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Female Pleasure: Embracing Your Sexuality

Why is female sexuality and pleasure still a taboo in 2023?


CW: The following article discusses the topics of body image, sexuality, sexual harassment and sexism. Reader discretion is advised.


For what feels like a decade, the male gaze has had a stronghold on the media. Provocative images of women have been plastered across anything and everything simply to sell or promote the most inconsequential of items. The male gaze is described as,

"A way of portraying and looking at women that empowers men while sexualizing and diminishing women." - Verywell Mind

It can be very damaging, particularly as almost all of us are exposed to the media from a very young age. The male gaze warps the perception of women, turning us into passive props. It also distorts the way women perceive themselves.


Owning your sexuality

Women are constantly shamed for expressing their sexuality. Yet sexual imagery of women is used all the way from advertising into film and television.


It feels like in the year 2023, female sexuality is still a taboo. Society seems to have a deep-rooted issue when women take back the control on their sexual expression. The male gaze has subconsciously desensitised our perceptions of how we view sex and feminine sensuality. As it has become so ingrained within our culture, perhaps that is why it has taken so long to break away from these ideations.


However, these harmful ideologies seep into the everyday and can unfairly affect the lives of women in a plethora of ways.

"Being exposed to sexual harassment and sexual violence and not being able to exercise choice in their sexual relationships affects women’s well-being and ultimately undermines political, social and economic empowerment." - Pathways of Women's Empowerment

A conflict of expectations


From an early age, women face conflicting expectations. They are shamed if they wear more exposing clothing but are seen as prudish or frigid if they choose to cover up. These impossible standards are confusing and frustrating, as it feels that there is no winning.


As an example, 21-year-old singer Billie Eilish, unfairly faced criticism for her clothing choices. She was scorned for choosing to wear baggy clothes but was sexualised when a paparazzi took a photo of her in a tank top.

"The point is not: Hey, let’s go slut-shame all these girls for not dressing like Billie Eilish. It makes me mad. I have to wear a big shirt for you not to feel uncomfortable about my boobs!" - Billie Eilish, Seventeen

Again, this highlights the impossible standards women face when it comes to their sexuality. We are damned if we do and damned if we don't.


Taking back our control


To help rewire our thoughts on female sexuality, it's vital for us to take back that control. Putting ourselves first and figuring out what we feel comfortable and happy with doing, will be a great first step. Removing shame and disgust from sex education will help teens to feel more comfortable with expressing and discussing their sexuality as they go into adulthood.


It is important to look after and be kind to ourselves. Our feelings matter and we must always listen to them and what we feel inside.


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