Women and Sex

There is general agreement that sex is more openly spoken about now than it was in the 1950s. There was a suggestion that women have gained a greater right – and a greater ability – to say ‘No’ but not everyone would agree with this. Women who are 80+ and women of 20+ and all other decades have stated the importance of a woman always speaking up for what she thinks is right, and only doing what is right.

We also had general agreement that sex was never the most important thing in a relationship – and without friendship, love, consideration and respect, intimacy wouldn’t feel right. And for one woman, choosing to sleep in separate beds guaranteed a good night’s sleep but didn’t do any harm to her sex life!

The power of peer pressure

An interesting point came up when women from more than one generation mentioned the pressure that young girls or young women feel from their peers – pressure to go further sexually than they might feel comfortable with. Several women in the room said that as they have grown older they have realised that what their friends were saying when they were younger was not true, and the pressure they felt pushed them to do things they didn’t want to do. One said she chose to socialise more with boys her own age than with girls, for this reason, and doing so left her feeling more empowered and free.

Sometimes, feelings of peer pressure, or lack of information, had lasting consequences. One woman told us her story about her experience of teenage pregnancy in the 1970s. And we talked to a number of women who had become pregnant as teenagers in the ’50s and ’60s and had their children adopted.

Homophobia or openness?

Some women said they felt that Barrow could be ‘homophobic’ and some people were, and still are, narrow minded. It’s encouraging to know that things can change over time, and we’re pleased to have a contribution from a lesbian woman who followed her own heart and body and made her own choice to step beyond the peer pressure to be heterosexual when this did not feel right to her.

It’s how you say it … 

Of course there have been changes in language, and this one is worth sharing:

My colleague said, ‘Oh, I went out with John the other day and I give him a bit of top – that meant, she let him touch her boobs over her top. How innocent is that? I mean, nowadays? Some teenagers now will go to a much more …
Third base, fourth base …
I mean, an innocent kiss was exciting, it was enough … There are certain groups today where that isn’t enough …