Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
On a miserable Monday morning, before my first lecture of the day, I was sat with my friend talking about something incredibly non-offensive: sex. Despite my claim that this relative benign conversation was non-offensive, it became incredibly apparent to me that this wasn’t normal, people around me were peering over their shoulder and looking as if to say ‘why are you talking about that?‘. It wasn’t that I was saying anything particularly shocking or outlandish, but the fact that a female, a woman, a girl talking about sex was something to be shunned. Why does our twenty-first century society still hold this view?
For years there has been a widely held belief, that still permeates our society, that for a man to talk about sex (often in a vile and degrading way) is something to never bat an eyelid over and is okay, but the moment a woman talks about the same things, in an open and confident way, it is something to be sneered at and therefore it isn’t something that happens. It is laughable that the trope of the lads ‘locker room talk‘ still persists, with men (or boys) around me still talking about their sexual conquests as if those they conquer, generally women, are objects and uncharted territory to be colonised. If we ever thought we had gotten beyond this, it was apparent from this year’s series of Love Island that we definitely hadn’t.
One of the contestants on this year’s show, Maura, was a figure I loved to watch purely due to the fact that she wasn’t afraid to speak openly, honestly, and frankly about sex. Finally someone in the public eye wasn’t conforming to those societal stereotypes and censoring their thoughts and feelings. Rather they were confident enough to say it out loud. However, this didn’t come without a backlash in the form of a man within the villa assuming her sexual behaviour on account of her freedom of speech. This demonstrated, rather harshly, the exact fears of women that dare to talk openly about anything intimate but especially sexual desires and behaviours. But Maura didn’t censor herself, something encouraging to those watching and to those that withhold talking about such topics, therefore making her behaviour on Love Island something that we can learn from.
This fear and shame that many feel is enough for women to completely stop talking about any intimate details pertaining to themselves which appears to me as a total shame. Whilst I don’t think everyone ought to talk about such details, of course many don’t want to at all, I think so much can be learnt from each other when we do share our experiences as well as creating a sisterhood between us all.
Talking openly and honestly to those around us, particularly with those who might have already experienced something similar, can aid learning and understanding that may have never previously crossed our minds. There is no manual when it comes to sex, relationships, hormones and periods, so understanding what other’s go through and what their experiences may be becomes invaluable to understanding ourselves. So start that conversation. Yes, it may be a bit awkward at first but through time it becomes second nature and you discover those like-minded people that enjoy and happily talk about the same sort of things.
Once you start these conversations, don’t censor yourself. Don’t allow yourself to talk in hushed tones for fear of what people might say or the glares you might receive because that allows this issue to be subtly propagated. There is no need to shout from the rooftops or wear a sandwich board and ring a bell down the streets, but talk wherever you want and however you want without fear. Take this confidence and refusal to edit yourself into every facet of your life. Talk with all of your friends if you want to, carry it into your romantic relationships, and if you feel inclined talking with your family can be great. The education and learning you gain from talking with your female friends is vastly different than what I gain from talking to my boyfriend, but neither is superior and both are equally valid. In encouraging you to talk openly about sex I don’t limit this to the who and the when – talk to whoever and talk whenever you want.
Hopefully by starting up this conversation and encouraging everyone, but especially women, to openly talk about sex (and everything that comes under that umbrella) we can gradually change the social norm that has forever censored women for many years. Let us lift the stigma and banish it from returning and becoming the tape slapped across women’s mouths to prevent them ever mentioning sex. To become part of the conversation tune into my radio show, Not Another Women’s Hour, every Thursday 7-8pm where we will be discussing sex, body image, relationships and everything in-between.