The T in the society connotes Taboo, and the C connotes Control. Both taboo and control complement each other for the very purpose of establishing taboo is to control the conduct of a certain activity that the society is uncomfortable with. Taboos are a kind of norm prohibited from controlling an individual or a group from participating in an activity that the society deems “indecent, unworthy or unacceptable.” In a society such as ours, the women and the other marginalized sections bear the brunt of being tabooed. If it weren’t for the existence of taboos, however, society could breathe and wouldn’t control the breathing of women.
A never-ending list of dos and dont’s is handed over to a girl as soon as she opens her eyes. Society ensures that this list is strictly followed and preached through its wicked socializing and sex-role conditioning ways. Every sphere of a woman’s life is land-marked, and the color of taboos draws a boundary between the acceptable and the unacceptable. However, my dear readers, I restrict my scope of analysis to female sexuality and pleasure because the S in the society connotes sex and the O connotes Only Men.
As established, taboos are among the many manipulation tactics that society often indulges in to oppress and control one group to establish domination over the other. This makes taboos inherently unjust. Female sexuality is an arena where the feminist movement has yet been unsuccessful in bringing women together. Why is it so? Sex is always a topic for closed doors, and women are still uncomfortable talking about sex, let alone embracing it. This kind of narrative has been established and reinforced through the taboos that plague society.
Why Female Sexuality And Pleasure?
Like every other arena, pleasure is highly gendered. Boys openly talk about sex and porn, while a girl silently speaks, if she ever does. If a boy is caught watching porn, we hear “Boys, will be boys,” whereas if a girl watches, we hear “Shame! Shame”. Due to the acceptability narrative, to cross the unacceptable mark requires courage and confidence, which a girl is seldom taught. When there is an outburst for claiming one’s own body and the debate on autonomy rings our ears, it is important to ignite conversations around the taboos concerning female sexuality. Even in the 21st century, sex is ruled by Aristotelian ideas and Victorian standards.
The taboos and myths that reduce a woman’s sexual liberation are listed below.
1. Women Don’t Masturbate
It’s a common assumption that women don’t masturbate. Facilitated by the sex-role conditioning and lack of autonomy over their bodies, women consider masturbation an absurdity. While men casually go around boasting about their sexual pleasures, a woman doesn’t even touch herself behind closed doors. Such is the extent of manipulation imposed by such myths. Up until now, I didn’t know how to masturbate because it is immoral and absurd. We don’t even know our body, for it is hardly ours to claim.
2. Sex- Procreation, Not Pleasure
Another major myth that we encounter about female sexuality is the societal definition of sex. Sex is an activity performed between biological men and women to procreate. There is a fundamental flaw in this definition which has a two-layered analysis. First, it excludes a huge section of society, i.e., the LGBT+ community. Sex, beyond the binaries, is seen as unnatural. Second, it establishes that sex has only one function- procreation. This reductionist approach views sexual pleasure otiosely. A woman doesn’t even know that sex is meant for their pleasure too. They believe the myth that sex is a chore, that it is their responsibility just like others.
3. Clitoris- An Unnecessary Part Of Woman’s Body
The clitoris is the holy abode of pleasure and sensation in a woman’s body. It’s a natural part. Since society can’t manipulate biology, it uses sociology. The incidents of female circumcision are not new to us. By adding a religious flavor that removes the clitoris as a will of God, society challenges biology. Moreover, even when we are taught the reproductive parts, hardly ever clitoris found its mention. I mentioned that nobody talks about the purpose, for they would control female sexuality if they did.
4. Virginity- A Sacred Thread
The power of society is embedded in the language. They use words and phrases to propagate their unfounded myths like hymen to connote chastity. What needs to be cleared is that the thread of virginity is sacred only for women. Men, at no point in their life, have the burden to prove their chastity. Instead, they live with the patriarchal burden of being manly and virile. A sexually active woman is labeled a slut, a whore. The myth that a woman needs to be chaste, for heaven knows what reason, still rules our body, our mind. Society’s obsession with the hymen of a woman is dumbfounded.
A woman is never allowed to explore herself sexually, for the doors are locked, only to be knocked by men. Society paralyzes a woman’s sexual freedom by first conditioning a woman into believing she is docile, submissive and then scaring her with the fear of judgment. Virginity is a social construct and is very much the ruling discourse in our society. The two-finger test (TFT) is a testament to the fact. Despite being ruled as “unscientific, inhuman and degrading,” it is widely practiced.
The taboos have denied women their right to feel pleasure. Society never shies away from inflicting all sorts of pain on a woman and ensures she never feels the ecstasy of pleasure. A woman grows to believe that sex is a forbidden thing and a domain ruled by men like others. They see sex as some chore, a part of their “married life.” Women either never watch porn, or those who watch remain silent, for it’s a forbidden domain. Porn caters to the dominating section of the society, i.e., men, and has a distorted replication of sex. Men see porn as a reality where pleasure is reserved for men, while a woman is a mere object.
It is only recently that we have begun talking about female sexuality and pleasure. No matter what century we are in, the condition of a woman is much the same. Society thrives by controlling women in its entirety. The privileged section of women might get hold of the content that educates them about their bodies and bursts these taboos and myth. But, a larger section of women still can’t utter the word SEX. Still, they are unaware of the magic that their body is capable of. Still, they are unaware of the myths surrounding female sexuality and perceive them as natural, a truth, when it is anything but that.