It takes two to tango: girls seek equal pleasure in the bedroom

Jessica Machado and Patricia Yadao

What if girls learned that their sex drives mattered as much as boys’?

This is the question that Peggy Orenstein, author of “Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape,” asks femals as Orenstein posits that the one-sided playing field is tilted toward boys. The double standards for male and female sexual behavior is one in which a high body count is praised with boys, but shamed with girls, yet girls are sent mixed messages that they’re supposed to be sexy and perform sexually for boys, but their sexual pleasure is often an afterthought—if it’s thought of at all.

“We’re just taught that that’s how things are supposed to be—like girls are supposed to be a certain way and they are supposed to sound a certain way and look a certain way and do certain things and the guys just go tell their friends about it and they’re cool,” junior Abel Montenegro said.

Orenstein says the cause of excessive pressure on young women to act and look sexy stems from the sexualized images found in pop culture and pornography. These pressures cause boys to want fully waxed girls who imitate those movie-perfect moans and arched backs and for girls to project those expectations on themselves.

Orenstein argues that the activities that girls engage in, from oral sex to sexting, tend to be “staged more for the boy’s entertainment rather than their own.” The displacement of sexual pleasure occurs when boys receive the physical joy while girls receive too little pleasure, too much regret, and the perception that boys are in power.

“Boys don’t care,” Montenegro said. “Orgasms are like opinions; ‘mine is the one that matters and after that I don’t give a f***.’ So I think boys are just taught over a long period of time to be selfish and we think that is normal.”

Girls, Orenstein maintains, are taught to please their partners while putting their own desires on the back burner. Orenstein interviewed over 70 girls between the ages of 15 and 20 who answer the question why girls, who have come so far in equaling the playing field in education and employment, still lag far behind boys in the bedroom.

“I really like equality, like if I give you a b***j**, I expect something back; I’m not going to show off my body without you showing off yours,” senior Calieha Bravo said.

The struggle for balance in the bedroom is analogous to the inequality in the sexting realm. Many girls find themselves feeling as though they are objects to please males rather than seeing themselves as individuals with their own sexual desires.

While sitting in an advertising class in college, comedian Marcia Belsky noticed the trending depiction of women as headless or faceless beings in movie posters. Not only are these images normalized through movie posters, but also through other forms of advertising such as on television, at bars, on book covers, album covers, and movies.

“When you fragment a woman’s body to sexual parts, it not only takes away her individuality, it takes away from her humanness,” Belsky said on Buzzfeed.

The effect on women of this type of imagery is similar to that of sexting. Removal of the woman’s head symbolizes the removal of her consent or pleasure. Her sole purpose is to be looked at as a sexual object and only perpetuates how women underestimate their own value.

In Nancy Sales’ book “American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers,” Sales finds that one of the main uses of teenagers’ phones is to wield and circulate nude photos of females. While a male’s photo is practically worthless, a nude picture of a female can be used by the receiver to harass and humiliate her, a reality that is seen all too often in high school.

Whether it is the result of insecurities in general or not wanting to hurt their partner’s feelings, young women are increasingly having trouble with communicating their needs and desires. Communication is key when having sex with a partner and is a necessary step to insure both parties’ safety and enjoyment.

“Sometimes [communicating with your partner] is not the easiest because you don’t want to hurt their feelings or tell them they’re wrong, but it’s one of those things that has to be done,” Bravo said. “If you let them perceive that they’re going about it the right way, then they’re never going to learn.”