From the time a girl hits puberty, she is taught that sexual pleasure is “dirty” or shameful.
Boys and men often openly joke about their own pleasure during masturbation in social settings and or in entertainment like movies or television, and it is socially acceptable. However, if a woman were to open up about her sexual pleasure, it is shocking or it expected to be something embarrassed about.
During any sex encounter, sexual pleasure of both partners involved should be as equally important—though it may not seem like it when so many articles with titles like “How to Please a Man in Bed” and “Sex Moves Men Love Most” are flooding mainstream content.
If you haven’t already noticed, the media heavily focuses on sexual pleasure of men. It has been known that the Motion Picture Association of America will rate a movie R if it contains a woman getting sexual pleasure, but PG-13 if a man is shown receiving sexual pleasure.
Actress Emily Browning opened up to Nylon magazine back in 2011 that her sex scene in the movie Sucker Punch had to be cut because there was too much sexual pleasure on the woman’s part, and the director wanted to keep the movie within a PG-13 audience.
In another case, Jill Soloway, the director of the movie Afternoon Delight, revealed in a 2013 interview with Flavorwire that she thinks the movie was rated R because of the sexual tension between two female characters.
“The scene portrays two women in a sexual situation connecting emotionally with one another,” Soloway said in the interview. “That might be what was ‘uncomfortable’ for the MPAA. It’s infuriating to encounter this editing-down after pushing through the many doors to get this movie made.”
Why is female pleasure still such a taboo topic? Because it’s unrealistic to believe that women do not want sex just as much as men; it’s hard to undo centuries of sexism and misogyny that said otherwise. Even more curious is that a woman can be viewed as a sexual object in the media now, but once she embraces her sexuality, something is seen as “wrong” with her.
In my opinion, it is educators and parents’ responsibility to have a conversation with their teens to normalize sexual pleasure and make it clear one should not feel “wrong” or “dirty” because of it. Many women were raised that it is bad to feel confident about their sexuality and explore their bodies.
As a teen, I wish someone had talked to be about this subject during puberty. I clearly remember getting embarrassed if someone mentioned masturbation or sexual pleasure in early high school. It would be shocking if a girl ever admitted to ever pleasuring herself in a social setting, because she was most likely to be teased. Girls would be humiliated, but if the guys mentioned it, people would just laugh it off. It’s incredibly strange to look back on those moments now and realize that was “the norm” just a few years ago.
In order to put an end to the stigma of sexual pleasure in women, we have to start by educating future generations that there is nothing to be ashamed about. Pleasure is a good thing for everyone—and that includes women.