I came across this speech I wrote from two years ago and realised I should share it.
I was recognised as one of Top 100 Inspiring Women by CozyCot in 2011. I made this speech at the CozyCot International Women’s Day at t at Orchard Central on Sun 13 March 2011. More about it here.
Good afternoon. I am very pleased to be recognized as one of the top one hundred inspiring women in Singapore by CozyCot. This afternoon, I would like to take a few minutes to share why I think I inspire women through my work.
As you probably already know, I am a clinical sexologist by profession. I have a doctorate in human sexuality, as well as certificates in counseling, coaching and sex therapy. I do not prescribe medication. Most of my work involves working with individuals and couples who have sexual difficulties or concerns. I also conduct sexual education workshops.
You can rightly assume that, as a clinical sexologist:
• I am comfortable talking about sex and sexuality
• That I have positive attitudes towards sex, sexuality, relationships and, most importantly,
• And am comfortable in my own skin.
That hasn’t always been the case.
For the longest time, being a woman, to me, meant being:
• seen and not heard;
• expected to help, serve (for instance cook, clean, iron) and please people around me, especially the men;
• fertile, and being expected to bear children.
• expected to look good, smell nice, and happy and positive at all times.
I have resented being born a woman and all the societal and cultural expectations that comes with being a woman. If I were to laugh or speak at all, I was asked to, please, not do so too loudly, in order to not inconvenience those around me. I was not expressly told, but I knew better than to oppose a man – not if I wanted him to love me. To oppose a man is to risk being hit, because as a woman, I am not just physically smaller in build, but also weaker in strength. And because men are stronger, have been taught all their lives to lead, protect, defend and take care of the weaker sex – the women; I just assumed that they knew better.
I had, unwittingly, been living life in less than my full capacity because nobody, including myself, had ever expected much of me.
Through a series of events that happened in my life, including being abandoned by my first husband, I learnt that I could not love without first loving myself. I learnt to and finally began to embrace my identity as a woman – all of it. I realised that these ‘shackles’ of being a woman were ones that I had chosen to stay in. Some of these ‘shackles’ were placed upon me, others were probably figments of what I thought was real, and the rest I had put myself into.
Rising above these shackles simply meant being aware of what is, being focused on what could be, and being resigned to some of what will always be, yet ultimately being conscious and deliberate in taking baby steps going towards what I really want.
During my period of soul searching, I asked myself what I would do if I was not afraid. I knew my life purpose had to do with helping people. I also recognized that I have also been interested about sex. I thought I knew a lot before going to sex school. I look around and questioned why nobody was acknowledging the importance of sex and sexuality to one’s sense of well-being, not to mention the role it plays in a relationship. Surely, there was more to understanding sex and sexuality than learning to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), making babies, and getting your period?
In my practice, Eros Coaching, I work with many women and men in furthering their understanding of human sexuality, developing an understanding of their sexuality and better expressing themselves through sex and intimacy.
Female sexuality is certainly close to my heart, being a woman myself. For most of my life, I have been told that as a woman, I should not be so forthright or outspoken. Now, I am grateful for what seems like the instant rapport and comfort women have when they communicate with me – women who would otherwise not seek my support if I weren’t a woman. I work with them to come into their sexual power – recognising, reclaiming, embracing and honouring their sexuality as wonderful and positive, often by working with them one step at a time.
Sex is not everything, but it certainly is important. We all have options– including doing nothing. I choose to be plunged into life and live it fully in the ways I know how. I am a woman who has made peace with being a woman.
For more about Dr. Martha Tara Lee, click here.