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"It's called sexual autonomy, not promiscuity"

There has been a long history of dichotomising the sexual experiences between men and women. I want to put the focus on women’s experiences and list some ways in which we can embrace our own autonomy and sexuality.

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This blog has been contributed by Sailee Khurjekar. If you would like to contribute a blog to this series, please email campaigns@warwicksu.com.

TW: sexism, gendered expectations/stereotypes/oppression, slut shaming, rape (mention), objectification

 

There has been a long history of dichotomising the sexual experiences between men and women. I want to put the focus on women’s experiences and list some ways in which we can embrace our own autonomy and sexuality.

Sex and Sexism

The age-old tale of laddish men hooking up with multiple partners to display their sexual prowess is a pervasive one. The typical university shag chart may have been put on hold during the pandemic, but the conversations are rife. Men who pull are legends, while women are branded sluts and slags for similar behaviour. This is not to put the entire blame on men, nor to suggest that all men adhere to this outdated trope. A woman’s outfit is often used during rape trials to discredit her reputation, by men and women alike. Governments, law courts and policymakers should all be held to account in admonishing the evil of sexism within social relations.

Changing the Narrative

The issue that I have with the existing narrative is that it makes women into objects, things to be analysed and studied. They partake in social relations, whether intentionally or not, and are subject to wandering eyes and potty mouths. I propose a radical change in this narrative, one which has unfairly oppressed women, non-binary and gender-nonconforming persons. Let us emancipate them from the sexist rhetoric that engulfs them, that tells them what to wear, what to say and when to say it. Let us put sexual autonomy at the heart of the debate, not promiscuity.

Shaking Up the System

I am committed to the emancipation of women, as most other women like myself are. A radical shake-up of the system must shift the focus on positive sexual experiences for women, as told in their own words. Long gone will be the days where the walk of shame deters a woman from owning her own body, her own sexuality and the confidence that she asserts it with. Women should be able talk about their sexual experiences with their friends, without peering eyes or judgement, and only share with whatever they are comfortable with.

Empowerment

Below is a non-exhaustive list of three ways in which women can empower themselves in the most authentic, non-pressured way when it comes to talking about sex.

  1. Speak when you want to speak

If there’s something you want to share about your sexual experiences, whether positive, negative or somewhere in between, it should be entirely up to you about how much or little you share. Drinking games such as ‘Never Have I Ever’ definitely encourage people to open up about their deepest, darkest secrets, but no one should be obliged to share something that makes them uncomfortable, even in the confines of a game.

  1. Normalise the conversation

Sex toys, sex positions and kinks can definitely be daunting to discuss, even with other women. One way to try and normalise the conversation is to talk to someone you trust and slowly begin to talk about sex as if you’re talking about what you had for breakfast or what you did on the weekend. Sometimes, it can be more awkward to have a formal conversation about these issues, so try and talk about them along with other ordinary topics of conversation, such as how poor the weather is in the U.K.

  1. Read, read and read more

There are several feminist must-reads that deal with all things sex, from how to be an intersectional feminist and approach sexual matters in light of one’s culture and race, to guides on how to have feminist sex. I would recommend beginning with ain’t i a woman, The Vagina Monologues and Feminists Don’t Wear Pink by bell hooks, Eve Ensler and Scarlett Curtis respectively. There are also some great graphic books to dip in and out of, such as Gina Wynbrandt’s Someone Please Have Sex with Me.

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