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SEX 101: Re-education on intimacy, body image, and sex for single ladies

November 20, 2009

Don’t believe the hype! There is a sex life for single women and it has nothing to do with friends with benefits. Flying solo is fun if you take control of your body, learning and loving it. Most women would love to, but they are more interested in how their bodies look to men and how men feel about their bodies. This preoccupation is problematic according to body expert and feminist theorist Susan Bordo.

The problem is in what Bordo termed “docile bodies – whose forces and energies are habituated to external regulation, subjection, transformation, improvement.” 1 She argues that women’s concern with the management of their bodies through diet, makeup, and clothes has more to do with maintaining a system of power relations that subjugates women under the guise of self-improvement.

Bordo employs a reading of the female body as a text, a method that can be useful in understanding why single women have difficulty experiencing solo sex. Firstly, the female body is scientifically linked to male bodies through the process of reproduction, a natural function of society.

It becomes natural for women to see their bodies (and selves) functional and valuable only with respect to the performance of normative heterosexual relationships. Outside of this system, the female body is rendered useless.

Consequently, the bodies of single women who reject normative heterosexual relationships for self-cultivation become useless because it is no longer in the service of reproduction or male desire. And male desire is very important in the reading of the body, because value is determined by it. When male interest is nonexistent and unrequired, the single woman’s body is socially devalued.

Additionally, images in media show demonstrate the function of the woman’s body. Pornography is one of the most popular forms. But even in a pornographic film, a single woman’s body is unprofitable and dysfunctional outside of the male-female or female-female structure, which she transcends.

All  these  factors  considered, it is clear why single ladies are incapable of understanding their bodies. It is out of their control. That’s why it is important to “view our bodies as a site of struggle, where we must work to keep our daily practice in the service of resistance to gender domination, not the service of docility and gender normalization.”2

The act of being a single woman is an act of resistance against gender normalization. And even with this challenge to ideas about the body, skepticism is important. Solo sex is not just about masturbation and phallic structured toys. They are popular symbols and representations of liberation and female empowerment, but they do not speak to the significance of intimacy.

Intimacy was comically described in the film Love Guru starring Mike Myers as “in to me I see.” Intimacy is an act of introspection. So solo sex, despite its title has less to do with sex as it functions in a heterosexual sense or in service of the sex industry. It is about self-evaluation and appreciation outside of the historically privileged context of relationships.

So what does the doctor prescribe? A dose of self love and once you’ve got that, you’ve got the power to get your freak on.  Now please do not run to your local sex shop to buy the latest sex toy, the Rabbit or Iris. These toys symbolize the capitalist market that exploits the labor of women’s bodies and commodifies sex. Commodities derive value from the process of exchange, which reinforces an external valuation system, previously described.

Solo sex challenges those power relations that define the use-value of women’s bodies and encourages single women to take control and cease participation in the process of commodification.

1. Bordo, Susan, “The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity,” p. 2363
2. Bordo, p. 2376

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jayla permalink
    December 3, 2009 10:38 pm

    This article made me re-consider how single women approach sex. It is true that the vast majority of sex that is marketed is for heterosexual couples, such as commercials that advertise lubricant or the hazards of herpes. In American society, women have pressure on them to remain sexually pure and innocent or to be extremely sexualized in “defiance” of the conservative interests. Neither idea leaves open the possibility that a life without sex (or a sex toy) could be fulfilling or desirable, ESPECIALLY without a religious reason. Great ideas.

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