Let me keep it real with you. The fact that the phrase ‘sexual liberation’ even exists makes me sad because liberation connotes a previous state of bondage. And this is true, especially in regards to women. Women’s sexuality has been repressed for years with cultural and religious structures, ensuring this. In some religions and cultures, a woman’s worth is tied to her vagina and virginity is seen as the hallmark of a woman’s dignity. In some societies, the more sexual partners a woman has, or the more open she is to talk about sex, results in the woman being slut-shamed. Another form of sexual servitude forced upon women is the notion that we merely exist to satisfy the sexual fantasies and cravings of men. Consequently, it becomes unfathomable that a woman can derive pleasure from any sexual acts, and this whole belief, is deeply entrenched in the patriarchal system, which has been in place for many years. So, even though I am less than enthused that the phrase ‘sexual liberation’ exists, I am not oblivious to the significance it carries for women and its relevance in today’s context. Hence, here I go, trying to define what sexual liberation means, particularly for women.
I do not believe that sexual liberation has a clear-cut definition. Our sexuality and sexual desires can be as fluid as water and what may seem liberated to you today, would be the same rope strangling your neck tomorrow. As a result, I believe that sexual liberation is a plethora of ideas and beliefs, intertwining to form this ideology. However, if I was to try my hardest and give the briefest description of all of these components, I would say that sexual liberation is the ownership of a person’s sexuality and the ability to live above the expectations and sexual preferences of others.
Since sexual liberation is specific to each individual, I believe that the first progressive step in achieving this is self-awareness: an introspective look into our sexual desires and unlearning any harmful sexual teachings we may have been taught. We need to question why we have come to believe specific ideas pertaining to sex and if these thoughts are the best suited for us. We must heal from any sexual trauma we may have experienced to fully understand what our sexual desires are. We ought to introspect alongside researching (reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, etc.) so that as we unlearn, we fill that void with more sex-positive ideas. In this journey to understand what we want out of our sex lives, there may be the need to experiment and probably go beyond our comfort zones, to find out what we like and dislike.
Once we undertake this journey, we will realize that the best path for some is to abstain from sex. In contrast, others would prefer to indulge in coitus within the context of a monogamous and loving relationship, while others would still prefer to have multiple sexual partners. These are all acceptable forms of sexual liberation granted that two contexts are considered. First, these should come from a person’s personal convictions and not as a result of societal pressure. Secondly, these should all be done considering the sexual health of the person, and the partner(s), if applicable because there are STI’s waiting to infiltrate a person’s health. With these two factors included, I believe you are well on your way to enjoy your chosen sexual route.
And still, on the subject of sexual health, I must stress the importance of regular testing if you are sexually active. If we choose to be sexually liberated, we must, as much as is possible, avoid obstacles which can hinder our sexual freedom. This also means that as a woman, you need to educate yourself on the available forms of contraception and birth control measures and the one best suited for you. It is a shame that in some societies, there is still stigmatization surrounding these, and many birth control options are limited or inaccessible. Safe abortions are still outlawed in some countries, and all these serve as impediments in the fight to own our sexuality. This is the unfortunate reality.
At this juncture, I would like to highlight that promiscuity is not equivalent to sexual liberation. Usually, when a sexually liberated woman is mentioned, we think of a woman unashamed to have sex with whomever she pleases and is not embarrassed to talk freely on sexual matters. Although such a woman can be sexually liberated, she is not the poster card of sexual liberation. It is possible to opt for this sexual direction as a result of unhealed trauma, or even external pressures forcing a person to adopt this lifestyle. To be truly liberated, a person must know that they have choices in their sexual journey and does not need to conform to the standards or expectations of others. So, as I previously mentioned, sexual liberation can take the form of virginity, celibacy, or being sexually active as long as that is the person’s preferred choice.
Lastly, whichever path a woman selects, she must actively seek pleasure from it. Yes, women can also be sexually excited, and this phenomenon is not merely reserved for men. Women should learn to know their own bodies and understand what arouses them and gets them to the point of orgasm. Yes, women do orgasm from sexual activities. We should be able to direct our partners or ourselves on the best ways to please ourselves sexually, as long as this pleasure is not harmful to ourselves or that of others. And need I say, any sexual actions must be done CONSENUALLY and not infringe on the freedom of others.
Essentially, these are my views regarding sexual liberation and my attempt to define what it means for women. What do you think? What does sexual freedom mean to you? Would you classify yourself as sexually liberated? Are you on the route of becoming liberated sexually? Let us start having these kinds of discussions and make progress when it comes to the autonomy of women’s sexuality.