Last week from 12 – 18 of September was Sexual Health and Wellness week. Marking the end of this week, I would like to reflect on the woman’s empowerment and sexual well-being relationship. Therefore, I would like to start with the first great milestone that marked the freedom of women in 1950: The Pill. Giving women the ability to control pregnancy enabled them to gain higher education and have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Sexual wellness and Woman Rights are moving in parallel. Women were trapped and judged by society for their sexuality. Virginity was a symbol of honour and respect. By gaining power in society and in addition to other legal and social achievements, women are normalizing sexuality. Several countries are promoting sexual awareness, health and well-being.
The Parallelism between Sexual Wellness and Woman Rights
As a Lebanese who experienced life in the UK and the Netherlands, women’s empowerment wasn’t similar in all three. I have to admit that as a woman, The Netherlands impressed me with their social endorsement of women. Freedom and human rights are at the forefront of this country’s values. Therefore, sexuality is not hidden and is normalized. In schools, children and teenagers are receiving appropriate sexual awareness from age 4 and they have impressive records of teenager sexual health.
In the UK, women’s rights have also reached advanced stages similar to any western country. I remember the first day of uni, the university was handing boxes to the new students and they had condoms in them. I remember looking at the package not knowing what it was. Then, once I learned, my face turned red. The NHS is raising awareness concerning sexuality and providing free services in this regard. As a person that didn’t know anything in this department and couldn’t ask anyone, my first source of information was the NHS. It is a reliable source and the information is clear and comprehensive.
In Lebanon, the situation is a bit different. Premarital pregnancy and abortion are illegal. Women can’t give their nationality to their children. Women’s sexuality is taboo. With a long way to go with the women’s movement, sexual awareness and well-being are still way behind. There isn’t any reliable source of sexual health placed for the public, and sex is perceived with disrespect.
Sexuality is part of humanity
Humans’ sexual needs are natural. It is created by birth and starts to develop during adolescence. Masturbation and self-gratification start in childhood. Rubbing against something might feel nice to a kid so they keep on doing it. Do children understand sex? Do they know how the devil is working in them? no, but they are just submitting themselves to nature. Our sexuality is part of our biology similarly to our heart, brain and lung. Contrary to animals, human sexuality is affected by external factors such as stress, beliefs, and traumas. In addition, human sexuality and sexual pleasure are a wide spectrum of preferences. We should discover our sexuality as it is not standard practice, and it is part of our identity. Mental health, satisfaction, and confidence are not isolated from our sexual life.
Sexual Education and Awareness increases Safety
In school, the priority goes to our professional life. They teach us math, physics, science and literature preparing us for our future careers. They don’t teach us about sexuality. Teenagers start their sexual life without knowing about STIs, contraception options, sexual vaccines, and sexual hygiene. They learn from their peers that are also clueless. Several teenagers are falling victim to getting pregnant or having bad sexual experiences. Playing the ostrich is never a way to solve a problem. If we kept quiet, doesn’t mean that sexual behaviour isn’t happening and is not part of life.
Based on the Dutch Review (2022), the Teenager pregnancy rate is 8 times lower in the Netherlands compared to the US which has the highest teenage pregnancy rate among the developed countries. In addition, Teenagers have a lower STI rate in the Netherlands compared to US or UK. Having better sexual health in the Netherlands is majorly due to sex education and the availability of contraception. In the Netherland, Teens are able to speak openly about sex with their parents. In the classroom, there is no sexual topic off-limit. Children are encouraged to discover their sexual identities, women don’t take a back seat in sexual discussions and men are encouraged to embrace their romantic side.
Women’s pleasure is not a Sin nor a Guilt
There is a lot of discussion on women’s body count, and how women’s body count affects the success of their future marriages. In a more conservative country, the conversation takes the direction of honour and respect. The purity of a woman, her respect and honour can’t be sabotaged by a male instinct.
Women are human similar to men. We have our needs, instinct and libido too. Till today, a woman’s sexuality is discussed with guilt. Women are blamed or disrespected for wanting to know their body and their needs. Misrepresenting Women as a superhuman that rises above sexual need as a way to restrain women from experiencing their sexuality is social and patriarchal manipulation. It is a crime to guilt women for wanting to learn about themselves or even feeling natural desires. Which scientific/ objective study says that women don’t have a high sexual desire? What medical study shows that women’s body count is a disaster for future stability?
Medical Research should Consider the Women’s Body
The research when it comes to medicine and the women’s body is still timid. Major studies were conducted by men and majorly directed to the male anatomy. This was due to the fact that women were not able to pursue higher education back at that time. As women’s representation started to increase in several fields including healthcare. We should expect more studies on women’s anatomy and sexuality driven by women specialists.
Woman’s movement and sexual wellness are not separate. Women got their first freedom opportunity thanks to birth control. Woman’s rights and sexual wellness are growing in parallel. Their development varies from one country to another. In my opinion, sexuality should be normalized and respected. Education should be provided to the public to ensure safe sexual behaviour, especially among teenagers. Women’s sexuality and body should be researched and discussed without limitation or prejudgement. The medical sector should pay attention to women’s anatomy and include them in their studies. Women have the right to feel pleasure and to experience their bodies as they see fit.
Let us know about the women’s movement and sexual wellness in your country. Does your entourage perceive sexuality with respect and normalcy?
I would like to post a sexual awareness post from a medical perspective. If you are a sexologist or a sex coach and you like to share some valuable tips to enhance sexual experience and promote safety please get in touch with us via the contact form on the home page. We deserve to celebrate our sexuality with respect, pleasure and safety
Sex education in the Netherlands (2022), Dutch Review
NHS – the National Health Service in England