by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 08 Jan 2006)
Issues of gender equality come in so many forms; professional, relational, spiritual, intellectual - and yes, even sexual. Traditional thought demands that women scorn their sexuality, one of the most vital and enjoyable parts of life.
If you asked a woman in 1906, just one hundred years ago, if she was as sexually satisfied as her spouse, there would have no doubt been a variety of possible responses. If she was taught that such talk was not “ladylike,” she may have shied from an answer or stormed off in a pious huff. However, if you could coax an honest reply, it would have probably entailed the required deference to the needs of her husband.
However, there is a new day dawning on this sensitive issue as women slowly realise that - contrary to what most men think - females have a sexual appetite too. They are also coming to terms with the fact that it is okay to like sex and that their sexual needs are just as important as that of their spouse’s.
There is nothing that ticks me off more than when someone (man or woman) labels a woman who enjoys sex as a slut, yet a man who likes sex is somehow a stud. It is normal, and in fact natural, for both women and men to enjoy sex.
This double standard is diminishing as women explore the many shades and nuances of their sexuality. The feelings of guilt that have been imposed by a patriarchal society are quickly dissipating each time one woman unabashedly tells another keenly interested woman about how much fun she had with her husband the night before.
Further, with more women moving in powerful positions in the media, news programs and commercials are developing a distinctively feminine flare – the kind that can only be attributed to a strong woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it. If you are an insecure man, watch out buddy, cause here we come.
I saw one example of this phenomenon in a recent fast food commercial with a woman who says that when she is eating breakfast from this particular restaurant, she feels anything is possible and dreams of hiring a pool boy – though she has no pool. How wonderfully scandalous! This commercial brilliantly hits home with every woman because yes, we think about those types of things too.
I consider this commercial to be pioneering material. To have a man say such things is traditionally acceptable, after all men do enjoy sex. However, to have a woman say such a thing breaks all social decorum, yet opens the doors of flagrant feminine sexuality into one of the last places to accept the woman for her real beauty – commercial marketing.
Commercial marketing has always portrayed the woman as either a sex object for men or a Betty Crocker type, prompting several generations of women to constantly reach for unachievable perfection projected by one delusional image or the other. This medium has been insufferably slow to recognise the woman for her true self.
I applaud this fast food restaurant for taking such a bold move. In my opinion, this single commercial has shattered the 50s prototype and the sex-object image into tiny fragments. My hope is that this commercial will set a precedence for future global marketing.
Another example of the changes taking place in the media concerning women is through the television shows and movies being produced. At the encouragement of a male friend, I recently bought a Bollywood movie entitled, Bride and Prejudice (a rip off of the classic by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice). In the movie, an Indian woman is hoping to marry, but she has a stubborn streak and refuses to marry just to conform to societal expectation.
She wants to be attracted – intellectually, physically and sexually - to the man she chooses to marry. After a very funny song and dance with her sisters about how a particular suitor was probably horrible in bed, this woman refuses the hand of a man who has loads of money because he is unable to stimulate her – in any way.
In the movie, this woman is intelligent, educated, beautiful and in touch with her sexuality. She deserves someone who can keep pace with her in all these regards and she will not settle for less. She does not need a man to complete her because she is complete all on her own. Instead, she wants a partner with whom she could lovingly share her life.
Such a character brilliantly portrayed the emerging trend I am talking about – of women who are wholly comfortable with every aspect of themselves, including their sexuality.
Like this movie character, women are no longer required to be told how they should feel or what they should want. They are finally free to find out for themselves. For the brave women who do step out and find themselves, fulfilment comes in a variety of ways - be it through sexual, intellectual, religious, political or social pursuits.
Today’s woman has many dimensions and I applaud the media for finally catching up to those of us who have embraced our many sides to find completion through exploring all that life has to offer.
Currently, there is a definite trend of more women pursuing an upper level education than men. I believe this to be a natural surge (since just a few decades ago education was withheld from all women) that should be expected to increase even more as women discover that a world of opportunity awaits them on the other side of the doors of a university.
Mark my words; within the next decade women will be controlling many aspects of life that have long been restricted to the men, this includes control over what happens in her bed.
Maybe this long-overdue shift in commercial marketing and entertainment production is because the media finally realise women are too intelligent to buy into the absurd notion that we need to be recreated into some 18-year-old anorexic to be beautiful. More likely, it is because women are the ones calling the shots behind that camera now.
Either way, strong, intelligent and sexual women are blooming all over the world and this phenomenon promises to be one of the most beautiful pieces of art that (wo)mankind has ever seen.