The Sexually Liberated Woman

The Sexually Liberated Woman

A recent headline in The Independent read, “Millennial Women Having Twice As Much Sex As Older Generations But Half As Many Orgasms.”

The article presented findings from a survey of 2,100 people aged 18 to 70, conducted by online sex toy retailer Lovehoney ahead of Sexual Happiness Day on 21 April 2019.

They found that 39 per cent of women aged 18 to 25 are having sex more than twice a week. Of these, only 36 per cent always have an orgasm with their partner, compared to 63 per cent of women over the age of 45.

Respondents were also asked about their sexual happiness. On a scale from 1 to 10, women under 25 were less likely to be completely sexually happy (11 per cent) versus older women (16 per cent).

Young women (especially young women with less social and economic power) tend to report having more frequent but less rewarding sex.

There are several limitations to these data: first, having “sex” and feeling “sexually happy” may mean different things to different people; second, there are numerous factors that may account for these differences than age alone, like partner abilities and relational factors; and third, the survey was conducted by a sex toy company who obviously has an interest in promoting devices that can enhance our sexual functioning

But similar findings are seen in the scientific literature.

Young women (especially young women with less social and economic power) tend to report having more frequent but less rewarding sex.

This raises an important question: Are women today really sexually liberated?

Certainly, we live in an era where women, particularly young women, have more freedom than ever to explore and embrace the kind of sexual lives they want.

Women have access to more knowledge about sex, a greater array of sex toys and products, improved options for contraception, and radically expanded ideas of love, relationships, and families.

Yet numerous challenges still constrain women’s sexual lives.

Study after study shows that women have lower rates of sexual autonomy, arousal, and orgasm than men. In addition, many women lack freedom from all forms of sexual pain, including sexual violence, painful sex, and body shame.

But what if these sexual experiences, while plentiful, are not that empowering or fun?

Women also grapple with increasingly narrow definitions of “liberated sexuality,” which many equate with having a great deal of sexual experiences.

But what if these sexual experiences, while plentiful, are not that empowering or fun?

In an article published in Sexualities to reflect on the advancement of women’s sexuality, Breanne Fahs, a Professor of Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University, had this to say on sexual freedom:

“One cannot have true freedom without both the freedom to and the freedom from.”

Freedom to, she argued, includes the freedom to enjoy sexuality when and how desired. Freedom from entails not having to enjoy it and, certainly, nothaving to endure it.

Saying ‘yes’ to sex that is unwanted or unpleasurable is not necessarily freeing, then; it’s confining.

So, if you’ve ever read a magazine headline about sexual frequency and wondered, ‘how does my love life measure up?’—know this:

Sex liberation is not about often you have it; it’s about having the freedom to do what you want, and the freedom from not doing what you don’t want to do.

If a joyous and happy sexual life is what you want, quality, not quantity, matters. Sexual autonomy matters too.

This article was originally published on Find Your Pleasure.

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