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Womans Liberation Issues

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Essay title: Womans Liberation Issues

The gender role given to women was one of the pretty, clean-cut, stay-at-home moms who always had dinner on the table when her husband walked through the white picket fence on the way home from work. Women were nice nurses or simply mothers; however, always submissive and eager to please their husbands.

Throughout most of history, the notion of women and sex was simply unheard of. Women were forbidden to demonstrate a sexual prowess and sexual oppression took many forms from female circumcision to society-issued gender roles. In the last twenty-five years or so, women have started their own sexual liberation. However, women are still living a double standard when it comes to issues relating to sex. I feel that sexual liberation and equality is extremely important for both men and women and unfortunately, there is still an inequality. Until recently in our history, the words women and sexual beings did not belong in the same sentence.

In early American culture, especially that of Christianity, women were to engage in intercourse with their husbands for the sole purposes of procreation and pleasing their mate. Women were viewed as the weaker sex and they were supposed to uphold the ideals of Christian morals (O’Neill, 1972). They were also expected to save themselves for marriage (Fisher, 1999). In the mid 1800’s, William Hammond, the surgeon-general of the United States, wrote: “The belief that women had a sexual appetite was a vile aspersion. Nine-tenths of the time decent women felt not the slightest pleasure in sexual experience (Colton, 1971). Charles Kligerman, and American psychoanalyst, stated: “Procreation in marriage was the only excuse for sexual activity and engaging in it for any other purpose-even as an act of love-was sinful (Swerdloff, 1975).” In both instances, it is obvious that women were definitely not to enjoy sexual experiences.

Luckily, there has been a strong movement for female sexual liberation. Peter Swerdloff, author of Men and Women, put forth three premises in 1975 to sway the “old sexual code.” One, sex is healthy; two, sexual relationships should be based on equality; and three, institutions such as child rearing or marriage that seek to regulate sexuality should be as flexible as possible (Swerdloff, 1975). Helen Fisher also noticed the movement. Fisher noted that the double standards are breaking down and girls are starting to experiment sexually at an earlier age (Fisher, 1999). Women are taking on their sex lives with full force. They are planning for families, experiencing more partners and options, practicing methods of birth control, marrying later, living with partners outside of marriage, and even demanding cunnilingus and other forms of satisfaction from partners (Fisher, 1999)!

Women are also now liberated in all forms of previously opposed sexual activities, not just intercourse. They are narrowing the gap with men. In a survey taken in the 1990’s, more than 70 percent of women admitted to masturbation (Fisher, 1999). The Kinsey sex studies, arguably the most widely knows sex studies, show the gap between men and women and their sexual activities. In 1948, 92% of surveyed males claimed they had masturbated (Kinsey, 1948). In 1963, when Kinsey surveyed women, the percentage was significantly less at 62% (Kinsey, 1953). However, most single women said that masturbation was their sexual outlet of choice. For the same time periods, over 30% of males had their first intercourse experience by the age of 17 vs. on 10% of women (Kinsey, 1948 &1953). Only around 30% of the women interviewed reported having intercourse at all by the age of 19 (Kinsey, 1953). Despite the Kinsey results, I believe that women are on the sexual rise.

When I go out on the weekends, I see women dressed up and going after what they want. I talk to friends who enjoy sexual relationships of all kinds and enjoy trying new things. It almost seems like women have a whole new sense of power now that they are in control of their sexuality. However, the double standard doesn’t end here. I still see a huge double standard when it comes to the number of partners a female has versus a male. If a man has had multiple sexual partners, he is regarded in a very positive, “macho” light. He is praised by his peers as being a “stud.” However, it is very common for a woman who has had multiple sexual partners to be regarded very poorly. She is often seen as a “slut” or a “whore.” She is talked about and sneered at when she walks by. Also, women are still very much seen as mere sex objects rather than people with feelings. It is also noted: “objects are usually more valuable and desirable when they are new, unused, and beautiful (Safilios-Rothschild, 1977).” It is the same for women. Men desire attractive, pure women. However, another double standard comes into play

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