How to Be Sexually Empowered
Becoming sexually empowered means that you take ownership of your sexuality, make your own choices, and respect your needs and desires. Different things can be sexually empowering to different people, so the journey will be unique to you. In order to become sexually empowered, you may have to break away from the stereotypes that society enforces on people and confront negative feelings that you have acquired about sexuality.
Being Knowledgeable About Sexuality and Gender
Learn about safe sex.In order to be sexually empowered, it is important to understand the potential consequences of sex and how to protect yourself from them. The more knowledgeable you are about sex, the better equipped you will be to make the right decisions for yourself.
- There are a wide variety of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that you may be exposed to when you choose to have sex with someone. Using a condom can help protect you from transmitting an STI.
- Pregnancy is also a potential consequence of heterosexual sex. There are a variety of ways to prevent pregnancy, so choose the method that works best for you. Barrier methods such as condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps provide protection during each sexual encounter, while hormonal birth control methods such as pills, shots, patches, and implants prevent pregnancy for longer periods of time.
Understand your rights.By law, you have the right to consent to each and every sexual experience you have. If anyone ever violates this right and forces you to have sex without your consent, this is considered rape.
- Don’t feel like you have to do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing, no matter how badly your partner wants it. Being sexually empowered means you make the decisions that suit you best.
- The law protects you from more than just unwanted sex. If anyone ever touches you in any way that you are uncomfortable with, you have the right to say no and to report the incident to the police if the person does not listen. You should also report any incidents of verbal harassment.
- If you are raped or sexually assaulted, understand that it is never your fault. No matter what you were wearing or how you were acting, you were not asking to be assaulted.
Recognize gender role stereotypes.Gender role stereotypes are beliefs that a community holds on the way individuals of a specific gender should look or act. These beliefs are often untrue and can be very damaging to individuals who do not conform to the stereotypes. Most people are introduced to these beliefs at a very young age, so it's important to step back and challenge everything you think you know about gender roles.
- These stereotypes often reinforce the beliefs that people should only be attracted to member of the opposite sex, or that men should hold the power in a heterosexual relationship.
- It is important to recognize the double-standards that exist in gender stereotypes and to form your own opinions about them. For example, men who have multiple sexual partners are often encouraged by their peers, while women who have multiple sexual partners are often chastised for being promiscuous.
- Individuals who do not fit within the confines of traditional gender stereotypes often feel ostracized and misunderstood. If this is the case for you, seek out support from like-minded friends and loved ones, or from a support group. There are a variety of support groups and hotlines for members of the LGBTQ community, for example.
Understand the power of choice.You don't necessarily need to be sexually active in order to be sexually empowered. While everyone finds empowerment in different ways, the most important thing is that you decide what you will do with your own body. If you choose not to have sex, that is your choice and you should not let anyone persuade you to do anything you don't want to do.
Learn to love and accept your body.Many men and women feel shame about their bodies, and some haven’t seen every part of their bodies. In order to be sexually empowered, you have to see and love your body.
- To improve your body image, try looking at yourself naked in a mirror. Smile at yourself and give yourself compliments. Remind yourself of all of the wonderful things our body is capable of. The more you do this, the more comfortable it will become for you.
Accept your sexual desires as normal.It’s completely natural to have sexual feelings and you should embrace that. If it wasn’t for sex we wouldn’t be here! If you feel any guilt or shame about your sexual desires, realize that there is no reason at all for anyone to make you feel that way.
- Just because something is stigmatized by society, does not mean there is anything wrong with it. For example, many people, especially women, are taught that masturbation is wrong or sinful, which can cause them to become confused and hold negative feelings towards sex and their own bodies. The reality is that most women do masturbate and it is perfectly normal.
- If you are having sexual desires that would involve harming others in any way, you should not embrace these. A therapist can help you understand where these desires are coming from and help you find more appropriate outlets for them.
Own your gender identity and sexual orientation.Individuals often face discrimination for failing to conform to gender stereotypes or for not being heterosexual. While it is certainly not an easy thing to do, fighting back against this discrimination and being proud of who you are is essential to becoming sexually empowered.
- Do not let others tell you what your role should be in a relationship or who you should be attracted to. These decisions are entirely up to you.
Dismiss the critics.Many cultures, religions, and individuals stigmatize people who do not conform to the norms of that community. If your community is unaccepting of you, you will face a lot of challenges in your journey to be sexually empowered. Eventually you will need to decide whether you will conform to the norms or ignore everyone who does not accept you for who you are.
- Always think about your safety first. If you ever feel endangered in any way, call the police. You have the right to be safe and to express yourself!
- It is up to you whether you want to share details of your sexual orientation, gender identity, and lifestyle with your family. Many people feel the need to do so in order to be their true selves, but for others, the consequences are not worth it. It's important to consider your own comfort level when deciding who to come out to.
- If you know that some people in your life are likely to be more accepting than others, consider coming out to them first. They can offer you the support you need and help guide you as you talk with more and more people.
- For some people, leaving the unaccepting community is the best option. Even if you do not completely cut ties with the community, you may be able to find a supportive group of like-minded people outside of the community. Look online for support groups, hotlines, or even chat rooms that are dedicated to supporting people like you.
Taking Ownership of Your Sexuality
Maintain the power.In order for any sexual act to be empowering for you, it needs to be your choice. If someone else is forcing you to do something, it will objectify you, not empower you.
- If you feel pressured by an individual or by society as a whole to perform a sexual act, you no longer have the power. The choice needs to be entirely un-coerced in order to be empowering.
- Remember that you always have the right to stop consenting to something as soon as it becomes uncomfortable for you.
Form your own beliefs on empowerment.Everyone has different beliefs on sexual empowerment. What some people find sexually empowering, others may find objectifying. Because of these varying opinions, it is important to take some time to consider what you personally find sexually empowering.
- You should always base your decisions about sex on your own opinions on empowerment. Just because you want to be sexually empowered does not mean you need to have multiple sexual partners; it merely means that you can choose to have multiple sexual partners if you wish without feeling bad about it. If this doesn't feel right for your body, then it will not be empowering to you.
- In addition to deciding about your sexual preferences, you will need to decide how much you want to display your body. Some women find it empowering to pose in sexually suggestive poses or dance in suggestive ways, for example. Other women may not find these things empowering at all.
Talk to your partners about your desires.When you find yourself in a sexual relationship, communicate with your partner about your sexual desires and preferences. If you both understand what the other wants, you're more likely to have a satisfying sexual experience.
- Don't be shy about telling your partner if you don't like something.
- Remember that your pleasure is just as important as your partner's and one should not be prioritized above the other.
- Don't make demands or intimidate your partner in any way. He or she deserves to be sexually empowered as well, and your sexual empowerment should not come at the expense of your partner's.
- Always respect yourself and remember that you are worthy of other people's respect as well.
- You will probably encounter people who do not agree with your opinions on sexual empowerment. They are entitled to their opinions, but don't let them make you feel bad about yourself.
Sources and Citations
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