The Slippery Slope

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Sexualized, demonized, and disempowered: how can women fight back?

When it comes to sex and sexuality it’s a well known fact to those of us unfortunate enough to identify as female that women can’t win.

We’re over-sexualized, but still not sexy enough. We’re frigid sluts. We’re whores, demonized for not ‘closing out legs’ and teases, admonished for not ‘putting out’. There is absolutely no way a woman can meet the conflicting expectations and judgements of our patriarchal society, and that’s exactly how they like it.

What better way is there to disempower women than to give them no way to fight back? No matter what we do, we are satisfying some underlying belief about the way ‘all women’ behave. Now, imagine we live in a purely puritanical society; where women are taught to be ‘pure’ and prudish, and are blamed and shamed for being any more sexual than toadstool as they lay back to meet the needs of their husbands, creating their 15th child because birth control is for filthy wenches who have the audacity to actually enjoy sex. In this scenario, at least women have some means of fighting back. Allowing yourself to be a sexual being and embracing, enjoying and taking control of your sex life would feel like a victory in such a society. And the same goes for a hyper-sexual society where all women are expected to be ravenous, super sexy nymphomaniacs. At least then the refusal to be sex-hungry animal would give a woman a sense that she was fighting back against the oppressive expectations placed on her gender.

But here, in the 21st century, we’re stuck between two equally wrong assumptions about women and sex.

Society believes fighting back against puritanical beliefs equates to embracing the sexual objectification of women, and vice versa. We’re still complying with patriarchal expectations, either by allowing ourselves to be seen as sex objects by the open-mouthed collective of the superiority-complexed opposite gender, or by becoming a perfect, dignified woman by dismissing all shameful acts sexuality that might lose us the respect of our protectors and providers. Whether we stay chaste; dry in every sense of the word, or are soaked head-to-toe in the ocean of drool that seems to flow towards our lady-parts, we are ticking at least one of the boxes for ‘what women are and should be according to the superior gender’.

Who can blame women for being confused and indecisive about their stance and opinion on sex? No matter what we do we are both conforming and rebelling in a way that leaves us judged, ridiculed, and considered to have ‘submitted’ to the will of a social hierarchy that hates us.  Even amongst feminists we see these impossible expectations crushing and contorting a woman’s sense of empowerment and ownership of herself.  

Pro-sex feminists will tell you you’re being controlled by the evil patriarchy, who refuse to allow you to embrace your sexuality, damning you to a life of celibacy that destroys your womanhood – because of course sex is a must if you’re going to be a real woman. On the flip-side, anti-sex feminists will slut-shame you and accuse you of belittling our entire gender by gallivanting about, flaunting your own objectification purely for the benefit of our male overlords.

But you know what? Regardless of the ridiculous barrage of bullshit that comes from either side of the argument on female sexuality, women are, for the most part, true to themselves. When you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, you tend to choose the option you actually want. So no matter the sexual choices of a woman, don’t consider her to be ‘conforming’ to any standard or belief, because in all honesty, women are going to do what they want. It might take a bit of time to actually know what you want, what with all the mixed signals, but once you do know – go for it!

The only way women can fully take control of their sexuality is to completely ignore the damning implications of what we do with ourselves and embrace our sexuality for what it is – our sexuality.