Stripping Down Female Sexual Perversions

In our quest for sexual empowerment we have to put on blinders from public pressure and turn inward.

As a sex positive feminist, I want to support female expression of sexuality in all positions (except the reverse cowgirl because that makes NO sense anatomically). Most efforts to challenge conventional definitions inspire me, although others leave me wondering what kind of chafing might occur when Miley Cyrus rides construction equipment naked? It seems the dance between true empowerment and self-exploitation exists somewhere between the twerk and the jerk.

When women want attention, they can do sexually stimulating things, and people will pay attention – hence the infamous media doctrine “sex sells.” Even though women are encouraged to use their sexuality, they are also penalized for it – which is extra traumatic if you are not heterosexual and don’t care for anything “penile!” To find empowerment within the virgin/whore paradigm, we women have to distinguish between authentic acts, and doing things just to fulfill the craving of being noticed. When we come from a genuine place of self-knowing, we are in control of our sexuality rather than using it.

One of the main aspects regarding representations of sexuality is intentionality. The motives behind the act are way more revealing then what is actually going on. In the premier of “Girls,” when Allison Williams’ character receives anilingus at such a startling velocity that her butt cheeks vibrate from her partner’s enthusiastic display I thought it was meant as a comedic visual on a comedy centered series. Shortly thereafter, I read an article on Jezebel stating ass munching is soooooo last year, and “Girls” should get with the program as ass play isn’t even that big of a deal. I found this piece problematic because of the implication women need to keep one upping the status quo in order to exhibit worthwhile depictions of desire. If the “Marnie” character had been getting double fisted, would that have been more appropriate? Pushing boundaries and exploring taboos is not the only way to explore sexuality. I am weary of the notion that in order for women to be interesting, they have to be shocking. 

Another article on Jezebel, covered the author tricking his boyfriend into seeing a German movie called “Wetlands.” The movie (based on this book) uses flashbacks to tell the story as the protagonatist, Helen, is stuck in the hospital from cutting her butt open while shaving around her hemorrhoids. A common mistake! The Jezebel author describes Helen as “sexually empowered” and “knowing what she wants” which involves rubbing her gaping genitals on a toilet seat covered in feces, shoving an avocado up her twat, and my personal favorite, “putting the shower head inside herself and filling her vagina with water until she feels like she'll burst. Then she pushes until the entire thing feels like it's going to fall out.”

Now call me old fashioned, but, seriously, WTF?

This story seems to be more about a damaged woman working some serious shit out than a depiction of carnal female desire. My reaction is not because I cannot accept the vast complexity of female sexual preferences. I am pretty sure that if this movie were about a man, I would have just as many questions. Mainly, were you hugged enough as a kid? Regardless of gender, I take issue with equating empowerment with seriously dangerous sexual acts. This mentality leads to trends like “rosebudding,” which causes women to experience “anal prolapse.” (If you aren't sure what that is and want to have nightmares for the rest of your life, feel free to Google search it).    

For most of human history, female yearnings have been unspoken and even forbidden. In our search for equilibrium, it's understandable for the pendulum to swing in the opposite direction. I'm grateful to exist in a time where women have platforms to journey into their perversions. Yet I am apprehensive of promoting the idea that any sex act is healthy if performed by a woman, simply because she is expressing herself. There is a vast difference between a woman feeling comfortable with her own relationship to her sexual identity, and creating an organic farm inside her uterus from the variety of produce forced up there.

True sexual empowerment has much less to do with conduct, but rather how you actually feel about yourself. When Sarah Silverman offered to “scissor” Sheldon Adelson so he wouldn’t donate $100 million to Mitt Romney’s campaign, she was obviously suggesting a sexually provocative idea, yet she wasn’t degrading herself. Even as she lay on her couch in a bikini to demonstrate this “lesbian act,” (with her dog mind you), nothing about what she was doing was skanky. Silverman knows her true value is far beyond whatever sexual play she is engaging in. The key is for women to believe in their talents and worth beyond their genitals.

Self-esteem can be hard to hold on to if we buy into the prototypes of women in the media. We are exposed to blatant contradictions, and these mixed messages can hijack our understanding of self-worth. We are told to deep throat Carl’s Jr. burgers, but also to cover up our slutty nipples while breastfeeding and losing all that baby weight.  Although we are products of culture, we also shape it. In our quest for sexual empowerment we have to put on blinders from public pressure, and turn inward to honor who we truly are. Even tough at times the culture will suggest otherwise, we are human first, vagina second.

Toni Nagy writes for Huffington Post, Salon, Thought Catalog, Hairpin, Do You Yoga, and Elephant Journal. She has her own blog, and is the host of a podcast.

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