Sex Isn’t a Dirty Word: Why Sex is Still Taboo for Women
The dimly lit, purple-floored expansive store is sparsely filled. Dildos line the walls, lubes clutter shelves and glass display cases, women’s lingerie hang on a few racks. A woman with piercings, neon pink hair, and wearing a corset fiddles in the back. She smiles when she sees me. I smile back, trying to appear casual. This isn’t my first sex shop. I’m not ashamed to be there. And yet…somehow I still feel dirty, naive, and out of my element. Why?
My husband suggests watching something online to get us “in the mood.” I comply, nestling in beside him. Before we realize it, two hours have passed and I’ve found nothing remotely sexy. I’ve seen asses, tits, and everything in between and I’m dry as a bone down south. (I need plot, don’t just give me a girl giving a BJ with a huge smile.) Why?
I flip on one of my go-to sitcoms for some easy watching as I chill or fiddle on pinterest or exercise or cook. An episode that should be hilarious comes on. It’s about a woman going to her best friend’s bridal shower. She’s convinced by another to buy a sex toy for her friend, instead of something mellow like dish towels. But then she is mortified when she realizes that it’s a family-kind-a-bridal shower, and not the bachelorette kind. Her humiliation is understandable, until everyone goes. It’s just the two friends and they go back and forth, saying “I’ll take it back, it was a joke,” “Oh no, I’ll hold onto it, just in case,” “No, really, it’s ridiculous, I’ll return it.” They are embarrassed about even the idea of remotely wanting this sex toy, and letting their friend know they want it as well. They are two grown-ass, non-prudy women. Women who’ve gone to strip clubs, who talk openly about sexing up their boyfriends or getting laid. But when it’s just the two of them, something as ordinary as a sex toy is something they view as shameful and embarrassing. Why?
Sex Is A Dirty Word–if you’re female
Why is sex in society not as easily discussed and encouraged for women as it is for men? Why was I made to feel shameful in the sex shop? Why couldn’t I find any decent porn? Why were the women on the show embarrassed and lying about wanting a simple toy? Why are there mostly only shirtless male shows in Vegas compared to the number of strip clubs featuring women who are sometimes naked? It’s fucking 2017. Are we really supposed to believe women don’t think about sex? Are we to believe with how complicated our sexy regions are that we don’t use toys? Is sex supposed to still make us blush? Are we really supposed to be equally satisfied with a dude’s abs as a man is with a chick in pasties?
I think part of the problem is the image of women hasn’t changed all that much since the 20’s, where a woman showing her fucking ankle was cause of distress. We’re making progress, but damn it’s going slow! Women are still shamed back to the bedroom for wearing mini skirts or too high of boots. We’re made to feel like whores for having a one-night stand, for wearing low-cut tops, loud lipstick or eye makeup. If we’re made to feel ashamed of our own sexuality day-in-and-day-out, of COURSE we’re going to feel like the sex industry isn’t for us.
It’s time to acknowledge that women are highly sexual creatures, and sex isn’t a dirty or shameful word. It’s okay for women to go to strip clubs, to watch porn, to have one-night stands, to have sex toys, and more! It shocks me that the sex shop I talked about had women’s lingerie and toys for “her” and yet, not a woman in sight save for the one behind the counter. The women that are purchasing these things are doing so from the secrecy of their bedrooms, faces aglow with the light of their computer screens.
Something is wrong with this picture.
The Cause and Effect
So why is it that women aren’t fairly represented? This should be obvious, but it isn’t. It’s because women are raised from childhood that they are supposed to be ashamed of themselves. Cross your legs, cover yourself. We are taught that being born woman, that we have something to be guilty of. We’re responsible if boys rape us, if they can’t focus in school, if we’re hit on, if we’re hurt, if we wind up pregnant. That responsibility is laid at our feet, as shocking as it is.
So as a result, we grow up to be women who are afraid to express desire. Instead we go quiet, we say we’re fine, we can’t admit to liking things men like, or if we do we’re weird or we’re asking for something horrible. Is it any wonder women are hesitant to say they remotely like things when they’ve been raised to feel guilty about themselves? Is it any wonder there isn’t more talk about this?
Strides Toward Change
The change starts with us. Knowing how ridiculous this is, we have to make a change. It means breaking boundaries and assumptions. It means doing all these things that are somehow still slightly taboo and frowned upon. It means demanding more for women, demanding companies cater to our interests as well. It means not shaming other women who participate in these activities or for dressing how you deem “sexually”. It means forcing ourselves to make sex more mainstream and acceptable for women by talking openly about it.
Change won’t come overnight. But right now, things are just ridiculous. Honestly, a 30-year-old woman ashamed of having one dildo. Gimme a break. I’d be willing to bet most women watching that episode had one in their nightstand. Which is exactly my point. Society has made us feel excluded, but women have been participating for years. It’s like someone forgot to tell them “Ahem, sir, 40% of our viewers/customers are women. Perhaps we should cater to them more.”
Women are only “prudes” when society makes us that way. Women like it just as much as men, sometimes more! It’s time to bring sex out in the open for women. That means not caring if someone likes to flaunt their tits (they’re just boobies, people, come on), and it means not shaming women who participate in these sexual activities. The more we accept the female body and don’t have to feel shame over it, the faster we can feel comfortable with the sex industry.
And it starts with you, with all of us. We need to first, be comfortable and in-touch with our own bodies. We need to acknowledge that we’re sexy, horny, fiery creatures that deserve pleasure as much as men. Then we need to accept others and their choice to wear and act however the fuck they want. If we can work on these small goals, I’m certain there’s some lady porn in our future.
Are you ashamed about sex-related topics? Or are you loud and proud? Tell me your experiences with sex in society!