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10 Things You Need to Know about Female Sexuality

There's a lot of pressure on women to be sexual. Why not let women define their own sexuality?
 
 
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What is the true nature of female sexuality? When it comes to women's priorities, why, once in a secure relationship, is sex no longer on top? Exploring what defines women's libido and why it becomes depleted, I investigate whether we have unrealistic expectations about our sex drive, who defines what is normal and abnormal, and if 'low libido' is in fact the natural order of things. I also provide concrete ways women can work toward defining their own jouissance--a personalized female sexuality that can lead to a more sensual, vibrant life.

1. Don't believe the hype: our sexuality is culturally relative. Sexuality is shaped by culture and history. For example, a hundred years ago a woman who loved sex could be regarded as being mentally disturbed, whereas today if you don't love sex you could end up being diagnosed as dysfunctional. With this in mind, it pays to be skeptical of labels that pathologize sexual difference.

2. Our desire to appear desirable exceeds desire itself.

It is well known that media and advertising can have a devastating effect on women's self-esteem--but it affects our sexual self-esteem too. Feeling like we don't live up to the physical ideal, women often grow to view themselves, and even their genitalia, as undesirable.

Rather than having sex, many women simply want to look like they are having sex. We are too busy chasing beautiful to want to kiss beautifully. Too busy chasing the veneer of desirability, to desire. Our animal instincts have become inverted: time devoted to preening overrides time devoted to mating and sexual pleasure.

3. Ditch the rom-com storyline. Passionate monogamy, the goal for most, promises lust-ever-after. But we have unrealistic expectations about relationships. In actual fact, it is natural for sexual intensity to decline over the duration of a relationship, as we age, due to life pressures and when we have children. Although lust may dampen, it is possible to maintain love and connection, and increase our chances of desire showing up too.

4. Actually, low female desire is 'normal.' Women have been made to feel that having a low libido means something is wrong with them. Currently women with chronic low libido are pathologized as having a type of female sexual dysfunction called hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). The trouble is, many of the researchers who have come up its nebulous definition have financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

I argue that in a long-term monogamous relationship it is extremely common to have a lukewarm interest in sex and rarely initiate it. Far from being a disorder, low libido is just the natural state of affairs for many women.

5. The so-called sexless marriage. Consider the current definition of a 'sexless marriage'--a relationship in which the couple has sex ten times a year or less. Really? So couples that have been together for a decade and are going through the highs and lows of life, have sex nearly once a month. Rather than brandishing a negative label, good for them, I say.

6.The hand that rocks the cradle doesn't rock the bedroom. Research indicates that one-third of couples experience significant sexual loss upon having children. For instance, across ninety studies, parents had lower marital satisfaction than non-parents, and a strong correlation was found between marital dissatisfaction and greater number of children. For women, it is increasingly difficult to carve out the duel identity of mother andsensual lover. Plus, there is a rival for her affections--children.

7. There is more than one type of sexual prime. As we age, women often experience less desire due to many factors, including illness (their partners' and their own), and issues associated with self-image. However, although many of us are familiar with the notion ofsexual prime in relation to the physical--body, genitals, and hormones--it is not the full picture. An emotional prime also exists, related to spirit, maturity, and fluidity with life. Physical and emotional factors are intertwined and interact in unpredictable and exciting ways. Many women experience a sexual renaissance in their later years. Fortunately, sexual prime can peak at any age.

 
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