Claire Lehmann on false narratives about women and sex

Claire Lehmann on false narratives about women and sex

Following the announcement about reforms to NSW’s consent laws, Claire Lehmann, founding editor of Quillette, has written an important piece in The Australian on three false narratives about women when it comes to sex.

She says the first falsity is that “women, as a sex, are capable of experiencing casual sex the same way that men do.” Lehmann says that, “[t]he truth is that, for better or worse, women do not experience sex, especially casual sex, like men” and that for cultural, biological, psychological and other reasons, for many women “sex outside committed relationships will be an anxiety-inducing and at times distressing experience.”

The second falsity is linked to the first, being “the broad notion that when it comes to sexual encounters, consent is all that matters.” Lehmann argues that “[a]s a society we need to accept that sexual experiences can be distressing even when they are consensual.” She gives the example of the pain felt by women who are discarded by men after a sexual encounter and notes that “we talk about consent as if it can make all these bad experiences go away.”

Lehmann maintains that “[a] third falsehood being left unchallenged is the idea that women bear no responsibility for how sexual encounters unfold” and that while “rape is rape”, “women over the age of 18 should be seen as adults who have agency” rather than as “passive sexual agents”.

Lehmann’s piece is worth reading in full. We agree wholeheartedly with her that “we are not doing women, and young women in particular, any favours if we fail to speak honestly about sex.”

Read the full article by Claire Lehmann here.

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