whitney-port-graces-cosmopolitan-cover-may-2009 Love & Relationships

Are We, As Women, Sabotaging Ourselves?

There’s a growing and disturbing trend among young women these days:  More and more, we are giving over our power and sexuality in an effort to attract and please men.

By: Jenn Clark

Have you noticed it?  I bet you have.  You can hardly pull up your Facebook News Feed without seeing a picture a girl has posted of herself barely clad and posing sexily.  Daytime talk shows feature the horrific stories of teenage girls who’ve sexted a guy in school, only to have him turn around and forward it to half of his male classmates. Women who truly want a committed relationship are agreeing to booty calls and no-strings-attached arrangements, simply to keep a guy coming around.

So what’s the deal?  Why, in this age where women have more influence and power than ever before, are we sabotaging ourselves? Why are we lowering our self-worth and our self-esteem simply to gain the fleeting approval of men?

I think pop culture plays a big role in it.  Take, for example, Kim Kardashian – a woman initially made famous because of a sex tape and continuing to have fame because of who she sleeps with.  The multi-million dollar clothing line, the perfume, the sponsorships and endorsements…  Do you know she has nearly 11 million Facebook fans?  In today’s world, it seems as though women are rewarded more for their looks and sexuality than for their intelligence, integrity, or compassion.

Should we blame men for this?  Not totally.  Men aren’t the ones buying Kim K’s clothes, perfume, or the tabloid magazines where she is featured prominently.  Women are.  If we made a collective decision to stop supporting the ladies who do the rest of us a disservice, their marketplace would cease to exist.  Yes, men might think she’s hot or sexy, but it is us women who attempt to emulate her.

Women’s magazines are no help, as well.  Stand in any checkout line at the grocery store and look at the articles that grace their covers.  “Ten dirty things to say to him in bed tonight!”  “Give him an orgasm that will blow his mind!”  “Five red hot sex moves you need to know now!”  (My personal favorite of these “moves” was to challenge your guy to a game of strip Playstation.  Ummm, okay.  Do that and I guarantee he’ll think your cheese is sliding off your cracker.)

It’s as if these magazines want us to believe that sex and being sexy is the key to relationship success; never mind if you can’t form an intelligent sentence or discuss current events.  Simply wear a black lace bra while you tie him to the bed on your second date and you’ll convince him you’re the woman of his dreams.  Yeah, right.

As a relationship advice expert, I am well aware of the importance of sex – and good sex in particular.  A relationship that lacks sexual chemistry is not a romantic relationship at all.  (It’s actually called a friendship.)  However, sex won’t inspire a man to want to be with you or to fall in love with you.  In fact, relying heavily on sex – and being sexually intimate too quickly – is a sure-fire way to lose his respect.  It’s no big deal to turn a guy’s penis on.  What lasts in the long-term is the ability to turn on his brain.

I don’t think our politicians are doing us any favors either.  While both sides are screaming back and forth about the War on Women and whether one even exists, I believe a critical point is overlooked.  Why is the War on Women almost exclusively about birth control and abortion?  Don’t get me wrong, reproductive rights are extremely important issues and shouldn’t be ignored.  However, why this laser focus on our sexuality?  Aren’t women more than our ovaries?  I don’t know about you, but I’d be keen to discuss other examples of how women are “warred” upon.  What about glass ceilings?  The disproportionate number of female executives in business?  The frightening rape and domestic abuse statistics?

Many times, I think women “war” upon ourselves and each other.  Every time a girl calls a classmate a “slut,” it gives the boys license to do the same.  Breast cancer is beyond a worthwhile cause, but putting an “I love boobies” sticker on your car trivializes both the body part and the disease.  A woman makes the choice to put her own relationship desires on hold merely to please a man by becoming his “FWB;” it isn’t a decision she is forced into.  By demeaning ourselves and our bodies, it’s not so much that men are reducing our power as it is that we are abdicating it.

So I say it’s time to get some self-respect back.  We need to start seeing ourselves as more than just sex objects whose main purpose is to attract and please men.  Our worth is determined by more than how sexy or desirable we can be.  You know, a funny thing happens when you begin to respect yourself.  Others begin to respect you as well.


Jenn Clark is a writer, blogger, and all around “sex-pert.” In 2010, she put her two passions – writing and relationship advice – together and created the popular blog “Jenn X: 30Something & Single.”


She is the author of the book “How to Be a Goddess (A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming the Woman Men Dream About…),” which is based on an article she wrote that went viral and has been viewed nearly half a million times.  She is also a monthly columnist for AVID Magazine, a featured writer for a variety of websites, and a frequent radio guest.  You can find both her and her blog at www.facebook.com/jennx30somethingandsingle and on the YouTube channel “Jenn X: 30Something & Single.”

Photo Credits: Corbis Images and Cosmo Magazine

11 comments on “Are We, As Women, Sabotaging Ourselves?

  1. Cali Rossen

    Excellent article!! I love to primp and be beautiful from the inside out, for me. Excited to read your How to be a Goddess book Happy thoughts, Cali

  2. Well said. It increasingly bothers me when I see my younger sisters and their friends displaying provocative or sexually suggestive photos and comments of themselves on Facebook and Instagram as a way to get attention and extra followers. I’m one for self-respect. Yes – it’s great to get ‘flattering’ (not sexist) comments back so as to boost your self-confidence, but what about being classy, or the following good old adage ‘less is more’ – not ‘by wearing less you get more’ but ‘displaying less gets you more respect, notice’ and so on.

    I am seeing a lot of ‘competition’ amongst women where I live in Western Australia, which can be to the detriment of women here. With the increasing prevalence of binge-drinking, sexualisation and violence between women, the shrinking clothes that seriously don’t even look good, the peroxide hair and hair extensions, as well as botox, fake tans, all to try to be this ideal woman – those portrayed on reality TV…and those aren’t even real women.

    And then there’s the competition within the workplace, where sabotaging your fellow female colleague sometimes seems more important than working together. At the moment I am blessed to work with some awesome women who don’t do this, which is a breath of fresh air.

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