Let’s talk about sex
Women’s attitudes to sexuality have changed over the past 50 years but society is yet to catch up, according to research from James Cook University.
PhD student Hollie Baxter investigated how Australian women describe themselves as a sexual person and found when talking about the way women experience their sexuality we are still typically relying on outdated research.
“Society tends to think of women as sexually passive but that’s not how women view themselves,” she said. “They describe themselves as ‘loving’, ‘powerful’, ‘sensual’, ‘exciting’, and ‘arousing’, which are similar to the words men use to describe themselves.”
Ms Baxter says her findings suggest the way women think about themselves as a sexual person is associated with their desire for sex and confidence in initiating sexually satisfying relationships.
“When we think about women’s sexuality we are still relying on studies from 20 years ago that don’t accurately reflect current attitudes,” she said. “Society has changed, family and work dynamics have changed and the way women approach their relationships has changed also”
“I would argue we need to challenge traditional views of women as sexually submissive and relationship-motivated and acknowledge broader social trends and shifts in gender roles and this includes women’s openness to both casual and committed relationships where they are confident in communicating their sexual needs and desires for self-focused pleasure”
Another issue is that most existing studies look at women in their late teens and early twenties, who are not necessarily representative of all age groups.
“My research included women over 30,” Ms Baxter said. “They were generally less conservative than women in their 20s and had a greater concept of self-sensuality. This may be because older women have had more opportunities to explore and reflect upon their sexuality.”
“Women in Australia increasingly know what they want sexually, and society needs to catch up.”