Every year, March 8th is International Women’s Day, a political holiday that honors the struggles, achievements and hopes for women worldwide. Since its first observance in 1908, we’ve come along way, baby — but not nearly as far as you might think:
The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133.
That was some pretty depressing news, courtesy of the International Women’s Day website back in 2016. Then last year, according to the site:
With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – there has never been a more important time to keep motivated…And with global activism for women’s equality fueled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and more, there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.
Two-hundred years?! Why is our goal getting farther away rather than closer? It’s just more evidence that we’ve got to keep fighting, stay vigilant, and not get complacent.
Every IWD has a theme. A few years ago it was gender parity; last year it was #PressForProgress; and this year it’s #BalanceForBetter. But every year is basically dedicated to the same thing: equality for women. It’s about advancing women in the workplace, rooting out workplace bias, fighting for equal pay, helping women and girls achieve their ambitions, calling for gender-balanced leadership, respecting and valuing difference, and developing more inclusive and flexible cultures.
Being a dating & mating advice site, our own focus is, not surprisingly, on equality in the bedroom. So here are 7 steps any gal can take to make sure her bed is an even playing field:
1. Orgasm equity!
Everyone deserves equal amounts of pleasure. Make sure your partner at least tries to give you an orgasm for every one you help give them. If they can’t, go ahead and give yourself one! And if they won’t even put in any effort, again give one to yourself and then get a new partner.
2. Thumbs Down Slut-Shaming.
Don’t talk trash about women with enthusiastic sex drives. Do not make yourself feel bad or guilty about your own enthusiastic sex drive, whether solo or with partners. Don’t get hung up on body counts (i.e. the number of people you’ve had sex with compared to the number of people your partner or your friends have). And stand-up for yourself when someone tries to shame you for being a sexual creature. Like reader Bklynbug once commented, “I refuse to be labeled by others. I have sex with whomever I choose, whenever I choose. I am empowered by my sexuality.”
3. Know Your Body.
Love your body. Don’t be ashamed about your body. Explore it with your hands and your eyes — externally and internally. Don’t leave it up to someone else to figure out how your body works and what makes it tick! Masturbate regularly, whether you’re single or in a relationship. And be sure to communicate your body’s desires to any partner.
4. Take Control of Your Sexual Health.
And we’re talking both physically and mentally. Carry your own barrier protection, whether condoms or dental dams. Use a back-up form of birth control correctly (e.g. no skipping any Pills, if that’s what you use). Get yourself checked regularly for STDs; and speak up with your doctor about which tests you want done (a pap smear won’t catch everything). Talk with your partner openly, honestly and without shame (see #2) about your and their sexual history — that doesn’t necessarily mean the number of partners, that means STD test dates and results.
Never do anything you don’t want to do; say no clearly and confidently if you’re ever uncomfortable — whether your tipsy on a first date or you’ve been married for 30 years. If you’re sexually assaulted or raped, report it to the authorities immediately and see a doctor. And if you see someone who can’t take control of their own sexual health — because they’re impaired or being controlled or manipulated — step in (safely, of course).
5. Invest in Your Pleasure.
You and your body are worth it. And studies have shown that women who masturbate and use sex toy experience higher rates of sexual satisfaction both alone and with partners. The right toy — like a small, remote-controlled vibrator worn during intercourse — might just be the key to unlocking a stubborn orgasm. A well-made rabbit can improve masturbation, giving you more sexual confidence. Even something as simple — and affordable — as lubricant or a blindfold can transform sex for you. Avoid cheap novelty toys; instead, go for quality design, body-safe materials (no phthalates, BPA-free), recharge-ability, care & cleaning instructions and warranties. Try to find erotic materials that appeal to you, whether that’s female-produced porn by someone like Erika Lust, sexy graphic novels, short fantasies on LELO, erotica anthologies, bodice-ripper paperbacks, or even just something steamy on Hulu like old episodes of “The L Word.”
6. Promote Decent Sex Ed.
Fight for comprehensive sexuality education and against abstinence-only programs in your local schools. If you’ve got kids, talk to them regularly about anatomy (use the correct terms!), sexuality (awkward but important!), safety, consent and respect. Get them copies of Cory Silverberg’s amazing “What Makes a Baby” (6 yrs old & younger) and “Sex Is a Funny Word” if they’re between 7 and 10 (stay tuned for his forthcoming teen book). Until then, get them “Sex: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College.” Get yourself your own adult sex ed books, manuals and guides — you can always keep learning about sex! And brush up right here on how bodies work. After all, a high sexual I.Q. will give you more confidence and pleasure. Talk to your friends of all orientations and genders about sex tips, sexual politics, feminism, and gay & gender issues to broaden your — and their — horizons (try to refrain from being judgmental).
7. Fight for Your Reproductive Rights.
They’re in serious jeopardy right now: as of last year, states have enacted at over 1,100 abortion restrictions since Roe v. Wade! And when reproductive rights are taken away, women lose. We lose privacy, autonomy, financial security and self-determination. Make no mistake, when you can’t make decisions about your own body, you are disempowered. And we’re not just talking about access to safe abortions, we’re talking about access to affordable birth control, family planning information, and cancer screenings. We can’t afford to go backwards. So follow Planned Parenthood Action and Reproductive Health Reality Check (aka RH Reality Check) on Facebook to get important updates on threats to women’s rights and how you can fight back — locally, nationally and internationally.