Let’s talk about sex. Because we don’t, do we? Not really. Not fully, authentically and honestly. I know why. So do you. And I think it’s a shame. A real shame. And that is why I want to talk to you about sex.
I don’t want to know how often you have sex. Though, this seems to be the only question people care about, that and how often or slowly / quickly a person orgasms. As if sex were a box to tick or an activity like going to the gym or brushing your teeth that has to be done a certain amount of times, and in a certain type of way, to fulfil some social and cultural stereotype. No. I want to know how much time you spend thinking about sex and pleasure. Thinking about it, understanding its role in your life, planning it, preparing for it, making time for it, pondering how to get closer to what you actually want and need.
How much do you know about your own desires? About sex and you and sex and your short and/or long term relationships? How do these questions make you feel? Check in with you body, check in with yourself. Do these questions make you feel concerned, intrigued or are you just thinking: what is she on about?
In truth, I wonder these things at you because I am also wondering about them for myself. What do I want? What do I need? I say to myself I will think more about sex and pleasure but then I don’t. I know what I am fed up with. I know what I DO NOT WANT but that doesn’t really help me move towards what I do.
I think it can be helpful to acknowledge that it IS difficult to think about, and discuss, pleasure. Personally, socially and culturally, there are many obstacles in the way. I find it hard to ask for what I need in *most* areas of my life, so asking for my sexual needs to be met is even harder as that seems to have more weight. Many women, including me, are taught that our bodies were for others and that our pleasure was not important. Too many men are taught that sex only looks a certain way and are shamed for desiring something different.
I know how hard I find to ask for what I need, for what I want, even from people who I know are happy to listen. Are you able to ask for what you need and do you get it? And if not, why not? Let’s create space to wonder about that for ourselves. Let’s talk about how challenging it can be to talk about these things and let’s use that as the springboard to conversation.
Sex is about power. Sex is also about communication. Great sex is about understanding both of these things and letting that understanding inform your actions.
I think self-understanding is the starting point. For me, the understanding I have to date came from books and images. I got a proper grip on my own desires and needs from reading, looking and exploring with others I trusted. I am happy with most of my sexual life but I know there are some areas where I need to go deeper, explore further. I am taking slow and steady steps towards that place by writing articles like this as well as writing erotica and by trying to allow myself time to think about myself and my own pleasure.
The books I recommend as a starting point are Rewriting the Rules by Meg-John Barker; Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel and What Do Women Want by Daniel Bergner. I have also heard great things about Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski but I’m yet to read it.
Maybe set some time aside to look around at images, read passages of books and stories, remember the people, places and experiences as well as images, sounds and touch that made you feel good. This is a great place to start. As is allowing time for fantasy and erotic day dreams: sketching out your own desires in private can be magical.
I also think talking about these things with someone safe and friendly can help. I can help with that and Alethya, the articles and resources and listings here, can recommend other people if that is what you need.
As I navigate my own journey, I am very happy to talk with you about anything to do with sex. Very happy, indeed. I wonder who will ask?