Archived Posts from 'Women's Issues' Category

Body Image

[This is the first post in a series entitled Overcoming Orgasm Killers that will examine the various factors that impact a woman’s sexuality, particularly in relation to her ability to orgasm.]

The effect of body image distortion on a woman’s sexual performance, not to mention her self-esteem, cannot be overestimated. It’s worth noting that this problem afflicts nearly all women, not just overweight or unattractive women. Many women who are widely considered bombshells still suffer from a distorted body image. I think this is particularly true among women whose job performance is linked to their looks, such as models and actresses. Even beautiful women can fall into the trap of focusing on their flaws, however minute, and become oblivious to their assets.

In the bedroom, a woman with a poor body image is likely to feel inhibited when her clothes come off. She will be preoccupied with worrying about how her body looks to her lover. Does this position make my ass look big? Will he notice my stretch marks? With these worries filling her head, it will be difficult for her to relax and enjoy herself.

In order to have a heightened orgasmic experience you really need to be fully relaxed and present in your body. You need to be receptive to various sensations and open to your body’s natural response. If you are tense and self-conscious it will be very difficult to allow your body to respond spontaneously.

However, having a healthy body consciousness is quite distinct from self-consciousness. I would describe body consciousness as an acute awareness of physical movements and sensations and the ability to isolate various muscle groups. I think women who participate in physical activities that involve a lot of body consciousness are at an advantage here: athletes, dancers, gymnasts, etc. Not because they have “perfect” bodies, but because they are very much in tune with their bodily sensations and can respond to subtle physical cues with ease. Yoga is an excellent way to develop this sort of body consciousness, and is a very accessible activity that anyone at any level of physical fitness can learn with a good instructor.

It is possible to be orgasmic and still suffer from some body image distortion. I’m still working through some of my own body image issues but I manage to have a very uninhibited sex life. I think that it’s damn near impossible to be a woman these days and not have at least a small degree of body image distortion. I’ve never met a woman who wouldn’t like to change something about her appearance (isn’t that incredibly sad?). It is possible, however, to balance your awareness of your issues with a measure of self-acceptance. This awareness can help you to overcome your insecurities and you can gradually progress further along the spectrum towards self-acceptance. It is a lifelong process, really, for our bodies are not static and as we age we must confront new physical realities. And of course we are constantly barraged by conflicting messages from the media and society at large, so it’s something we may have to revisit constantly. But the payoff is well worth the effort.

There is no simple cure for body image distortion, unfortunately. It’s not so much a physical problem as a psychological one, and in order to work through it you need to be willing and able to do some serious self-examination. It is definitely beneficial to seek the services of a therapist or counselor, but I also think it can be done on your own with some discipline and determination. A good mentor can also be incredibly valuable. I do NOT think the solution involves dieting or cosmetic surgery. Self-acceptance should apply to your body regardless of your size, shape or weight. I do think it’s always worthwhile to practice a healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition and physical activity. But I think you can be active, healthy, confident and sexy whether you’re a size 6 or 16.

Remember, ladies, a woman of any size who conveys an aura of self-confidence and vitality will look and feel sexy. The secret is that it really is all in your head - other people will perceive you much the same way you perceive yourself. You’d be surprised how much your posture and body language can convey about your level of self-confidence.

In addition, we need to remind ourselves that our physical appearance is just one of our qualities, but there are much more meaningful qualities that come into play in our personal relationships. We have been conditioned to focus on superficial appearances because they are so immediate, and physical attraction is always an element of sexuality that cannot be fully discounted. However, each person should be valued for the diverse and eclectic array of characteristics that make humans such fascinating animals in the first place. I recommend writing down a list of what you consider to be your best non-physical qualities. Keep that list and come back to it when you’re having a bad hair day or bad fat day or just a shitty day. Train your thoughts to focus on your good qualities and not to obsess on your perceived flaws.

Finally, aspiring for self-acceptance and wanting to look and feel sexy should not be intended solely to garner more male attention (although that will be a guaranteed result). The whole point is to lose your inhibitions so that you can reach your full sexual potential. I sincerely believe that, any medical conditions aside, all women have the innate potential to be wildly orgasmic. If you’ve been comparing yourself to porn stars and feeling inadequate, you’re going about it all wrong. Please don’t try emulating porn stars because they don’t represent reality in any way. If you want real sexual satisfaction and orgasmic ecstasy, you’re going to need to focus on your own physical pleasure. Trust me - nothing gets men hotter than seeing a woman thoroughly enjoying herself during sex.

Body image is just one aspect of our overall self-esteem, and just one inhibition that can have a negative impact on our sexuality. My next post in this series will look at the mother of all inhibitors: shame.

Filed under: Women's Issues, Body Image, Orgasms, Unsolicited Advice | June 18th, 2007 Comments (3)

Getting Naked

There are some very interesting discussions going on about getting naked on the internet, and I’m so pleased because I’ve been stewing on this topic for a while now.

I’ve been grappling with this personally because I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to post nude/semi-nude photos of myself on this site and I’m a little conflicted. On one hand, I’d like to indulge my inner exhibitionist and what better place to do so but on my anonymous sex blog? But this decision isn’t as simple as it would seem, and all body image issues aside (that’s for another post), I’m trying to sort out the ramifications of such a decision. I’m a sex blogger and a feminist, and it’s always fascinating and a little depressing when those two worlds collide.

A common argument in favor of baring all is that women are empowered when they are in control of their sexuality and they can express it in whatever manner they see fit. I’m certainly on board with this train of thought. But I got a little tripped up when I visited Twisty’s site and she had this to say:

Get hip to this: the ability to titillate men is not a high moral purpose. Being sexually manipulative is not a high moral purpose.

True enough. I’d also add that the ability to titillate men is not particularly rare or unique. In fact, it’s ridiculously easy. The average man is woefully predictable and all too easy to manipulate with sexual favors. That’s why I’m not interested in average men. I like a man with integrity and discriminating tastes, not to mention a healthy respect for women.

However, I don’t think that we should have to justify our every activity by making sure it has a high moral purpose. Sometimes we do things just because it’s fun and it gives us pleasure. There’s precious little about sexual activity that constitutes a high moral purpose, but I’m sure as hell not going to abstain just because it falls short of this standard. And as Steel pointed out, suicide bombers consider their mission a high moral purpose, but that’s obviously a subjective viewpoint.

Sex is an inherently hedonistic act and life is too damn short not to enjoy its finer pleasures. Titillation may not revolutionize society or cure cancer, but it can be a lot of fun! It’s a role that I enjoy when the mood hits me, and I’m in a position to exercise my desires and whims in the context of my choosing.

So if I want to post nude photos of myself on my website because I know it will titillate and attract visitors, will I feel empowered? Not really, no. But I’m not doing it because I need that sort of affirmation in order to feel good about myself. I’m doing it for fun and maybe even for profit, should I ever solicit advertisements.

The pitfalls of living in a patriarchal society are many, however, and I don’t want to be oblivious to the context of my actions. Because like it or not, it’s a man’s world and let’s not forget that the I’m only willing to get naked if I can remain anonymous. That’s an important consideration because it could have a very real and negative impact on my family and my career if my identity were made public.

In short, making a public display of my naked body is really not empowering and it is definitely not a higher moral purpose. But that doesn’t make it wrong, either, and if it’s what I enjoy doing, I’m going to do it. The radical feminists may howl with disapproval and the misogynists may call me a filthy skank and the prudes may call me a slut, but fuck them all. My body, my choice, my terms. Don’t like it? Don’t come ’round here no more. I can’t please everyone, but I sure as hell can please myself.

Now I definitely need to get my hands on a copy of Audacia Ray’s Naked on the Internet! I’m dying to read that book:)

Finally, I’ll let Christina Marrs of God’s favorite band, the Asylum Street Spankers, spell it out loud and clear, because she does it the best.

‘T’ain’t Nobody’s Business

Filed under: Women's Issues, Body Image | June 12th, 2007 Comments (4)

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