Sexual culture

books physiology reflections upbringing

What I love about tiktok is that you can really, really go out of your bubble and freak out. In one video, a woman talks about the fact that a man will do anything, move mountains, get married, but all this for the sake of one single goal – access to a woman’s body. And under the post there are hundreds of comments where women agree with this, and not as a problem, but as a norm. That’s just how they are, these men. What does this indicate? Normalization of rape culture. Because sex without consent, including internal consent, is rape. How did we end up here and what to do next?

Nawal El Saadawi and “Woman at Zero Point”

I recently read a book by the Egyptian author and feminist Nawal El Saadawi (1931-2021), who has been described as the Simone de Beauvoir of the Arab world. This is how Saadawi describes her birth: “This was the face of ‘Om Mahmoud’, the village midwife who helped my mother to gove birth to me. When she didn’t see the sacred male organ between my thighs, she dropped me into a basin of water and left me to drown. This feeling of exile has never left me.”

At the age of six, she had her clitoris traditionally cut off, despite her parents’ comparative liberality (female genital mutilation was only officially banned in Egypt in 2008, although the procedure still takes place), and at the age of ten, her family tried to force her to marry, despite her mother’s support Nawal in denial. Nawal married three times, and if in the first two cases she had to fight for a divorce (it’s not the woman who decides when to get a divorce), then in the third, happy marriage, they tried to forcefully divorce her on religious grounds for her “heretical” views and rejection of Islam.

Nawal did a lot for the women’s issue in Egypt, and criticized everything, including the government, for which in 1981 she paid first with freedom (for three months), and later she had to leave the country altogether, being on the “black list”. 9 years before her imprisonment, Nawal had already been in that prison and met a woman there who inspired her to write this fictional novel based on real events, which exposes the position of women in a deeply patriarchal and religious society. This novel is an easy way to see the problem of perception of women and their bodies through the very radical prism of the Egyptian case. Polarity gives better vision. The book describes the journey of an ordinary Egyptian woman from childhood to the death penalty for murder. So, what could lead a woman to murder? Why is there such a strong imbalance?

A man does not know the value of a woman, Firdaus. It is she who determines her value.

Nawal El Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero

Why Men Demand Sex (Well, Some of them)

A man is perceived as more sexually active and demanding compared to a woman. Why?

  1. Biological factor
  1. Psychological factor
  1. Sociocultural factor

In summary, only testosterone can be perceived as something unchanging. But let’s face it, more testosterone doesn’t equate to a lack of self-control or a need for sex like air. This is nonsense. In both cases, sufficient testosterone is responsible for libido, as well as maintaining bone and muscle health and general energy levels. Testosterone is not a diagnosis, but a normal component of the body, for both male and female.

Can a man live without sex?

There is a popular myth that life without sex has a terribly bad effect on a man’s health. Many men consciously or unconsciously manipulate this myth, making a woman feel guilty and responsible. There is no scientific evidence that the lack of sex has a bad effect on a man’s health. If we talk about people in general, then yes, sex can contribute to hormonal balance and a good mood. But the lack of sex does not make us unfit for a normal life. A balanced diet, physical activity and adequate sleep are quite enough. You can add hobbies, socialization and meditation – you’re all set.

An extremely popular story: the woman is guilty, because the woman caused the erection, so the woman must take care of it, otherwise the man will be hurt, not to mention the risks to the prostate. MYTH. And a huge space for manipulation.

The woman is not to blame for your erection. This is simply the body’s response to the stimulator. It happens to women too, although it’s not common to talk about it. In general, sexologist Emily Nagosky writes that the body’s physical reaction may not be as much of a sign that you want sex as the body’s response to the topic of sex itself. A human being is not equal to the body. An erection or “wetness” does not equal consent to sex.

A woman does not have to do anything except what she wants. Same as a man. Same as non-binary individuals. Two adults should come to an agreement, not rape each other. If on some level (for example, physically or morally) you don’t want this sex, but still decide to engage in it – this is an insult to the person, their integrity, well-being, self-perception. And the responsibility here lies on both.

An erection comes and goes – it’s just the inflow and outflow of blood. If ejaculation does not occur, this may cause temporary discomfort until the blood flows back. That’s all. Neither sex nor masturbation is necessary. Eggs will not explode and prostate cancer will not happen – no scientific evidence. If there is unpleasant feeling, make a cold compress. Unused sperm is simply sucked back. We can live without sex, let’s breathe.

In fact, it’s possible that men are trying to sustitute other things by sex. Handy! Easy! But well, delusional.

Culture of consent

In our rapidly changing society we can count on only two things that will never change. What will never change is the will to change and the fear of change. It is the will to change that motivates us to seek help. It is the fear of change that motivates us to resist the very help we seek.

Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Intimacy

Rejection can hurt the poor man and affect his self-esteem, so many women agree to sex without wanting it, because for the poor man, not wanting sex can be equal to not wanting him (the man) as such. Dear men, are you okay with women having sex with you out of guilt, pity or no real desire? Are you okay with identifying yourself with sex or are you a little more than that?

Regarding consent culture, there is also a myth that it acts as a turn off, but in fact it is about respect, safety, trust, which definitely contributes to arousal. It’s about connection and caring. In our reality, this is rather a rarity and a turn on.

It is important to understand that “no” is definitely no, but “yes” due to historical circumstances and myths can be unwillingness to offend or fear/inability to say “no”. You may want it physically, but not morally or emotionally, or vice versa. Communication will help you find out why exactly yes or no, and if you really care about the person you are sleeping with and about yourself, communication is necessary. Women are easier to sexually manipulate not because they are stupid, but because they are loving, empathetic, afraid to hurt, or simply afraid of men per se. I am generalizing on the basis of my own experience of communication, of course, and people are different, but.

The next evolutionary step for men is to forget about “being a man”, to recognize their right to emotions and to open a whole new layer in the relationship, which will gift them, not rob them.

This is what women want: to be safe, to be valued, to live in peace, to have their own resources, to be connected, to have control over their own bodies and lives, and above all to be loved.

Isabel Allende, “The Soul of a Woman”

Popular literature about sex

I read several popular books on sex, including Emily Nagosky and Ian Kerner. The books are rather long-winded and repetitive, but above all they seem to exist in order to deliver to people those simple truths that fail to be delivered all the time:

Read also:
Nonviolent communication

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