sex

'I'm horny 24 hours a day, that doesn't make me a sex addict.'

I am a very sexual person.

I enjoy dressing provocatively, I LOVE to flirt, it’s quite possible I own more sex toys than most people do underwear, and, I’m horny pretty much 24 hours a day.

When I’ve spoken about this openly in the past, both in my writing, and to a so-called ‘life coach’, I’ve been labeled a ‘sex addict’. Because, as far as our society’s concerned, there’s something wrong with a woman who has a lot of sex, and definitely something very unusual about a woman who openly talks about it like it’s no big deal. Consequently, we tend to scrutinize, medicalize and shame these women.

And, naively, I bought into this ideology for a while. I believed I was dirty, bad, damaged, in some way. I even wrote articles about female sex addiction, and spoke about my experiences with it on television. But being labeled an ‘addict’ for using casual sex as a catalyst for healing after my marriage breakdown never felt like the clarifying, liberating experience receiving my BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) diagnosis had. Instead, it just felt alienating and shaming.

But while I never personally referred to myself as ‘a sex addict’, I didn’t stop anyone else from calling me one, either. Who was I to correct them? Because, what sort of woman is always turned on and thinking about sex, anyway?? It’s ‘disgusting’. ‘vulgar’ – I should ‘get some self-respect’, the comments on the articles informed me.

Except, when I started confiding in other women about my high sex drive, more often than not, they privately related.

“Oh I’ve snuck out of work for a shag on my lunch break, too!” one agreed.

“I could easily have sex multiple times a day if there was time,” said another.

“It’s me, not my boyfriend, who’s usually initiating the sex,” came a third.

Were these women all coincidentally ‘addicts’, like me? Did that also make them ‘disgusting’ and in need of a self-respect makeover? I started digging deeper, determined to find a hard answer (pun unintended).

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That’s when I discovered being horny, and very sexually active, doesn’t make you mentally ill. At least, not according to the most recognized resource in the psychiatric community, the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), which doesn’t actually include a category for diagnosing sex addiction.

In fact, once I started looking, I couldn’t find any medical journals or respected authorities who did. The American Psychological Association, The American Psychiatric Association, and AASECT (the international governing body for sex therapists and educators) all reject the concept of sex addiction.

“I have worked clinically with many patients who spent years in sex addiction treatment (along with far too much money), and our work becomes about deprogramming all the sex shame that was instilled in them,” world-renowned psychotherapist, sex therapist and activist, Dr. Chris Donaghue wrote in a ground-breaking article titled, Is Sex Addiction Just An Excuse For Bad Behavior?

“I cringe and am saddened hearing about how they were told fantasizing during sex is cheating or a symptom of an intimacy disorder, when in fact it’s quite normal and healthy… Or that masturbating daily with porn is an addiction, versus part of the standard sexuality of American males, and often a great tool to help maintain long term monogamy and to explore diverse forms of sexuality,” Donaghue shared.

So, why all the shame and guilt around women’s sexuality, or, more accurately, around women who openly show off their sexuality? Why would we rather tell women with high libidos, like me, that we have a mental illness, rather than simply accept the fact we enjoy sex (a lot!)?

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A 2015 study published in the journal, Archives of Sexual Behavior, may hold the answer. The study found that, when offered the opportunity to have sex with an attractive stranger in a scenario in which total safety and discretion could be assured, 100 per cent of men and an equally overwhelming 97 percent of women, said they’d go for it.

However, in a similar social experiment, conducted the same year by YouTube prankster group Whatever, involving an attractive man asking 100 different women on the street if they’d have sex with him, all 100 women said no. The difference? There was no guarantee of safety or discretion. And when you consider the startling fact that roughly 45 percent of women have experienced some form of sexual violence throughout their lives, or that 46 percent have been victims of slut-shaming, it’s not difficult to understand why the results varied so dramatically.

Love the skin you’re in. ????#allbodiesaregoodbodies

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Ironically, despite the fact that we live in a hypersexual culture in which most forms of media and advertising include some form of subtle or overt sexual suggestion, we still fear women who are highly sexual, and as such, feel compelled to diagnose them, much in the same way we once classified homosexuality and gender fluidity as mental illnesses. And so, we continue to perpetuate a narrative that reinforces this; the narrative of the sex-starved man and his frigid female partner.

Just look at any TV sitcom involving a hetero couple and you’re sure to find a scene wherein the husband begs his wife for sex only to be shut down with a comedic punchline. Cue laugh track! Subtext: Isn’t it funny how sexually disinterested women are?

Just about one of the only subversions of this, can be seen in the cult 80s sitcom, Married… With Children, in which it’s the female character, Peg, who harasses her disinterested husband to have more sex with her. Even then though, Peg is portrayed as a caricature, ultimately existing for the purpose of comedy.

“The promotion of sexual pleasure, generally female sexual pleasure, is viewed as harmful to society,” explains women’s sexual health advocate, Alex Fine, who launched the world’s most crowdfunded women’s sex toy, the ‘Eva’.

“There are some countries where sex toys [for women] are still illegal, and that same kind of concept is really why a lot of sites and companies don’t allow us to advertise… Which is really frustrating to me, because ultimately, I think women suffer when we don’t make space for their sexual health and pleasure.”

So, what’s a horny gal to do?

Well, according to the media, I should probably burn all my sex toys (maybe except my crystal dildo, because it’s so pretty), repent my sins and go into a treatment program for sexaholics.

But I know better now then I once did, when I first started telling my story. I know that I’m only an ‘addict’ or a ‘slut’ because my sexuality is still frightening to many people, in a society that surrounds us with sexual images and then tells us not to think or talk about sex. So if someone labels me these days, I do correct them. I tell them to stop and really think about what makes a woman worthy of this kind of judgement and shaming. And if they think long and hard enough (oops, pun unintended again!), I’m confident they’ll come to the same conclusion I now have; that a woman who is slut-shamed is actually just a woman who has sex as freely as a man does.

So in the interest of advancing equality, I’m off to masturbate now, then maybe catch some D later on, because I’m a horny kind of gal. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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