“Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. Let’s talk about sex…” Salt and Pepper’s 1991 hit, “Let’s talk about sex” addresses, well, the need to talk about sex, in light of the fact that society treats it as this unspeakable taboo. They not only mention how “it is…how it could be…how it was…and how it should be”, but they specifically call “all the ladies [to] talk about sex”. Having had this song replaying in my head since class on Thursday, I was stoked to finally have the Vagina Monologues perform what Salt and Pepper have been preaching for almost 20 years: ‘talking about sex’. The Vagina Monologues do not simply raise awareness to the fact that hundreds of thousands of females are mutilated, tortured, raped and murdered every year due to their sex and/or sexuality. They also bring to light the truth and facticity (as Jean-Paul Sartre described it) of the female in a patriarchal society. The fact that a male’s sexual reproductive organ is outside his body, is easily accessible, and is relatively simple to stimulate defines a facticity that is not true of females. As those who attended the Monologues heard over the weekend, more females than one might guess, have never seen let alone sexually stimulated their vaginas. The same remark is inherently untrue for penis-endowed self-proclaimed males.
This biological facticity is something that I think has contributed to the long history of female sexual repression. If females cannot see their sexual vehicle, and they are constantly told through structural forces and interpersonal relationships, that “sex is bad, naughty, dirty, etc.,” then, of course, we would expect female sexuality to seem non-existent. Another contributing factor to the sexual repression of females is the act of masturbation. Again, as we heard during the monologues, many women have never experienced an orgasm. I blame this on the lack of masturbation among the female population. If one were to poll say, Rhodes College, I would be surprised to find a significant percentage of females who, in fact, masturbate. Why is this? Men will admit to doing it up to several times a day, everyday. To males it is considered a “stress-reliever”, a form of “entertainment”, a sort of “sexual practice”, etc. But for females, it is “gross”, “difficult”, and “a waste of time”.
I believe this act is one way to liberate women from remaining caged sexual creatures, so as to get down with their sexy-selves. Masturbation enables us to explore and experiment with our own bodies. It can teach us what turns us on, the types of touch that stimulate and satisfy us, what rhythm and where. We can discover our own methods of sexual response without having to think about a partner’s needs and opinions. As women who have for so long been taught to “wait for a man to turn us on,” knowing how to give ourselves sexual pleasure brings us freedom. And as Louise Nevelson said, “the freer that women become, the freer men will be. Because when you enslave someone, you are enslaved”.