Don’t let the media affect your confidence in the bedroom

By Mariyam Quaisar, Kasteel Well Bureau Chief

Finding and exuding confidence can be difficult due to certain societal standards and pressures that have rudely established what it means to be “attractive.” This difficulty can unfortunately travel into the bedroom, a place where confidence is key. Not only does confidence increase pleasure, but it also helps avoid awkward interactions and makes the ride *wink wink* smooth sailing.

So, what exactly is confidence? It’s the self-assurance that arises from appreciating yourself, your abilities, and your qualities—at least that’s what Oxford Languages’ dictionary says. So, how did confidence become synonymous with looks? Appearance and self-esteem are inextricably linked as a result of the never-ending desire to “fit in”––fit into beauty standards that are impossible for the majority to achieve. 

We need to stop holding ourselves to these ridiculous expectations, and we definitely need to stop letting them put a damper on our confidence when we just wanna get our jollies on. 

The unrealistic standards impact how we view ourselves and how we want to be viewed, especially because we are so engrossed in the media. We compare ourselves to what the media portrays as “sexy” both in film and television and in pornography––hairless bodies, curvy figures, perky breasts, full lips, and the strict list goes on—and if we don’t possess those characteristics, we struggle to summon our confidence. Ironically, for many, confidence is one of the most attractive characteristics that one can have, but just exuding that is hindered by the other definitions of “sexy.”

The pressure to look good imposed by the media plays a prominent role in how people find confidence in bed. This needs to change. 

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In film and television, these harmful beauty standards are reinforced through the media’s depiction of the male and female gaze. 

Scholar and filmmaker Laura Mulvey introduced the concept of the “male gaze” in her 1975 essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. The male gaze empowers men and objectifies a woman and her appearance while her feelings, thoughts, and desires are ignored. Their visual appeal becomes the focus. In her essay, Mulvey examined Hollywood’s tendency to satisfy masculine scopophilia—the sexual pleasure involved in looking. 

The female gaze, while it may not be as blunt as the male gaze, is hard to ignore because of the ridiculous standards that are set for how men should look. It’s a two-way street. 

Whether that’s a rock-hard six-pack, a v-line, tall build, broody eyes, or a big southern appendage, women are also to blame for sexualizing and objectifying men. Images that are simply not realistic or any indicator of someone who is good in bed. There is no reason besides this media-based lie, to make men believe that possessing a v-line helps them induce an orgasm. 

There is no direct female equivalent of the male gaze because the male gaze facilitates a power imbalance and reinforces the patriarchy, however, it is safe to say that both the male and female gazes are unhealthy and unnecessary. 

Not only are the ideas of female and male “gaze” completely unrealistic and warped by the media, but they are completely hetero and cisnormative. News flash, people are queer. Not everyone looks at their partner through the media’s accepted gaze, therefore it shouldn’t affect how we view ourselves. 

Our perceptions of beauty and sex can’t always fit a set binary and we should never expect that. During any sexual encounter, our preferences are dictated by so much more than what we look like, and it’s definitely not the same for everybody.

Additionally, the porn industry is one of the biggest culprits for this false idea of what attractiveness should be and expectations surrounding sex in my opinion. It is literally a porn star’s job to go above and beyond during sex—to look a certain way and to act a certain way. It is not our job to replicate them and their abilities. 

The unrealistic expectations that porn sets for sexual encounters warps the satisfaction for both men and women by the irrational fantasies that are filmed. When men consume pornography, there is eventual body dissatisfaction and higher levels of anxiety as these expectations of what sex is “supposed to be” are simply not what most women actually want or need, or can perform. Furthermore, women who have pre-existing negative emotional states during sex often end up feeling worse about their bodies because of porn’s delusions, which in turn impacts their sex lives.

These supposed gazes are completely fabricated by cinematic and staged sexual experiences, and should not be a part of your very real sexual expirience. It doesn’t make sex feel any better, so try to actually enjoy yourself and the person you are with will too.

Having confidence in all aspects of life is important, but that confidence cannot be dictated by society’s ridiculous definition of “attractiveness,” especially in terms of sexual relationships. It is up to one’s self to decide what makes them feel good, sexy, beautiful, hot, yummy, whatever. 

Confidence in the bedroom is about more than how you look because sex is not about looks, it’s about sensations. It is about the person or people you are with and the way they make you feel. Unfortunately, how one “should look” dominates bedroom activities as people go above and beyond to match the media’s portrayal of sexiness. 

But being confident in the bedroom changes the experience completely. Knowing what you like and what you don’t like is one thing, but truly believing the fact that “attractiveness” is just as unique as the next person is another. Not letting beauty standards stand in the way of you feeling sexy will allow you to automatically exude confidence—don’t let that chance slide. 

Define what your confidence means to you, and don’t let it go. What it takes to be confident cannot be universal, regardless of what the media shows you. That would mean everyone is the same and we all know that’s not true. 

Everybody’s unique experiences, characteristics, likes and dislikes, feelings, and qualities play a role in their confidence. So then, why should we allow a set of beauty standards determined by a few to possibly play a part for many? Exactly.