One of the topics I will be covering at ‘A Ladylike Sex Chat’ on Oct. 16 is self-objectification and how I’m learning (while being single) to let go of the idea that I need to be seen as an object to feel desirable.
Women are sold the idea that they will only feel sexy when they win the male gaze, and/or are selected or praised for their looks. Essentially, feeling desirable becomes something that is supposed to come from others, rather than something that comes from within. This is why casual sex is sold in media as THE top way to feel ‘sexy’ and ‘free’, and why it’s so normalized — it fits right into the ecosystem. This couldn’t be more ass backwards. I have nothing against casual sex, but real freedom is feeling confident and worthy regardless of anything else.
Here’s the thing: everything we’ve been taught works against us. According to research published by Vera Johnson (NYU), “women who engage in self-objectification are less likely to want to be involved with sexual activity because they experience a reduction in the physical appeal of sex. When they do engage in sexual activity, they are more likely to report low sexual self-esteem and are less likely to extract pleasure from the experience.”
In advance of our panel, Rebecca asked me when I feel the most desirable and I thought about it: it used to be when I was being actively seen as an object. Now, it’s anytime I tap into my sense of inner power (people on the internet are calling it “Big Dick Energy” now????).
If you identify as a woman and want to attend this workshop, the link for tickets is below. Whether you are single, have kids, are in a LTR or are married — you’ll get something out of it. I promise. Come drink wine with us, do some self-reflection, laugh, chat and be part of a fun discussion about sex, pleasure, bodies and intimacy.
The guest blog is written by Raegan Hedley
Check out her blog 'What Comes Next' where Raegan writes about getting off the hot mess express and learning to survive as an adult.
1) When do you feel the most desirable?
Really anytime I tap into my sense of inner power and confidence (I guess people on the internet are calling itBig Dick Energy now). Nothing – no lipstick or outfit — can replicate that feeling.
2) Do you believe sex and self-esteem is closely tied together? Do you think it is different for men than it is for women?
Absolutely. I think both genders find it validating, and there’s nothing wrong with that! However, why we want sex can be maladaptive and can be slightly different for each gender based on tradition masculine and feminine roles. For women, it can be about being seen as beautiful and desired as a sexual object. For men, it can be more about seeking a sense of being wanted or seeking sex as a response to other emotions or feelings (loneliness, anxiety, shame etc.).
I think either gender can look for either form of validation, but what I’ve outlined above is what society has shown us largely (think of the movieHow To Be Single).
3) What prevents you from asking for what you want from your partner?
Well, I guess the fact that I don’t have a partner kinda helps in that sense. It’s not like I need to ask my vibrator if it’s cool with what I want.
In the past I guess I would just never want the person to think what they were doing to start with wasn’t good. I’m very empathetic so I tend to anticipate what the person will feel, and try to act accordingly to prevent those feelings. It means sometimes I put what I want on the backburner.
4) Did you have a “birds and the bees” talk with your parents? If so, what age and did you feel comfortable asking questions?
No. Anytime sex would come on TV my mom would say it was disgusting (I think it was her way of making me want to be abstinent). They got me a library book about sex and that was about it. The internet did the rest.
5) Did you feel like your sex-ed class in school prepared you for healthy sexual relationships? Why or why not?
Ha. No. I think people are scared to talk to teenagers like adults because they think it’s going to make them want to have sex. Meanwhile, a lot of them are having sex in cars and fields and just about anywhere they can get away with it. So why aren’t we talking about the emotional implications? Why aren’t we talking about birth control options? Consent???????
6) Why are the Ladylike Chats so important for women?
I think society (through television shows, movies, advertising and Instagram) has really drilled into us what IS sexy. It’s hard to let go of that when it’s all we’ve been shown/told/force fed. I think being in a room, and getting real with other women will serve as an incredibly important reminder that all that shit isn’t a reflection of MOST PEOPLE’S SEX LIVES. It’s also affirming that we are not alone, and sometimes there’s humour and learning along the way instead of it always being so serious.
Most bums aren't bleached! Most sex doesn’t involve lingerie or alcohol! Female masturbation isn’t just for the male gaze! Come on now.