Some women will keep having sex even if it hurts

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Some women will keep having sex even if it hurts

13 percent of women in their 20s have experienced it

Nearly 75 percent of women will experience pain in sex during their lifetime and according to Leigh Norén, 13 percent of women between 20 and 29 experience pain during sex for at least six months in a row. But many of them will keep doing it anyway.

Norén is a professional sexologist who specifically studies the problems that occur after sexual abuse. She says we can thank unrealistic representations of sex in media for a lot of the issues women face when it comes to relationships. According to her, many people honestly don’t know what sex should be like, because we’re being sold a fake version of it. And this has pretty significant consequences.

For example, in a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, three Swedish researchers found that the affirmation of being a “normal woman” means the continuation of sex, regardless of enjoyment.

What does this really mean? Basically, the motive behind engaging in painful sex is driven by a desire to be an ideal woman. There are three key areas that tap in to this desire: resignation, sacrifice and guilt.

The study began with the premise that an overwhelming number of girls frequently complain about painful sex, but they go through with it time and again anyway — and no one could really understand why.

illustration of holding hands

Over a period of five months, they interviewed aged 14 to 20 and discovered they were experiencing discomfort, pain, burning sensations, pressure — the list goes on.

And eventually, the researchers were able to identify the problem: feminine ideals.

Basically, the ability to have sex apparently makes a woman, so if we don’t have sex, we’re not women, and to get to that status, a lot of girls are willing to go through pain. Even worse, the majority of women pretend not to feel the pain for the sake of their partner and to avoid a difficult conversation.

On top of this, there’s an element of sacrifice, whereby pain is subsided by a man’s pleasure, because we’re taught to believe — thanks to things like porn and the mainstream media — that that’s oh so important. So on the premise that lack of sex would signal the end of a relationship, it becomes possible to cope with pain. Pretty fucking outrageous.

And — surprise, surprise — there’s impending guilt, as if women don’t take the blame enough already. We accuse ourselves of being inadequate, like it’s literally our own fault we’re hurting, because there’s something wrong with our bodies.

On the flip side, some girls worry that guys will be offended if girls claim they’re hurt by them — so it’s easier to stay quiet. Some girls simply believe their partner will think they’re faking the pain, so just choose to ignore it.

The thing is, these ideas do actually amount to striving to be a woman, but is this really what makes a “woman”? Of course it isn’t. It’s unattainable, it’s a misguided perception of “perfect.”

“People don’t know its not meant to be like that,” Norén agreed. “Even if we have sexual education, it’s not that great and it’s not very varied.”

So it’s not just that the women in the study are deluded, or that their views of sex and the self are irrational — it’s a widespread, harrowing problem that no one’s talking about, so much so that it’s been subject to hyper-normalization.

@laurarfitz

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