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No, this is not a restaurant review, nor is it a commentary on my preferences in oral sex. But if you’re interested in either, let’s get coffee!
Yes, this is an article about the importance of women being autonomously sexual, accessing all their capabilities as human beings and exercising their right to engage in the discussion of sex. For me, this is best exemplified by the taboo topic of eating out. Cunnilingus, going down on a lady, oral sex for women, eating her out, call it how you like. It happens. We’re all doing it. So why aren’t we talking about it? Why is it so difficult for us to do so? And why is there such a significant social difference surrounding “she blew me” versus “he ate me out”?
I got a lot of backlash for wanting to discuss this topic. The many girlfriends I consulted on the piece were horrified that I wanted to write about such a personal and intimate experience. My editors were appalled. I was told that under no circumstances would I be allowed to write about whether or not I like men with beards in my business. I was asked, “You want your parents to read this?” And once I finally got this whole shindig approved, the comments became: “Fine, but keep it classy” and “You have to write about this tastefully.” But it’s not a classy subject and it’s not entirely tasteful. That’s the whole issue, people!
Women have been shamed for their sexualities for far too long. They are, as in many cases, the subject and receiver; opposite of men, who are expected to be the action and giver. When women enter the realm of the action, society flips out. Sex is taught from a strictly biological perspective, where we are explained what fits where and how babies are made. And when we realize in our young adult lives that sex isn’t all that limited, we quickly see from our daily actions and popular culture what women must do to satisfy men. How we must dress, behave, and simply appear to meet the expectations of the male gaze. When women — god forbid — defy this limited field of vision, they break their gender expectation and are consequently shamed for behaving “inappropriately,” or “tastelessly,” or “without class.”
This is all just hilarious, because women are expected to accept sex and “give it up” to men who want it from them, but cannot autonomously desire it themselves. They are shamed merely for having sexual thoughts, while contradictorily being expected to grant sex to men in fear of being dubbed a prude.
I have taken women and gender studies classes since high school, and in not one have we discussed what it really means for women to be sexual beings themselves. We extensively discuss the issues in women being the subject rather than the focus, but we never explicitly address what the other side might look like.
But I cannot solely blame the classroom or the countless media representations of women. I, like many girls, have my own walking, talking example of the appropriate feminine archetype thanks to my mom, who modeled for me each day of my life what it means to be a woman, even when I wasn’t noticing. It was as simple as her wearing makeup, the way she speaks to my dad and how I had a mom-cooked meal every night for dinner. Having been born into the body of a white, heterosexual female, following my mother’s example was not challenging. My mom “fits” into mainstream society the same way that it has been made “easy” for me to do so as I have followed her footsteps. But this mold that women are asked to fit, is really just society’s gender binary expectations at work.
We learn to satisfy our gender expressions by watching women every day. In other words: how to satisfy patriarchal bullshit.
It is as simple as holding your books to your chest walking to class, sitting with your legs crossed, befriending the right girls, talking to the right boys in the right way. It’s the importance of shaving your legs, knowing just how much lip gloss to apply, how available you should be to get his attention and how far you are willing to go. It’s knowing what you’re doing, but not well enough that he still has something to teach you. It’s taking your top off and shaking your ass. It’s how you move; how you dance. It’s the skimpy thong. It’s getting on your knees. It’s lying about your virginity to further your resume. It’s the “I’m up for anything” answer. The “yes” girl.
These things do not only dictate the kind of woman one ought to be, but the kind of sexuality she is expected to construct well.
We are quiet. We do as you say. We are hot. We are sexy. And we want sex, but only because you asked for it. Because we are second-best. Because men are kings and women sit next to them; because we are their prized queens. Because men are violent and strong and women are weak. Because men are players and women are whores. Because men are winners and women fall short every single time. Because we are the takers, the receivers. And we abide by these social laws and restrictions because we have accepted it as easier to fit the mold rather than break it.
Ladies: the patriarchy made all of this more challenging than it has to be — but we can’t leave it at that. Sexuality, like any good thing turned corrupt in this world, is purely constructed. We do not have to live in the structure; we can challenge it and start rebuilding. And it starts with a conversation.
I can’t explain why I am so comfortable with all of this stuff. Maybe I have my parents to thank, for keeping an open forum about sex. When I heard rumors of the mythical “dildo” I went straight to my mother for clarification. After only imagining why her fourteen-year-old was asking, she cleared things right up. Thanks, mom!
But I can definitely recognize the awkwardness here. It’s not awkward enough, however, to take away the disappointment I have from learning about sex through hearsay instead of a formal venue. The information is being passed down from big brothers and cool aunts instead of education. Nowhere in my anatomy textbook did it ever teach me the importance of a conversation. Surely, we learn far more outside the classroom than in it, but I refuse to call the lack of “sex talk” between women coincidence. As long as his-story is still a subject in high school, why not include her-future?
Further, men are trained to get some, presumably making talking about sex more accessible. Somehow much of the male population got the memo about speaking graphically about sexual behavior and women’s bodies, while women were constantly being drilled to be “discrete” in every sense of the word; to take up the least amount of space possible both physically and conversationally, and to keep it classy in order to be viewed as a proper lady. Meanwhile, they’re talking about us, you know, and no one is saying shut up. That’s your body he is describing to his buddies. That’s your rack. Your tight ass. Your pussy. And I’m supposed to watch my mouth?
All my sexually-active females: have you ever been asked by a fellow sister “how big was his dick?” “did he finish you off?” “how long did he last?” “did he eat you out?” NO. Because we are ladies raised to be polite. Yet this hasn’t stopped men from speaking about women the way that they do!
We have all been socialized into our gender roles, and we reinforce the system every day with our every action. But just as we habituate these behaviors, we also have the opportunity to break them. Certainly some of us are introverts and others are extroverts — you can guess where I lie on that spectrum — and some of us are more comfortable sharing personal or intimate details of our lives than others are.
Women have the option to either reinforce a silenced and shameful territory, or to open its doors. Women have the power to remove the danger surrounding the subject of sex. More than that, we have the responsibility to ourselves and the women to come to protect our rights as autonomous human beings. We need to be each other’s greatest allies. We can change the way women have historically been seen as sexual objects. The fight for feminist equality cannot stop at the workplace. It’s time we storm the bedroom as well.
We must create a venue in which sex is talked about. The sooner we start talking, the sooner these conversations are normalized and can escape “tasteless” and “crude” stigmas. If you can’t ask your teacher, if you can’t ask a parent, who else is there but your girls? We need to create a stronger community amongst women, where asking questions, voicing concerns and sharing comments is heard and accepted.
Women have the right to own their sexualities proudly, autonomously and independent of patriarchal expectation. We can break the boundaries, and we can start by extending the conversation and supporting one another. Don’t wait for him to get there. If you want it, you tell that boy to eat you out.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Dani Pinkus at email@example.com.