Pleasure Is the Revolution We've Been Waiting For

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shakes hands with Republican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan after spea
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shakes hands with Republican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan after speaking at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Women like sex.

I've been thinking: Buried under the crushing, exhausting weight of all the assorted indignities of the current war on women, maybe it's time to flip the script and go back to the basics. My theory about why all of this inane madness is happening is this: Elite white men are afraid that their god-given power is disappearing. After all, we have a black president, we're on our third female Secretary of State and apparently, women no longer "need" men.

I have a proposition: maybe what we do need is to get in touch with our most instinctual, sexual selves, the selves that could potentially make Rick Santorum's head explode.

So what do women want? And why is it so necessary to ask that question right now?

The short answer is that women's desire is a massive threat to men insecure about their own masculinity. Consider asking the question -- "What do I desire?" -- and then pursuing the answer in the most pleasurable way possible. This may be more than just a fun, enlightening exercise -- it may in fact be revolutionary.

Women who want to get inside their own desire must start by shredding some prevailing myths, beginning with the one about men wanting sex more than women. It’s been ingrained in us to accept that men are so man-like that they can’t help but stare at every pair of breasts within a one-block radius, watch porn in every free moment and masturbate like monkeys. Then there’s the trope about how men cheat because they “can’t help it.”

Cultural construction is not biology. But this is where Cosmo and Maxim come together, creating something that makes you hate yourself and believe that you're at fault for every failure in your relationships. (But at least you've learned how to give really good blowjobs to satisfy and "keep your man." For your own pleasure? Not so much.) The truth is that our bodies were made for pleasure. According to Naomi Wolf's fascinating new book, Vagina: A New Biography, our nether regions are deeply complex, utterly unique playgrounds of pleasure that are able infuse us with creativity and joy.

There's no shame in wanting sex, but women who express their desire at an early age are shamed as sluts. The only women who have the ability to not enter the almighty slut-dome are those who are happily married, actively procreating,and (hopefully) have no desires whatsoever. Women are not allowed pleasure in this worldview, one that's on the GOP platform in 2012.

Let's tell Paul Ryan, Todd Akin and their pals that we like sex and we don't apologize for it. It’s not just for making babies. That if they want to take away our birth control, they'll have to wrest it out of our cold, dead, hands. We’re not making more babies for them to recruit.

Feminist History 101

Women were literally property not that long ago. If you’re coveting or already have an engagement ring, note that it essentially evolved as a husband’s down payment on his soon-to-be-wife. Not only did we belong to our husbands like cattle or guns, we were not allowed to own any property, because we were not considered human beings. Since then we’ve gotten the vote, have been allowed to work outside the home, been set free by the pill and presently find ourselves in a fraught conversation about what it means to “have it all.”

Second wave feminists did some great work, but the anti-porn bit missed one important fact: Women like sex. Going all Lysistrata on men isn't going to solve much except making us all really sexually frustrated. At the same time, we have to push back against the Madonna/Whore complex. We are not Eve, or Pandora or some other hypersexual goddess seducing men to eat our poisoned apples. Nor are we their Virgin Mary. We need to be allowed to simply be women, and not be shamed or idealized for wanting what we want, when we want it.

As long as we're running around botoxing and vomiting up our guts to fit our society's idea of the ideal woman, we cannot have satisfying sex lives, period. We have been mostly the objects, not the subjects, of our love and sex lives, and our culture perpetuates this with every airbrushed model on the side of a bus. We need to learn what it means to want, not simply to want to be wanted.

(This article originally appeared on EcoSalon in slightly different form.)

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