Sex in the limestone city

The sexual disempowerment of women

The issue of sexual disempowerment is a huge problem many women face almost everywhere in the world.

I’m a fairly open person and have no trouble speaking candidly about my sexuality. However, as a woman, I’m still faced with fears and issues regarding my sexual freedom.

Women face many threats to our ability to be sexually free. They are including but not limited to harassment, the fear of no longer being seen as a worthy partner and typically unrealistic body expectations.

People have often mistaken my values regarding sex as correlating with my willingness to discuss it, usually making false assumptions about things that aren’t truly a part of anyone’s business but my own.

These assumptions spiraled to an incident of sexual harassment in which someone I considered a friend tried to force themselves upon me, under the impression that my candid discussions about my sexuality entitled them to approach me in that capacity.

We’re often misled in the concept of virginity and purity as characteristics that give us self-worth and make us deserving of love from another person. Virginity or purity, of course, don’t create self-worth.

Something that similarly makes it very difficult for women to feel good about themselves sexually is the unrealistic idea of what’s considered “sexy” in terms of body image, influenced by what we see in the media everyday.

Having to see such restricted, unrealistic representations of the “ideal female body” from a young age makes it difficult to overcome insecurities we all have about our ability to feel comfortable in our own bodies.

From the fear of sexual harassment to the unrealistic images portrayed in the media, we’re coming dangerously close to eliminating a woman's sexual freedom and increasing widespread sexual disempowerment.

We need to stop expecting women to be anything more than the humans they are. A woman should have just as much opportunity as men to freely express themselves in a sexual manner without being affected by double standards and other contributing factors from their surrounding society.

We can make this happen by ending behaviours like slut-shaming, using a woman's sexuality against her and measuring a woman's self-worth based on her level of sexuality. We also need to establish a general understanding of more realistic ideologies about the different shapes and sizes of women — none of which are the perfect representation of sexy.

If we can achieve these goals, we can begin to make women feel more comfortable expressing themselves.

—Barrie Cradshaw

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