March 27, 2023

We Need to Talk About the ‘O’ Problem: Sexually Liberating Women

Too many women have been denied sexual pleasure, let's all change that, according to a gender activist, a sexologist and a doctor during a talkshow held as part of Magdalene's anniversary celebration.

Hera Diani
  • September 21, 2015
  • 4 min read
We Need to Talk About the ‘O’ Problem: Sexually Liberating Women

Sex is bad. Virginity equals moral virtues. Women do not need to have orgasm.
These are some of the myths surrounding women and sexuality that Magdalene wanted to break through a discussion on healthy sexuality held last week.
The “Equality in the Bedroom: the Art of Pleasure” discussion was held on Friday, 18 September 2015 in Face Bar, Jakarta as part of Magdalene’s 2nd anniversary celebration in collaboration with intimate lifestyle online store Laci Asmara.
The talk show featured gender activist Firliana Purwanti, Dr. Nurlan Silitonga of Angsamerah Clinic, which specializes in providing sexual and reproductive health services, and sexologist Zoya Amirin.
Firliana highlighted the fact that making sex a moral issue has created a massive gender gap in sexual experience worldwide, including in Indonesia.
“A study in the United States found that less than a third of women experience orgasm, compared to two-third of men, and the global number corresponds to this as well, showing there is a wide gap in the way sex is experienced in the world, including in Indonesia,” said Firliana, who authored The ‘O’ Project, a study of Indonesian women and orgasm. 

Women are taught from childhood to serve other people, including their husbands, leading to the denial of women’s sexual pleasures, which is also a form of domestic violence, she added.

“There is so much more in orgasm beyond sexual pleasure. It means choosing sexual partners without any fear…it means that women has accepted themselves fully. When our orgasm is denied, our dignity as human being is also lost. So, let’s have orgasm!” Firliana said to the rousing applauds of more than 70 people attending the discussion.

Voicing the same concern, Zoya said the biggest misperception about sex is that women are not sexual creatures.

“Because of this misperception, women often do not feel responsible for their own sexual happiness, and they don’t take a stand to enjoy sexual intimacy with their partner,” she said.

The misperception and gender gap in the way sex is experienced lead to a host of problems, from sexually transmitted diseases, sexual dysfunctions to violence in relationship, according to Dr. Nurlan. She showed a series of cases of sexual dysfunction, including sexually transmitted diseases and domestic violence that sprung from unhealthy attitude on sex.

“This is what happens when sex is seen as a bad thing,” she said, adding, “The fact is sex is actually a blessing.”

All these can be prevented by ensuring every woman is well informed about healthy sexuality.

“It’s all in the mind. We have power over our own sexuality. To be equal in the bedroom you need to understand the concept of equality first: think of yourself as special; be proud of who you are,” she said.

The three speakers called for Indonesian women to take charge of their own body and sexuality.

“You need to understand that there is no limit in sexuality. As long as you’re happy and you don’t get sick,” Nurlan said.

Firliana added that sexual pleasure is not the privilege of those who have partners.

“Single women can still be empowered. Explore your body, your sexual body map. Find out what pleases you,” she said.

Zoya said that women should not get too hung up with bad experience and should be assertive and honest with their partners.

“Equality means taking responsibility of your own sexual happiness,” she said.

The discussion was continued with Magdalene’s 2nd anniversary party, with free flow of drinks and delicious Indian and Thai food from Face Bar and acoustic live music from The Weekend Rockstar, featuring one of Magdalene’s contributors Leony Aurora and her sister Riry Silalahi.

At the event, Laci Asmara attracted a lot of attention, displaying an array of sex toys and intimate goods. MC Arif Tirtosudiro, who is Chief Community Officer of 94.7UFM Jakarta, involved the guests in a series of risque games involving sex toys to break the ice and helped eliminate taboo and embarrassment around the issue.

The event was sponsored by Asmaraku, an online shop of romantic goods, Ahimsa Jewelry, Vivo, Superslyde, Villa Moksha, Face Bar and UFM. It was also supported by Bliss Yoga and Wellness Studio, Berry Hotel, Bliss Surfer Hotel, Kreafindo and Surfer Girl.

This piece tells you how Magdalene was conceived. Follow @heradiani on Twitter. 

Editor:  Hera Diani
Hera Diani
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