Monday, April 19, 2010

The mythical life of your sexuality

As a sex therapist, I am always intrigued by the notions/beliefs/understandings my clients have regarding sex and sexuality. So I decided I wanted to start creating a list of at least the more prevalent ones:
• In order for sex to be “sex” it has to be intercourse.
• Sex is over when the “erection leaves the building!”
• Sex is only sex when both man and woman orgasm through intercourse – forget anatomical considerations it’s just media hype!
• Men are always ready for sex.
• Men are the Wizard of Oz when it comes to sex being the ‘Know All’
• Only boys are encouraged to masturbate
• It’s not healthy for a women to masturbate to learn about her own body, what pleases and pleasures her – that responsibility belongs to the man!
• Our sexual fantasies are our hidden desires of what we really want
• Sexual fantasizing while making love with your partner is tantamount to having an affair – you are only allowed to be thinking of the one you’re with – and no one else – forget the fact that you have an imagination.
• Like the magic beans from the Jack-in-the-beanstalk tale – E.D. drugs alone are the solution to the age-old [or young] problem – Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get [it] up!
• All men are sexually aroused and ready for intercourse by the sight of a naked woman
• Women love to be treated like porn stars or Pounding without Pleasure!
• The erection or the lack thereof is the only real indicator if a man is aroused and desires his partner
• A woman’s sexual desirability can be measured by an erect penis
• Once aroused you have to see it all the way through to orgasm

This list is far from inclusive and the purpose of it is to get you thinking about what myths do you carry around, accepting them as truths without really questioning them. So how do these get started and why do they continue to flourish? Human sexuality seems to be and should be one of those wonderful life experiences that many of us enjoy and so few people understand or know that much about it. I think at some level we need to add a fourth “R” to schooling our children – Reading – wRiting – aRithmetic – Relationships. Human sexuality should never be defined for you ever or in a way that severely restricts or limits your ability to experience a full spectrum of pleasure and fun. Hmm…so what myths are you entertaining these days?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Internet and the Proliferation of Compulsive Sexual Gazing & Engagement

Another point that needs discussing is the issues regarding Online Sexual Addiction [OSA] and the use of pornography. Paul Joannides in his wonderful text – The Guide to Getting it on – has a very healthy and thoughtful discussion regarding OSA. Pictures of naked people engaged in various sexual acts has been around since the dawn of time and is not likely to ever go away. What we need to learn is a healthy way to educate our children and adolescents on the proper use of our bodies and stop setting it up so that it becomes something so forbidden that we find ourselves desperately seeking out these images in ways that can lead to obsessive-compulsive behaviors. It only becomes a problem if we make it that way and we have certainly gone out of our way to make it such, so much so that a whole field of therapy and counseling has been established to help those afflicted in order to find relief from the distressing effects of looking at too many digitized images of naked people engaged in anything sexual.

I recently read an interesting article where Raymond Lawrence an Episcopal cleric takes on the subject of sexual addiction and claims it to be nothing short of another attempt of Western Christianity Religious belief systems to control ones’ sexual pleasure, which given their history – is destined to fail – “Sex is not an addictive substance. It’s a human interaction on which the survival of the species is dependent. It is also possibly the most pleasurable and sought after activity known to humankind, and arguably an experience no one should be deprived of. Most normal people consider more rather than less sexual pleasure to be a major objective in life.” As I reflected on his comment, I was also struck by the fact that so many people are struggling with this in their relationships and truly do need help…but help with what?

If one were not in a relationship, would it still be a problem? You could easily answer “yes” if it impacts ones’ employment or finances or any legal ramifications if what one seeks is judicially wrong. However, most people I see in my practice are there because of their relationship being in trouble – in other words they got caught. As absurd as this may sound, what if you compare this situation to someone who takes exercise to the extreme? One could get in the same problems at work, with money and legally if one decided to ‘break in’ and steal the use of equipment. Would we tend to call extreme excessive exercise addiction or as some believe ‘compulsive behaviors’? Since addiction appears to be coupled with substances like cocaine, heroin, and alcohol maybe we should/need to rethink the use of the word addiction. Should we consider whether or not addiction is the best avenue to take when trying to describe and understand one’s need/consuming desire to seek out and engage in sexually explicit encounters?