The patriarchy (a system of society in which men hold most the power and women are largely excluded from it) is its own worse enemy for men when it comes to sex. The ridiculous expectations it places on women and their bodies spoil sex for both women and men in a myriad of ways.
I have a recurring dream/nightmare. I’m getting my grove on with a man, usually some hot celebrity, maybe Ryan Reynolds or Alexander Skarsgard if I’m lucky, when in the dream I remember I haven’t shaved. My legs are prickly, my armpits bedecked and my muff is rocking a 70s vibe that doesn’t quite stop at the creases of my legs. Then the dream becomes me stressing about what the dreamboat will think of me, how they will deem me less attractive and unworthy of sex. That I’ll be a turn off because my body is in its natural state of having hair. Then the dream becomes a madcap escapade where I’m trying to de-fuzz with a razor in the bathroom.
We could laugh at this, because it’s a bit ridiculous that I’ve ruined my own sex dream with Deadpool or Tarzan worrying about body hair but it’s a very real issue. I’m a feminist, I could rant all day about the ridiculousness of society thinking we should spend silly amounts of time and money on removing body hair to in effect mimic the look of a child. Its so fucked up. Yet even I would never have entered into a new relationship and dared to have approached new sex without being waxed or shaved! I do so now (furry sex that is) with Papa Ginge but he doesn’t hold back in telling me that he finds it gross, unattractive and masculine. We’ve had long conversations/fights about this matter. I think if he had to de-hair every orifice of his body every day and deal with itchy regrowth just for the occasional random parent sex we get to have he would be pissed off about it too.
But it doesn’t just stop there! Female bodies sell everything. Need to sell a sandwich? Why not prop it between a model’s tits, because we couldn’t possibly understand a sandwich, or whatever, without sex. Most of us are now aware of the pressures on women to be skinny and perfect that arises from the media. Even a razor advert shows a woman shaving smooth legs. I reckon if I did a straw poll of readers who had less enjoyable sex because they were worried about what their bodies looked like it would be an extremely high percentage. Yes, this affects men too – but then patriarchy does negatively impact on men too doesn’t it. I’m confident though in saying that it affects women more because we deal with a shit tonne more of it in the media than men and have done for decades. How many dicks have you seen in sex scenes on film?! You could probably count them on one hand. How many tits and fannies? Countless. You rarely see a scene without them. Not to mention the sheer number of scenes on TV that involve naked women but fully clothed men.
After 2 children I’m more conscious of how my body looks during sex. It’s not so bad with the man who has seen me go through the birth of these children so knows just how well earned any pouch or tiger stripes were but what if you separate and have to embark on a new relationship. Women have told me the stress they face in a new sexual relationship after kids with c-section scars, stretch marks and piles. It’s no wonder so many women will only shag with the lights out! It’s enough to put anyone off divorce (jokes).
I’ve had girlfriends joke to me about how their breasts look hideous hanging pendulously down like udders when they are bent over in sex. We might laugh but when you are thinking about your tits complying with gravity you aren’t thinking about your orgasm and how many women have experienced not getting to orgasm while the man does? Again, an unacceptably high proportion.
Then there is porn, which warrants a post of its own. Why isn’t there more porn that women can enjoy and men can learn from? Nearly every porno I see is entirely formulaic and has a couple of things that every woman I know would never like – getting her fanny slapped? Really? And money shots? WTF?! Why!? Why do men find this a turn on? Is it an ultimate power play? I read a survey that said women prefer lesbian porn and I thought, of course, we do because it’s often not as sexist. What concerns me most is that while in my generation, lads at school had playboy issues or the bra section of the Littlewoods catalogue that they wanked over. Now kids have smartphones and easy access to online porn at the click of a button. Young girls eager to please will seek to copy these films and young clueless boys will learn that’s what sex (and women) looks like. There is going to be a lot of disappointment and confusion for sure. I can’t be the only woman who wants better porn?
Finally, there are the expectations of what it means to be feminine. To be dainty and pretty and female. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been chastised me for being too crude, too overtly sexual. Because a woman making crass jokes is masculine and a turn off – no?! I bet a fair few of you have cringed reading this article – you should have seen the first draft before I toned it down. The message women receive is that we should be meek and mild and not tell the bloke exactly what he needs to do to get us off in bed. Have you ever worried about how long it’s taking you to orgasm and that the guy will give up? Common worry because often they don’t understand how to get a woman off efficiently or well or even know where the clitoris is! I blame that on porn too. For teens, lads joke about wanking all the time but for a teen girl it’s embarrassing and shameful to admit you masturbate. Most girls in my school outright denied it and even now as adults many wouldn’t want to talk about it much publicly. You need to be a bit sexy, but not too sexy or you are a sloppy slut. The line you must tread is a fine and frankly untenable one. A saint in the streets but a whore in the sheets, puh-lease.
So my note to the patriarchy, you’ve fucked up when it comes to fucking! It’s a popular jocular lament by men that women don’t want as much sex and often complain they are too tired or have a headache. Well, wouldn’t you if you had to spend so much time de-hairing, dieting, exercising, doing hair and makeup, dying out your greys, buying and wearing uncomfortable lingerie, performing sex gymnastics, conforming to gender stereotypes, treading the fine line of what’s feminine, worrying about looking fat or old.
Perhaps if you stopped constantly sexualising women in such ridiculous ways then you may find your sex life gets a whole lot better as a result?
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15 thoughts on “How the patriarchy ruins sex…”
LOVE the banana pic!
Fab post and the more people write about this, the better I think.
Personally, I think things ARE getting better for women, although I don’t know if that’s just because I read more around feminist issues now so in my mind I feel like more people are talking about it?
With regards to porn, it may be a bit CRINGE but I plan on trying to talk about it with my kids regularly (when the time is right) and making talking about sex a part of every day life for them. I really want to drum it into both my boys and Heidi what sex SHOULD be like and how to respect each other. They already know all about sex (even Jack who is 5) and I think if we hide away from it and porn (plus crappy sex ed at school) is their ONLY sense of what sex should be like then the next generation really are in big trouble.
With regards to nudity on tv – I would honestly rather see boobs over d**** any day – they are FAR more attractive and seeing something swinging around in the open would put me right off!
I really worry about body image for Heidi when she is older………. I try so hard not to say she’s beautiful or gorgeous because that is like objectifying her but sometimes it just comes out as she is gorgeous! I try to counteract this and tell her she can achieve anything and that she is strong like a superhero and could be an astronaught and fly to the moon if she wanted to. Who knows how outside influences are already effecting her though and I bet you think the same about Lena.
Steve takes the mick sometimes when I say something about empowering women, but then I remind him he has a daughter to think about and he soon pipes down!
Boobs swing around too! Give me a bit peen anyway haha! Now I’m being crass again. Yes I do think about all these issues too. Personally I think its fine to tell your kids they are beautiful, we just need to be careful thats not the place they draw their self worth from which is much easier with boys than girls because of the media. Even when men are objectified in the media its usually to do with physical strength, you know. I love your approach with your kids. I think you’ve got it spot on and my approach will be similar. And yeah, crappy sex ed is another huge problem! Thanks for reading and commenting!
This is why I can’t watch Game of Thrones. I feel like it was never meant for me. I saw one episode and I swear my eyes rolled so much I looked like one of those dolls. I worry about my daughter thinking she’s only there as decoration, like she exists for the male gaze thanks to Hollywood. Even the new Suicide Squad movie features so much of Harley Quinn’s arse I was sure it was an advert for hot pants. Rant over!
Yes I nearly had to quite GoT once because of the excess of gratuitous rape scenes and female nudity that wasn’t there in the books. They do male full frontal as well which is more than some shows but it’s a fraction. They do have some great strong female characters though so I’ve kept with it and they did listen to that criticism and improve the last season. Ugh re Suicide Squad. Looks like a fun film but man it’s just everywhere isn’t it.
Love love love this! I am much kinder now about my body than ever before ironic given.i had a cracking figure when I thought I looked fat!
I read an awful article about how analysis sex was becoming something girls felt was normal because boys see it so freely that there’s a generation of pre-legal teens with anal damage because they feel pressured into it nd no one talks about how to say no, or how to do it safely!
If you have not already read her work caitlin moran will be right up your street
I LOVE Caitlin Moran, I’ve read all her stuff and follow her online too. She’s awesome! Ugh, I feel for young girls today. I think we are going to have to work really hard to make sure our girls grow up with good body image and good sex education in today’s modern social media world. Thanks for reading and commenting! X
Ah, that banana photo! My eyes!
Sex is yet another reason I’m pleased I’ve got boys. There is such a lot of pressure on girls and women to look one particular way – whatever the fashion is – and not so much on boys and men. Lazy parenting ftw!
Are you naked around Arlo?
Yeah I am naked around Arlo, we shower together and stuff. He sees me breastfeed a lot. Not sure when/if I’ll stop yet! I’m definitely more conscious of the impact that what I do might have on Lena, for example her seeing me shave or put make up on, what I wear etc.
I agree about shaving – I don’t shave in front of the boys. I haven’t thought about the impact that has – maybe they think that women have spikey legs and men have hairy?! Haha, I’ve no idea but other grooming elements I do for myself and not for Rob, no matter what he whines.
Naked everyone in this house, no worries about body image or talking about body parts.
Of course that sometimes has embarrassing consequences. I won’t forget the time *everyone* knew that mummy did a red wee wee, while James does yellow wee wees!
You’ve got to love it when kids come out with stuff like that, so funny
Agree so much! I’m lucky because im such a confident woman and if my husband wants me to shave then so does he. ..balls and all. If he wants anal then he has to bottom to me every other time. I genuinely just don’t give a Damn what society wants.
I will literally verbally coach my partner until he’s doing it right in bed. I happily talk about masturbation and how i love to watch porn (sorry i like the porn we have now, i defo dont want it toned down).
But i know many women who are the exact opposite of me and it sucks for them. I have had a vibrant, exciting sex life so far but so many people haven’t.
I make it my mission to teach others my ways and try and get them more comfortable with taking about sex but yes i regularly get confronted with ‘you’re not very feminine’ and i flip out every time. I always wear makeup and dresses with pretty hair and my nails done because i like the way it looks so it’s not that. Is it because I’m fat? Can big girls not be feminine? Is it my dirty mouth? My innuendos? My descriptions of my bowel movements?
Who the f**** cares. I’m a mother f******* woman. I identify as a woman so i am goddamn feminine.
Erm, Wow!! This is simply brilliant, I’ve been talking to my children and the greater world for years about the objectification of women and the stupid patriarchal society which we still live in, whilst we’ve come far it’s still not nearly far enough and as a single mum of 42 my greatest fear and dread is having a new relationship and the terror of having to let someone see my c-sectioned, hystorectomied body, it’s one of the reasons I’m staying single!! I think the only thing we can do and that we must do is teach our own girls and boys that they can break the chain and make a different world where we become equals!
I totally agree with you Mandy. And it sucks society makes us feel like this. You look amazing and your body birthed 3 wonderful kids. You should be proud but it’s hard to feel that way when media isn’t representative! Thanks for your comment!
OMG! I feel like I found a little coven of ladies who are totally speaking my language! THANK YOU for this post! There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head from the post and all the comments from you wonderful, powerful women!
I have an 8 y/o daughter and we regularly have Power Chats about Girl Power and women’s rights and she came to the Women’s March in London with me.
I love what you are all saying about shaving. I hardly ever shave. Mainly because I am lazy. But I am really careful about never mentioning it in front of My Girl. However, she’s already come home with drama over her ‘hairy’ legs and this is coming from her damn school! Which means I have to ramp up my message to overpower the horrid media-driven drivel that the girls at school are spouting.
She is also totally into make-up whereas, as long as I have a little under-eye cream to make it look like I had some sleep, I’m good to go. So I think part of this is just her personality and I need to engage in some acceptance. She’s always been very into fashion & outfits etc and god knows she DID NOT get it from me!
Anywho. I have (temporarily) stopped dying my hair so there’s lots of silver. I like to think of it as my Power Strip of Silver. And I routinely pump iron to impress My Girl with my big muscles (lol!) and hold Serena Williams up high for her AMAZING STRONG BODY!
LOVE LOVE LOVE Caitlyn Moran. Did you guys see Raised by Wolves? I think I wet myself in every episode.
May I say, that your blog has totally made my day??!! Or had you already noticed lol?
Awww well this comment has made my day! Thank you. You know I’ve not watched Raised By Wolves yet but I really want to see it and you’ve just reminded me. You sound like an awesome mam, your daughter is lucky to have you!! Thanks for reading and commenting. Xx