The birds and the bees get it on, and men do it at any time. But for women to have sex, there needs to be scented candles and, of course, your lover needs to do the dishes first, right?
Wrong, says Cape Town based sex positivity advocate, Chérie Adendorff. A woman’s sex drive and desire is just as normal as that of a man. No matter how “shameful” in some people’s eyes, a woman is allowed to explore her sexual desire without the judgement.
A anonymous 55-year old Kimberley tells Health For Mzansi she is no stranger to feeling ashamed for expressing what gives her pleasure. Women of her age group makes her feel guilty for loving anal sex.
“I am tired of people thinking that anal sex between straight couples is not a thing,” she says. “My friends and other women make me feel dirty and ashamed, but it is something I enjoy. I enjoy sex.”
Meanwhile, a nurse, Kgomotso Olifant (28), wonders what the big deal is with female masturbation. “Do you know how relaxed you feel afterwards?” she asks. “I feel like clitoral stimulation is underrated and penetration is not worth all that hype.”
Glisson Itebogeng (31), also from Kimberley, says he loves it when a woman is expressive about her needs in the sack. “Let me know what position and speed I should ride you with. Communication is sexy for me.”
Shamed into silence
Adendorff believes that women have been shamed into silence for expressing their desire. “Women have been objectified, fetishised for all the bits the world finds enticing but are continuously demonised when they do not fit the mould of the Mary Mother of Jesus figure.”
Tapiwa Guzha, a Cape Town sex educator, echoes her sentiments. He adds that sex has always been perceived as “something that is done to women.”
Guzha is also the founder of Tapi Tapi Ice Cream and gives lessons on Shibhari, a contemporary form of rope bondage with Japanese roots. “I think the idea that women are not allowed to enjoy sex stems from our general conversations around sex.”
This attitude has built what Adendorff describes as a “shame bubble” around the understanding of female anatomy. “There is this belief that women are not entitled to pleasure and are the route to procreation. A woman is allowed to be desired but she must be demure, God forbid you explore your desire.”
Pleasure is a human right
Sexual pleasure should be considered a human right, believes intimacy coach Nu Davidson.
For women and girls, the right to control their own bodies and sexuality without any form of discrimination, coercion or violence is critical to their empowerment.
And in 2019, participants of the 24th World Congress of the World Association for Sexual Health recognised that “sexual pleasure is the physical and/or psychological satisfaction and enjoyment derived from shared or solitary erotic experiences, including thoughts, fantasies, dreams, emotions and feelings.”
“This is an important and delayed conversation,” Davidson says. “You want to enjoy that interaction, otherwise what is the point of doing it?”
Sexual consent is also no longer a “blurred line.” It is a definitive yes and you have a right to say no whenever you want to.
“It [consent] is about knowing what is comfortable for yourself and being able to vocalise that. Anyone has the right to say no. Consent is absolutely key and you are allowed to change your mind halfway through. You are allowed to change your mind at any point in the interaction.”
How to maximize female pleasure
Pleasure and intimacy is much bigger than the orgasm, says Davidson.
“Women are intentionally having intercourse that they are not satisfied with, in the sense that it is not about their pleasure.
Maximised pleasure is centred around trust and communication, Guzha adds.
“Honesty with yourself and others and communication with yourself and others whether you are having sex alone or sex with other people. If you really want to maximise the experience communicate openly,” he says.
“And if you don’t want to do it, don’t judge people for their sexual preference. Sex is about giving room for people to express themselves without judgement.”
Davidson adds, “Find what intimacy looks like to you. We are all unique individuals. We cannot compare, we cannot take blueprints and checklists and apply them to ourselves. Sure, there are tools out there that help and do give us guidance, but ultimately you must take responsibility for seeking your own pleasure and seeking what intimacy and pleasure looks like you to you.”