Women of society from the earliest of times to the present day have faced a multitude of struggles. The issue of sexuality is especially critical to the lives of women. If one’s personality is the set of characteristics about them, including attitude, interests, emotionality and behavioral patterns, than sexuality is a part of that identity. As people we take pride in who we are, and are taught that self-esteem is important to our mental health. In our society however, women are programmed to shame their sexualities, and in turn, themselves. This is a great contradiction. Women should be encouraged to embrace their sexualities safely and positively and seek the empowerment and self-discovery that can come from it.
The repression of natural sexuality and erotic energies within women can in many ways have negative affects. Sexuality is a part of who we are, just as being of a certain ethnicity is a part of one’s self and identity. To know someone that refuses to accept that they are, say, African-American is to know a deeply conflicted human being. A similar confliction is posed upon women when dominant discourse tells them to deny their sexualities. The same sense of unhealthy self-denial applies.
Ideologies of objectification and forced repression of sexuality conglomerate and monopolize women’s lives. Healthy sexual self- discovery is replaced by the adaptation of widely accessible representations(such as media portrayals) of women(Costa, Nogueira, Lopez 6). A woman, instead of being able to find her own sexuality and grow into her own womanly identity, may contrarily be forced to accept gender normativity and play into stereotypes because “according to society” these are women’s identities. Here is an account of one woman’s experience:
“We learned to be more fragile even if we were stronger than them [boys], but we were
taught not to be stronger, for example when playing. I was [laughs] a kind of a tomboy.
I didn’t really agree with that…playing house [when we were younger], the wife was the
one doing the entire household and everything, and afterwards the husband arrived …
In our games, we also began to follow these models. In these games, there was obviously
also a part of sexuality … We pretended to be a couple, but there were no kisses … [it
was] something like dating … We started to understand better how things worked, how
relationships [work], how we should behave.” -Marta, 21 years, heterosexual, Braga (Costa. Nogueira, Lopez 7)
“From a very early age, I felt that something was not really good about it…[it was] related to guilt” says a woman speaking about her early feelings of sexuality (Costa, Nogueira, Lopez 5). As we see from the above testimonies, in times of youth repression of sexual identity can be most damaging. Adolescent confusion seeks answers wherever they can be found, but for girls, discovery via her own body is off limits, is shameful.
The pornographic conceptualization of sexuality and eroticism (as...