Female Desire

No one prepares you for what it’s like, really, to be a woman who wants.

We are exhaustively prepared to be objects of desire, of course. Feminists and misogynists alike prepare us for this inevitability; to be the one pursued down the dark street or in the hallways of a high school; to be objects, wherever we go. Desire only ever flows in one direction, and we are forever the endpoint. A man bestows upon us gifts of obsessive love, of hatred, of grudging respect, of filth, and we are to be the silent recipient, taking whatever he doles out with a smile.

A woman who sees another person and desires them under her — she’s forgotten the script. She’s forgotten to be coy, to be shy in what she desires; she’s forgotten to make her wants palatable to men. After all, it is unseemly to want the sensation of their skin next to yours. It is uncouth to wonder how good it must be to dig your fingers into their hair, to pull at their roots; to kiss the hollow of their neck, to inhale the scent of their body. It isn’t right, to dream of how sweet they might taste, underneath you.

A woman who desires is a transgressor, fit to be written out of existence. The internal inconsistency of her existence is too much to be borne, and the situation must resolve itself, one way or another. We all know what this means for women, we see it every day in the newspaper: the men around the world who take it upon themselves to eliminate the sexual transgressors in their lives. If eliminating her body is too much effort, she can be destroyed in other ways, of course. Write her off as a whore, a slut, a jezebel. Her desire becomes less a real, palpable thing, and something to be feared, a monster that threatens her femininity, and his masculinity in turn.

The truth about a woman’s desire is so much more exquisite than our stories would have us believe. Women feel; women feel just as intently, just as destructively, just as pleasurably as men do. We can want with our whole beings, we can want so hard it can bring down buildings.

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