I used to be terrified when going into a sexual scenario, as it felt like so much could go wrong. What if I smell funny after biking across town to get to their house? What if my stomach looks chubby when I take my shirt off because I ate that second chocolate bar last night? What if they don't know how to pleasure me? What if they don't respect my boundaries? What if they ask me what I like and I don't know how to respond?
Being raised as a "lady," I was taught to be polite and listen. I learned to put the happiness and cohesiveness of the team above my own needs and wants. I was taught that male pleasure was important, and female pleasure was "complex." I did not hear a single example of what healthy sexual communication could look like and how to facilitate a sexual experience that would prioritize my pleasure. Clearly, this did not leave me with the skills to walk into a sexual scenario with understanding or confidence.
How can ladies conquer our anxiety to have more pleasurable sexual encounters in a world that still prioritizes male pleasure?
Challenge Irrational Thoughts
What kinds of thoughts do you experience when entering a sexual situation? If they are anxiety-inducing, analyze where they may have come from and if there may be another way to think about the situation. For example, I used to get in my head about how long it takes me to orgasm. It made me not want to receive oral sex, feel like I should fake orgasms when I didn't orgasm fast enough, and feel generally anxious when entering sexual situations.
I had to do a lot of unlearning to think about the situation differently. First off, why was I assuming that I was too slow to orgasm instead of thinking of it as my partner being too fast or us simply having different timings? It was likely because the porn I saw prioritized male pleasure and generally depicted women who saw a penis and were immediately on the brink of an orgasm! As a result, I assumed that giving me pleasure was a burden to my partner, instead of thinking about how lucky it is that my partner gets to pleasure me for 45 whole minutes. Whatever you are anxious about, consider where it may have come from and assess if there may be a more positive way to reframe the situation.
Figure Out What You Want
How can you get comfortable communicating what you want if you are unsure what turns you on? Spend some time getting to know your body. Explore femme-owned erotica and porn and see what your body responds to. Think about your fantasies, how you enjoy being touched. Explore different methods of masturbation, use sex toys and assess how to create an environment you find erotic.
You also may have to work on differentiating what you genuinely desire from what you were taught you "should" want. For example, many women are taught that penetration should be the most enjoyable part of a sexual encounter. Men control much of the narrative around sex, and for them, intercourse is often the most enjoyable part. However, it is often stimulation involving the clitoris like oral sex or getting fingered that feels the best for us. Try to forget everything you’ve seen depicting sex and genuinely connect with your body and your pleasure.
Get Comfortable Communicating
Once you have deciphered what turns you on, get comfortable expressing that to a partner. You'll find that the sex gets more enjoyable for both partners if you communicate about desires. Perhaps, you can start when you are masturbating. Tell yourself what feels good and what you want. The vast majority of partners want you to experience as much pleasure as possible. So you need to tell them how! Instead of sitting and taking it when your partner is rubbing an inch from your clitoris, speak up and tell them what feels good.
Set The Scene
Confidence can shift depending on your environment, the people you are around, and how you are feeling in your body. When you are going on a date, bring out the confident part of yourself. To do this, wear the outfit that makes you feel the most badass. Curate the date around what makes you feel the most in your power. For example, I love beating men at pool, so when I include that on a date, it makes me feel particularly sexually confident. If you enjoy shaking your booty, take them to your favorite spot! If doing yoga makes you feel relaxed and confident, then go to a class before a sexual encounter. Be it wearing a particular outfit, exploring a specific environment, or hanging with people that make you feel confident, bring as much of this energy into your life and sexual encounters as you can.
Rejection Isn't The End Of The World
A lot of women are terrified of sexual rejection. Indeed, a study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that women envisioned experiencing more negative feelings in response to a sexual rejection than men. As a result, women may not go for the partners they want or ask for what they want during sex for fear of rejection. Part of gaining confidence is accepting that rejection is not the worst thing that could happen. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you; it just means that the vibe was not right at that moment with that partner. You miss 100 percent of the chances you don't take, and sometimes you have to bravely put yourself out there without fear of the consequences.
Overcoming anxiety and gaining confidence does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of self-work, unlearning, and exploration. Work on reframing the way you think about your insecurities. Work on figuring out what you want and being more vocal about it. Know your power, and infuse a bit of selfishness in your sexual situations. You'll notice that some small life changes can drastically shift your sexual confidence.