“We erase female pleasure…it puts girls not only at a disadvantage in terms of having a satisfying sexual experience but also just having an equal relationship.” Peggy Orenstein
“He liked it. That’s enough for me.” Our mothers said it about sex, as did our grandmothers. And yet disturbingly, our thoroughly modern daughters whose evolution and potential has dramatically risen, with higher earning potential than most of their male counter parts, are tragically still saying the same thing. Women and girls are developing in every aspect of life except when it comes to sexual pleasure, where still they fail to gain the self confidence and sexual self awareness they need to tap into the vast well of pleasure living inside of them.
The lack of sexual confidence that most young women begin their sexual life is rooted in a history of silence. We warn our girls about sexual danger but rarely teach them about their capacity for pleasure. Even today, in something as simple as naming body parts, many young women have no vocabulary for the amazing clitoral organ system and go unaware of the millions of neural sensors that enervate the female genitalia. It’s no wonder, given how little we teach young girls about pleasure, that more than half of the women in a recent college survey have never masturbated or learned their own private passages to orgasm.
In the absence of real information about sexual pleasure we have instead raised the art of objectification of female sexuality far beyond the obscenity of pornography. The days of Marilyn Monroe are positively innocent in comparison with the sexting images that girls emulate and social icons like the Kardashians call “expressing themselves sexually”. The chasm between being seen as sexual and feeling one’s sexuality is so vast, that many girls don’t even know they are missing it. Which is not surprising given that most young women begin their sexual lives at around 16 yet report that they didn’t have a partner who cared about their sexual pleasure until they were 26.
It’s no wonder that female orgasm remains such an elusive goal for so many women far into their adulthood. Women who lack access to their own pleasure are even less likely to discover it within a partnered sex. And although many young girls have seen enough porn orgasms to imitate the arch of the back or the classic moans, the faking wears thin over a relatively short time as painful girlhood sexual experiences steadily degenerate into persistent symptoms of sexual dysfunction that can define a woman’s sexuality for decades.
How then do we stop erasing female sexual pleasure? How do we begin to educate and empower female sexuality? These questions are at the heart of transforming the typical girl hood disconnect of one’s own sexual sensation into a yearning for sexual pleasure and should be everyone’s concern. Sexual ignorance does not suddenly blossom into sexual health as we mature. It only takes a few episodes of serious erotic damage of girls feeling used, violated or disrespected to color their attitudes towards sexual intimacy for a lifetime.
We must begin by communicating to girls the beauty and power of feeling into their own bodies and removing the shame surrounding the discover of sexual pleasure. Making an early connection between one’s capacity to feel sexual pleasure leads to greater self confidence and self esteem in life, and creates the foundation for empowered and equal relationships, and not just in the bedroom.
Both men and women who share amazing and meaningful sex lives would say that what makes it great is that both partners are equally invested in giving the other pleasure. And in fact, is the heart of what makes for the sexiest partners. Knowing and owning your own desire and having access to your pleasure response is off the charts sexy, way sexier than any photo you could sext. Real sexual pleasure is about how it feels, no one is thinking about how they look when it is working. Teaching girls that sexual pleasure is something they deserve and have a right to feel is how we can heal pleasure for all of us.