners, rather than leading me to believe that it is always sinful.

August 19, 2009 - 3:53pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Really can't believe this article. Has it occurred to you that lots of the same women who look at a braless drunken hookup and think the guy is just as much of a "slut" as the girl? Mindless pointless promiscuity is gross. That's it, man or woman, some of us just think it's stupid, dangerous, and unfulfilling. You have to deal with that just like we have to deal with being responsible while having to listen to everyone around us complain about how they got the clap.

July 4, 2009 - 11:06am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Actually, you can see a real dichotomy in our society here. A women who has sex with lots of men is called a "slut," but a man who has sex with lots of women is called a "stud." Right there is the problem. What you are saying is that it is wrong for people, but I suspect you really mean women in particular, to enjoy sex outside of a relationship. I'm not sure what "Mindless pointless promiscuity" is supposed to be. Are you suggesting any sex outside of a relationship is pointless? or mindless? So what is the "point" of sex in a steady relationship?

-remaai

September 12, 2009 - 2:30pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Gross or not, we females have just as much of a right to be willingly promiscuous as men and it shouldn't be simply because the man tricked us into it or made us feel obligated because he paid for dinner. As long as you practice safe sex then you should be okay.
Great article!

July 22, 2009 - 7:38am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Though I must include that women and men who knowingly sleep with other people's partners are malicious and I can't begin to understand how someone could knowingly hurt another person like that. I've been cheated on and it's a pain that I would never wish on another person.

July 22, 2009 - 7:40am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Thanks for that irrelevant and self-pitying anecdote.

August 13, 2010 - 7:18am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

What does that have to do with anything?

August 13, 2009 - 2:25pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Well said.

All the women I know who act sexy in public and have a lot of sex with random strangers are very insecure people - unhappy with their entire life including their sexuality. I'm a woman and I do call people (women and men) sluts if they sleep around - I do that because it's true and frankly it's disgusting.
Why do so many people feel the need to write articles telling women what to think and do?!

July 16, 2009 - 3:20am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I completely disagree.

SOME of the women who act sexy in public and have a lot of sex with random strangers are insecure, and some are not. There are women who act sexy in public because it is their own (individual) true nature to do so, and they are completely confident and secure. This article is aimed at those women, to tell them that it is perfectly OK, to counter the damaging critisism from people like you.

If you find people who sleep around disgusting, then that is YOUR issue, not theirs. Let them live their lives and stop trying to take their joy away from them.

I'm a man, and I'm glad to say that I've helped some women get over their fears of being judged, where they subsequently went on to sleep around a bit, just like they really wanted to. They were really happy about it afterwards :)

For the record, I also recognize that there are other women who would find it truly unnatural to sleep around a lot. And that is perfectly fine as well :)

August 23, 2009 - 3:17am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

He's not telling us what to think and do. He's simply telling us not to be afraid to act on our feelings. I enjoy sex as much as a man (I believe that all women can have this pleasure if we simply allow ourselves to) and I've given up on trying to fit into whatever other women have deemed the acceptable amount of sex to have and how much I should enjoy it. I LOVE sex! and there's nothing wrong with that! That's all that this author is trying to get across, don't be afraid to love sex, don't be afraid to love your body and think that you're sexy! You don't have to sleep with random strangers to enjoy sex, he's not saying that we have to throw ourselves at men, even with our husbands and boyfriends, don't be afraid to do what YOU want to do in bed to make sure that you get off. He's not trying to get girls to be promiscuous, just to get us to quit holding back in bed to make sure that our partner gets all the pleasure, we deserve to enjoy sex and he's encouraging us to make sure that we get all the pleasure we can out of sex rather than concentrating on the man's needs or worrying about not being sexy enough.

July 22, 2009 - 7:49am
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