If we were to believe mainstream cultural perceptions, beliefs and media portrayals, female sexuality is terrifying and should be controlled and repressed at almost all costs. From slut-shaming (“Why buy the cow when he can get the milk from Trader Joe’s!”) to victim blaming (“She was wearing Victoria’s Secret sweatpants so she was totally asking for it”) to rape culture (too many depressing examples to name) to clitoridectomy practices to comparing women’s sexual worth to Velcro (as in, it loses its “bonding ability” the more it’s used), gender stereotypes and misconceptions have warped our views of female sexuality in myriad, negative ways. But emerging science, as well as the slow tide of common sense, seem to be changing that.
Here are a bunch of reasons to feel awesome about female sexuality, which is, as a friend put it, “so powerful it's intimidating — why else would there be such a war on it?”
1. More freedom to explore sexuality without judgment.
While women are practically encouraged to be a little bisexual, or at least given the green light to explore, men who so much as hug another man (let alone kiss or do anything remotely sexual) tend to be judged far more harshly. Even men who admit to liking anal stimulation by women are sometimes deemed closet cases or weirdos, as if the entire anal region was awash in irreversible, flamboyant gayness.
On the other hand, women who like anal play are given trophies and gift certificates to Sizzler. The double standards surrounding certain sexual acts and bisexuality in men versus women aren’t across the board by any means, but culturally, it’s far more acceptable for a woman to openly get her freak on than it is for men. As an advice columnist, I’ve gotten many panicked queries from women who were worried their boyfriends were secretly gay due to things as trivial as how they dress or talk, or the music they listen to.
2. Strong arousal levels.
In addition to freedom, there is also evidence that women’s sexuality encompasses a wider range of desire and attraction. In Meredith Chivers’ famous study on the subject, women were hooked up to a plethysmograph (which measures vaginal blood flow and lubrication) and shown a variety of porn clips, such as sex between men and women, women and women, men and men, and a pair of bonobos. The women, both straight and lesbian, were turned on by all of it, including the copulating apes. When Chivers tried a similar experiment on men, they responded in predictable patterns: Straight men’s arousal soared when women were on-screen, and not very much at all when men were on screen. Gay men had the opposite response. And neither male group responded at all to the apes.
While being turned on by apes is not exactly something we can brag about at cocktail parties, Chivers’ study shows that women respond to a much wider array of stimuli. It also proves that the stereotype of women needing emotional connection and established intimacy to be turned on is not the case, after all.
3. Multiple orgasms.
There are rare cases of men who can experience multiple orgasms, but women are, as Mary Jane Sherfey documented in her groundbreaking research in the ‘60s, “sexually insatiable.” She quotes Masters and Johnson: “As contrasted with the male’s usual inability to have more than one orgasm in a short period, many females, especially when clitorally stimulated, can regularly have five or six full orgasms within a matter of minutes.” She then delves into the physiology of female multiple orgasms, using sexy words like “edema,” “erectile chambers,” and “distension,” before concluding: “The supply of blood and edema fluid to the pelvis is inexhaustible. Consequently ... the more orgasms a woman has, the more she can have. To all intents and purposes, the human female is sexually insatiable in the presence of the highest degrees of sexual satisfaction."
Can I get a “Hellz yeah”?
4. Different kinds of pleasure-gasms.
While the g-spot orgasm is still disputed (more on that here and here), the ways in which women can experience pleasure are almost too plentiful to name. There’s the clitoral O, there’s female ejaculation, there’s the ability for the vagina to expand enough to accept an entire fist (sometimes two!). There have also been documented cases of a woman orgasming from brushing her teeth, women who can come simply from thinking about it (that meditation class is looking better than ever now), and women who can come from nipple stimulation, exercising and even while giving birth! Of course these last examples are rarer, but the fact that they exist? Awesome.
5. The clit is the shit.
The clitoris is the only human body part designed exclusively for pleasure. It has twice as many sensory nerve endings as the penis. Even more remarkable is that I memorized that pretty much word for word from seeing "The Vagina Monologues" a decade ago. Still. Awesome. Also, recent science has acknowledged that the clit, far from being the tiny button we once thought, actually extends under the skin in a victorious Y shape and rivals the size of the penis.
Not everyone considers pregnancy to be a gift (certainly not those on MTV’s “16 and Pregnant”). But few can argue that bringing human life into this world is anything short of damn incredible. Plus, as women, we always know that our children are ours. Men can’t say the same.
7. Self-cleaning genitals.
Despite those baffling Summer’s Eve ads that suggest vaginal douching gives women the confidence to ask for a raise at work (not even joking), the vagina is a self-sustaining entity that cleans itself, as well as carries germs and other undesirable matter out of the body, such as bacteria or remnants of Hot Pockets. How cool is that?
8. No messy cleanup after masturbation.
Thank god, because I lose enough socks as it is.
Few question the transcendent power of boobs. Has there been a body part more celebrated, depicted in thousands of artworks, and even been the subject of countless songs? In addition to the fact that some women can come through nipple stimulation alone (see No. 4), breasts also sustain human life (the World Health Organization calls breast milk the “perfect food”), breast milk is a known germ-killer, and new research posits that it can shield babies from HIV. So there you have it, tits are magic.