In its attempt to overcome male dominance in society, the feminist movement claimed the importance of the pleasures of sex for women, but also explored the dangers of sex. Many second-wave feminists celebrated discovering the pleasures and liberation of female sexuality. However, other feminists made heterosexual sex, in particular, seem incompatible with the feminist movement, and radical feminists presented lesbianism as a political choice instead of a sexually pleasurable identity. Some feminists also found it antifeminist to embrace feminine fashion and caused much of the movement to avoid the issue of fashion or consider it part of their oppression (Scanlon, 2009b).
One would think that because these are fights from centuries ago, women would fully be liberated to do anything that pleases them sexually. However, as it still stands, we still have women who are shunned and or given the starring contest when they buy condoms at the corner shop or women who buy morning-after pills from the local pharmacy. This not only shows that as much as women fight for liberation from all kinds of oppressed areas in their lives, sex isn’t one of the areas. At the beginning of time, sex was seen and treated as something sacred that only men should find pleasure in. This not only meant that women were only seen as a baby-making machine, but it was also seen as something that they can’t explore and or enjoy. As such, as a woman, you were not allowed to say no to your husband because the sex wasn’t for you or your pleasure. You were merely a sex object.
Being seen as a sex object meant the liberation feminists have fought for remains in theory and can never be put into practice. It means questioning women who buy vibrators because they want to explore their bodies and sexual pleasures should be shunned because it is something painful. This is not only policing body rights over a woman’s body, but is also oppressing women, especially heterosexual women, into the box where only a man should make use of her body. ‘Women who touch themselves are whores; women who are single will be horny and miserable – an opinion that argues against Helen Brown’s (2009) argument that single women were able to exist on their own and could also be sexual and respectable at the same time. As such, women are often embarrassed to even think about the idea of masturbation, openly talking about how they would like to be touched during sex and/or just being free to have casual sex without feeling like a slut. However, feminism isn’t just a regular fight about how women should have better working conditions, if not equal rights, in other aspects such as household chores; it is as also finding pleasure in their own bodies, and having the right to explore with their sexual likes and dislikes. If women aren’t given that space, they will forever remain in spaces where they know nothing about what makes them happy, how to be touched and pleasured. Let them find their own Nemo.
• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.