What is Sexual Empowerment?
Some people think having lots of sex or proudly and openly shopping at a sex shop is a sign of sexual empowerment — and it can be. But someone can be sexually empowered, and never have sex or refuse to wear revealing clothing.
It might seem like a meaningless buzzword, but sexual empowerment is a very real thing. And it’s something that anyone can achieve, no matter their sexual identity or how much sex they want to have.
Here’s what you need to know about sexual empowerment.
Sexual Empowerment Isn’t Just One Thing
Sexual empowerment isn’t just one trait or one thing you can do or not do. It’s an understanding of ourselves and the world we live in terms of sex, pleasure, and sexuality. It has been defined as being made of multiple parts including:
- Healthy body image: This doesn’t mean always loving your body but rather not actively and consistently hating it.
- Accepting your own sexual desire: Whatever that means for you at any given time.
- Recognizing the right of others and yourself to express our sexuality, in whatever form that takes.
- Having expectations of sexual pleasure: If you’re having sex, you can and should expect to enjoy it or feel good while you do it.
It’s not really about having a lot of sex, but being comfortable with the amount and type of sex you want to have — alone or with a partner. Sexual empowerment isn’t just wearing sexy clothes or being kinky. It’s also about knowing those things exist, respecting them for others, and deciding to do something different.
Sexual Empowerment vs. Validation
How do we know we’re sexually empowered or if we’re just seeking validation? There’s nothing wrong with wanting validation, in your sexual choices or desires. Sometimes we take the sexy selfie because we want others to think we’re sexy. But if that’s the only reason you do it, or if you don’t see yourself as desirable unless someone else says you are — that’s where empowerment may be lacking and validation becomes your prime motivation. That’s rarely healthy.
So how do you know if the things you’re doing are part of your empowerment or something less healthy? Ask yourself a few questions.
- Do these sex acts or sexy things feel like a choice or does it feel like someone else thinks I should do it?
- Does what I’m doing feel good, based on how I define “good?” Do I know what “good” feels like to me?
- Is what I’m doing within my personal boundaries?
- Am I being shamed into doing this? Have I shamed someone else for their sexual expression or desires?
Sexual Empowerment is Positive
Sexual empowerment should feel good. You should feel like you understand a part of yourself, and that you’re comfortable with yourself. This is, of course, a process. And you might not always feel that way, but you should have an idea of what “good” feels like and know how to get yourself back to that point.
When you’re sexually empowered, you don’t feel shame for who you are — and you don’t shame others for their sexuality or sexual expression either. The empowerment you apply to yourself is applied to others.
Examples of Sexual Empowerment
What does sexual empowerment look like? It’s an infinite list of possibilities but here are a few examples:
- Knowing what kind of stimulation you need to have an orgasm and sharing that with your partner — without shame or apology.
- Discussing kinks and sex with a partner and being willing to try new things within your boundaries.
- Refusing to try sexual acts that you’re not comfortable with, without shaming a partner for wanting to explore those same acts.
- Understanding your sexuality and being comfortable with it — regardless of how much (if any) sex you have or with whom.
- Feeling at home with your desires and seeking partners who accept those desires as part of who you are.
- Being very specific in the sex you want to have without shaming or negating the multitude of other ways humans can have sex with each other.
- Happily buying a new sex toy in a sex shop because it’s fun without judging friends or partners who don’t want to do the same.
Sexual empowerment is embracing who you are, setting your own boundaries, feeling good about your choices, not shaming or judging others, and not doing anything related to sex or sexuality out of obligation or shame. What that looks like for you will be completely different from the next person, and that’s okay. If more people could feel that level of empowerment, the world would be a better place.