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The Dirty Little Secret of Feminine Desire

Here's a newsflash for you: sexuality is not politically correct.

I just spent a weekend at a tantra workshop—we were all women—with only one man present (insider tip for men: if you want to meet women, get interested in tantra). I observed myself in this group of women and this one man—and I hit up again against a little-known truth about women and sexual desire.

Do you want to turn us on? Then you had better know our dirty little secret ... it's what makes so many of us women feel sexy and raises our libidos about 10 degrees. It's the feeling of being desired.

Marta Meana said it best when she said that for most women, "Desire is the real female orgasm." As women, we want to be the most desired fruit in the salad. We want our significant other—or simply admiring eyes—to reflect back to us their desire for us, and this gives us more pleasure than most of us would like to admit to. It's not very politically correct now, is it?

Well, here's a new flash for you: sexuality is not politically correct. I don't know about you, but I want to be swept off my feet by a suitor that just cannot breathe without me. Oh, come on. You want it too! You know it's true. And if it really, really, really isn't true for you as a woman, it is true for countless others. Why do you think romance novels are so popular? It's porn for women. It's where we get to read about the damsel being desired, courted, whisked away—because his desire for her is so intense that he just must have her. And that turns on our feminine soul in such a hot, deep place that the heroine falls in love. The end. This story is told again and again—marketed directly to women, to our core fantasy—and purchased in truck loads by countless women in countless Walmarts across the country every day. And yet, we are bashful about it. Aren't we?

The question that I pose is why don't we as women simply cop to the fantasy? My theory is because it embarrasses us. We feel shame in having any desire that does not include us being in control at all times. We want to be feminists—and self-sufficient. We don't want to "need" men (or female lovers), or look to the outside world for approval. It's not what we have been taught to want. But sexuality and desire didn't read the playbook. The way our desire works in as encoded in our DNA as the color of our eyes.

So what happens to us as women when we no longer "feel seen" as sexual beings? What if weight gain, aging, or even disability makes us feel invisible to those outside eyes? What happens then to our female sexuality? What happens if we hate ourselves so deeply because of life events such as experiencing infertility or cancer that we turn in completely and switch off our sexuality button so that nobody will see us anymore?

Oh yeah—you know what I am talking about. Big, ugly, shapeless sweatshirts to name one stereotypical piece of female sexual camouflage. But it's true, we do it. We hide in so many ways. We make it so that no one could desire us—and that fulfills the prophecy that we are not desirable. I watched Geneen Roth on Oprah again yesterday and it opened with women talking about how they self-loathed. It is a vicious cycle—of self-hating, not being willing to be seen, and therefore not being seen. That shuts us down and creates a host of problems for us.

What kind of problems? Well, how about low libido, depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, and all kinds of self-abuse in the form of overeating and abuse of other substances as we try to feed something we can't name inside of us? I don't think that any of this can truly be cured in the form of a pink pill for women. It's so much deeper for us. For us, desire is the female orgasm—and we have to return to a place in ourselves first where we can learn to receive pleasure. Once we can decide that we are worthy of that first step, miracles can happen.

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