There are a lot of reasons why sex can be not-great. An unhealthy relationship is one. An uncomfortable bike seat is another. But according to author, speaker, and general sexual oracle and body-positivity hero Ducky Doolittle, one of the biggest libido killers for women isn’t an outside force–it’s an inner voice that has been peeping in our ears since we were kids. In an era where poor body image plagues many of us, it’s difficult to have a healthy, fulfilling, great sex life.
Don’t believe it? Just last week, Esquire writer Chris Jones reminded women that they’re not as good in bed as they think they are–underscoring the real reason women often don’t enjoy sex as much as they could. Jones labels his previous sexual partners, many of whom consider themselves to be “sexual Olympians,” as “unenthusiastic, uncomfortable, and uncommunicative,” launching an assault on women he perceives to be over-confident, yet woefully under-skilled.
Unfortunately, Jones fails to grasp the concept that it’s kind of hard to get it up for crazy-hot sex when, as women, we’re consistently being put down for our bodies–and told to put ourselves down even more. We aren’t “uncomfortable” because ladies be crazy (or biologically sucky at sex); many of us have simply been conditioned to feel crappy when we take our clothes off. So, when we’re not “enthusiastic” (because we’re feeling self-conscious about our perceived imperfections) or “communicative” (because we’ve been told to put up or shut up for most of our lives), it’s not because we’re deluded and overly-confident…it’s because we, as women, haven’t really been nurtured to feel like sexual beings.
But Doolittle, who wrote about about sex, confidence, body-image, and self-esteem in her book, Sex With The Lights On, let us in on how sex (again, either alone or with a partner) can help women regain a positive self-image, and a great relationship with our own amazing, beautiful bodies. Here’s what she had to say:
So, how does body image factor into sex? I feel like a lot of women feel like they can’t be sexy and have good sex until they feel good about themselves.
Before you’re really going to get the most out of it with a partner, I think it’s really about having a good relationship with yourself.
Good sex comes from being conscious and in the moment. You know, we all do that thing where we show up to work with coffee in our hand and realize “How did I get here?” We’re so automated and out of tune with our bodies. And so one thing that sex does for body image is that it teaches you to be conscious in your body, just like yoga does. Or running.
I align sex quite often with yoga. It’s about muscles, it’s about breathing. And those things are so, so healthy for us. You know, people who find consciousness in their body, it’s because they seek it out. And sex is one sort of natural expression that’s not hard to find. And you can always have it with yourself if you don’t have a partner.
I just think in terms of body image, it’s really essential. We tune out how much food we eat, and how much TV we watch. I think that sex is a great way to live well, if you have a partner who respects you.
How can a bad relationship can bad for your health and your body-image?
Some of having a healthy sex life is definitely making sure you’re with the right person. Which can be very complex, if you have kids with the person or if you’re financially dependent, when you realize that it may just not work. Some relationships can’t be fixed.
People like to compartmentalize their lives. I’m going to fix my finances, I’m going to fix my sex life. But all of these things work in tandem. When you’re taking care of yourself, and you’re eating better, then your sex life gets better, and I think it’s all interconnected. If you’re having bad sex, it can reflect in how you feel about yourself. And if your partner isn’t nurturing, that can, too.
But that’s something that everyone has to decide on their own. I don’t like to give advice–I like to throw out all kinds of possibilities, and then inspire people to find their own answer.