Are women lovemaking any differently today than previously in history? Is the way they make love different than men? This age-old question has some surprising answers.
Classic Portrayals of Women Lovemaking
Many cultures have attached feelings of shame to the feelings of sexual desire, but women especially seem to be encouraged to think of these natural urges as something to be embarrassed by or even deny. Whether it's couched in ideas of "purity" or some other hypothetical ideal, the image of the demure and protesting maiden permeates modern culture.
One of the biggest icons of this ideal was Queen Victoria, the "Virgin Queen" of England, who used her marriageable state to keep her kingdom in delicate balance between France and Spain. In many movies and books, though, people have imagined the great toll that this took from her, denying herself the benefits of love and companionship. Even for such a noble cause, that kind of sacrifice is extreme.
Unfortunately, the opposite end of the spectrum, women making love confidently and without shame, is often portrayed in cinema as being attached to evil or even sociopathic women (such as Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct). This can send the message that sexual urges are attached to doing bad things. Since sexual urges are biological, there is nothing that can be done to prevent them; this stress pulling in opposite directions is still plaguing women all over the world today.
Claiming Women's Sexuality
However, thanks to the work of many sex educators and researchers, there is a clearer understanding of what exactly causes sexual arousal in both women and men. More and more people are beginning to talk about it, as well, in clear and honest terms. Nancy Friday's book "Women on Top" was a seminal work in illustrating women's own fantasies and ideas about making love. The wide range of fantasies went far beyond the traditional "romantic" image of women lovemaking with softness and gentle "flowery" imagery - though it also included them. One of the biggest benefits of the book was that it gave women the knowledge that they were not alone or abnormal in their fantasies or even their practices of making love.
On a more scientific side, former Salon columnist Mary Roach explored the strange biological underpinnings of men and women making love. Her book "Bonk" researched scientific studies past and present about sexual practices of humans. One of the saddest results ties back to Nancy Friday's book: a study showed that women would often refuse to admit that they were aroused by various images of sexuality. While the measuring devices would indicate (through capillary perfusion) that the women were aroused by a particular image, the cultural conditioning caused them to deny it when asked by the researchers.
Providing the Tools of Arousal
This need to become more in touch and honest about sexuality is part of the popularity of TV shows and movies such as Sex and the City, as well as the success of companies such as A Woman's Touch Sexuality Resource Center which combines ethically produced and safe sexual toys with education for women and men about pleasure, arousal, connection and communication. They have made it their purpose to provide a safe environment for all couples to explore making love in all its richness.
It also fuels much research in the pharmaceutical industry as they try to find a female equivalent to viagra. Unfortunately, since viagra was discovered accidentally (it was supposed to be a heart medication) less chemical methods have to be used to help women making love get more in touch with their own experiences. Some ways include:
- Talking openly with other women about their experiences, both positive and negative.
- Talking with their partners and being honest about their sexual desires.
- Fearlessly exploring their own bodies and minds without shame
There is hope that future men and women will have fewer barriers to enjoying the natural pleasure of their bodies.