It can actually hurt both men’s and women’s sexual experience.
Sounds counterintuitive. But consider this: Read the rest of this entry
Naomi Wolf wants women to have better sex lives, and more empowered lives generally. Vagina: A New Biography seeks to light the way.
Wolf began researching this book after she regained her sexual desire, creativity and passion for life — much to her surprise — when her spinal cord was repaired.
Shoes. Feet. Cabbage. (Or so I hear.)
Women’s breasts and butts…
Women’s breasts and butts are fetishized? Yep. The arousal they spark is not universal.
But here’s the problem: a fetish can actually harm our sex lives. Read the rest of this entry
It’s not unusual these days for a young woman to become preoccupied with how attractive she looks, habitually seeing herself through her partner’s eyes, and judging herself based on what she thinks he thinks. In other words, to self-objectify.
Instead of enjoying sex.
I’ve talked with friends about the phenomenon and a couple of them have opened up and told me their stories. Like “Sophie,” who let me relate her story in my blog. Read the rest of this entry
Women who do casual sex are, on average, more distressed than other women.
Men who do casual sex are, on average, more confident than other men.
That’s what sociologists, Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker, found as they researched their book, Premarital Sex in America.
That means the double standard is neither good nor bad. It just is. They say. Read the rest of this entry
What do people want from sex? Most want pleasure and closeness. But they don’t act like it.
Instead, they’re preoccupied with how they look, what their partner is thinking, how they’re performing, and what is “normal.”
That’s what Dr. Marty Klein, a certified sex therapist and sociologist, says in his book, Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want From Sex and How to Get It. Read the rest of this entry
Mark and Stacey are married. Mark wants sex every day. But Stacey isn’t on the same page — at all. Says Mark,
I have a strong sex drive, so if it were up to me, we’d do it every day, the way we used to when we were dating. Now, not only do I not get my sexual needs met, but I feel rejected because most of the time I get shot down when I initiate.
When Mark approaches, Stacey feels repulsed:
I know we don’t have sex as much as Mark likes, but for me to want to make love, I have to feel emotionally connected to him and, to be honest, most of the time, I just don’t… I constantly feel pressure to satisfy him. It’s like raw sex is the only thing he wants from me. It’s gotten to the point where any time he touches me I freeze up — I’m afraid to respond even affectionately because if I do, he thinks it’s an invitation to sex.
Richard Schwartz is a therapist who has worked with Mark and Stacey. The way he helped them could help others. You can see the whole story on the Alternet. But here are some highlights:
Instead, they’re preoccupied with how they look, what their partner is thinking, how they’re performing, and what is “normal”
That’s what Dr. Marty Klein, a Certified Sex Therapist and sociologist, says in his book, “Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want From Sex and How to Get It.”
Perhaps because of fashion magazines, or porn, or because we see “good sex” as the sex of our 20s, we conclude that great sex is looking like 20-year-old “perfectly” built porn stars, and doing what 20-year-old “perfectly” built porn stars do.
And that leaves most women feeling insecure about their bodies (since most women are insecure about their bodies): “Am I too fat? Are my breasts too small, too lopsided, too droopy? Do I have cellulite?” instead of having close, pleasurable sex.
Which naturally leads to: “Is my partner thinking I’m too big, too small…? Is he thinking about someone else?” Again, worries — not good sex.
Most men don’t yet expect to look like Ryan Reynolds. But they may worry about penis size. And they may notice that neither they nor their partners look like porn stars. Or, they may worry about performance or wish their bodies would do what they did years ago. And wish their ladies would act like porn stars. Or they may imagine porn stars instead of really being with their ladies. Distractions. Not good sex.
Too often, new positions or techniques are prescribed to perk things up. But Klein says the key is mind, not matter. Who can have great sex with all the distractions? You’ve got to clear out the baggage first.
A bit of advice:
First, embrace your body as it is – how it looks, what it can do. That frees you up to be present. As Klein points out, “You’d be foolish to craft a definition of sexy or manly or womanly that excludes you” (or your partner). He adds:
It is possible to detach how you look from how you feel and see that sexiness is not a product of what your body looks like from the outside, that sexiness is a product of how you feel on the inside… From there it’s a question of a person tuning into what do I have to offer somebody else sexually, and what do I have to offer myself sexually?
And let go of worries about what’s ‘normal,’ he says, because that takes us out of authenticity. Move “from ‘sex has to validate me’ to ‘I validate my sexuality.’”
The focus, according to Klein, should be on creating lasting physical and emotional connection with your partner. Don’t overburden genitalia with too much responsibility for making sex enjoyable. Media portray orgasm as the most important thing, he says, “But focusing on those few seconds misses most of what sex offers.” Instead, feeling good with your partner is the big payoff.
Is “beauty” really sex? Does a woman’s sexuality correspond to what she looks like? Does she have the right to sexual pleasure and self-esteem because she’s a person, or must she earn that right through “beauty”?
– Naomi Wolf
A lot of women and men confuse looking sexual with being sexual. We look at an attractive woman and think, oh, she’s really sexual. Then we see a not-so-pretty woman and suppose she’s not.
But “pretty” and “sexuality” are actually two different things. Sex is all about feeling, not the surface experience of just existing, however beautifully.
But as Naomi Wolf points out in The Beauty Myth, too many women don’t enjoy sex because they think they don’t look sexy enough. And since a lot of women think they don’t look sexy because of their body type, age, or low self-esteem, a lot of women miss out on great sex.
Because a woman’s ability to enjoy sexuality can be so closely tied to how she looks, many cut their breasts to get implants just so that they can experience eroticism. Even when their partners don’t want them to. As Wolf put it, “In a diseased environment, they are doing this ‘for themselves.’”
And about one-third of women lose sensitivity in their nipples, post surgery, becoming less capable of enjoying the sensations of the breast.
And even then a lot of “hot” women spend their time thinking about how they look and not experiencing how they feel. So there you have pretty sex objects who don’t enjoy sex.
Women think they need to look a certain way because men are hardwired to be visual. Yet it’s not true. In tribal societies women walk around nearly nude, and no one cares. Those men aren’t visually attuned to the breast as erotic. In our culture men learn to be aroused by breasts through the strategic revealing and covering of them, creating the allure.
Wolf says beauty is not the same as sexuality. Instead:
Wherever we feel pleasure, all women have “good” bodies. We do not have to spend money and go hungry and struggle and study to become sensual; we always were. We need not believe we must somehow earn good erotic care; we always deserved it.