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A woman's sexuality evolves dramatically during her life. In this book, Elizabeth Davis explores hormones and menstruation, pregnancy and birth, menopause and aging, fertility management through body awareness, and much more, for a complete picture. She analyzes controversial hormone replacement therapy and looks at what effect stress, overwork, major life events, relationship upheaval, and sexual abuse have on a woman's sexual health. The book features chapters on sexual awakening, sex in the later years, and up-to-date information on the creativity hormone, oxytocin. Readers will appreciate her warmth and her "rare combination of breadth, practicality, strong - though not rigid - opinion and generous respect for individual experience" (Publishers Weekly).
|Publisher:||Turner Publishing Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: Women, Sex, and CultureIf you have ever been puzzled by your sexual mood swings, your whims, fantasies, and aversions, this book is for you! Women in civilized society have increasingly lost touch with their natural rhythms of desire, particularly in cultures dominated by male values and attitudes. Virtually our only popular reference to female sexual rhythms is a negative one, that of the undesirability of menstruating women. We will explore this taboo in depth, along with others regarding pregnancy, menopause, and sex in later years, in subsequent chapters. But first, we must define the cultural milieu that conditions our view of women's bodies and sexuality in such negative and condescending ways.
Experts on the evolution of patriarchy tell us the trouble began with the advent of an agrarian lifestyle. When we gave up our huntergatherer existence in favor of tending and cultivating land, ownership became an issue-particularly for men, who sought to transfer property to their male offspring. This led to claiming ownership of the mothers of their sons.
Organized religion has not helped women's struggle for equality. In the time of the Inquisition (around 1400 to 1600 A.D.), women's status in society had so deteriorated that they were considered unclean by nature, inherently sinful, and dangerous. Those women who were especially powerful-the healers, seers, herbalists, and midwiveswere branded witches and were tortured, hung, or burned at the stake. The Malleus Maleficarlim, handbook of the Inquisition, says outright, "No one does more harm to the Catholic Church than do the midwives." Here is a crucial part of history of which many of us are unaware: the holocaust of women. Estimates of the number of women who died at this time range from several hundred thousand to as many as six million. Not only did the condemned take with them a wealth of healing wisdom passed strictly by oral tradition, but their daughters and sons were forced to witness their accusation, suffering, silencing, and death. No wonder we have so much fear of women's power and embodied wisdom-it is encoded in our memories by acts of violence against our female ancestors.
And this is just European and American history. The repression of women's knowledge and power has occurred worldwide, as a result of both religious beliefs and economic factors. As capitalism forged the nuclear family, women were isolated from their kin and were forced to depend on their husbands for financial support in order to raise their young. Thus women lost their tribal ways of jointly raising children, sharing their resources, pooling their skills. Even the extended family has fallen by the wayside in many parts of the world, leaving women entirely alone to cope with their household responsibilities. If we mix in a little religious dogma-women seduce men, divert their attention from what's important, are dangerous, or are a mixed blessing at bestwe have a recipe for loss of women's strength and passion. Think about the gender myths you assimilated in childhood. Consider the overt and covert messages from the media that constantly bombard and envelop us. We've all encoded core beliefs that the feminine spells trouble through "bad girl" characters of troublemaker, slut, and fatal attractor. But the media also portray an opposite ideal of women as loving, giving, virtuous, and self-sacrificing. This is the Madonna/Whore dichotomy, set to derail any attempt at sexual holism. "Good girls" don't want sex as much as men do, but they submit for security's sake, for the sake of home and family. "Bad girls" don't care about security; they are home-wreckers and use sex, seduction, and trickery to tame and subdue their male counterparts. Thus, sex is a battleground. Men win by domination or evasiveness; women win by calculation or by being "nice." Not much of a sexual-social legacy, is it? These suppositions are dehumanizing and demeaning to both sexes...
Table of Contents
|Chapter 1||Women, Sex, and Culture||1|
|Chapter 2||Sexual Awakening||16|
|Chapter 3||Dancing with Our Hormones||39|
|Chapter 4||The Sexuality of Pregnancy and Birth||82|
|Chapter 5||Sex after the Baby Comes||116|
|Chapter 6||Sex and Superwomen: The Myth of "Having It All"||138|
|Chapter 7||Sexual Transformation in Menopause||162|
|Chapter 8||Sex in Later Years: It Can Get Better!||193|
|Chapter 9||Sexual Abuse and Dysfunction: Ways to Heal||203|
|Chapter 10||Celibacy: A Time for Loving Yourself||226|
|Chapter 11||Personal Passages: Discovering Your Own Sexual Journey||238|