Since the inception of sexual science, just as was the case with modern Western medicine, we have studied data about sexuality, how we respond sexually, and how we treat sexual issues based largely on research on males, which is then extrapolated to the entire population because, of course it will all apply to all people. For too long, we have followed a male model of sex and sexuality. Women—especially those who partner with men sexually—learn to follow the desires of men and many keep trying to fit into a sexual model that is not only antiquated, it never even fit to begin with.
This incomplete understanding of desire is visible in many places:
- in the media and women’s magazines, women’s desire and pleasure is typically linked to men’s or designed to help or satisfy men’s sexual needs;
- in the way court cases involving women’s sexuality are prosecuted, where women’s desire is suspect, or our sexual response can be used against us;
- in commerce and law, where stores who don’t want to support the possibility of women’s sexuality existing beyond heterosexual procreation can actually deny women birth control because it goes against their corporate beliefs;
- in the way sexuality is taught in schools and universities, with a focus on the linear sexual response cycle, and not enough critique of old paradigms; and where desire is often not talked about, or assumed to be synonymous with physical arousal;
- in the way medicine is practiced, where sexuality is pathologized and we look for quick fixes, pills and medical interventions to make it right, rather than examining it with its true complexity; or where women are often not even asked about sexuality at all;
- in the way sex is talked about and framed, where heterosexual intercourse is the assumed norm or goal and ideas like “foreplay” deny the validity of a whole lot of sexual activity that actually brings women pleasure.