Recently, I read The Week’s article “The female price of male pleasure” by Lili Loofbourow. The article speaks of the pain many women endure as collateral for men’s gratification. Loofbourow states “Women are enculturated to be uncomfortable most of the time. And to ignore their discomfort.” She continues by noting “The real problem isn’t that we – as a culture – don’t sufficiently consider men’s biological reality. The problem is rather that theirs is literally the only biological reality we ever bother to consider.”
Many of us women have adapted to a culture of pain. In exercise, terms like “No pain, no gain” become mottos by which we live. Like the article mentioned, many of us become accustomed to beauty regiments that require some discomfort. From waxing and plucking to wearing high heels and waist trainers, becoming conditioned to wear these items in order to become attractive and find a partner is common.
From the time we were young women, a number of us have endured physical anguish each month with our periods. When this pain became excruciating through diseases like endometriosis, some doctors would just dismiss the woman and tell her that it’s normal. And like The Week article notes, numerous women endure pain with sex. Yet only 393 clinical trials study women’s painful sex, seeming extremely sparse compared to the 1,943 studies which exist for erectile dysfunction.
In the article, Loofbourow said “Women have spent decades politely ignoring their own discomfort and pain to give men maximal pleasure.” Except that this goes beyond one or two generations and a few decades.
Pieces of scripture have allowed for this narrative throughout the past two or three millennia. Some of our Christian narratives do not help our efforts to live a low-pain existence. Our faith tradition is rooted in an origin story in which the first female human is cursed to moments of pain for the choice she made.
To read the rest of the article, visit The Pastoral Is Political: The Dangerous Theology of Women, Bodies and Pain