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Sex: A Story Of Invisible Women - Sex, Society
Sex: A Story Of Invisible Women - Sex, Society

Video: Sex: A Story Of Invisible Women - Sex, Society

Video: Sex: A Story Of Invisible Women - Sex, Society
Video: SuperBobrovy 2016 All invisible Woman scenes 2023, March

In 2009, American Sarah McClelland published the results of a curious study in which men and women were asked to describe what "bad sex" means to them

Men responded that bad sex is one in which they did not enjoy it or got it less than they would like. Women - what do they think is bad sex, in which they were forced to endure pain or agree to it without their own desire. Where did such a striking difference in the perception of a process designed, it would seem, for mutual pleasure come from?..

Male privilege

For many years, it was believed that only men could enjoy sex. Women's sexuality was not just ignored - no! - she was seriously considered a deviation from the norm, a sign of illness, obsession, or simply promiscuity 1. Of course, there could be no question of any equivalence of sexual partners in such conditions.

The woman was prescribed the most passive role of the "receiving" side, the man - the active position of the "invader". This division is still reflected in the linguistic constructions that describe the process of intercourse: the partner is supposed to "master", and the partner - "to give", or, in more vernacular versions, "to take" and "to give", respectively.

The first revolution in views on sexual relations was made by Sigmund Freud, who described libido as the most powerful stimulus for all types of human activity. However, his views, even though they were very innovative for its time, not too contributed to the recognition of women's right to control their own sexuality 2. The "discovery" of the female ability to experience orgasm led to his extreme medicalization, breaking every conceivable psychological and bodily boundaries.

The followers of psychoanalysis attempted to treat "hysteria", which sometimes meant any "inappropriate for a lady" expression of emotions, with the help of massage the genitals of patients with vibrators or just hands. The female orgasm was proposed to be divided into "adaptive", obtained by stimulating the vagina during intercourse, and "maladaptive" - resulting from stimulation of the clitoris; from the latter, of course, it was supposed to unlearn the methods available at that moment.

At the same time, the opinion of the women themselves, paradoxically, was simply not taken into account. The scientific community of the early twentieth century consisted of almost all men, and the material for the study was mainly cases from the communication of psychoanalysts with clients who asked for solutions to certain problems. This left a double imprint on the development of the theory of sexuality.

  • Firstly, practicing doctors (at that time psychology was still considered one of the branches of medicine) treated patients with condescension at best, and with outright disdain at worst, and did not consider them able to give an adequate assessment of their own experiences.
  • Secondly, when constructing theories, only male experience was really taken into account, through the prism of which female characteristics were also considered. For example, the famous concept of "penis envy" was born - the idea that women, not possessing the main symbol of power - the phallus, seek to compensate for its absence through the birth of a child (in the "correct" version of development) or through the formation of "masculine" qualities (in the variant of neurotic development) 3.

Sexual revolution

The middle of the last century was marked by the most important cultural phenomenon called the "sexual revolution". This concept includes several aspects at once:

  • changing moral norms, according to which the topic of sexuality is no longer considered shameful;
  • the departure of ideas about "normal sexuality" beyond the framework of exclusively marital relations;
  • recognition of premarital sex as normative not only for men, but also for women;
  • removal of taboo from the topic of homosexual relations;
  • the spread of forms of sexual practices that were considered "non-traditional": group sex, promiscuity, "open marriage", etc.

This breakthrough became possible primarily due to the invention and the appearance on the market of oral contraceptives. In 1953, women's rights activists Katherine McCormick and Margaret Sanger announced grant funding for research that would allow women to self-control their own fertility. A few years later, the work bore the long-awaited results: scientists Gregory Pinkus, John Rock and Carl Jerassi managed to develop pills that suppress ovulation 4.

Access to contraceptive drugs led to a real social explosion - from now on, sex for women has ceased to be associated with the almost inevitable retribution in the form of pregnancy and subsequent childbirth or abortion. In fact, women were given the opportunity to control their own bodies almost on a par with men.

“Coming out of the shadows” of female sexuality, however, did not mean solving all the problems associated with the inequality of male and female pleasure. Gender stereotypes that prescribe such qualities as modesty, complaisance, patience, and so on as virtues to women, inevitably affect partnerships.

Girls from their youth are taught that sex is an extremely important male need: "He's a man, you know what you need!" This attitude is paradoxically combined with the stereotype that girls themselves should remain innocent for as long as possible, or at least not have excessively large sexual experience

The combination of these contradictory requirements leads to the fact that women, on the one hand, perceive sex as an inevitable "obligation" in romantic relationships, and on the other hand, they do not have the opportunity to understand, let alone express openly their own desires or restrictions in sex. This is reflected in the scientific picture of the world: according to the data collected by Lily Luffbarow 5, there are five times more clinical studies of male sexual dysfunction than studies of female sexual problems: dyspareunia, vaginismus, and others!

Thus, in the socio-cultural space, an attitude has been formed to sex as a tool for satisfying, first of all, male desires. Women continue to endure discomfort and even pain, often hesitating to admit to their partner that something is wrong, while men think of themselves as excellent lovers 6.


  1. Barker-Benfield GJ The horrors of the half-known life: Male attitudes toward women and sexuality in 19th century America. NY: Routledge, 2004. URL:
  2. Deutsch H. The Psychoanalysis of Sexual Functions of Women. NY: Routledge, 2018. URL:
  3. Thompson C. "Penis envy" in women // Psychiatry. 1943. V. 6. No. 2. P. 123-125. URL:
  4. Dorofeev V. Yu. Great medicines. In the fight for life. M.: Alpina Publisher, 2015. URL: % D0% B0% D0% BA% D0% BA% D0% BE% D1% 80% D0% BC% D0% B8% D0% BA +% D0% BF% D0% B8% D0% BD% D0% BA% D1 % 83% D1% 81 +% D0% BA% D0% BE% D0% BA
  5. Loofbourow L. The female price of male pleasure // The Week. 25.01.2018. URL:
  6. McClelland SI Intimate justice: Sexual satisfaction in young adults. NY: City University of New York, 2009. URL:

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