All posts by annabeledithmerkel

When Agony Aunts should give you a high five and some proper advice

Q. I have a problem. I don’t get satisfied by sex. I have sex almost twice every day but I just don’t get satisfied. When my boyfriend enters me, I don’t want him to go out. I feel good but I don’t feel satisfied. Am I normal? I always want a lot of sex, even when I’m in public.

A. It’s normal to want a lot of sex and to have a high libido, but Aunty thinks your case sounds a little excessive. It could be that you are suffering from sex addiction. Aunty suggests you pay a doctor and a psychologist a visit to find out what’s going on.”

– From “Dear Aunty Moana” in the Namibian Weekender, 26-09-14.

I was flicking through the newspaper when this particular question caught my eye. It raises a common problem amongst women, which is lack of sexual satisfaction. My guess is that most Agony Aunts receive this type of question, but the way in which they choose to respond can make all the difference.

Not knowing your own body (and not being encouraged to explore it) is a problem faced by women all over the world. Feeling unable to embrace their sexuality and experiencing feelings of shame when their sex drive is either “too strong” or non-existent puts many women in a constant limbo where their sexuality is judged by everyone but themselves.

Aunty Moana ignores the aspect of satisfaction and chooses to advise medical help because this woman’s sex life sounds “a little excessive”. Sex addiction might be a relevant thing to discuss in cases where people describe their sexual relationships as destructive, but this woman simply writes “I feel good but I just don’t get satisfied”. Surely there is some other, more relevant advice she can be given?

The subordination of women’s sexuality manifests in a number of ways in our society. In the contraceptive industry, where women (not men) are expected to endure side-effects that negatively affect their experience of sexual pleasure. In the media, where women are sexualized for the male gaze and where women who are outspoken about sex are labelled sluts. In everyday life, where women who take the first step towards initiating sex or relationships are shamed for “coming on too strongly”.

Every woman who says “I don’t know how to climax” (and every partner who accepts this without further question) is another illustration of this subordination and a sign that attitudes need to be challenged in order for women and men to be seen as equal sexual agents. Women’s sexual satisfaction is not naturally complex in itself – it becomes complex because we don’t talk about it and because we don’t encourage girls and women to embrace and explore their bodies.

I know many people are uncomfortable talking about sex publicly. I also know that many women, in particular, believe that sexual satisfaction is something rare and something that they will never properly experience. But when someone, like this woman, actually reaches out and asks for help then I think the least we can do is encourage her and take her problem seriously.

I know I’m kicking in an open door here but I just have to ask the obvious question: would a man who had sex once or twice a day also be advised to see a psychologist? Of course not. Would the issue of him not being sexually satisfied be taken seriously? I think so.

Yes, it’s sad and yes, we have a lot of work to do before women and men’s sexuality are recognised as equally important – but we can do small things in our everyday lives to challenge these attitudes that put a restraint on women when it comes to enjoying sexual relationships.

One way of starting this change would be by congratulating this woman on her active sex life, rather than telling her to see a psychologist. Give her a high five and some proper advice on how to get more satisfaction in bed. Read a book on female anatomy, google, masturbate, try oral sex, communicate more with you partner – experiment, just don’t be ashamed about it. And don’t let anyone tell you should be.

A rape is a rape – there is nothing “corrective” about it

Last week the Namibian Sun reported that a woman was raped because of her sexuality. She was in bed with her girlfriend when a man decided to come in and rape her, because he was so provoked by the fact that she prefers women over men.

Now there are many parts of this situation that are deeply upsetting, but the problem I want to highlight here is the way that these types of crimes are described by mainstream media.

The Namibian Sun writes that the rape happened “…because the rapist wanted to “cure” her of lesbianism. So-called ‘corrective rape’ is a hate crime in which people are raped because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.” When googling the term “corrective rape” it is clear that many major English written newspapers describe the crime in a similar way.

Using the term “corrective rape” is highly problematic – partly because it indicates that the rape has a purpose (that it is something different from “ordinary rape”) and partly because it suggests that there is, in fact, something about the victim that can be “corrected”. Whilst many journalists put the term “corrective rape” and “cure” within quotation marks this does nothing to challenge the hetero norm that dominates our world society. Rather, it reproduces the heterosexual ideal and implies that the victim’s sexuality is the core explanation to why she was subjected to this crime.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for addressing homophobia and its horrible consequences. It’s just that I would like a discussion where the victim is not sensationalised because of her sexuality. We know that most rapes occur as an act of male domination. We live in a patriarchal, heteronormative world and I believe that the mainstream media has great power to challenge the way we think about these issues.

What is happening to LGBTI persons in terms of discrimination, violence, rape and murder is unacceptable and we need to write about it, discuss it and act against it, but using words like “corrective rape” and “cure” (even if they are within quotation marks) is playing in the hands of the homophobic rapists themselves.

A rape is a rape. There is no purpose that can justify it. And if someone decides that he is entitled to abuse another person’s body because of who she chooses to love – then I would like the discussion to be about his messed up mind rather than her sexuality. That just seems more relevant.