Maura Higgins, who is on the current series of Love Island, has already been hailed a feminist icon by the likes of Amy Schumer and Katherine Ryan, with Schumer saying “she’s just like my homie”. Women all over the country are loving how openly she talks about sex and shows just because she does, doesn’t mean that she’s “easy” or anyone should expect sex from her. For so long women have been told to be ‘lady-like’ and not use profanities or talk about “crude” subjects like sex. But ya know, why the fuck not? Whether a woman talks about her virginity or how much she wants to have sex or her sexual experiences, if men can then, why can’t we?
Changing the Language
When a woman does talk about sex, it is assumed we want it or we’re asking for it and will more than likely be called a “slag” by someone. Heaven forbid we then say no we don’t want to have sex, we’re then called a “tease” or a “bitch”. This mentality around women and sex is dangerous. Our bodies are seen as objects for male pleasure and available to the man whenever they so please. This attitude needs to change, so women we need to set ourselves the task to be a little more Maura. By normalising women talking about sex it normalises the idea that women have sex and we enjoy it. Whether a woman has sex with one man or over 100, this doesn’t make her a “slag” or a whore” and it doesn’t lessen her value as a person or her voice and opinions. This change needs to start with women, as in my experience and many others, these sexist slurs are used just as much or more by other women. Why are we tearing each other down when we should be building each other up? There’s enough hurdles for us out there, we shouldn’t be creating more.
Consent and Expectations
Men then need to realise that because a woman is talking about sex, this isn’t her invitation or her consent and as Tom so gracefully put it, it isn’t your opportunity to see if “she’s all mouth”. Consent is finally being acknowledged as a serious subject, from #MeToo to women’s marches. However, there is still a way to go. People need to realise consent can be revoked at any point. Whether they say no while you’re kissing, while they’re naked or even while you’re having sex. Don’t give me your blurred lines bullshit, no means no. What is so hard about that? This applies to men and women, there is very little conversation around men being raped due to it happening less frequently or shame from toxic masculinity which needs to change. From personal experience though, women are subjected to far, far, far more sexual harassment than men, as for years we’ve been seen as sexual objects for the male gaze. The fear so many of us feel just walking somewhere alone and the normalised culture of cat calling is disgusting. However, more women are coming together to support one another, from group chats full of women in case someone has to walk alone at night to marches, movements and protests.
The Miseducation on Vaginas and the Female Body
To talk about sex women also need to be able to talk about their vaginas. Yep, ladies say it loud and proud…vaginas. This article in Elle by Alice Azania-Jarvis, pointed out how in Sex Education, Otis easily labels each part of the vagina and she wouldn’t even know where to start, which rung very true for me too. So ladies, our second task is to talk and learn about our vaginas. This includes learning the truth about our vaginas and to stop taking the bullshit we hear as face value. An example of this is the idea that our vaginas are “tighter” or “bigger” depending on how much sex a woman has. Would this be said about a man and how much sex he has? No! This is used to once again shame women and degrade them about having an active health life, except when men have multiple sexual partners they’re hailed as a bachelor or a stud. Even Barack Obama has called BS on this double standard.
Another example is our hymens or our “cherries” which apparently pop when we lose our virginities or when we ride a horse (that one is a particular favourite of mine). This then creates the illusion that losing our virginity is meant to be painful and so the anxiety of this pain makes us fear sex, but I’ll talk more about virginity later. We are taught that it is a bit of tissue that lays horizontal across the vagina, which makes no sense as otherwise how would we have periods whilst being a virgin? They are actually a doughnut shape in most cases with a hole in the centre, sometimes they may be like a ladder or others honeycomb. Over the years, the hymen wears from washing, walking, masturbation and many other things. This is lack of knowledge of our own bodies is problematic and most likely stems from the shame in talking about our vaginas and the poor education we get on them. This shame and embarrassment about them leads to genuine health problems with women more willing to take the risk of cervical cancer or an STI than getting a smear test or regular checks.
While we’re learning about our vaginas we also need to learn about our bodies and our mental health. Learn what it can and can’t handle, what is good and not good for it, what it likes and doesn’t like. Then hopefully, we can be more confident in our own skin and hopefully in front of others, so then we can start to talk about subjects that we’ve been taught to be embarrassed by.
Sex education is something that needs to be improved. This needs to be done by properly and effectively teaching children about the ins and outs of sex; not just how to put a condom on but consent, genitals, orgasms, g-spots, STI’s, myth-busting on the hymen and periods and statistics on sex like how 95% of men orgasm during sex whereas only 50-75% of women do (but more on that later). Oh and also for you all you homophobes out there, LGBTQ+ relationships should be being taught in schools, it isn’t “too hard for children to process” and it won’t “make them gay”. By teaching children about these relationships from an early age it exposes them to the real world and I believe will encourage young people to express who they are, come out and probably decrease homophobia as people will understand and be educated on it. This is important as ignorance and miseducation or “fake news” is often, in my experience, the root of racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia and any other form of discrimination.
Women are so sexualised in the media that as Jill Soloway so beautifully put “They call us the Madonna and the Whore. The one I want and the one I want to fuck. The one I married and the one I can’t get off my mind.” Men make women believe that being a “good girl” or “lady-like” makes them a better person and marriage material whereas women who are sexually active aren’t trustworthy and are for flings and affairs. Women are so sexualised in society that when she reaches a certain age, if she is still a virgin they are seen as the ultimate challenge. This pressure for women to have sex but also be a perfect, innocent women shows how we just can’t win!
When Maura is so direct and open when talking about sex her lack of a filter (as many would say), visibly shocks people or makes them “cringe”, as once again Tom so kindly put (he really was such a gentleman wasn’t he🙄). Why should women have a filter and worry about making men “cringe” when we are forced to listen to their explicit sex talk about other women and even ourselves all the time? So, back to orgasms. The fact that most women I’ve spoken to rarely orgasm or never have is shocking. Women are so conditioned to put a mans needs before their own to the point it extends to the bedroom. By learning more about our vaginas and talking about sex with other women, we can learn more about our bodies and what women actually enjoy.
Women if you want to have sex, then have it, and if you don’t, then don’t. If you want to talk about it, then talk about it, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. So, let’s all be a little more Maura.