Can women objectify men

Sex in patriarchy

No women's magazine without sex tips. "Practice, practice, practice! How EVERY woman comes to orgasm", so the heartfelt promises of the German "Cosmopolitan". The reason was a study by the condom manufacturer Durex: Only 15 percent of (heterosexual?) Women would always experience orgasm during sex. TV journalist and "sex expert" Paula Lambert, who advises pelvic floor exercises, provides a remedy. "Otherwise, the female orgasm, that's the tricky part, is an experience that has a lot to do with the psyche."

The fact that women on average experience climaxes less often than men is nothing new: surveys regularly confirm the male lead in terms of pleasure. However, this fact is by no means solely due to physical requirements or the all too often mystified "female sexuality", as a US study from 2017 shows. Around 52,000 heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual people between the ages of 18 and 65 were asked how often they had orgasm during sexual activities with their partner in the past month. While the values ​​hardly differed between gays (89 percent) and lesbians (86 percent), there was a huge gap between heterosexual men (95 percent) and women (65 percent).

"Feminine" and "masculine" sex

Although critical sex science has long since emancipated itself from its misogynist roots, images of a naturally given passive and at the same time mysterious sexuality of women persist. Heinz-Jürgen Voss does not consider the distinction between a female and a male sexuality, which would be differentiated by opposites such as passive and active, turned inward and outward, to be meaningful. The biologist and social scientist who teaches sexology and sexual education at the Merseburg University of Applied Sciences rejects such images as "woodcut-like".

"Sexuality always develops when people are together, very different factors play a role, and the development is therefore very individual," says Voss in the STANDARD interview. And yet: Sexuality cannot be separated from the society in which it is lived - and thus also shaped by patriarchal gender roles. "Sexuality is of course very closely interwoven with the gender relationship. In a male-dominated society in which women are sexistically degraded, this hierarchical gender relationship also affects sexual relationships," says the sexologist.

"Women's issue" sexual violence

Gabriele Rothuber can report on this from her daily work. The sex educator heads the Salzburg self-confident association, which offers sexual education for children and young people, but also parents and educators. "For girls and young women, it is usually very important that their partner likes sex. So being good in bed doesn't necessarily mean having it good in bed," says Rothuber. In addition to educational workshops, for example on changes in puberty, Self-Confident places a focus on the prevention of abuse. Preventive education should not only contribute to ensuring that children do not become victims, but also that they do not become perpetrators, according to the guideline of the association.

Self-assertion, self-determination - by no means a "women's issue", as Gabriele Rothuber emphasizes: "Sex education work must start early and include all areas of life. Especially after the events in Cologne, we have received constant inquiries for self-defense courses for girls, addressing girls alone is certain not the right approach. "

Heidemarie König is also convinced that where protection against violence and demarcation are conveyed, it is also necessary to talk about "healthy" sexuality. The psychologist and sex pedagogue works at the Austrian Institute for Sex Education and Sex Therapy and offers, among other things, sexual counseling for women. "Structural societal considerations, which conditions people need in order to be able to develop a competent and healthy sexuality, are absolutely necessary in parallel to protective measures. This enables an appreciative treatment of one's own sexuality as well as others," says König.

Potent women

The ball is up to the women, according to philosopher Svenja Flaßpöhler. These would first have to find their potency. "Only when women understand themselves and their lust as a potent quantity do they free themselves from the role of victim", is how her book "Die potent Frau", published in May, is advertised. Flaßpöhler not only longs for a "new femininity", the prominent #MeToo critic sees the unloved "hashtag feminists" who would blanket men as perpetrators as counterproductive. Women, on the other hand: the eternal victims, from whom no maturity is expected.

At least those women - and men - who shared their experiences in the course of #MeToo, supported others and also exercised structural criticism, showed themselves to be mature. "The fact that so many people have taken part in debates like #Aufschrei and #MeToo is very positive. We have to be aware that despite all the progress we are still at the beginning of really fundamentally working on sexism and sexual violence," says Sexologist Heinz-Jürgen Voss. This also includes perceiving men as affected. "Research among young gays has shown that almost all of them did things during their first sexual experiences that they really didn't want," says Voss. Last but not least, the ascription that women cannot engage in sexual violence simply because of physical realities is a sexist one: where there is power, it can also be abused.

Mindful company

A society can only benefit from public speaking about sexuality and gender relations, as sex educators never tire of emphasizing. Political tendencies to ban sex education back into the private, alarm Gabriele Rothuber. "Sex education has to start very early, elementary school students are often already in contact with pornography. Many parents cannot and do not want to talk to their children about sexuality, and they also lack media skills, for example," says the sex educator.

Concerns of authors like Svenja Flaßpöhler, who conjure up an end to seduction and eroticism in the face of emancipatory movements, are countered by Heinz-Jürgen Voss with the goal of a "mindful society". "Anyone who responds responsibly to their own limits and those of others does not need to be overly careful. Even a brave step beyond their own limits can open up new areas of experience," says Voss. (Brigitte Theißl, September 30, 2018)