Taboo: Women’s Sexuality

From an incredibly young age, girls are made aware of their sexuality.

* Womxn, rather than women, is an inclusive term used by some that allows individuals to take ownership over their identity, and not to be defined by male language.

Without even understanding our own relationship with it and how it may present itself yet, we are instructed to behave in specific ways that give us a certain moral character. If you are a girl or womxn it’s very likely that you’ve been called a derogatory name. It’s even more likely that that name related to something sexual. Slut. Loose. Whore. Thot.

The word ‘slut’ is an old one – a person who has a lot of sexual partners. These words were created by a society that could not stand to see a womxn do as she pleases with her body. In times where anything even slightly sexual is left undiscussed, left a mystery that happens between a man and a woman in their marital bed and only for the purpose of reproducing, a woman who is independent and chooses what she wants to do with her body is a threat to the status quo.

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We’re told we can’t go anywhere “dressed like that”. We’re taught that our bodies are sites for inappropriate attention. This even happens in schools when young girls are told to keep their skirts a certain length or sent home from school if they’re dressed in ‘inappropriate’ clothing, essentially saying that girls dressed in any way they want to be is distracting to boys.

Those of us who have been called it know very well that the context is never a positive one. Too liberal is your opinions on sex? Slut. Dress in ‘provocative’ ways? Must be loose. Enjoy sex? Whore. You’re a person who’s never even had any sexual encounters? Prude. You don’t want to have sex with this random man? Prude. Not into certain types of sex? Prude. If you’re a woman then the world as we know it views your sexuality in two extremes: slut or prude. One never wins.

As is true in discussions about rape culture, a womxn’s sexuality is highly policed by the patriarchal society we live in. We’re instructed to be modest, that our way of dressing or our behaviour determines how others treat us with respect or not. The way that womxn dress, their sexual history, what sort of relationships they may have, whether she’s a sex worker; womxn are shamed for most of the decisions that they make for their own pleasure. Many womxn are put down for their sexuality and how they choose to express it.

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And while slutshaming affects many heterosexual womxn, it happens just as often to people who are homosexual, transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming. The very sexuality of LGBTQIA+ people is historically (and wrongly) linked to promiscuity. So much so that people first inquire about your sex life as a queer person.

That people will ask you why you’re being greedy if you identify as bisexual or pansexual (attracted to people of any gender), your sexuality becomes the base for slutshaming. Even within the LGBTQIA people are slutshamed and their sexualities are vilified rather than them left to live their lives as they please.

With so many of us whose sexualities are considered taboo you would think this a standard that everyone would be held to. But as are most things in a patriarchal society, this judgement very rarely touches straight men.

When men live autonomously, making decisions they feel are in their best interest and enjoyment, there is very rarely any shadow cast over their actions. Instead, a man’s sexuality is celebrated, joked about and complimented – men are called players, studs and given high fives for doing the very things that people who are feminine are shamed for.

Having a lot of sex doesn’t make you a bad person. Waiting to have sex doesn’t make you any lesser or better a person than anyone else. Being free in your decisions of having sex, who you have it with and how you express your sexuality is based on your free will and it is never something that anyone should hold against you and vice versa. We will never reach a society that allows people to live autonomously otherwise.

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