Feminism Fridays: Let’s Talk About Sex

Recently I’ve been watching Masters of Sex, the Showtime show based on the work of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the pioneers of the science of human sexuality. Needless to say, I’ve been thinking about sex a lot. Most of those thoughts are irrelevant to this blog, but some some of them are relevant. Today I’ll talk about the relevant things. The other stuff I’ll leave to your imagination.

One of the aspects of this show that intrigues me the most is women’s sexuality in the 50s and 60s. Many women (and many men as well) did not understand how their, or their partners’, bodies worked, or that women could take pleasure from sex just as men could. Today sex education is taught in elementary school. We learn early on how our bodies work and what gives us pleasure. What we’re not taught, not really, is that sex should not have to be a tool that you use to affect your relationship.

Growing up, young girls see examples of women’s bodies used as props or rewards for men. They are showed images and videos and ads of women being represented in the context of their bodies rather than their careers or accomplishments. They grow up thinking that one of the biggest measures of success is what men think of them, and the best way to get a positive response from men is by using their bodies.

Women are making strides in this regard, of course. There are women’s education classes at many colleges. Parents can teach their daughters about self image and can teach their sons about how women should be viewed. Popular actresses, authors, musicians and others with a voice can speak out about women’s issues and raise awareness through the very magazines and music videos that are currently part of the problem. But this, in my opinion, is not enough.

To make even bigger advancements in the way young girls view their bodies, I believe a self-image section should be taught during sex education. It is not enough to simply teach young people how their bodies work. We should also be teaching them about the effects of using their bodies for sexual purposes. We tell them that sex is a big deal, but we don’t really tell them why. We should. We should tell them how a woman could think she’s worthless if no one wants to have sex with her, and we should tell them how that is so wrong. We should tell them that women feel the need to use sex to get men to notice or like them and feel rejected and alone when they don’t stay. We should tell them that men should know this by now and should stop the cycle. There is so much we should tell them. Why is no one telling them?

Don’t get me wrong. I think sex is great. I think it’s a way for people to connect on a deeper level. I also think it’s a way for people to have a good time (safely, of course) and not worry about what it means. But I don’t think this is something we should start learning in our 20s, if that. We need to educate young people about sex’s role in society and how it affects sex’s role in individual lives. It will never change if we don’t change it ourselves. Women deserve better than that.