“Are women sexually liberated, or just confused?”

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

That’s the title of this (U.K.)Times Online article. Two excerpts follow:

… Fifty years ago, in The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir described womanhood as a socially constructed activity; today, after several waves of feminism, and a recognised right to contraception, sexual pleasure and all that, we still find our sexuality defined by pop music, glossy magazines, advertising and pornography. Dr Petra Boynton, a sex psychologist, sees the very commercialisation that makes us seem so free as the reason we’re not satisfied.”The scented candles, the lingerie, the stuff : it doesn’t explain how anything works, it just presents a dream,”she says.”Sex has become mandatory, competitive and commercialised. Vested commercial interests suggest it could be great, if only you had their product.” …

… “We’ve primped and preened so much that our bodies haven’t a whiff of a pheromone about them.”Charlotte Roche explores this in Wetlands, a novel about sex, shame and the mucky functions of her body.”My liberal feminist mother still didn’t teach me about masturbation or menstruation,”she says.”Even in front of my husband, I felt embarrassed about my body, I learnt from society that so many things about it are bad. A lot of men don’t think women have body hair, believing a shaved woman is normal. Porn women are shaved so you can see more. It is their work. But why do we have to copy porn? Ads and porn are nothing to do with real life, real-life sex is hairy and messy.”

Interestingly, in a recent Cosmopolitan survey, given the sentence”An unforgettable lover must…”to complete, 57% of respondents chose”love all my body”. Least popular was”have a big penis”: 5%. There is always that reassuring truism that, actually, men don’t care about cellulite and bikini lines. But interviewing on the streets of Brighton, Anna Richardson, the Channel 4 Sex Education show presenter, was appalled by the results.”We discovered teens are waxing all their pubes because they feel it’s what they should do and what boys want : guys are going on about it to them.”She goes on to describe boys’ reactions to hardcore porn and to images of normal female bodies. Take a guess which bodies they found shocking.”They can’t discern between porn fantasy and reality,”she says.

Adults, and female ones at that, are responsible. Boynton was invited to go on GMTV recently.”They wanted to do something about empowering women [sexually]. I said: ‘Let’s talk about the clitoris.'”They didn’t like that,”but they were having a pole-dancer on”. No wonder we’re paranoid….


–Ann Bartow

This entry was posted in Coerced Sex, Feminism and Culture, Sexism in the Media. Bookmark the permalink.