Less Sexism Means More Sex

Sexual liberation and women’s liberation seem to go hand in hand.

Cherokee women and men were equals. Each had their own tribal councils and say in decisions. Women may have even had the upper hand since they controlled the staple, corn. If men wanted to go to war but women didn’t, the women could say, “Okay, no corn for you!” Property passed through women and tribes traced families through female lines. (Young women and men enjoyed sex, and married women didn’t always cling to fidelity, so who knew who “daddy” was?) And everyone cared for kids.

These women were also extremely sexual and orgasmic. It probably helped that sex wasn’t thought dirty and neither were sexual women.

Pacific Islanders were similar. No wonder Gauguin loved Tahiti.

Not so much in Victorian-influenced Europe and America. There, women had no means of supporting themselves and needed to stay “pure” to get married. A “bad reputation” could mean the end of the world. Wives weren’t expected to enjoy sex: bad girls liked sex, good girls didn’t. And many “good girls” probably didn’t since sexual repression tends to lead to bad sex.

Western women are still more repressed than their ancient Native American sisters, but less so than women of Victorian times. Thanks to greater equality.

The “first wave” of feminism brought women the vote in 1920, and “a revolution in manners and morals” followed. As single women increasingly entered the workforce and became independent they spent their money in the dance halls and nightclubs that had sprung up. Between their independence, the clubs and the privacy of a Model T, parents couldn’t supervise courtship, while women’s sexual needs and desires were increasingly accepted.

Better condoms helped, too.

The “second wave” of 1960s feminism sparked a second sexual revolution, again buoyed by women’s financial independence, as well as Freudian concerns over the evils of repression. The Pill also opened sexuality and helped women stay in the workforce – and stay independent.

So men, if you want more sex support equality.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 1, 2012, in feminism, gender, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. A.S Dream team

    I’m not really buy into that “bad girls like sex” and “good girls don’t” thing!! Someone once told me that people called good girls are the most secretive ones! so they could be having sex without someone noticing it??

  2. Interesting post, and I like the new background 🙂

  3. I thought it was really interesting that women were given power in Native American societies, as I assumed women were universally treated as socially inferior. It’s a nice change of historical pace. And how interesting that this power went hand-in-hand (in fact, relied on) free sexual expression. Most of the anti-feminist viewpoints I’ve read seem to fear that allowing women free sexual expression would equate to transforming the female population into a bunch of raging sluts. According to actual evidence, that is not the case. Even Samantha Jones of “Sex and the City,” who has more random sex than any other character, comes across as positive, confident, successful and self-reliant. Oddly, Charlotte York (of the same show) acts the most “Victorian” and values the most traditional ideals.

    • The two seem to go together, and direction of casuality can switch around a bit. In the U.S., equality came first. Among American Indians not knowing who daddy was gave women a certain advantage. Wonder if it’s partly why patriarchs are intent on guarding women’s purity.

  4. makes me think of Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut,” where powerful men organize sex rituals with a-list prostitutes. Perhaps they, the powerful, are recapturing and benefiting from the sexual wisdom of the tribes, while, by day, they consciously support and advance repression, guilt, and patriarchy. Poor Tom Cruise, he just had no idea what he was getting into. And poor Kubrick…

  5. Georgia–wonderful and incisive, as always….

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