Are You Having Sex Because You Want to Have Sex, or Is There Some Implied Bargain Going On?
Today we are going to explore the rather controversial topic of “trading for sex.” I certainly would not be the first person to suggest that marriage is often a form of legalized prostitution. But it surely is not the only arena where implied trades for sex are happening. Perhaps if you are willing to be honest, you can remember times in your own life when you had sex even though you did not really want to have sex. Because you were going to get something that you thought was lacking in your life.
Recently I found myself in a situation where a man was doing all kinds of “nice” things for me. And I noticed the temptation within myself to “repay” him with sex. I did not want to have sex with him, but it would have been easy enough to do. I could almost justify it in my mind. Fortunately, though, my heart and my intuition are a lot more powerful now than they used to be. I caught myself falling into the trap of feeling “obligated” to “repay” this person with sex. And I stayed in integrity with myself and said no.
What is this ritual we have of men paying for dinner? It can have all kinds of interpretations, of course. I enjoy spending time with abundance-minded people, and a man sharing his abundance with me does not feel much different to me than the “free” stuff I am receiving from the Universe (not always through men) on a regular basis.
But what about when it’s not just a simple sharing of abundance with no expectation of anything in return? Recently I saw an old friend of mine who had broken up with his girlfriend. They were together for several years. It was never a relationship of equals. He is extremely wealthy, and she is financially insecure. She gave him sex, and he let her move in with him and paid all her expenses. Which was all fine and good and relatively harmonious until she realized that he meant what he said at the beginning: he had no intention of getting married. For her, getting married was an implicit part of the “bargain.” And as her friends gave her a hard time about it, she was sensitive to other people’s opinions, and the sensitivity grew when she hit a particular birthday … they broke up.
I myself once had a “sugar daddy” relationship. I don’t envision ever getting into a situation like that again. At first it felt like a princess fantasy. He would take me to Nordstrom and buy me 15 pairs of shoes at a time. He would take me to the most expensive stores in San Francisco and drop $15,000 at a time on dresses and shawls. He took me to the finest hotels and restaurants, and we flew first class to far-flung destinations. Did I realize that I was “trading for sex”? No, I was not that conscious at the time. It all just kind of “happened.” I even persuaded myself that I loved him.
At a deep level though, it felt like he was overcompensating for the fact that he did not feel like he was my equal. Over the course of the relationship, that icky feeling started to increase. My respect for him gradually diminished. Before I knew it, I was almost two years into a relationship that I knew would not be permanent.
And it started to get very dark. I remember one time he urged me to quit my job, and my intuition screamed “no.” “No, do not let yourself be financially dependent on this man.” I started thinking about other men, and he became very jealous. One time I was staying at his multi-million dollar vacation home with some of my girlfriends. He claimed to be occupied at another location, yet he drove several hours to arrive unannounced to “check up on me” (i.e., make sure I was not with another man). I had never cheated on any of my boyfriends, but his constant paranoia led me almost to cheat on him. When we broke up, he had an engagement ring that he said was “burning a hole in his pocket.” I never saw the ring. It was all so … ewwwwww. I broke it off, and he married another woman about six months later. I kid you not. Which made me even more glad that we were not together. To me, it was all driven by his not feeling complete as a human being standing on his own two feet.
There have been lots of other times in my life where I could have married a man for money, for social status, or for some other kind of “value.” And sometimes, let’s be honest, there were times I even had sex for far more trivial reasons. It was just “easier” than saying no.
The “sugar daddy” situation made me a lot more wary of men attempting to “buy” sex from me, one way or another. At this point, I am glad that I have spent a solid amount of time single. When we have learned to be solid all by ourselves, it is a lot more difficult for us to be manipulated with our insecurities. I don’t get lonely anymore, so I have no need to have sex to fill a void in my life. Back when I had a job that I hated (when I was dating the “sugar daddy”), I fantasized about a wealthy man “rescuing” me from having to work. I did not understand at that time about patterns of co-dependency and how destructive they are. Now that I have learned to stand on my own two feet as an entrepreneur, the idea of marrying a man for money just seems ludicrous. The only kind of relationship that appeals to me is a co-creative partnership of equals. The only kind of relationship I can envision now is uniting with another person who recognizes his wholeness and does not need to “get” anything from me, nor I from him.
Life does not “just happen” to me anymore. I am conscious of my choices, and I am in charge of my destiny. So when my intuition flags a situation of a man trying to “buy” sex from me, whether with money or by doing “nice” things for me … I just say “no.” And every time I do, my self-respect increases a little bit more.
After all, knowing what you want and being willing to stand firm until it manifests … without “caving” in to social pressures or personal insecurities … is what it means toBecome Fearless. And after living fearlessly, you’ll never want to go back to conventional living ever again
Erika Awakening, High Priestess of Miracles at TAPsmarter
Money, sex, in-laws, vacations, communication, children–these head the list of explicit concerns couples struggle with in their marriage. But there are deeper and more significant issues. Often these are hidden from direct discussion or awareness. Care, respect, interest, play, attention, and power are the real issues couples have. These are the themes that make for happiness or misery, that fulfill or destroy dreams. Couples who have harmony in these realms have relationships that hold together, breed vitality, and foster creativity. We are creatures driven by invisible currents, often imperceptible to the casual or the inattentive observer. A case-in-point: What may seem to be a couple’s routine argument about which movie to see may be a hidden power struggle. One partner feels that she has been capitulated too many times to her husband’s preferences, even though in a less competitive moment his first choice would also have been hers.
In this article I will define and illustrate what I consider to be six below-the-surface issues in marriage and offer observations on how we might approach consciously living-out these themes in less destructive and more positive ways.
John and Sarah (All names and identifying data have been changed.) are starved for caring. John grew up in a love-deprived home without a mothering mother. His mother, in and out of mental hospitals during his childhood, looked to her elder son to take care of his three brothers. After doing his own school work, he would make sure his siblings did theirs, clean house, and make dinner for his depressed mother and his exhausted and overburdened father. His parents were so absorbed in their mental and financial survival, respectively, that they did not even thank him. His sole comfort was managing to keep a semblance of sanity in the family and save his mother some visits to the hospital. When he met Sarah, a lovely young woman with a soft voice and an appreciation for his good efforts, he was joyfully overwhelmed. Here at last was one who understood, here at last was one who wanted to create a family in which thought and feeling and aspiration could be shared and executed together. He felt cared for.
For Sarah their meeting was equally promising. She had also been brought up in a family devoid of emotion–an austere mid-western family, in which mother never hugged and father sat remotely over ceremonial occasions, but had little else to offer. Sarah suffered from diabetes and John’s sense of order promised to help her maintain a regimen for optimal health. She believed she had found the man who would warm her heart and take care of her temporal needs. They, of course, fell in love with each other–for what is “falling in love” but finding another whom we believe meets–and will continue to meet–our needs. They married and, alas, a failure of “caring” soon began.
Sarah, it turned out, notwithstanding her gentleness and eagerness to be helpful, had only a rudimentary sense of empathy for emotional nuance. She knew how to do what she believed were “caring’ behaviors, but lacked a heart that matched John’s sensibilities. In their first year of marriage John’s brother was made paraplegic in a car accident. As he lived in the same city as John, he balanced his own families needs with attending to his brother, returning to his bedside and taking on his care much as he had looked after him when he was a little boy. Sarah attempted to be supportive, but John’s absence from the home, his drives across town twice a week to fill in for the nurses, his continually being on the phone to doctors, began to sink Sarah’s heart, as she wondered what happened to the man she married. She no longer felt John’s caring.
Caring is the constant and tender ministrations that we all look for in our partners. In many couples the most fundamental question is: Does she or he care enough? How precious is the statement that “He really does care.” How poignant the transparent defensive posturing, “I really don’t care what she does.” We need for persons to intend the best for us and to have us in their minds and to carry out acts of caring. The absence of caring breeds shame and worthlessness. Explicit issues of being home for dinner when expected, taking out the garbage, driving slowly when one’s partner is anxious about speed, or speedily when one’s partner is anxious about dawdling, are not “little things” but significant carriers of caring feelings. These are as intensely important, as urgent as the deepest demands of the human heart. In fact, that’s what they are.
“I care for you.” “He doesn’t care for me.” These are among the tenderest, most sought, and most feared sentiments persons express to one another. When caring behaviors become sparse, couples are fading in their vital attachment to one another. Caring behaviors are those acts subtle or blunt by which we convey to the other that we wish his or her happiness, safety, fulfillment. It is caring to feel deeply for our partner’s most searing fears and griefs; it is also caring to listen to her talk about her high school reunion. Caring is wishing the person well and acting to back up that wish. When we care we go the proverbial extra mile. Caring also conveys, implicitly, commitment, for caring is being present to the other as long as we are needed. We “are needed” a long, long time. Few in-love couples pre-arrange their breaking-up.
Take a look at your relationship. Do your feel cared for? Do you care deeply about your mate? Talk with your partner and let him tell you how he feels. Summon the courage to hear that she may not feel nearly so cared about as your have imagined. In fact, you may have forgotten actually to care, and you may have become so used to being in an uncaring marriage that you aren’t even paying attention to the state of caring between you. Examine what has happened to your caring. Did it evaporate? Was it ever there?. How does your caring interweave with other themes of your relationship–with power and respect, for example? What do you need to do, to have your partner do, before caring can be revived? Do you need the help of a guide or therapist? Is it worth your investment of energy? Are you really serious about trying? And if so, how will you begin? How much energy will you give to realizing this possibility?
After their first idyllic months together, Ellen and Newton composed a gradual crescendo of disrespect which climaxed in a bitter divorce. What began as a story-book romance–a chance meeting in Key West where each had, uncharacteristically, taken solo vacations for introspection and R&R– she seeking refuge from an abusive marriage and he solace from a series of failed relationships. Newton was present and comforting to Ellen as she recounted the emotional and physical abuse she had suffered for years in an attempt to keep the marriage together for the sake of her children and in deference to her family’s pressure to avoid, at-all-cost, divorce.
Ellen, at first enamored of Newton’s vast intellect, and proud of his talent at engaging any person in fluent conversation, came to despise “his narrow academic interests” and his “pompous colleagues.” She deplored his long work hours and his extended field trips. She panicked about his regularly having several drinks before dinner. He showed no desire for children of their own. Fundamentally, Ellen did not respect his interests, his style, his friendships. Though she “tried” to persuade herself that she could learn to admire him, that he had a “right” to do what he did without her standing in judgment. Yet, in her soul she was negative to and threatened by many of the ways he lived.
Newton, at first attracted to Ellen because of her needfulness, after a few months of marriage began to see her less as loveably vulnerable than as one whose unhappiness was a drag on his contentment. He began to realize that he who had begun the relationship as the “white knight” for helping her escape from her unhappy and entrapped marriage had now become the oppressor. Her vulnerability became, to him, a contemptible craziness and instead of being with her in sympathy for the way the world was treating her, he became part of the world that was tormenting and abusing her.
The relationship, having made an 180 degree turn from affirmation of each other–their styles, looks, habits, values, commitments–to denigrating practically everything about one another, found itself on a steady course of decline and, eventually, divorce. To be trapped on a path where each partner judges the other as not living an admirable life is fatally demoralizing. Ellen “tried” to see Newton differently and the more she tried the more it was evident that underneath her posturing sweetness and positivity, there was repulsion. Many times Newton resolved not to attack her with “crazy-making” accusations, but when she would get upset at one of his absences or pretensions, he would forget his resolutions and “go for the gut.” Newton and Ellen had neither power, nor awareness, nor will to face straight-out that they did not admire one another. They repeatedly fought over mundane differences, ignoring the deeper angers and judgments that made them crash-bound. Hardly a marriage survives in this atmosphere; none happily. Theirs did not.
Respect means liking and affirming your partner for who he or she is in the world. Of course, being separate creatures with our own prejudices and definitions, some things about others we like, some we do not. But loving relationships that are truly satisfying are founded on mutual respect. We need to feel that others believe the attitudes we have, the professions we pursue, the charities we support, the jokes we tell are, for the most part, pleasing to them. If this is not happening, then there is a major problem brewing. People kill each other when they feel disrespected, and couples kill their marriage when disrespect prevails.
If you feel that respect in your relationship is becoming thin, take a long look at yourself and attempt to understand just how deep this disrespect goes. Have you, for some time, been feeling negative about how you partner leads her life, and have you been less than direct about it? Or perhaps you can look within yourself, at your own values. If you are failing to respect your partner, you may want to examine your behavior and see if you are emphasizing negative things to the detriment of the positive. Sometimes things are correctable, but you must address problems before the toxins of disrespect have ravaged your connection. If you want to develop respect, there is no better way to begin than frankly talking with your partner about your failings in this arena and beginning to construct a new basis for respect. If you can’t find it, then you are indeed in trouble.
A common way of describing a relationship is when persons acknowledge being “interested”in each other. “Interesting” covers a lot of territory. Though nature may have first created interest to assure replication of life, sex, recasts as interest, extends far into realms as diverse as intellectual complexity, athletic skills, winsome personality, and playing a mean game of chess. One of our strongest drives is the compulsion away from boredom. Losing interest defines depression.
Mitchell and Lori had only been married a couple of years when Mitchell lost interest. In the beginning their fascination for each other never cooled. He was strong and quiet, she, shy socially, but super-active athletically. She led him out of himself into a new world of sports and outdoors. He offered her a quiet refuge and protection from the many times she over-extended herself with activities. All went well until her job began to keep her into the evenings and weekends. He depended on her for stimulation, for keeping things going that were fun and engaging. Only a few months after Lori’s absence-making schedule began, Mitchell initiated afternoon dalliances with a coworker that quickly blossomed into a passionate affair. When Lori discovered his infidelities, the ensuing struggles, the threat of loss, and the reminder of their strong early attraction to one another reignited their desire to make a satisfying marriage.
Research indicates that affairs are seldom primarily sexually motivated. Most often they are persons’ attempts either to stimulate their life, or having lost a feeling of being desired in their relationship, discover if one can still be attractive to other partners. Nothing flattens a couples energy more than to have lost interest in one another–if the trend continues downward, persons can lose interest in being alive.
How can you make the uninteresting interesting? By paying acute attention. Anything looked at up close and personal is interesting. If something is interesting it sparks our creativity, it brings out our most primitive organismic sense of pleasure in relating to reality outside of ourselves. Interest brings us into heart and mind augmenting connection with the world. And persons are infinitely interesting for they are in continual ferment, discarding old and taking on new forms in a cacophony of novelty and growth.
Love is continually renewing interest. How many good films do you see where there is no “love interest.” (Note, “love-interest”–it’s almost a single word.) Interest is the life of relationships. Lose interest, death of the relationship. How do you retain and engender interest? By being willing to be open for it. By not expecting the other person to carry the full responsibility of being “interesting” to us. It is just as true–and perhaps a truth of more import–to say that you are responsible for your own ability to be interested. The lazy brain is the uninterested brain. Further if you are not interested you hardly accept the other as he is, for you are always looking for “something else” to carry you out of your stupor of disinterest.
Play is the purest and fullest expression of joy–the most basic positive emotion. There are many forms of play. Sexuality may head the list, but not far behind is walking around the block, enjoying family rituals, laughing over the comics, watching a child grow up, matching rhythms and harmonies with one another. Play is pure; it is without pretense; it aspires to be nothing but itself. It is nature’s way of letting us know we are in the flow of experience. To play together is both to be in sync with the world and one another. We become couples, in large measure, because we play well together. Whether we are attending a lecture, going to the beach, or venturing into Eros, the compelling meeting between two persons can best be described as play. Persons are attracted to each other, not because they work well on projects together, but because they enjoy playing with one another.
When Rosemary and Spaulding met they were beautiful and talented young people who enjoyed parties, romance, and fanciful dreams of success. After their marriage they moved from a small town in the south to a large eastern city for Spaulding to attend law school. It turned out that he had talent for patent law and paternity, and before long his practice was successful and his home full. Rosemary bore five sons and gave herself to twenty years of active and consuming motherhood, along with making a home for her work-laminated husband.
Rosemary craved play. She didn’t know its name, but she knew she needed something. She tried tennis, encounter groups, therapy, religion, dancing. She discovered she liked all of them. Relieved of the demands of her large brood of children, she was ready for grown-up play. She learned to look people in the eye, talk about her feelings, claim her sexuality. She desperately wanted to engage her husband with her in her newly found playfulness. Rosemary urged, demanded that Spaulding join her, but his manner of play was to sit quietly with the newspaper, worry about the stock market, keep up with sports, and follow his sons’ progress. His games she could never play, and as for her parenting, it was time for a change of venue. She needed a playmate–i.e. a man to share with her in the new pleasure and creativity she had discovered in her life, and he hardly filled the (play)bill. For Rosemary play was the avenue to closeness and Spaulding’s inability to play with her caused a severe gap in their happiness together.
From the beginning we play. We virtually come into the world playing. Play is losing ourselves in unplanned pleasurable abandon of mind and body. Play feels good. Play expands the body, loosens the breathing, rushes the blood, releases endorphins and epinephrine and dopamine. When relationships form there’s a lot of playing. So many activities for couples are play activities. Dating, dancing, going to the movies and…sex are play. Sex is high and vital adult play; when it’s work it’s no fun. Play is an accepting activity for it exists for its own sake. This is perhaps why play often gets such a bum rap.
You and your partner probably don’t play nearly enough. As heirs of Puritanism, you may feel that everything should be “purposeful,” that present activity–even play–should be leading to something else that justifies your effort. But acceptance is not future oriented; it is receiving and enjoying with your partner what is in the present–and no activity is more “in-the-present” than play. If you can’t play, you are much too anxious about what is “not yet.” Play releases, it transcends a “not-now-consciousness” to enter an “experiencing-now-consciousness” that is pure enjoyment. Being able to share the play-moment makes you indeed partners in living life freely and for fun.
Jerry wants to be “heard.” He has countless stories about how Jennifer repeatedly paid no attention to what he told her. On the first thanksgiving visit to his uncle’s (the grand-old-man of his family) home when he implored Jennifer never to reveal that they had lived together before they were married. He knew that his bachelor uncle was notorious for his Victorian morality, which dwelt alongside a great mind and loads of money to distribute solely to his two nephews. Jennifer, after several of glasses of Chateau Rothchild, let the secret of their cohabitation slip. Uncle abruptly asked them to leave and seven years later has neither spoken to nor about them.
Jennifer’s story is of her futile attempts to have Jerry listen to her terror of his family. Again and again she had stressed to him that his family’s loud and condescending ways made her shrink with discomfort and fright. She told Jerry that the only thing that could help would be to medicate her anxiety with wine, and that she knew that she sometimes got out of control. Jerry paid little heed. Through their failure to listen attentively to each other, they lost family and inheritance… and gained anger and disappointment with each other.
From our beginnings, we must be attended to. Children not “heard,” neither mirrored not understood, whose sense-of-self is grossly handicapped by the indifference of others, literally do not survive their childhood. Did you ever speak to someone when you thought he was in the room with you, perhaps voicing a thought about a shared experience, and found he had walked out of the room leaving you talking to air. You felt disappointed, foolish, annoyed. That is what it is like not to be heard, not to be attended to. You begin to think that actually you don’t exist.
Like so many who do not feel heard, Jennifer and Jerry resort to aggressive and sometimes ruthless measures to gain attention. Jennifer demeans Jerry’s manhood, talks about old boy friends being more appealing to her than he is–“They listen”, and threatens further havoc on his family, aimed this time at his parents. Jerry scowls and yells, or alternately he takes a passive, withdrawn stance, hoping to invoke such guilt in Jennifer that she will pause and listen to his side of things. Both are so caught-up in trying to force the other to hear them, that they are like the United Sates attempting to save Vietnam by destroying it.
As a marriage therapist, I see an endless parade of persons who drag their partners to counseling with complaints about how they are not being attended to. The complaints come in many forms: not being heard or listened to, not being seen or sought out, not being thought about or remembered. All of which make the unattended-to person very insecure about whether she or he is truly valued by the other.
If you are to learn better to attend and be attended to, you must become aware that listening, indeed, is your deficiency. You need to check out your narcissism to see just how self-absorbed you are and how effectively you take in what is real about your partners. In many households, persons go weeks without ever so much as inquiring after their partners feelings or even their everyday experiences. Are you one of these? And if you feel you are rarely attended to, pay close attention to your experience, are you often wishing for more or different than your partner can give? If all else fails, ask your partner if he or she feels attended to and known. If you and she are not reassured by her response, then undertake a course of training–with friends, therapists, family, books–to see if you actually want learn and develop the courage and skill of empathy.
Human beings abhor feeling “less-than.” We can’t bear for another to get the upper hand. We have many ways to even scores. The recent popularity of “First Wives Club” and “Waiting to Exhale,” gives strident witness to the “fun” and satisfaction we have in seeing others get their comeuppance when they become too powerful for the good of both partners. We fear that our partner may be ahead of (translate better than or superior to) us, or worse, that she or he may be “feeding-off” us. We attempt to correct this by conscious and unconscious balancing designed to make sure we do not end up on bottom. We work, all out, to stay on top. Case in point: Paul washes the dishes and points out to Anna that she should appreciate his efforts; he claims that what he does more than compensates for her vacuuming the house; she then agues that, not only did she vacuum but she shampooed as well and this puts her ahead….and on it goes.
There are several varieties of roles that are used in the power struggle. A couple of favorites are the victim and the saint (variations: nag and “Nice Guy,” wimp and the tyrant). The victim is always “down” and refuses to allow the other person to enjoy their “up” position. Victims blame; they invariable see the problem as the bad behavior of the other. Elizabeth is an assertive and demanding victim, as she approaches most of their talks with Brian, her husband, with a full agenda of grievances for his “failures” in treating her well. Brian is ever eager to please, but nothing he does ever seems to be enough, nothing ever seems to work. If his behaviors are “right” then his timing is “wrong.” Always, he is either agreeable or compromising, yet what he does is bumbling and only succeeds for Elizabeth half-way. If he comes home early one night, she reminds him that his job is less secure this year so he had better take no liberties; when he is late she speaks of the children feeling neglected.
Brian is the model “Nice Guy,” a sort of Sensitive Man version of a saint. He listens to Elizabeth; he “empathizes” (i.e. he insists he “understands what she means”); he smiles at her with sweetness and reassures her of his love. But there is a darker side in this hidden power struggle: he is “injured” that she does not appreciate his efforts more fully, for underneath he feels “put-upon” and “had-it-up-to-here” about her demands and pleadings. He neither lets himself or her know just how disgruntled and resistant he is. She tries to get him to admit it. She tells him “Don’t you resent my going-on all the time about wanting more from you?” He responds, “A bit, but I understand that you are really hurting, and I want to do the best I can.” But, from time to time his real upset is apparent even to him, when he says flat-out to her insistence that he interrupt his racquetball to be home “on time” for dinner–” Well, I just can’t do that.” Underneath this “Nice Guy” trait there resides the resentful mind of one who feels he is being more misunderstood than is his wife. His attitude is strength and availability, but beneath the surface there is determination not to be “used,” not to be made accountable for what he believes in his heart-of-hearts is more her “fault” than his. He is fighting her and she him. The explicit issues of their marriage, his time availability, his forgetting anniversaries, his financial instability are rendered trivial by the velvet war they are raging for dominance. Bit by bit they have lose confidence in mutual good will and caring. And without this assumed reciprocity of energy and love, a power struggle sets in.
When the dynamic themes of your relationship are suffering from failures of loving connection, developing “power-over” often becomes by default the mode of choice. Power is the booby prize for failure of respect, care, et al. If we can’t be with our partners, at least we can exercise power over them. So we become obsessed with being winners. There are so many ways to have power struggles: they can be well disguised as content discussions or battles over “important” things–when the deeper theme is showing who can win: we may feign willingness to give our partner what she wants, but our deeper intention is to dilute her justifiable anger for our inconsiderateness; we can bring up issues in public that have not been worked out in private in order to get help from one of our friends whom we know shares our opinions.
You probably did not fall in love with your partner because either of you demonstrated power over the other–relationships are rarely fueled by the winner enjoying being related to a loser. Should you find yourself lost in power trips, ask yourself just what are you feeling inferior about that you might go for the “win?” Know that your love and positive connection are out of kilter, and you have surrendered to a power trip disguised as a marriage. Are you willing to invest in the delicate and vulnerable reinvention of a balanced and reciprocal marriage?
How it all adds up….
In all of these hidden issues there is a common theme, whether care, or respect, or interest, or play, or attention, or power: acceptance. We are social creatures and the central question of all human existence is: Do you accept me? Am I OK with you? Do you embrace me, or do you push me away? What is my future with you? Are you a refuge, a safe harbor? Or do I have to worry about being alienated from you? At the core of the human psyche and soul is the yearning for the continuation and fulfillment of the unconditional love often provided for us as infants. We are born of parents whom nature, at its best, provides with instinct and wisdom that they may lovingly respond to our needs–simply because weare. Beginning within the womb and beyond, when things go the way nature intended, we experience ourselves as given-to as though we were a pure gift of joy to our human companions who are pleased with us and we with them. This is the imprint by which all our social life, and most centrally our marriage life, is measured.
The hidden themes of marriage are variations on acceptance. Unconditional acceptance is life’s first gift, and our lifetime task is to recover and amplify, in the specifics of our relationships, the infinite variations on this theme.Care is acceptance as we recapitulate the mother’s tender loving gaze and gentle ministrations for each others’ well being. Respect is acceptance as we honor the particularity of our partners in ways that they feel their life “as is” is highly esteemed. Interest is acceptance as we let our partners know that they draw our energy positively and vigorously. Play is acceptance as partners’ flowing, mindless, expressions connect with high pleasure with one another and all life. Attention is acceptance as we feel heard and known by one another, and by this experience confirm our entitled place in life. Power isthe energy of acceptance fostered when one surrenders tobeing with one another, never dominating thus relieving fear, and gathering the synergy of true mutuality.
Men are mystified by women’s sexuality – actually we’re terrified of it. Our greatest fear? That we’ll disappoint you, that you’ll dream about or find someone is better or bigger than us and that you’ll never open yourself to us again.
As a woman, you make yourself vulnerable by revealing an experience or describing a fantasy. As men, we hear the details as a challenge to us to deliver it precisely as described. We think you’re like us and that every detail is something you want in real life exactly as you imagined it.
Your romantic fantasies have us mentally calculating the expense of the trip to the exotic location and the legalities of being arrested on the beach or in the waterfall. Your more vivid ones make us fear we need to be some kind of endowed gymnast to avoid disappointing you.
What men don’t realize is that the most desirable quality for a woman isn’t muscles, sexual gymnastics or impressive endowment, it’s a partner that a woman trusts enough to simply EXPRESS herself openly to.
The reason 50 Shades of Grey was popular wasn’t because it was well written (it wasn’t) or the specific sex it described, it was because the man described was confident and utterly unembarrassed about his own sexuality and created a safe space for the woman to express both her curiosity and limitations.
Most men are stuck – we don’t intend to be, we just have fewer places than women to have healthy conversations about sexuality.
We grew up on a diet of dirty jokes and pornography with the guys while publicly the puritanical beliefs from our families, our churches and sex Ed classes made us think everything we wanted was dirty.
We’re terrified that someone will discover that we’re deviants if we reveal out fantasies or inadequate lovers if we open up about our insecurities.
At our core we suspect that women don’t want sex, that we have to convince you to like it so that we can get it. It’s almost inconceivable to us that it’s something you’d actually want or think about.
Because they fear your sexuality, Nice Guys lack bravado inside or outside the bedroom while Bad Boys try to keep up their ‘show’ when their clothes come off or reveal themselves as the timid boys they really are when things become genuinely intimate.
A conscious man realizes that a woman is open when she feels seen, safe, respected and supported. An exceptionally conscious man understands that foreplay for a woman begins the moment sex ends and that she will be open to him as long as she continues to feel seen, respected and supported.
A conscious man doesn’t disconnect (roll over, turn on the TV, leave her alone to clean up). He knows that as long as he adores her and never stops showing that he supports her that she never turns *off*.
She might not think about sex the casual way he does, but if he proves to be magnificent in her *little* things he’ll find her magnificently available with his *big* things.
What exactly is sexual empowerment? Does sexual empowerment mean that you will become some whore, slut or sex goddess/god? Does it mean that you will want to live out your fantasies or move from a once monogamous relationship into some alternative lifestyle with your sexuality? Does it mean that you will start to dress in a more seductive fashion? or watch porn freely?
Through the years of working with many couples and individuals I have been asked all of these questions, some come to me with great excitement and hope that the answer is “yes” others have a look of terror run across their face and pray that these things will not come to pass. Some are hoping that their mates will change in this fashion so that they can go play the field more without guilt, while others are just wanting to feel secure in themselves and have someone tell them that they are normal in their desires and wants and that what they choose to do in the manifestation of their sexual empowerment is ALL up to them. In all honesty, there is NO such thing as normal when it comes to our sexuality. There is no right or wrong. There just is the fact that we are sexual creatures and through the understanding and embracing of this incredible power within each of us that we can create a beautiful life. When we suppress our sexuality and hide it under the covers, in darkness or in the closet we are preventing bliss to flow through our lives in all ways. The links between our sexual empowerment and our ability to manifest abundance into our lives is ever so strong. The two are aligned. Napoleon Hill back in the 1930’s wrote the book Think and Grow Rich and in his discovery he found that all great leaders/change agents and millionaires had a few things in common. One of them being a high sex drive and an ability to transmute this power in their lives so that they were not just having incredible sex but that they were using this force to live out their desires/dreams in other areas of life and pull massive abundance to them. This too is YOUR power. But in order to make use of this universal law you must first learn that sexual empowerment is a must. Healing your sex is how you heal your life and live unbound, liberated and abundant.
It is becoming a more common belief and a well supported one at that, that sex and money are tied together at the hip. For all of you who are wanting to develop that dream business, live your dreams doing what you want, be on purpose and a motivator to the world, then focus on healing, expanding and empowering your sexuality FIRST. The underlying core beliefs that you hold toward sexuality manifest themselves into other core beliefs about life. The way you can surrender into yourself, be comfortable with who you are as a sexual being, ask for what you want, negotiate your desires, communicate your love and/or pain, listen, feel and support your lover as well as yourself and hold space all play a significant role in how well you will achieve your dreams and desires in other areas of your life. When you are all blocked up and addicted to certain beliefs and ways of being, hiding and suppressing in sex you will also do this in your work, spiritual practice, exercise/nutrition, parenting, and over all relating.
Identifies and experiences wants and desires without crossing the boundaries of another
Communicates needs, wants and desires without blame or shame
Accepts rejection without taking it personally
Feels at home in their self and their body
Sets authentic boundaries and means it
Is educated about how their body, pleasure and relationships “work”
Knows and utilizes available options for sexual expression and erotic experience
Feels fully sexually expressed and when they are not in full expression, they know how to get there
Thoughtfully explores sex and sexuality so that they can make clear distinctions about what’s right for them and what’s not
Develops and uses skills to make pleasureful, satisfying, fulfilling sex their norm
Forms relationships and develops intimacy that supports the highest expression of their core energy
Expresses a range of emotions in healthy ways that do not harm themselves or others
Identifies defense patterns in relationships and works to overcome them and replace them with healthy ways of connecting to others
Develops healthy coping skills for managing difficult emotions, grief and pain
Engages in clean, clear communication
Works to heal and release any shame, guilt or trauma about their sexuality
Heals the need to be competitive with others and to release patterns of lack, deprivation and feeling like they “can’t have it all”
Critically examines cultural messages about sexuality, gender and sex
Rejects and challenges sexual stereotypes, assumptions, false ideas and cultural myths that hinder, impair, squash or dim their magnificent sexual self
Identifies and experiences erotic authenticity even when socially popular ideas pressure them to do or like something else
Explores and develops an authentic sexual identity and does not need to hide or shift that identity to feel comfortable and safe in their life
Knows they never have to settle and that choosing one key desire and forsaking another is a false choice
Makes authentic sexual decisions
Experiences joy and pleasure regularly and as a norm in life
Develops their confidence and sexual self-esteem
Lives in alignment with their desires
Shines their light in its full brightness & juiciness in the world
Feels at home in themselves and moves through the world from a place of self-intimacy
As we learn to come out of the societal trap of “we can’t have” the life, the bliss, the love and connection that we dream of and that it is wrong for us to express ourselves in a creative fashion or live in comfort with our sexuality we experience a complete turn around in our lives. Our thinking and expressing is liberated and the weight of the world is released from us. we find ourselves smiling for seemingly no reason, seeing the good and beauty in all and instead of focusing on why the glass is half empty we know that there is a field full of cattle ready to share more milk for us. It is not a deprived, repressed way of living and thinking but instead one that says that in life there is more then enough with plenty left over.
Learn more about how to become sexually empowered through one of my coaching programs or workshops/seminars. After all that’s what I do. Embrace your authentic sexually empowered self TODAY. Your dreams and life are worth it. Live Unbound and liberated.
It’s time to get to know the most pleasurable part of your body once and for all.
You know that saying, “I don’t know art, but I know what I like”? Well, that pretty much sums up the clitoris for me. I don’t fully comprehend it, and honestly, I don’t try to dive too deep into its complexities. I just appreciate it, and as such, want it displayed prominently, highly revered, and ideally touched up regularly with some powerful brush strokes (preferably clockwise).
This week, however, just happens to be International Clitoris Awareness Week (seriously, this is an actual thing!) So to properly celebrate, we’re schooling you on the things you probably — no, definitely — never knew about the mythical clitoris (aka the only part of the body designed solely to get you off).
Because like my art history teacher and pretty much every after school special used to preach, understanding is the key to fully attaining your masterpiece.
And remember, masterpiece means orgasm here. So, yeah, listen up.
1. The word “clitoris” is derived from the Greek word for “key”. As in key to your heart, or probably more accurate, the key to the city as it can certainly open lots of doors.
2. Thought you knew where your clitoris was? Nope, it’s not just that little button (the glans, if we’re being scientific). It’s actually within the pelvis — extending deep within you. Don’t believe me? See a diagram from the Museum Of Sexhere.
3. Like a fine wine, your clitoris gets better with age. It’s reported that the clitoris starts growing upon puberty, and is almost quadruple in size by the time you reach early 30s; by menopause, seven times its size. That whole “why old people allegedly get it on a lot” theory is suddenly becoming crystal clear.
4. There are 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris. 8,000! Sorta makes you wonder about the guys who can’t get you off, amiright?
5. It’s got some penis personality. Although they couldn’t physically look any more different, there are a few striking similarities in their make-up including erectile tissue, foreskin and even a shaft. Oh, and the clitoris also grows when aroused, it just doesn’t prop through our pants when the wind hits it right (or, not that you can see anyway.) Religious or not, that deserves an Amen.
“The moment of relief is when you drop the oars and let the stream turn you. Surrender and ask for what you need.” –Abraham Hick
The question that we all use often and that truly has a different meaning then the words used. Are you okay is a question asked of someone when someone else is feeling a societal need, a duty, a face to uphold. It is asked of someone when another party feels as if they should inquire but is not really committed to knowing the truth of the other. It is often asked in closer relationships when one party is feeling that there is something not okay but is not at peace with really hearing the answer. Because of our psychological programming, our fear of loss, our unstable emotional blockages we naturally answer this question when posed it, “Yes, yes I am okay. – Yes, I am fine. – Yes, all is good.” These responses are not accurate in most cases. These responses come with mixed feelings. “Yes, I am okay.” Actually says, “No, I am not okay but I am scared to share where I really am with you. I don’t trust you will handle where I am so I am going to give you the answer that you want and that will allow you to stop further inquiry and not feel guilty about it.” This answer at the same time is saying,” I know you feel something and I want you to dig deeper. I want to express fully but don’t know how or am unsure if I can trust you to hold space for me and where I am. I hope you can feel me calling through and asking you to go deeper with me. I want to be loved unconditionally and heard/seen.”
Our need to be heard, seen, truly felt and space held for us is a vital aspect of our human experience and healing, however because we all come with our own baggage we are fearful of opening ourselves at these levels and in turn give and accept these bullshit inquiries and responses.
This is one of the main questions posed in society, in all of our relationships. Through this question we actually convince ourselves that we care, that we want to know, that we have done our part in helping the one being asked, but stop and analyze this within yourself deeper. The last time you were asked this question, how did you respond? Did you feel heard? Felt? Seen? Did you feel any true connection or concern coming from the asking party or did you feel as though you and the other side had fulfilled a obligation of some sort in the brief inquiry? The last time you asked this question of someone did you get the response you had hoped for and was good with it so left it at that surface inquiry or did you hear a lack of integrity from the person asked? Did you hear their programmed answer and take it to a deeper level where you opened the door to real authentic love and empathy? If you did this did you hold space for the other person or did you open that door with a need to prove that you could “fix” them or show them the right path. What was YOUR underlying agenda in the inquiry no matter how deep you chose to take it?
Communication; Heart-felt and accepted communication is what we are all craving and yet we are scared shitless of embracing. We become involved in many relationships in our life times and even in the most committed, loving and connected ones we prevent this from happening. We fall prey to our programming and to our egos. Perhaps it is because we know that opening this doorway is like opening Pandora’s Box. Once opened we in truth are forever changed and we run the risk of looking silly, weak, psychologically messed up, selfish, insecure, possibly even suicidal if we really got down to the nitty gritty in some cases. We run into the possibility of sharing more of ourselves then we ever have trusted share before and this may cause our friend, lover, family member to shut down because they are not equipped with the skills and the maturity to hear our truth. Perhaps it is because we are all walking around with some amount of shame and distrust. We have been told from a young age to suck it up, that sharing these shadow lands of our internal selves is not healthy and it is actually selfish. We are told over and over again that emotion is meaningless, it is something that we need to learn to control and not embrace. We are told to hold it in, suppress it and move forward. Our society is programmed to believe that any emotional state of being that “Is NOT Okay,” is ill, wrong and should be suppressed in any way possible. Even medicated. But does this mean that it is right?
When we block one emotional state and stop living in heart integrity we naturally start blocking others. In what can be a very short period of time we find ourselves completely masking life, our hearts, our souls and all that we have to offer. Our love even becomes muted and you can feel or see the radiant light that was once present draining away from our living corpse. Our relationships, no matter how intimate become distant and we find ourselves alone, prisoners in this thing called life that we have no understanding of really.
Over and over again, I have heard from couple’s, especially men:
“She use to smile so much. Her smile could light up a room, if only she would do that now.”
“ When __________ is turned on she is the most extraordinary woman I have ever seen, I wish I knew how to get her into that state more.”
“She use to be so happy.”
“ I miss us talking about everything. I use to think that together we could do anything in this world, but that was then. Reality has set in and life is hard. We were young and dumb.”
“ People change. I don’t make her happy anymore.”
“I wish she could share with me more.”
“I don’t think she loves me anymore.”
“ I wish we could just talk without her getting so over emotional.”
“Women are too emotional. Your hormones mess everything up, we men cannot take what you say, do or are acting like for reality. I wish women could just be more stable minded.”
On the reverse I hear:
“ He use to make me smile in how he handled everything and supported me.”
“I wish he would just open up and share what is bugging him so much instead of ignoring me.”
“ I know he knows that we have not been right for some time now, but he won’t hear me out.”
“ I feel so alone.”
“Its just my hormones that are acting up. (It’s my period, I just got over my period, I am going through the change of life, I have the baby blues, etc)”
“It’s this new medication I am on.”
“I wish we could talk and he would just let me cry if I needed.”
These are all common statements made and felt. How sad it is that on both sides of the coin we feel a responsibility, a shame, a deep longing even to have more, embrace more but allow our egos to prevent the beauty of this soul communication by making us believe that if we express these “meaningless” emotions that we will sacrifice our relationship, ourselves and our image. If we open Pandora’s Box we are weak and immature, we are not cut out for this thing called life because the successful are strong and emotionless.
By opening this box though we do run the risk of seeing other souls at a deeper level and connecting with them in the space that they are at, we possibly may fall more in love with them, ourselves and with life by allowing both their humanness and our own to be revealed. We also run the risk of walking in a land that we have not traveled before ever or very much and see aspects of ourselves mirrored back at us that we are not fully ready to accept and heal. We may be asked to hold space or to support this other soul in a way that we are uncomfortable with. There may be nothing in return for us by opening at this level except a pain in our heart center that we cannot explain but feel great alignment with and wish we had someone that could hold this space for us.
Our interconnectedness as humans is amazing, but the interconnected, soul lessons that we are blessed with at a greater depth with those that we are physically connected to (our children, lovers, parents, siblings and close friends) are all the more intense. Our egos would have us believe that we should ignore and close ourselves off to even these people but is this the right and healthy thing to do or just the easy way out?
The next time you ask someone, “Are you okay?” Stop and ask if you are really ready to hold space for this person and whatever their truth is? Ask yourself if you are ready to inquire deeper when they give you the socially acceptable and expected answer of, ‘yes, I am okay.”? If you are not ready to do these two things, then DON’T ask. Smile at them, take a deep breath and walk away or ask a different surface question that will allow for idle communication without soul depth. If you choose to ask this question, be willing to embrace the other soul without judgment the best you can. Go as deep as you can with them in the moment. Know that most of us have never been allowed to express or experience deep communication and sharing and even though we crave it like the air we breathe, we will attempt over and over again to shut down the valves so that we won’t get hurt. Fear will be standing guard and the one who is being inquired of will look for ANY reason, any disconnect, any distance or fear within the inquirer to support the shut down. Past programs will be running at high speed in these intimate times and if a trigger is engaged you may have to recalculate, breathe and even allow for space to form to a degree before going deeper.
True authentic communication and acceptance is NOT easy or without risk. It takes a deep love and courage on both sides to reveal and be revealed into so much nakedness of self.
Do you have what it takes to love or be loved at this level?
Is clothing crushing us? Are we trapped in tomb-like textiles, exiling our flesh from experiencing the environment? Are we atrophying our epidermis, our senses, our neuro-intelligence?
If you put a plaster cast on a broken arm the skin starves for Vitamin D, the muscles weaken due to strangled range of motion, the nerve synapses depress to a whimper of their former joy. Twenty-first century hominids? We shroud our entire skin palette except for face, neck and hands – we obliterate symbiosis with the planet.
We hide in cocoons, when we could be free as butterflies.
History reveals many cultures that were not clothes-minded. Spartans were basically bare and their victories in pan-Hellenic sports competitions enticed all neighboring Greeks to exercise nude, creating the word “gymnasium” (Greekgymnos = naked). Romans mingled in magnificent bathhouses, enjoying dense communal nudity as they drank, dined, defecated, bathed, read books, argued politics, and watched theater. Adamists — naked heretics — performed stripped-down church services in North Africa, Bohemia, the Netherlands, and England. Pre-Hitler Germans were avid adherents of Freikorperkultur(“Free Body Culture”) with 70,000 attending co-ed Nacktkultur schools.
There’s naked Japanese in hot springs, naked Finns in saunas, “sky-clad” Jain monks in India, plus millions of nudists worldwide going to “Nakation” camps, beaches, and resorts. They’re still sporty as Spartans, eager to hike naked (“free bush rambling”), canoe naked (“canuding”), bicycle naked, ride horses naked, run naked, play volleyball, badminton, ping-pong and chess naked, swim naked, dance naked, do Naked Yoga, Naked Tai Chi, Naked Gardening, Naked Bowling, and of course, many of us, perhaps you and I, dear readers, are NIFOC — Naked In Front of Computers.
Many famous figures were bare-all aficionados; too many politicians to name, so I’ll just list sci-fi and scientists: Leonard Nimoy, Alexander Graham Bell, Robert Heinlein, and seismologist Charles Richter. Nudism is prominent in Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld books and John Varley’s Steel Beach. Celebrities? Many movie stars skinny-dip at the French Riviera, trying to elude paparazzi seeking pix of Bruce WIllis’willy or Natalie Portman’s port side.
Here’s evidence suggesting that skin-only can be superior:
Born Free. Pediatricians agree that infants thrive with a daily dose of “naked time” because the unhampered range of motion aids brain development, stimulating neuron growth. Recent discoveries reveal that the “plastic” brain changes and develops throughout our entire lives. Neuroplasticity pioneer Michael M. Merzenich believes, “Everything that you can see happen in a young brain can happen in an older brain.” Doesn’t this imply that “naked time” is equally valuable for humans of any age, especially the elderly?
Weakened Bodies. A 2003 University of Reading study entitled “A Naked Ape Would Have Fewer Parasites” posits that “humans evolved hairlessness to reduce parasite loads, especially ectoparasites that may carry disease.” Unfortunately, the garments we wear can be a breeding ground for filthy fungi and bad bacterium, causing yeast infections, urinary tract infections, rotting toenails. Lyme Disease deer ticks can grab onto our sweaters and sea lice can sneak into our bathing suit crotches. Cinched-up belts, ties, and clothes impede breathing. Men’s snug pants raise testicle temperature, lowering sperm count and fertility.
Superior Socialization. Self-actualization proponent Abraham Maslow believed “Nudism… is itself a kind of therapy.” Health benefits of social nudity include stress reduction, satiation of curiosity about the human body, reduction of porn addiction, a sense of full-body integration and developing a wholesome attitude about the opposite gender. Research at the University of Northern Iowa discovered that nudists have significantly higher body self-acceptance. Another study concluded that teens at a New York nudist camp were “extraordinarily well-adjusted, happy, and thoughtful.” It’s also excellent for children to grow up free of shame about the human body.
Tolerant Views.A University of Central Florida 2008 study of 384 participants concluded that pro-nudity students “were significantly more accepting of other religious groups and gays and lesbians” when compared to the anti-nudity students. They were also “less prejudiced towards ethnically dissimilar others.”
Soothe Away Your Crazies. Massage is recognized as a therapeutic treatment for mental health issues like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolarism, borderline personality disorder, learning difficulties, and low self-esteem. Theskin stimulation of massage — improving blood flow and detoxifying the lymph system — is duplicated by the warmth, freedom, and improved circulation generated in nakedness.
Soak Up The Rays Vitamin D deficiency is currently soaring, with up to 75% of USA teens and adults receiving insufficient amounts of the “sunshine vitamin.” Lack of this essential health aid is a factor in numerous ailments, including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. Anyone who bares all outside as a “naturist” harvests larger amounts of Vitamin D in a quicker time span.
Financial Liberation. Clothes are a huge money and time-suck with shopping, laundry, closets, dressers, and gazillions of hours wasted wondering what so-and-so looks like with their garments removed. Theglobal markets for swimsuits alone is expected to reach $17.6 billion annually by 2015; our carbon footprint would shrink like a wool sweater if fabric was no longer manufactured.
Longevity (just joking!). Have you noticed that the furry Norway Rat only lives 2-3 years, while the Naked Mole Rat survives to be 28?
So… is the future going to be full frontal? Will the post-Singularity planet be stripped? Will everyone in a climate-controlled tomorrow choose to be nude, strutting around like the Nuba dancers and boxers of Leni Reifenstahl?
Trends point to an era where there won’t be a stitch to worry about. Many resort areas are are now offeringnudism to increase tourism, and American naturist clubs claim their enrollment is growing 20% annually. The German airline OssiUrlaub.de offered nude chartered flights to a Baltic sea resort, and today’s lengthy luggage searches at airports are steering travelers to destinations where they only need carry-on towels and sunblock. Twenty million Europeans already go to nude beaches and spas.
I dislike the term “masturbation,” which comes from the Greek root word to “self pollute.” I prefer self pleasuring. Only through self pleasuring can we discover what our bodies are capable of and what really pleases — or pleasures — us. Without that knowledge, we can never let our partners know what we want or what we need to be pleasured by them.
Historically, the United States Patent Office has had over 900 applications for anti-masturbation devices for men. One of those devices even included sandpaper gloves which were meant to prevent nocturnal emissions in young men. Conversely, with the exception of chastity belts, there are few devices to prevent female masturbation – the thought being, of course, is that women neither masturbate nor enjoy sex. YES, THEY DO!
The only things preventing women from enjoying a pleasurable sexual relationship are lack of knowledge of their own bodies; partners who are poorly educated in female pleasure or who simply refuse to give up control; and/or an unwillingness or inability to communicate what they want or need from partners. With self pleasuring, women can acknowledge all orgasms before climax and bring that knowledge to their lovemaking with their partners.
The dichotomy is that we are told not to touch “down there.” As old myths fall we now know that self pleasuring is healthy and constructive. It enhances pleasure when intimate with a partner and adds to mutual pleasuring. YES, it’s ok to reach “down there” and assist a partner in pleasuring you.
Some experience their first, and often multi, orgasms with the aid of a vibrator. Pleasure devices have been around since ancient times such as Ben Wa balls, which are now replaced with cordless vibrators. The use of a vibrator to explore one’s body for pleasure is recommended; however, it is never a replacement for lovemaking. One person said they didn’t want a vibrator because “it’s not warm and it doesn’t hug me.” The key point is the more you know about your body, the more pleasure is available to you, and your partner as well.
For men, self pleasuring allows for extended erections and delay of orgasms. Often vibrators extend lovemaking and avoid premature ejaculation. Simply by stroking without allowing ejaculation, men can learn to last longer and longer in their lovemaking.
Although couples can pleasure themselves in front of each other as foreplay or as a learning experience, self pleasuring is different. It is the only time you get to make love to someone you really love — no one can pleasure you like you! Even as you tell your partner how to pleasure you, and he or she pleasures you, it is different. Not better, just different.
Have fun, explore, be pleasured!
Nationally renowned author, teacher, lecturer and inventor Dr. Stuart Bloch, DD, PhD, ChT is one of the nation’s leading experts on sex and sexual relationships. He is the founder of The Institute for Sexual Awareness (www.isasex.org), a research and educational trust whose purpose is to educate people to have more pleasure and satisfaction in relationships. This article is based on Dr. Bloch’s new book, “Conversations with the World’s Greatest Lover” found on Amazon.com.
In case you were wondering, May is National Masturbation Month. The celebration of May as National Masturbation Month began in 1995 in San Francisco as a response to the forced resignation of then U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders.
After a speech at the United Nations World AIDS Day in 1994, an audience member asked Elders about masturbation’s potential for discouraging early sexual activity. She answered,“I think it is something that is part of human sexuality and a part of something that perhaps should be taught.”
That was the end of Elders’ career as America’s first black Surgeon General, but the spark for National Masturbation Month. Offended by Elders’ ouster, the ever progressive, pro-sex staff of San Francisco’s sex toy and education company Good Vibrations decided to find a way to keep the focus on Elders’ unjust firing, and to bring talk about masturbation into the mainstream in just the way Elders had envisioned.
Realizing that large number of folks lacked support and advice to help them enjoy the simple, basic act of masturbation, Good Vibrations sought to provide support, advice, and reassurance for people looking to open their own personal sexual horizons.
And so was born National Masturbation Month. Among the first steps Good Vibrations took was to promote masturbation as healthy, safe and natural way to express one’s sexuality, thereby removing much of the shame and stigma have so long colored the act masturbation.
So, is it true, as so many believe that masturbation is so commonplace, natural, pleasurable and healthy that “ninety-eight percent of us masturbate, and the other two percent are liars?” If so, why do we need an entire month to educate people on something they’re already enjoying?
The answer is twofold: First, to help those already enjoying themselves to delve further. Second, and most importantly, it looks like plenty of people might still benefit from some encouragement and education.
A recent cross sample study of American adults asked the question: “On average, over the past 12 months, how often did you masturbate?” Only 38 percent of women said they’d masturbated at all during the past year, while 61 percent of men had done so.
The data shows that young women seem to warm up to masturbation more slowly. The study showed women from 20- to 39-years old were the most enthusiastic masturbators, with women 18 to 20, and those over 40 masturbating less. The study is the subject of an excellent article by Journalist Michael Castleman in Psychology Today.
Earlier studies have shown that rates of masturbation are higher for both men and women with higher education, more frequent sexual thoughts, sexual experimentation before puberty, and more lifetime sexual partners. Moreover, masturbation has documented physical benefits for both men and women, to say nothing of likely emotional and psychological benefits.
Health Benefits for Men
A 2007 article in Sexual and Relationship Therapy notes that masturbation may help men improve immune system function, build resistance to prostate gland infection, promote overall prostate health. Moreover, Australian researchers have shown that frequent masturbation may lower a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.
A survey of men found the more frequently a man masturbates between the ages of 20 and 50, the less likely they are to get prostate cancer. In fact, those who masturbated more than five times a week were one-third less likely to develop prostate cancer.
These findings were the subject of a 2003 Doonesbury panel by Pulitzer Prize-winning Garry Trudeau. In the panel, one character alludes to masturbation as “self-dating.” Nearly half of the 700 papers which normally syndicate Doonesbury did not to run that strip, proving that public discussion of masturbation is still a thorny issue for some, and perhaps attesting to the need for an observance like National Masturbation Month.
Health Benefits for Women
Women who masturbate regularly increase their resistance to yeast infections. Masturbation helps women release pre-menstrual tension and other physical discomfort associated with menstrual cycles, like cramps. Masturbation increases blood flow to the pelvic region, which helps to reduce pelvic cramping and related backaches. Masturbation can also help to alleviate chronic back pain and increase a woman’s overall pain threshold.
Health Benefits for Both Men and Women
For both men and women, masturbation is the safest sex possible, with no possibility of sexually transmitted disease, or of unwanted pregnancy. It’s a great way to relieve stress, and release a nice flood of mood boosting endorphins. Masturbation is both a natural energizer, and a good way to help you sleep better, depending on the time of day. Lastly, masturbation helps to build stronger pelvic floor muscles, which can improve sexual performance and enjoyment. The benefits of masturbation for men and women is the subject of an excellent article for Fox News by Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright.
So, don’t just stand there, get out and celebrate National Masturbation Month. I’ll leave the details to you.