Using children as props isn’t a good look.
How many people can say they play with sex toys during their morning meetings?
Sexuality doesn’t have to fit neatly into a checkbox.
I don’t feel the need to perform gymnastics in the bedroom anymore.
Man, I feel like a woman.
My size is always weighed over my qualifications.
We don’t fit neatly into your little box.
Because the future of female-kind is at stake.
‘Gays have enemies. They lurk in gilded closets.’
When did vanilla become the only acceptable flavor?
Whenever I mention the name Ruby Rose, the reaction is a distant look, a half-smile and a sighed repetition of those two delightfully alliterated words. The 29-year-old has firmly carved her niche. Whether as a model, actress, philanthropist, DJ or VJ; you will know her from whichever fabulous branch has happened to brush you. Her work as androgynous beauty, Stella Carlin, in Orange Is The New Black turned heads and hearts and gave many heterosexual women reason to question whether they really are straight-up-and-down.
I am absolutely one of these questioning ladies. However, Ruby Rose was my bisexual awakening long before her pink underwear peeked over the edge of her prison pants. When I was 19, I was working as an usher in a theatre. I had a number of lesbian friends, but being sexually attracted to another girl was something that had never occurred to me. One night before work, my fellow ushers and I were briefed that Ruby Rose was coming to see the show. I hadn’t really heard of her, so one of my guy friends (who was really into lesbians) filled me in. After a quick Google search, I had a vague idea of what to expect.
Later that evening, it was made known to us that she was held up and that we would seat her with the latecomers. I was on foyer duty and responsible for explaining the ten minute lockout rules regarding mobile phones/photography in the theatre, blah blah blah. A couple of minutes into the lockout, a woman walked in, looked around tentatively and approached me.
“Um, hi… I’m waiting for my friend… Ruby Rose,” she said.
“Yes, of course!” I replied, my eyes bright with customer service enthusiasm. “We’ve been informed that she will arrive soon.”
“No problem – can I wait here?” she muttered. I confirmed that she was indeed welcome to wait in the foyer and turned my attention once more to the front doors, growing increasingly curious about our famous guest. Finally, the ornate doorway opened again and in walked this person…
She had the presence of five people and I felt the energy in the room shift as she glided in. She wasn’t so much tall as statuesque; with an immaculate pixie cut, skin tight dress and piercing eyes. Her mouth was a perfect rosy hue; it shone with painstakingly applied (presumably Maybelline) lip gloss. As she moved towards me, I caught a whiff of her perfume. It made me weak at the knees. And the tattoos… Holy hell, I’d never found ink that attractive before, but on her…
Finally, Ruby reached me. I was speechless (which, for me, is a HUGE deal). “Um…hi – hi, welcome,” I finally managed to stutter. She looked at me contemplatively for a second, then opened her sumptuous mouth to speak: “Could you please tell me where the bathroom is?”
I fumbled over myself, gesticulating clumsily towards the ladies room. I was as jumpy as a whore in church. Ruby thanked me politely and moved away. As I stood in her wake, I knew that something extraordinary had happened. Did I – for the very first time – have a crush on a girl?!
It was then that the vast spectrum of human sexuality began to reveal itself. I’m not saying that sexuality is a choice (it isn’t) and I still identify as straight, but my God; Ruby Rose flicked a very important switch in me that evening. So Ruby; keep doing your thing, because I think it’s quite astounding that of all the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, the experiences I’ve had; what has affected me so potently is spending three minutes in the presence of Ruby Rose.
Image via Nylon.com
I don’t like the term “slut”. I first encountered it in my early days at an all-girls high school. None of us knew what it meant, so we threw it around as the most casual of insults. That is, until the older girls got wind of it and told us never ever to call a girl that because it was the WORST POSSIBLE THING you could say. “Why? What does it mean?” we asked. The hurried reply was, “It means a girl who has sex with heaps of guys and that’s something you really shouldn’t do, okay?”
There it was – the first time we experienced the phobia of female sexuality. Suddenly, every interaction with a member of the opposite sex was scrutinised. Giggling with a boy on the train? Slut. Kissed more than one guy at the school dance? Whore. Lost your virginity? Skank. The reverse was true as well; if you didn’t talk to boys, wouldn’t kiss anyone, and weren’t sexually active, then you were a frigid prude. You couldn’t win, and you couldn’t say anything about it.
This paranoia was reinforced by mufti day dress codes; no spaghetti straps, no skirts above the knee, no hipster jeans, etc. It was these laws of appropriate dress that got me wondering. Why were we being forced to cover up? Being a precocious girl, I asked one of the teachers, and expected her to talk about wearing comfortable clothes for learning. Instead, her response (I kid you not) was, “Because we have male teachers at this school, and we need to be considerate of them.”
What the actual what?! How was that fair? And why did she have so little faith in male teachers?! Besides, the local boys schools didn’t have those dress rules. They also didn’t scold each other if one of them went to second base with a girl at so-and-so’s 16th birthday. On the contrary… they CONGRATULATED each other. So why was being a girl so different?
Right from the outset, women are conditioned to be ashamed of their sexuality. We come up against this every day, and not just because of our sex lives. This phobia inhibits our behaviour and the way we interact.
Here’s an example. When I am in a social situation with both men and women, one of the less inhibited men will make a few witty comments loaded with sexual innuendo. The whole group will laugh, happily joke with him, and move onto the next topic. HOWEVER…being fairly uninhibited myself, I will usually make a similar comment a few minutes later. Same context, same tone, same situation (and usually funnier). The reaction is always terrifyingly different. The group will stop, look around nervously, and inevitably say three things:
- “Ooh, you’re terrible!”
- “I can’t believe you said that!”
- “Well, someone’s sexually frustrated…”
There it is again! We now have a triple standard. Not only are women unable to have sex without being shamed, we also can’t even talk about it. It’s not normalised; you’re either terrible, unbelievable, or (my least favourite) sexually frustrated for bringing it up. And sadly, it’s women who do most of the shaming. Who can blame us? Being embarrassed by our own desires has become second nature.
Ladies, it is time to stop punishing each other. If you want to sleep with 10 guys this week, you go ahead and do it (just remember, use a condom). If you only have one guy you want to sleep with, feel free to do that too. Above all else, it’s time to stop using the word “slut”… I can think of more interesting four letter words.
Image via Dailyurbanista.com
Women generally aren’t comfortable talking about self-pleasure. Yes, I’m talking about masturbation, but it’s so much more than that. It involves being in control and exploring our own physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and sexual needs. Many women don’t prioritise or give themselves permission to experience it.
Men have this naturally inbuilt and more importantly, self-pleasure is approved and encouraged by society. They participate and watch a range of sports and leisure activities, create private spaces for themselves like “man caves” and are given permission to sexually explore their own bodies and be sexual beings.
Despite women sharing this need most will need to teach themselves. Society has taken a strong position about women experiencing self-pleasure. Our mothers and the generations before them weren’t taught and many never experienced it. Their entire lives were based on the premise that they were born to serve and satisfy others.
Modern women need to learn about self-pleasure and pass this knowledge down to the next generation. We need to encourage them to fully explore themselves and open themselves up to life’s possibilities. Hopefully generations to come will be educated and empowered, encouraging self-pleasure to be approved by society, regardless of gender.
So, to start with, many women neglect self-pleasure by simply not allowing themselves alone or quiet time. This should be an essential part of each day. Concentrate on your breathing and heartbeat, allow thoughts to flow through your mind like clouds being swept away by the wind. Allowing yourself this time steadies, calms and rejuvenates the body, mind and spirit.
Women should also create a space as their our own private sanctuary. When we need alone time we need to give ourselves permission to go there and breathe in the peace and stillness. The experience should be similar to taking a nice, long, uninterrupted bath with no technology or other distractions.
Another element of self -pleasure is doing simple things for yourself. Women are instinctive nurturers and often this takes preference over caring for themselves. To achieve it, it can be as simple as taking time to read or going out into the garden with a cuppa and literally taking time to smell the roses.
Then there’s the element of physical self-pleasure. This includes touch and masturbation. We need to learn about how our bodies and brains work and offer ourselves permission to explore our sexual thoughts, fantasies, wants and desires. We should know what body parts react to what types of touch, what we like and what turns us on. Most importantly, women need to ignore society’s condemnation concerning their sexual and erotic self and lead a charge into a new and improved way of thinking.
This change of mindset is urgently required. Currently, many male partners feel responsible for their ladies sexual pleasure. In reality, they aren’t. Women should know how to bring themselves to orgasm, be fully in control of their sexuality and remove sexual pressure from their partners.
This shift will empower women and take sexual pressure off men to “perform”. Sex should be about experience, not performance. Women should be responsible for their own sexual gratification and self-pleasure will help them achieve this. This will level the equilibrium that women aren’t responsible for their sexual satisfaction and that men’s sexual experience be based on performance.
Image via gfx.aftonbladet-cdn.se
The short answer is YES! Although Feminism has made major advancements for women, female sexuality has been staggeringly left behind. The double standard of slut vs stud is still thriving. The question we should all be asking ourselves is why?
As little girls, most are taught that their virginity is like a precious commodity, to be saved and savoured, only to be “given away” to the most deserving candidate. Boys, on the other hand, are encouraged to rid themselves of their virginity to the first willing participant. This is true of most cultures and some are extreme. They still kill young girls, who they believe bring shame on their family, due to attitudes and behaviours involving sexual activity. Plus other women, including their mothers, condone this barbaric practice.
It seems time and changes in womens roles haven’t changed this situation. Females are still being persecuted for their sexual behaviour; such as choosing prostitution as a career or having sex with multiple partners. The divide between male and female sexuality is still enormous.
It all comes down to attitudes of women. When women put other women down, they look to their sexual behaviour, amongst other things, to do it. Each time women refer to each other as sluts, whores, tramps or other derogatory names, they are keeping womens sexuality stagnant.
In doing this, they are actually promoting the opinion and belief, that female sexuality should remain in the closet. Men, on the other hand, encourage each others sexual behaviour. They use words, such as those above, as congratulatory, rather than derogatory.
You might be asking yourself, why would women choose to do this? The simple answer is; they aren’t even aware of it. This is what has been taught, like traditional folk law of what is acceptable behaviour for women. We keep each others sexual behaviour in check and anyone behaving outside of what is deemed “acceptable” is belittled, ridiculed and condemned. Mothers teach their daughters to keep their legs shut, if they have any sort of self respect.
Men don’t to do that. Why? Quite simply, because they haven’t been taught by generations before them, that they should discourage each others sexual behaviour. Fathers teach their sons to go and have sex with as many women as possible, but they aren’t the ones you marry. In many cases, this is strongly supported by their mothers.
This divide has been centuries in the making, so no wonder it’s one of the last frontiers of female advancement. Throughout time, women have been bred to believe, we aren’t as sexually inclined as males. This is despite the fact that the sex toy industry is booming and the greatest sales are sex toys, specifically designed for women. Obviously, women are also wanting sex, so something is amiss.
The only way to change it is for women to change their attitudes toward their own sexuality and stop belittling and putting down the sexual choices of other women. If it’s ok for men to be sexually active, why not women?
By Kim Chartres
Want deeper, better, more earth-shatteringly good orgasms this summer? For starters, don’t make like Meg Ryan’s character in the hilarious 1989 US romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally (pictured) and fake your way to glory.
Instead, summer is a prime time to get more in touch with your sensuality and take charge of your own sexual pleasure so as to get bigger, better Os, says leading Australian sexologist Dr Nikki Goldstein (pictured below). Here, the good doctor gives SHESAID readers her top three tips for better orgasms this summer:
Tip 1: Get more vitamin D, girlfriend
“I think summer is a sexier time of year than the other seasons because of vitamin D,” Dr Goldstein says. “We are outside more, getting more sun, and often happier because we have more hours of daylight, so I really do think that contributes to a happy, energetic and sexy mood. That’s why we have the summer romance, it’s a sexier time!”
Tip 2: Exercise your mind and body
Dr G is a big believer in exercising your mind and body to get a better orgasm. “When women are fit and healthy and more positive about their bodies they are more able to feel good about being sexual and get out of their heads and enjoy the experience,” Dr G says. And don’t forget to exercise those all-important pelvic floor muscles, either! “Exercises that work every part of the body, including the PC muscles, can help with increasing the intensity of orgasms,” she says.
“But exercising the mind, too, is a powerful tool. Being able to meditate, relax and breathe can greatly help women with their mental pleasure zones and assist them to once again switch off and enjoy the experience.”
Tip 3: Take charge of your sexual pleasure
Is it a man’s responsibility to get us off? Dr G says a big no. “One of the biggest myths is that a man should be able to deliver an orgasm to a woman on a silver platter,” she says.
“It can be to have a handy partner in the bedroom who knows his way around, but it’s also important women take change of their sexual pleasure and understand how their body works too.
“Being able to tell your partner what gets you over the edge is really important and also taking pressure of him to ensure the big O can help him enjoy the experience with you instead of worrying about what he might not be able to do.”
Main image via fanpop.com, secondary image via www.pixabay.com
It’s a myth that women’s sex drives don’t equal that of men and, in many cases, actually even exceed it. Centuries of cultural conditioning and suppression has seen to it that the double standard of slut vs stud is still alive and well. To make matters worse, many women support this value. They would be more comfortable labelling other women who openly admit their sexual behaviour, rather than standing up and acknowledging their own.
Not only that, as a result of this widespread disbelief, men can feel emasculated by women with sexual appetites greater than their own. It goes against societal expectations of the submissive female and promiscuous male. Some women assume that men who have partners with equal or greater sexual appetites, would love it. However, for many men, it can be a turn-off when they aren’t the ones who consistently initiate sex.
Women aged in their late-30s to 50s are at greatest risk of being labelled. We’ve all heard the term “cougar” right? Research indicates women in this age group are wanting more sex than at any other time of their lives. The problem is, just when they want more sex, their partners – who are often a similar age – have a sex drive that begins to slide. Women of this age are much more sexually compatible with younger men.
So where did the myth come from?
According to a leader in female sexuality, sexual functioning and gender differences, Associate Professor Meredith Chivers, male and female bodies respond equally to sexual stimuli. Chivers and colleagues, conducted a study to assess the level of arousal in both men and women, while listening to narratives describing conventional sexual activity. Using apparatus, affixed to subjects genitals, levels of arousal were scientifically measured. Results indicated, that biologically both sexes responded similarly.
When asked to self-report their level of arousal, men’s biological reactions matched their self-reports. However, womens self-reports didn’t. The researchers believed this was predominately a result of social conditioning, and not that women weren’t aware they experienced sexual arousal. Self-report “evidence” on women’s sexuality, would therefore be flawed if women neglect to report accurately.
Where to from here
Society would need to do a 180 shift, where women’s sexual experiences are celebrated as much as mens. Lets face it; if women are quick to label other women, we don’t have much hope of that. It’s up to women to initiate the drop in double standards if we want our daughters to get anywhere close to being understood as sexual beings. Until then, no amount of research will convince the masses, that women are sexually similar to men.
By Kim Chartres
From the 12th century Archangel by Novgorod School in Russia to the 16th century Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and to Pablo Picasso’s 1946 Portrait of Françoise, women have ruled the artists’ canvases and art-lovers’ hearts for over 500 years. Each of the great artists trying to emphasize on the beauty of their creation – the elusive eyes, the silk locks, the tender smiles and the subtle deportment – attributes that still warm our hearts and make us gaze at the art work for hours and hours. I personally did not want to move away from the sight of Mona Lisa until I was dragged away by a friend reminding me there’s was much more left to see of the colossal Louvre Museum.
But what makes me uncomfortable are the changing images and [mis]representation of women in contemporary art. I doubt there’s a way to euphemize the changing perceptions, but I have no doubts in saying that women are constantly being sexually objectified in contemporary art, unfortunately mostly by women themselves.
I for one do not want my children to grow up forced into watching and praising the art that rather objectifies women as sexual entities than as individuals. I am sure none of you want that either. I wish I could steal Huffington Post’s blogger Neal Samudre’s words when he said, “I’m terrified this culture will continue for my children, and one day they’ll dishonour the beautiful people around them, just because they’re not dancing naked in front of them.”
The worry is since then increasing. The apprehensions about our children never being able to develop the sense to see and appreciate beauty in art. And it wasn’t until I read a report about a female artist in the US, who did exactly what she shouldn’t be doing: using her sexuality to project art. In other words, she rolled around naked on the gallery floor, performing absurd acts to bring the audience’s attention to her ‘sexualized parts’. Some people might call it an art form, but I call it objectifying a woman’s body to the extent that the subjects only see her as a sexual entity and not a person. And then there was this weird live art performance elsewhere, in which the woman popped out paint balls from inside her vagina that fell all over the floor canvas making some form of stained picture that she later called abstract art.
Is this real art? And is this all left to a woman artist’s creativity, artistic abilities, and gender representation? I am sure, not.
We didn’t notice this sexual objectification in the 70s and the 80s, and we didn’t identify its silent emergence in the 90s and the following decade. I am afraid if we continue to ignore initiating a public discourse now, we will regret it in the coming decade and those to follow.
Most of you will agree with me here when I say that when the situation will go out of control, we will not only be responsible for ruining beautiful art and the meaning of art, but also for destroying the true meaning of freedom of expression, rational thinking, the very basis of gender definitions, respect for art and cultures, and art itself as a form of medium of expression and message.
I fear that my child, in case of wanting to become an artist, will be judged by his or her impudence to accept unreasonable nudity in the name of ‘abstract art’ rather than his/her understanding of classical art and realism. I am afraid if he/she will be bullied as old-school for studying da Vinci or Picasso (that is only if professors and universities still taught them then, huh!). I want my children and yours to recognise this thin line between sexual attraction and sexual objectification.
For now, I am sorry but I don’t appreciate art where a woman pops out paint from her vagina and calls it ‘live art’, nor do I want my child to grow up into one. I am rather happy with the timeless strokes of paint that create eternal, real images. Let’s not make the world a queerer place for our kids. It already is quite enough.
Image via thesocietypages.org
By Ayesha Hasan