I recently came across a quiz in Cosmopolitan that inspired this week’s myth-busting post. The quiz gave a series of questions ultimately leading the reader to discover whether she liked it hard, gentle or a mix of both in the bedroom. I gave the survey some thought, and after doing a tad bit of research, decided to de-bunk this myth once and for all.
The media’s portrayal of feminine sexuality is extremely inaccurate to say to put it mildly, we know. Whether it’s through film, print/video advertisement, or general “aura” of women, females are constantly depicted as lustful creatures craving an aggressive sexual experience. Just look at a hip hop music video, or check out a Dolce and Gabbana ad in a magazine. Women are pinned on the ground, with a look of pleasure painted across her face, or spoken about as animals, that just keep coming back for more. This voracious appetite never seems to be satisfied until that it, she has a rough physical encounter with a man that can please her hunger for extreme sex. Women are thrust into submissive pain as the violence bleeds through lyrics. Take Lil Wayne’s popular “Mrs. Officer” where he makes “her wear nothing but handcuffs and heels. And I beat it like a cop.” He goes on to say “beat it like a cop” four additional times before justifying “but I ain’t try’na be violent.” Hypocrisy drips from the mouths of these artists who encourage this myth of sexual violence as erotic, pleasurable experiences for women. There’s nothing intimate about a beating, nothing pleasing about bondage while sex is performed violently on a defenseless victim. Similarly, in ads of popular monthly print sources such as GQ and Vogue, it’s hard to miss the blatant portrayal of violence as idealistic in sexual scenarios. Take Dolce and Gabbana for example. For years their ads have been controversial, but the playing field widens as violence is used as another mechanism to sell their products. Visuals of women being restrained by their wrists in clothing that’s quite minimal and in compromising poses, suggests nothing less than an interaction described best as rape. Ironically, it’s supposed to be interpreted as desirable, a scene in which a woman’s fantasy of masculinity is fulfilled as her “partner” displays dominance and complete control over her powerless body. The viewer is left to imagine the “ecstasy” of the moment, as the woman appears mesmerizing throughout the duration of the interaction.
This is not only unrealistic, but also sets a completely inaccurate interpretation of women’s sexual fulfillment in terms of aggression. According to the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre’s website about sexual assault, the myth that “most women enjoy sexual assault or like rough sex” severely contradicts the reality that rape occurs. The site states “this belief has evolved from society’s continuous tendency to link sex with violence. This is evident in modern videos/ popular films/music and fashion magazines. All suggest that ‘sexy’ sex is mixed with violence. The truth is, however, that no one likes to experience pain, fear, degradation, or humiliation” (http://orcc.net/violence/myths.html). It’s sad that humanity has come to have two different expectations for genders in sex, a natural union that’s supposed to provide pleasure and evoke love for both partners. The idea that promoting a practice causing men to feel pain and have a sense of anxiety in order to feel good is laughable. No man would ever support a movement to make sex hurt for them, so why is it okay to assume women feel differently? Is it because they find their own sense of eroticism in making a woman physically impaired by their own bodies? Does it enhance a man’s masculinity to be so “powerful” so as to actually please a woman by torturing her (even ever so slightly) first? These are questions we must ask ourselves if we are to truly counteract this myth and defy notions so obviously wrong. Sexuality shouldn’t come with a threat to a partner’s safety. Pain doesn’t bring pleasure. In this case, the only effect of pain is simple, ignorance.