Thursday 27 September 2012

What the @#$%^* do I know about sex?

Like everyone else I've had some experiences. I know one maybe two things. However I have come to understand and appreciate that with sex as with politics the majority of people don't have the same educational opportunities and as a consequence base their "opinion" about the subject not necessarily on experience, but on second-hand knowledge acquired from the media, their (celibate) pastoral counsellor and the graffiti on the walls of toilet stalls. While the world is filled with many wondrous ideas and profound wisdom, it would seem that this "good" has not necessarily trickled down to the common man and woman. In fact, what is sometimes passed off as "common knowledge" is anything but knowledge. It is conjecture, a guess based on false or incomplete information. It is superstition.

In order to have a frank discussion about sex, it is important that we both be open and honest. We should be totally upfront and lay our cards on the table. Since somebody needs to break the ice, I'll volunteer to go first.

I am a 60 year old single male and I masturbate.

sound of a record being scratched (careful, this is loud)

Let the tittering and the Twittering begin! I can hear the yelling now, "Oh my God! Lock up the children. Somebody dial 911 and get a SWAT team over there immediately to arrest that pervert!"

I am certain if I had said that "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die" (Wikipedia: Folsom Prison Blues) your reaction would be quite different. Yes, you accept my crime but not my sexuality. You accept me killing but not me having sex. Why? Seriously, why? Sure we don't like crime but sex scares us, well, s**tless. Why?

Norman Herr, Professor of Science Education at the California State University states using data from A. C. Neilson (Television & Health):

The average child will watch 8,000 murders on TV before finishing elementary school. By age eighteen, the average American has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 40,000 murders.

I'm "sick"? Is it my turn to spell out double U tee eff? Why is it that our society accepts violence but not sex? Why is it that our society seems to see nothing wrong with violence but thinks anything sexual is a corrupting influence on children?

A TV network censored a sequence of John Steinbeck's The Red Pony, which showed a mare giving birth, but broadcast the rather hideous sequence from The Godfather showing a beheaded horse.
- Youth, Sex and the Media, CyberCollege

The miracle of life = bad. Decapitated head = not bad. There is something very, very wrong with us.

So you think you know about sex
Please describe each of the following terms in one or two sentences.
  1. fraenulum
  2. perineum
  3. refractory period.
You have thirty seconds.

All those who went to Google and cheated please raise your hands. So, you're an adult. If you're a woman, you've kissed your "Hi men!" good-bye a while back and we're all no longer virgins. Yes, you have some "experience" in air quotes and yet you don't know what these terms are. Hmmm, and how much about sex do you think you know? Just because you've had sex doesn't make you an expert. After all, I drive a car but I know just this side of diddly squat about mechanics.

If I thought the realm of politics was full of misinformation, sex and its various associated topics are pretty close to the top of the list of misunderstood subjects. Anal sex? BDSM? Facials? Pornography? 50 Shades of Grey? We're all going to hell in a handcart. There is a potential tsunami of perversion the likes of which haven't been seen since the right panel of the triptych painted by the Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch called The Garden of Earthly Delights. (Click here for full picture)

What? Really?

Sex Education
Where is anybody learning about sex? Friends? The back seat of a car? Training videos? (I mean porn) Anybody want to make a comment about parents? What about the school system?

Some references:

Reference #1
my blog: Cindy Gallop: Make Love Not Porn
In this posting I talk about this New York self-professed cougar who talks about dating younger men in their twenties and running into undesirable behaviour they had picked up from watching porn. When confronted with the news that such and such a thing is not appreciated, they reply something to the effect that they thought women liked that. Ms. Gallop's conclusion was that the sex education these young men had came from nothing but porn. How is this possible?

By the way, Ms. Gallop has nothing against porn and enjoys watching it herself. Her point is running into young men whose only source of sex education has been porn. She wonders about parents and the school system.
(In a follow-up to the above blog posting, I review Ms. Gallop's book. my blog: Book Review: Make Love Not Porn by Cindy Gallop)

Reference #2
my blog: Sex Ed: Betty Dodson: educator, author, pro-sex feminist
Widely known as a pioneer in women's sexual liberation, her fame has come from both advocating masturbation and conducting workshops for more than 30 years where groups of women would talk, explore their own bodies, and masturbate together. In 1974, she self-published a slim volume of 60 pages entitled "Liberating masturbation: a meditation on self love" in which she encouraged women (and men) to really understand their own bodies in order to have better sex – both alone and with partners.

Here are some emails posted on Dodson's web site:

I've Never Had an Orgasm - Sep 17/2010
I'm an 18 year old female, I've had two male partners. I've never been able to reach an orgasm, it feels close at times, but I push away because of the intensity, it feels so good that it sort of hurts. I and my current partner have tried a lot of different things. Is there something that I could be doing to reach an orgasm??

Married & Never Had an Orgasm - Dec 11/2010
Please can you offer me advice, I am 29 years old and dont really know where to go. I have been with my husband for 8 years now and married for the last year. I have never been able to orgasm, not with him, anyone else or on my own, if I have I have not known about it.

39 & Never Had An Orgasm - Nov 15/2010
I am 39 years old and I have NEVER had a orgasm, i have tried everything i can and ijust cant do it. I am married and I have talked to my husband about it and we have talked about it but there is nuthing he can do. I hate to have sex but i do it now and again. I have has a hystradrectomy about 4 years ago but that has nuthing ti do with it cuz i never had one befor then. I am at my wits end and I please need help.

27 and Never Had an Orgasm - Jun 6/2009
I am 27 years old, never had an orgasm. I'm married 5 years with 2 kids.

Can we talk?
That's my quote from Joan Rivers but the answer seems to be an emphatic "No". I'd rather poke myself in the eye with a pencil than talk to you about sex. Geesh, wha da ya think I am? Some sort of perverted sex addict?

Reference #3: Marty Klein: How to not get an erection
Dr. Marty Klein (b 1950) is an American sex therapist, educator and public policy analyst. He publishes a monthly magazine called Sexual Intelligence and in issue #137, July 2011 he tells the story of Sam who starts dating a year after his wife left him.

Sam arrives at a point in one relationship where he is going to have sex but Sam encounters a problem: he's not getting an erection when he wants one. Sam thinks he is suffering from erectile dysfunction but questioning by Dr. Klein leads to a few discoveries.

Sam describes how he and his girlfriend Yolanda were kissing and it seemed they were going to have sex. Sam was excited by this but didn't have an erection. When Klein asks Sam to describe what they were doing, Sam explains they were making out and rubbing against each other but nothing else. Klein goes on to talk about physical stimulation.

I told Sam that he needed to have direct stimulation on his penis in order to get an erection. He disagreed; shouldn't it be enough that he was "excited"? "It's important that you're emotionally aroused," I partially agreed. "But you need to be physically aroused as well."

The gist of it is that Sam expects to have an erection with little or no direct physical stimulation either by his girlfriend or by himself. Sam is also very, very reluctant to talk about this with his girlfriend.

This conveniently illustrates the three rules for not getting an erection when you want one:
* Don't get the physical stimulation you need
* Envision "sex" as something that requires an erection
* Don't discuss this dilemma with your partner

Going out on a limb
We live in a puritanical society. How puritanical? The far right as exemplified by such organisations as the American Life League is attempting to not just make abortions illegal but to stop the funding of Planned Parenthood and turn sex education, if there is any, into a strictly abstinence only program. (my blog: Planned Parenthood: addicting children to sex!!!) The crazy contradiction to these objectives is that those states promoting abstinence only programs demonstrate a higher rate of unwanted pregnancies. It would seem that uneducated or uninformed people get pregnant more often because they don't know what the hell they're doing. Whatever the case, ya ain't stopping our most primordial of urges. Horny see horny do.

As a consequence, since we are taught from a very young age to suppress our sexuality, to hide it, and display to the world a non sexual facade, we are scared to death of being laughed at, condemned, and ostracized or heck, even arrested for our sexual urges. Gay? Lesbian? Hell, being straight ain't no walk in the park. Talk about the health issues surrounding the use of birth control like Sandra Fluke and end up with Rush Limbaugh calling you a slut on national radio. (my blog: Rush Limbaugh: That's spelled with one F and one U)

Every time we open ourselves up to another human being, we're running a risk. Laughed at? Condemned? I'm reminded of that classic line supposedly said by a surprised woman.

You want me to put what in my mouth?

I keep bringing this following story up in my postings but I think it's a good illustration of the problems of communication.

Back in the early 90's, I'm watching one of the talk shows, not quite as elevated as Oprah but not as low as Jerry Springer. A couple is being interviewed but we're given to understand they have a secret. Commercial break. We return to see two women. I look closer. Woman number two is the husband; he's dressed up in drag. The wife explains that her husband has always had a fetish for women's clothes and once a month he dresses up and the 2 of them go out for a drink together as 2 female friends. She goes on to say that her husband is a wonderful man, a great husband, a good lover and an excellent father; he just seems to have this one special quirk and it is the only oddity out of an otherwise exemplary human being.

Now just mull that one over for a minute. We have a gentleman who has a fetish for woman's clothes. How in heaven's name did this couple arrive at a point where the man could bring this up with his wife? Who knows, maybe he told her about his fetish before they were married and she married him anyways. The point is that their relationship was open and honest enough that they could discuss this. But look at the alternative. What if she had reacted to this discovery with, "Eew. Get away from me your goddamn weird-oh pervert!" Well, there's one relationship which would have come to a screeching halt and there's one guy who would say to himself that he would never, ever again speak frankly with anybody about "his secret".

At some point she must have weighed the pros and cons and felt the balance sheet showed more benefits than liabilities. But picture what would have happened if the man felt so ashamed of his feelings that he never talked about them with his wife; he kept them hidden. Do I see a potential headline? "Respected family and business man Fred Schwartz, seen here dressed up in drag in a photograph taken in the local bar Tom's Eatery, was arrested this past Saturday."

Final Word
I sometimes wonder how we manage to get together at all. We're all fumbling around in the dark not really knowing what the heck we're doing. We live in a puritanical society that vilifies a natural part of the human experience and we have all, out of self-protection, hidden our sexuality scared to death of being condemned as abnormal, weird, or perverted. It's quite the conundrum. We need to talk about it to become better informed and yet we can't because we're afraid.

Kids are learning about sex from porn. I don't condemn the porn, I ask what happened to the parents or the school system. Do people learn to drive by watching the movie series Fast and Furious showing all sorts of crazy driving? Do people learn about human relationships by watching a Sylvester Stallone movie like Rambo where the taciturn hero kills scores of people? Imagine, referring to the emails to Betty Dodson, that women, grown women, have married and sometimes had children without having experienced the pleasures of the sexual experience by having an orgasm. What? Imagine, referring to Marty Klein, that talking about sex is oh so important to being not just physically aroused but emotionally aroused.

Yep, we need to open up. We need to talk. We need to be open and honest. Some of us are missing out and missing out on great deal. But in saying open and honest, let's remember that a frank discussion shouldn't have anybody going, "Eeeew!"

Okay, somebody needs to go first so I'll break the ice by quoting a comedian I heard a while back (Don't you dare laugh to me!):

"Sleep with me and I'll show you four inches of pure steel."


Hymen sounds like "Hi men". Coincidence? I think not. Ha ha.

I have written a number of articles on sex, pornography, women's issues, and politics. Consult the Site Map at the top of the page to browse my literary meanderings.

I would also direct you to Pamela Madsen, author of the book "Shameless: How I Ditched the Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure...and Somehow Got Home in Time To Cook Dinner". (my review)

In a nutshell, this middle aged woman, deciding something was missing in her life, set out to discover herself sexually. For those who are immediately going to jump to conclusions, I would add that Ms. Madsen remains happily married to her high school sweetheart, is a committed mother to her children, and works in the area of sex therapy running a web community and doing consulting and speaking engagements. You may be titillated at first but here is a woman who is open, honest, and living her life in a way many can only dream of.

Psychology Today - Sep 10/2012
Many Shades of Grey: Reclaiming ‘Humanistic’ Sex Therapy by Pamela Madsen
After scanning the literature on the human relationship with sex, I have come up with this very deep and profound conclusion: “Sex is hard”. And it may very well be the gateway for us humans to being whole.


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter


BigLittleWolf said...

Mr. Belle, You've (un?)covered so much fertile terrain, I barely know where to begin...

Walker Thornton said...

Yes, yes, yes....I totally agree with you. I've fallen in love with Betty Dodson of late...doing some research after a woman who has to be hovering around 50 wrote me to say she has never had an orgasm. She never thought to talk to her gynecologist and is just now reaching out for advice/support!

I've started writing about sex fairly regularly on my blog as my way of doing my part for sex-ed!

Chloe said...

It is rather shocking how many women don't even know they have three openings on the bottom of their bodies. I think what passes for sex education in our culture is pretty piss-poor, and is causing lots of damage to boot.

I'm not against pron per se, but it is not a good educational tool for kids.