From media, music, fashion, marketing and even societal standards, women have had to bear the brunt of constant objectification and discrimination, shackling their ability to feel empowered and facing the never-ending battles of gender inequality and double standards.
How can women overcome these endless issues pressed by societal constraints, stereotypes and being treated as a commodity; to truly become liberated and treated as free-thinking independent individuals rather than submissive and unintelligent beings; to become empowered without being ridiculed? The answer begins firstly within themselves.
Women's sexual empowerment
Defining women sexual empowerment is complex as it encompasses a range of physical, emotional and psychological factors and can be considered to be placed on a spectrum. The most unanimously agreed definition refers to women being able to embrace their sexuality, having the ability to freely express their desires, make informed choices about their body and sexual experiences and engage in consensual relationships without fear or shame. It also includes investing time in improving and establishing a positive relationship with themselves through following personal values and creating boundaries in which they are comfortable with, before initiating relationships with others. Sexual empowerment can be seen as fluid, constantly developing with new experiences and time.
Breaking societal barriers
Throughout history, women have strived for empowerment and made frequent attempts to move away from catering to the needs of men and the male gaze. A dynamic shift has been acknowledged through recent years with women becoming more open and breaking away from cultural taboos and traditional norms. This fundamental change has opened the doors for progressive conversation about women's sexuality and its crucial role in their overall empowerment. It has also given rise to campaigns; #GetOnTop created by the brand Sustain, directed at helping women take control over their sexual and reproductive health and movements such as the #MeToo movement which challenges issues such as sexual assault and #TimesUP aimed to create change within the workplace, enabling women to have a voice, challenge gender inequality, assert their sexual autonomy and create change.
Self-acceptance and body positivity
In the westernised world where objectification of women is so ingrained in all aspects of society especially through media and marketing, it can be difficult for women to look within themselves and truly understand their inner wants without conforming in one way or another to the set standards and stereotypes of society. The constant pressure of social media of and unrealistic portrayals of female sexuality have lead to new found insecurities and negative body perceptions. Despite this, the expansive body positivity movement has uplifted women in accepting and loving their bodies. Body positivity and self-acceptance plays a significant role in women’s sexual empowerment as through having a positivity body image, women are able to successfully assert their needs and limits, fulfil their desires and experience positive sexual experiences.
Impact of women sexual empowerment
Women sexual empowerment is crucial in allowing women to thrive in social, political and economic aspects with policies being developed to help establish this. This in turn enables change within society that promotes consent, respect and gender equity and therefore highlights the significance of continuing to challenge prejudice and unfair social standards that limits women to truly feel and become liberated.