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31 days of ideas
Peggy Orenstein

A continual, educational, inquisitive conversation about sex

Recommended by Anika Paulson

I was slow to enter the dating world. My first relationship began a month after I turned 19. A boy I had just met came back to my college dorm room, after having left only moments before, and he asked to talk. He stood by the door, with an air of awkwardness around him. He told me he liked me. What could I say? I responded in turn, and said I liked him back.

Women are taught to please. When a guy flirts, the only polite response is to flirt back. Unless you have an excuse, "no" is not an option. We didn't start dating until a few months later, and throughout the entire relationship, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about him.

Women are expected to serve. To make others happy. In all my relationships, I have tried to serve, to make the other person happy, and I've felt guilty for every "no," every "not today," every "I don't want to." I've struggled to know what I want, and to ask for it, because somewhere in my head, I believe that if they don't want it, then neither should I. Growing up, our culture portrayed women in a way that convinced me it's about the other person's satisfaction and pleasure, not my own.

In her TED Talk, "What young women believe about their own sexual pleasure," Peggy Orenstein brings to light an issue among women, all women, about women's view of their own sexual pleasure. Of women's view of their own genitalia. Our culture is full of judgment, expectations and criteria. Our natural bodies, our human nature of sexuality, is simultaneously idolized and demonized and swept under the rug.

We need to talk about sex. We need a continual, growing, educational, inquisitive conversation about sex. A conversation particularly with young girls. Because it is natural and it is beautiful, and growing up not understanding and hating a part of your body that should be normal and loved only causes harm.

Watch "What young women believe about their own sexual pleasure"
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