Female Sexuality: Why It Is Everyone's Business


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I recently received this comment on my Psychology Today blog. I decided to write a reply to the writer of the comment, whose name I shall withhold. The commenter sent the following: 

"You should do an article on abortion.

The number one leading cause of death in America.

Almost 60 million performed since 1973..

The focus of the article would be female sexual behavior. Specifically, why many women have sex with men when they have absolutely no desire to bear his child."

The comment appears to be a thinly veiled repudiation of women's sexuality. I suppose a similar question could be, "Why do many men have sex with women when they have absolutely no desire to assist in the creation of a child?”

In various blog posts, I discuss female sexuality and the vicissitudes of sexual expression and responsibility. Perhaps the discussion of such topics is perturbing for some; the mere mention that women's sexual needs often equal men's needs may raise fears that men will lose something or something is at risk.  

A general opinion endures that sexualizing women is OK, but the sexuality of women is fraught with negative value assessments. Sexism, which has been linked to “authoritarianism and a leaning towards social dominance” (Pappas), is evident to varying degrees in all cultures.  

Perspective is necessary; both men and women can have sexual disorders or use sex impulsively to address low self-esteem, the need to be wanted, fear of rejection, and competitive impulses. However, violence, exploitation, oppression, and devaluation affect women in most cultures, including the United States of America.

According to a World Health Organization report on women:

  • About 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. 
  • Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate male partner.
  • Men are more likely to perpetrate violence if they have low education, a history of child maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, harmful use of alcohol, unequal gender norms, including attitudes accepting of violence, and a sense of entitlement with regard to women.

Female Genital Mutilation

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or another injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice has no health benefits for girls and women.
  • More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, where FGM is concentrated. 
  • FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.