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Are We Still Condemning Women for Their Sexuality?

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Are We Still Condemning Women for Their Sexuality?
Dr. Lisa Firestone discusses the ways our society still condemns women for their sexuality.

Some stereotypes regarding women’s sexuality are based on the fact that because of influences from both society and family, many women are less likely to reveal their sexual desire. Society’s point of view reminds us that men are designed to want sex, while women are designed to withhold it. These attitudes drive a man to hide a lack of sex drive for fear of facing the same negative scrutiny a woman dreads for showcasing her sexuality. When a person’s sexual nature is stripped of these hurtful and shaming cultural and psychological influences, a man and woman’s desire for sex is basically the same.

A common distortion in our society views men as wanting sex more than women. In my personal experience as a therapist, I have found this to be untrue. Many couples I’ve seen have complained of the opposite dynamic, with the woman feeling frustrated over her partner’s lack of interest in sex. Other therapists have noticed the same. In an article on WebMD, Louanne Cole Weston, Ph.D. stated, “When people wrote in about the discrepancy of frequency and desire [for sex], about 40% of the time it was men wanting less.” Irwin Goldstein, M.D., director of sexual medicine at San Diego’s Alvarado Hospital and editor in chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine further stated to WebMD that one in five men have a low libido, and “almost 30% of women say they have more interest in sex than their partner has.”

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In the U.S., 15 to 20 percent of couples reportedly have sex no more than 10 times a year, which experts define as a sexless marriage, and 20 to 30 percent of men and 30 to 50 percent of women say they have little or no sex drive. The reasons for this are complex. Many of our attitudes toward sex are shaped by how we were raised and how sexuality was portrayed to us in our families and in our communities. It also has to do with how much we’ve matured and developed our capacity to tolerate mental and physical intimacy.

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If women are in fact less sexual than men, there is a certain degree of explanation in the family dynamic. Families tend to be more protective toward their daughters. Parents impose their own moral, religious or personal views toward sex onto their children, and this is particularly the case with girls. Feelings of guilt and shame are born in the household and at a very young age, when little girls are taught to hide or repress their physical selves. As they reach adolescence and start dating, protective or critical attitudes from parental figures tend to teach young women to suppress or resist their sexuality. Everyone from their parents to their peers may be sending them the message that being sexual is synonymous with being a slut.

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Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Lisa Firestone

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Dr. Lisa Firestone PhD

Director of Research and Education

The Glendon Association

www.glendon.org

www.psychalive.org

(805) 681-0415 x216

Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Credentials: PhD
Specialties: Anxiety Issues, Communication Problems, Couples/Marital Issues, Depression, Family Support, Parenting, Stress Management
Other Articles/News by Dr. Lisa Firestone:

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