The Evils of Female Sexuality! (Or, We All Want Sex, So Stop Slut-Shaming!)

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The question I get asked most about female sexuality — is it normal?  This question may be applied to a particular activity, fantasy, preference, feeling or desire.  What fascinates me about this is that the question needs to be asked in the first place!

It once again comes back to the aspect of guilt that shrouds so many of our sexual attitudes.  I believe that it’s because of poor education about sex, so let’s look at this concept of ‘normal’ female sexuality.

What constitutes ‘normal’ in modern society?  Is it heterosexual sex?  Is it the missionary position?  Is it the ‘Saturday night special’ between married couples?  It’s like trying to classify a normal family these days.  How can we when diversity is so widespread?

We have to have a ‘norm’ to judge things by, even if only so that we can see how far from it we’ve deviated!  But let’s be clear on its purpose and not measure ourselves, or our own success rates, by what everyone else appears to be doing.  For a start, none of us really knows what goes on behind closed bedroom doors.  Our quietest neighbors may be the raunchiest and the ones we suspect of having wild times may be deadly dull!

When I’m continually asked if things are normal, I say the best criteria are these: Does it feel right for you? Is is harmful to you? Is it harmful to others? Is everybody involved a willing participant?

Sex Starts in the Mind

This is true on a number of levels.  First, there has to be the original turn-on, which can be a thought, a sight, a person, a picture, almost anything.  The physical reaction comes after the mind engages into gear, just as we act in reflex if we touch something hot by pulling the hand away in a split second.

In the same way, a man may have a physical reaction, that is, an erection, to seeing a beautiful woman — but this happens a split second after his mind registers that this is ‘exciting’.

Conversely, if sex is not in the mind, and if there is no mental stimulation, either sex is very mechanical or the body may not perform at all, as in the case of ‘distraction’ causing sexual dysfunction.  Even during the sex act, mental imagery is important to the continuation of stimulation.  Most people use fantasy as a common method of arousal and for maintaining interest during sex play and intercourse.  I’m not suggesting that being with a loving partner is insufficient, only that the mind ultimately controls sexual arousal, behavior and satisfaction.

female sexuality

Female Sexuality Begins In The Mind

This becomes clearer when we look at the role of emotion in sexual exchange.  Many men, and some women, maintain that emotional involvement is unnecessary for sexual fulfillment.  In other words, you don’t have to be in love to enjoy sex fully with someone.  If we look at what happens when there is emotion present, the difference is immediately apparent.  Sex then becomes multi-dimensional.

It engages the mind, the body and the heart, thus transforming into a more complex, and ultimately more fulfilling experience.

However, it can work against some lovers who find that the presence of emotion creates anxieties that are absent when it’s just sex alone.  For example, some men who suffer from impotence tell me that when they’re with a partner they are not in love with they have no problems.  Some men and women suffer from a variety of behavioral disorders when they feel emotionally vulnerable during or after sex.  This can manifest as coldness and distance straight after sex or, in more severe cases, quarreling and violence the next day.

Emotion, of course, is not only love.  There can be various forms of anxiety associated with sexual feelings, such as emotional vulnerability, fear of failure, performance anxiety, psychological blockages, past hurts, lack of trust, relationship issues.  Because we are human beings and not machines, we cannot discard the armory of all our feelings and frailties when we enter the sexual arena, no matter how turned-on we are.

Are Sex and Love the Same?

Arguments abound on this subject.  Some people believe that women think of sex and love as synonymous while to men they’re totally separate.  Again, that’s too simplistic.

I’m firmly convinced that women can feel sexual urges and desires that are not tied in with love or commitment.  Those who say they can’t have sex without becoming emotionally involved have simply been socialized or moralized to believe that.  Of course a woman can have a one-night stand and then walk away.  The difference between men and women on this issue may be that female sexuality is more introverted and therefore needs to be nurtured, while male sexuality is more overt and is more readily available.  In other words, biologically, yes, men and women are different.  Emotionally, I’m not so sure.  It’s a well-known belief that men will screw any woman whether they care for her or not, but this is discounting the fact that men also have a deep need for warmth, affection and intimacy.  There are also millions of men who are faithful and committed to long-term relationships.

Having said all that, I must confess to the belief that sex and love are quite separate.  When the two come together, you have something that is beautiful and special, but it’s quite possible and quite normal for men and women to experience sexual feelings without love and love without sexual feelings.  It’s very restricting to insist that the one cannot exist without the other.

That’s why I totally accept the concept that it is possible to still love one person and be unfaithful with another.  More men than women will use this as a defense, and I’m not arguing the morals of either side, but it does happen and the sex of adultery can be totally separated from the love of the marriage.

To sum up, sexual feelings are tied up with physical urges, erotic thoughts, orgasmic release, playfulness and sensuality.  Love is a complex, multi-dimensional emotion that involves a lot more than the senses and the physical body.  Even the most loving couples are capable of ‘having sex’ as against ‘making love’.  Both are acceptable and pleasurable ways to express the relationship.

Being Sexual

Being sexual is more about being human than any particular behavior or activity.

We are born sexual, although we don’t usually start to perform sexually till our teens, or even later.  Therefore, female sexuality is natural, desirable and always pleasurable.  It is only the distortions of female sexuality, such as child abuse, incest, rape, and the adult power games and guilt trips which cause pain and a lack of pleasure in sex.  Outdated Victorian moral ethics still reign over many of our attitudes and make us feel guilty for enjoying sex.  This is a more common problem than we might like to admit and it affects the most ‘normal’ of us.  Perhaps deviant sexual behavior is a backlash to these straight-laced values.

I think it’s important to say here that I’m a very conservative, traditional and moral person, BUT I hope I’m not self-righteous and patronizing.
A centered, secure person does not need to be threatened by what other people do in bed.  Frankly, I’m not interested, except in a clinical way, and out of mild curiosity in comparison with what I like myself.

I’m not suggesting that we should have a free-for-all society when it comes to sex, but I see so many men and women suffering unnecessarily because they can’t relax and enjoy what should be a natural, pleasurable activity — non-orgasmic women, sexually dysfunctional men, people with gender confusion, performance anxiety, addictive behaviors and so on.

female sexuality

Female Sexuality

Sexual energy is linked to general creative energy.  That’s why celibate people, who know the secret of channeling the power of sexual energy into other forms of activity, don’t need to feel deprived or frustrated.  In the throwaway society that we live in, relationships are just as disposable as anything else, and so most of us will be in and out of them over a period of a lifetime.  Also, with the advent of AIDS, (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) more people are choosing a celibate life, either temporarily or permanently.  So, I think two things need to happen.  First, we need to learn to look after ourselves sexually and not feel that sex is only okay with a partner.  Secondly, we need to realize that sexual outlets do not only have to come in the form of genital satisfaction and/or orgasm — there are many ways in which to release sexual energy creatively.

Sex is Serious Business!

Why? Sex should first and foremost be fun.  There is a natural intensity about sex, particularly when there are strong emotions present, but levity, laughter and lightheartedness need not be discarded.

Sex doesn’t always have to be the old ‘in-out’.  There’s massage and stroking and tenderness and tickling, which can all be part of foreplay of the sex act, or simply little extras.  One of the biggest complaints I get from women about their male partners is that there’s not enough time taken.  It’s probably better to spend one whole afternoon or evening in bed love-making once a week than to have ‘quickies’ three or four times.

But, most of all, enjoy each other — physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Sex is a Private Matter

Yes, it is in terms of feelings, and what you do in bed with your chosen partner.  However, as an activity, a state of mind and a human characteristic, it belongs to us all.  Why on earth should it be talked about in veiled terms and whispered tones, as if it’s something to be ashamed of?

It seems to me that people are divided into talkers and non-talkers about sex, with nothing in between.  There are the women who love dissecting their sex lives, airing their husbands’ shortcomings and laughing about funny things that happen in bed.  Then, of course, we have the famous male locker-room conversation, which generally revolves around real or imaginary conquests, extraordinary feats in the bedroom and comparing equipment!  The sad thing is that very few people talk about sex in a sensitive way.  I was at a women’s party recently and the subject got round to sex.  Some brave soul suggested that we tell each other about our first time.  We went round the circle and each told her story.  We were all screeching with laughter at the recounting of the fumbling and the letdown, but no-one spoke of the fear, nor the anxiety, nor the expectations and disappointment.  It’s as if the topic was safe to share as long as it stayed humorous.

The main arena in which sex should not be considered ‘private’ is within a marriage, or other long-term relationship.

Female Sexuality

Female Sexuality

No, sex is not private overall.  It is on our billboards, in our advertising, in all forms of entertainment; it is, and should be, part of our daily lives and what we understand to be love, humanity and our relationship with others.  If we can do something, we can talk about it.  While I’m not keen on seeing tampons and condoms advertised on my television night after night, I know that it’s only because I was taught by the nuns at school that tampons were somehow shameful, that they could take away your virginity or make you promiscuous.  Condoms were, of course, the work of the devil because they encouraged sex outside the sanctity of marriage.  Now I know that tampons are a clean and efficient way to deal with a biological function, and condoms are a device for preventing unwanted pregnancy and ensuring safe sex.  Nothing more or less than that.

Knowledge is power and education breaks down ignorance, so I say, let’s talk about all these ‘delicate’ subjects even more.  That’s why I present a sex advice show.  I’m quite amazed at the startling beliefs that people hold, and which they air on my show.  For instance, a man rang to ask me if he could catch his wife’s cervical cancer from having sex with her!

The show aims to present information in a sensitive, yet entertaining way but, of course, I press a lot of buttons and anger people.  A woman in one of my classes said that she never listens to the show because ‘that type of program only encourages idiots’.  I wonder how she could make such a judgement without listening.

I heard a good saying recently which seems appropriate to this discussion.

We have only two enemies — ‘that which we fear and that which we deny’.

To be continued…


 

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