WARNING: Please be aware that the following article discusses the theme of sexuality and female genital mutilation (FGM) which some readers may find distressing.
Sexuality: The Pleasure Revolution: It’s making a comeback!
There are historical, cultural, and societal factors that have influenced the way in which the sexual needs and desires of women are viewed, all of which will be discussed further in this article. It is evident that male dominance of the subject area has largely contributed to the views that circulate today as well as a lack of adequate education surrounding the topic. In particular, education for younger boys is imperative to improve their knowledge and understanding of the opposite sex. Educating them during their impressionable years will encourage them to remain open minded about the female body and will in turn learn how to respect women and why it is important.
Female pleasure has historically been viewed as taboo, and has influenced the views that exist in modern society. History shows that women can and have been viewed as the property of men, previously supported by laws that ensured women couldn’t not live independently from their husbands and were therefore treated accordingly in every aspect of their life. An example of this is how women existed to satisfy the sexual needs and desires of men. As a result, the sexual desires of women have been ignored and continue to be ignored. Roe v. Wade was passed in 1974 and offered women more control over their bodies by enabling them to make their own decisions about abortion. This has more recently been overturned, completely stripping women of body autonomy and reverting back to conservative ideals that existed for centuries before.
There are various factors that influence the general views of female pleasure within modern society. The porn industry can be seen as a reflection of historical views, from its origin in the late 19th century through to today due to its misogynistic nature and use of stereotypical female beauty to satisfy the male gaze. A large percentage of the target audience for the industry is male and so much of the male population have developed “a skewed, and potentially dangerous view of sex”, as described by Harpers Bazaar, as a result. This has meant that women’s sexual desires are ignored and have therefore lead to women relying on their abilities alone to satisfy those needs. A 2017 study of French women showed an increase in the popularity of female masturbation - of their female partner.
Culture has also had an immense impact on the subject, and continues to do so in various places and for various people around the world. For example, female genital mutilation (FGM) is common practice and can be dated as far back as Ancient Egypt. The practice is used as a way to control the sexuality of women at the same time as increasing the pleasure that men experience during intercourse, highlighting the influence of male dominance. This also shows the extent to which women’s needs are neglected within different cultures. Similar to the sexism apparent throughout history, women are often objectified and used as a source for sex and/or reproduction. In these instances, traditional gender roles often ensue, favouring the role of men, whilst oppressing women.
One way to encourage equality between sexes is to empower women, and making female pleasure acceptable socially and culturally is a small step in the right direction. Sex education is paramount in changing the outdated views that are currently poisoning the impressionable minds of the younger generations; particularly boys, and should therefore be considered a more integral part of the education curriculum than it is at present in order to initiate positive change.