Monday, February 5, 2018

Female Sexual Pain

Among the most distinctive features of second-wave feminism was its insistence that women take ownership of their sexuality. Thus, it began with consciousness raising groups where women could talk about their sexuality. It brought forth mega-bestsellers like The Hite Report and Our Bodies, Ourselves.  It promoted college women’s studies courses about the varieties of sexual pleasure and insisted on abortion rights and free contraceptives. Sex positive feminists promoted hookups and sexting. After all, women would not only own their sexuality and have complete freedom to do what they wanted with their bodies, but they would be able to have sex like men.

To the point where the nation has been engaged in a national conversation about women’s sexuality for the past five decades. When Teen Vogue can run an article called “A Guide to Anal Sex” and where Seventeen Magazine can teach high school girls how to paint their fingernails to look like vaginas and where American women are out marching in pussy hats, no one can really say that the world is ignoring female sexuality. Women have liberated their sexuality. Presumably they have more sex and more sexual pleasure than any other generation of women in human history. And yet, if such were the case, feminism would be crowning itself in glory.

As for ownership, we now discover that we have gotten that one wrong. Lili Loofbourow has written a much praised article explaining that women suffer in pain through a large number of their sexual encounters but that they are too afraid, too timid, too weak to say anything about it. Those of us who thought that women were enjoying their newfound sexual freedom have apparently missed the point. Those of us who thought that feminism was making women strong and empowered will also have to revise our views. It turns out that feminism gives women more bad sex and less strength and power.

Not only that, but today's women suffer in silence. Surely, none of this is a good thing, but Loofbourow, good feminist that she is, does not bother to make the connection with the current state of female sexual pain and the feminist revolution. Five decades of non-stop feminism and we get Harvey Weinstein and women who suffer painful sex in silence. Considering all of the exhortations for women to assert themselves, even to lean in, one has a right to be surprised at such a failure to assert.

As it happens, Loofbourow’s article is intellectually deficient. You expect as much from ideologues pretending to think. In particular, she does not differentiate between hookups and sex that exists within the context of a relationship, what we have been calling: sex with someone you know. At which point we must ask ourselves whether the women who are undergoing these painful experience and who cannot manage to utter the least discouraging word are hooking up—as happened with the women who recently accused Aziz Ansari of sexual insensitivity—or are involved in a constituted relationship.

One can only wonder how much of the pain Loofbourow informs us of exists because women are engaging in random, anonymous sexual encounters. After all, everyone knows, or should know, that male and female sexualities are fundamentally different. Women and men do not function sexually in the same way. To expect that they will, to try to act as though they do might place women in very difficult sexual positions: consenting to do something that they do not really want to do. And we do not know anything about the influence of STDs—which have become increasingly common among young women.

Now, Loofbourow seems to believe that the problem is that we have not talked about female sexuality enough. This is absurd. She should have said that we have talked about female sexuality too much. Led by feminists we have stripped away modesty and left women feeling exposed to the world. It is not a pleasant or pleasurable posture for most women. In truth, the constant discussion about female sexuality seems to have alienated women from their sexuality, to have turned it from private property into public property. Women no longer own their sexuality—it’s the only rational conclusion to draw from this information.

The ubiquity of pornography has contributed mightily to this process, but the porn purveyors have, in this, been the accomplices of the feminist matriarchy.

Loofbourow is especially torqued about Andrew Sullivan for suggesting that the #MeToo movement should try to understand the differences between male and female sexuality. In particular, Sullivan suggested that testosterone has a significant influence on male behavior. As I pointed out when praising Sullivan’s article, his analysis derives from Darwinian science.

Consider this. Loofbourow offers these statistics to show how painful women find sex. She only discusses vaginal and anal sex, so we are left in the dark about the potential pain caused by oral sex:

Research shows that 30 percent of women report pain during vaginal sex, 72 percent report pain during anal sex, and "large proportions" don't tell their partners when sex hurts.

If anal sex is that consistently painful, why do it at all? Why consent to it? Do women consent to anal sex because they think it makes them more liberated and sophisticated? Or do they consent to it because they think it makes them more like gay men? Shouldn't Loofoburow asked a gay male like Andrew Sullivan about his views on the topic? Shouldn't the author call out Teen Vogue for encouraging practices that are likely to be painful?

I am willing to accept Loofbourow’s conclusion, that women have a lot of bad and painful sex. But, she ought at least to understand that modern feminism has a good part of the responsibility. If its goal was to give women ownership of their sexuality and to make them more confident and assertive, it appears that it has produced just the opposite. If that doesn’t spell failure, I don’t know what does.


Anonymous said...

"And we do not know anything about the influence of STDs—which have become increasingly common among young women."

I guess Google could confirm/deny this statement.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

The Center for Disease Control has the statistics.

Anonymous said...

I am going to go out on a limb here and state that the vast majority of men have no desire to hurt women especially during intercourse. Most men want for women to enjoy being with them. The fact that today's woman cannot express their dis- ease about pain during sex is disappointing. It seems they wind up lying to themselves and their sexual partners.
Feminism has done a lot of damage to men, but far more to women. Hook ups, et al do nothing to develop a caring relationship between two people where partners tend to become aware of each other's needs and reactions.
The sad part here is that in one of the most important intimacies that can occur between a man and a woman women have lost the ability to impart their true feelings. Until they can find the respect for their own bodies, not body parts, they will never be truly happy.
It saddens me that they have allowed themselves to be controlled by a group of misandrist and harridans.

Redacted said...

"I feel your pain."
--- Bill Clinton

Ares Olympus said...

I expect the "30% of women report pain during vaginal sex" is not on the increase from history even if women are more likely to admit it now, but it has always been true. It makes sense to consider anonymous hookup sex, maybe once called a "one night stand" is not good place to learn about your sexuality since there is a large part fantasy involved, and you're playing a part in your own fantasy and someone else's fantasy, and facts like pain are inconvenient and even thinking about pain makes it worse.

Although the word "pain" itself is troublesome. When you go the emergency room they ask you "What is the level of your pain 1-10", and even if that is subjective, at least it gives a starting point for awareness that discomfort has an issue of management as much as avoidance. Probably in older generations, some women submitted to their husband as a duty, and never talked to anyone about it, and just thought discomfort is normal, and some men might even be so sensitive that if their wives told them what they're feeling, especially if they had already stayed quiet about it for years, they might withdraw from sex completely after children are born, because neither of them knew how to make it work any better.

Anonymous at 12:24 PM supports my thoughts as well, although I don't wish to blame feminism for female passivity. Hookups don't clearly help, but passivity in committed relationships is just as hopeless.

We all have shame, both genders, most of all in the most intimate and vulnerable times, and many or most will prefer to cover over problems than be embarrassed in talking about them.

Bizzy Brain said...

Breaks my heart that liberated women who have been to bed with 100+ guys have had experienced some physical pain. They will experience a much more significant mental pain down the line when they realize that although a good man will bang on them, he won't marry a slut.