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What it’s like to be a male sexual surrogate

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The Sessions looked at the work of sexual surrogates

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For most adults, sex is an activity that can bring joy, frustration, contentment or disappointment – the full range of human responses. But for a few people, the very thought of sexual contact with another human being causes such anxiety that they can never get close to the act.

For them, psychosexual therapy is usually a good choice. And in a few cases, this can involve a particular form of therapy: use of a sexual surrogate.

Sexual surrogates are trained and professional stand-in partners for men and women who have severe problems getting to an intimate/sexual relationship. Normally, the client will be undergoing counselling with a psychosexual therapist, and then, in parallel with that, will have ‘bodywork’ sessions with a surrogate partner.

Andy, 50, is a psychosexual therapist who also worked as a surrogate for a number of years. Clients tend to be aged from their mid-thirties to around fifty and most came to him through word of mouth. “Some people have never experienced sexual intimacy,” he explains. “I had one client who had never gone beyond kissing.” Others have experienced abuse and have negative connotations around sex or have physiological problems.

“I would usually do between six and ten monthly sessions of three hours each. The first sessions would be about getting comfortable being in a room with a man. So I will say, ‘So you’re in a room with a man, how does that feel for you?’ And perhaps it reminds them of being a teenager so we’ll talk about what that teenage part of them needs – to be more confident, say.”

Although the sessions would build towards penetrative sex, it would be a long way down the line. But some clients want to take things too quickly, he says. “If they want to rush into sexual intimacy or penetration then I’ll slow them down and ask them where that comes from. Most of them do need to slow down because they’re rushing into what they think is the goal of sex.”

After a few sessions, Andy would bring touch into the sessions. “I would ask them what sort of touch they would want to receive. And they might like to receive some sort of massage, fully clothed or partly unclothed. Sometimes we would sit opposite each other on the sofa and find out what happens in her system if one of us leans closer. Does she get excited? Does she want to run away? Does she want to reach out and have more contact?”

Once the client was comfortable with touching, nudity would be introduced. “I might do an undressing process where I would invite them to take off one piece of clothing and each time to name a limiting belief that stops them really enjoying and celebrating their body and allowing pleasure in it. ‘One thing that stops me is my belief that I’m unattractive and my bum’s too big.’ They would take off that piece of clothing and that belief. Then I would offer feedback about what I see, so, ‘Your breasts feel very sensual and feminine to me’.”

Sexual surrogacy has been operating in Britain for a few decades, introduced from America, where it was also the subject of the Oscar-nominated film The Sessions, based on the true story of partially paralysed polio survivor Mark O’Brien and Cheryl Cohen-Greene, the surrogate he worked with to overcome his problems.

While most surrogates are female working with male clients, there are a handful of male surrogates in Britain who work with female clients. Male surrogates tend to be mid-thirties and older.

For many men, being hired to act as an intimate partner for a woman they barely know would be a strange situation. So how did Andy feel during these sessions? “Sometimes it was quite challenging, sometimes engaging, sometimes arousing,” he recalls. “And client reactions were very varied too. Some would feel ashamed, sometimes emotional or physical discomfort. Or they would feel excitement and confidence. It was moment to moment – it’s like how you feel in a relationship, you feel many things.

“It’s an interesting line to walk. There are many clients that I have worked with who I really liked and I enjoyed the work with them both sexually and emotionally but I’m also aware that I’m not there to be in a relationship with them.”

He is glad he did the job but it did cause him difficulties, not least in relationships with his own partners, whom he always made aware of his work. “I supported many women through a very challenging and sometimes life-changing process,” he says. “But I found that ultimately it took too great a toll – energetically, physically and emotionally. I was putting myself in situations of intimacy with a client that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen. And I found that draining. I would sometimes ask, ‘Why did I do that to myself?'”

Overall he believes they key to sexual surrogacy involves being realistic about what will come of it.

“I think surrogacy is to be entered into with as much self-awareness as the client can muster,” he says. “While it can point them in the right direction, it’s not the answer. Ultimately, they have to find confidence within themselves. It can be a step on that journey.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Why more and more women are identifying as bisexual

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By Megan Todd

This is the pro-LGBT rights image that saw an Italian woman suspended from Facebook after the social media site claimed it violated rules on 'nudity and pornography'

This is the pro-LGBT rights image that saw an Italian woman suspended from Facebook after the social media site claimed it violated rules on ‘nudity and pornography’

The Office of National Statistics has released its latest data on sexual identities in the UK, and some striking patterns jump out – especially when it comes to bisexuality.

The number of young people identifying as bisexual has apparently risen by 45% over the last three years. Women are more likely to identity as bisexual (0.8%) than lesbian (0.7%), whereas men are more likely to report as gay (1.6%) than bisexual (0.5%). That last finding chimes with other studies in the UK and the US – but why should this be?

Women’s sexuality has historically been policed, denied and demonised in very particular ways, and for a woman to be anything other than passively heterosexual has often been considered an outright perversion. Lesbians have historically been seen as a more dangerous breed, a direct challenge to patriarchal structures, perhaps explaining why women may be more likely to self-identify as bisexual. Some research into women’s sexuality has also suggested that women take a more fluid approach to their relationships than men.

But then there’s the more general matter of how much sexual labels still matter to people – and here, the ONS findings really start to get interesting.

Among young people aged between 16 and 24, 1.8% said they identified as bisexual – exceeding, for the first time, the 1.5% who identified as lesbian or gay. In total 3.3% of young people identified as LGB, a significantly higher proportion than the 1.7% of the general population who identified as such. (Just 0.6% of the over-65s did).

In a society that still tends to see the world in often false binaries – man/woman, gay/straight, white/black and so on – how can we explain such a difference?

A pessimistic view of why more young people are identifying as bisexual rather than as gay or lesbian might be that conservative, rigid and polarised understandings of what gender is still hold sway. This, in turn, might also have an impact on attitudes to sexuality, where an investment in a lesbian or gay identity may be more frowned upon than a bisexual one – which in many people’s minds still has a “friendly” relationship with heterosexuality.

And yet it’s clear that identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual carries less stigma for the younger age group than it does for their elders.

 

Older generations grew up in a time where any orientation besides heterosexuality was taboo, stigmatised and often criminalised. The lesbian and gay movements of the 1970s and 1980s, inspired by the US’s Civil Rights movement, were often staunchly radical; the concept of the political lesbian, for instance, was a very prominent and powerful one. At the same time, both heterosexual and lesbian and gay communities were also marked by misunderstandings and distrust of bisexuality (in a word, biphobia).

But in the UK at least, gay and lesbian identities have lost a good deal of the political charge they once carried. Once “peripheral”, these sexual categories are well on the way to being normalised and commercialised. Many in the community remember or identify with a more radical era of political lesbianism and gay activism, and many of them are dismayed that non-heterosexuals’ current political battles for equality and recognition are often focused on gaining entry to heterosexual institutions, especially marriage.

Bisexuals march at Pride in London.

Bisexuals march at Pride in London.

But that doesn’t mean people have become more rigid in the ways they think about themselves. So while many in society will be the victims of homophobic and biphobic hate crime, things have improved, at least in terms of state policies.

This, alongside the now extensive reservoir of queer thought on gender and sexual fluidity, and the increasing strength of trans movements, may explain why the younger generation are taking labels such as bisexual, lesbian and gay in greater numbers than their seniors. That celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevigne and Anna Paquin have come out as bisexual in recent years can’t have hurt either.

Beyond labels?

The ONS survey raises empirical questions which are connected to those of identity. It specifically asked questions about sexual identity, rather than exploring the more complicated links between identity, behaviours and desires.

The category “bisexual” is also very internally diverse. Many would argue that there are many different types of bisexuality and other sexual identities which the ONS survey does not explore.

This much is made clear by the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle (NATSAL), which has taken place every ten years since 1990 and is perhaps the most detailed picture we have of what people do (or don’t do) in bed. It suggests that the number of people who report same-sex experience is much higher than the number of people who identify as gay or bisexual.

Laud Humphreys’ infamous 1970 book Tearoom Trade, a highly controversial ethnographic study of anonymous sex between men in public toilets, showed us that plenty of people who seek out and engage in same-sex sexual contact do not necessarily identify as exclusively gay or even bisexual – in fact, only a small minority of his respondents did.

However far we’ve come, there’s still a social stigma attached to being lesbian/gay/bisexual. That means the statistics we have will be an underestimate, and future surveys will need a much more complicated range of questions to give us a more accurate picture. If we ask the right ones, we might discover we live in a moment where people are exploring their sexualities without feeling the need to label them.

But are we headed towards a point where the hetero/homo binary will collapse, and where gender will play less of a role in sexual preference? Given the continued privilege that comes with a heterosexual identity and the powerful political and emotional history of gay and lesbian identities and movements, I don’t think so.

Still, it seems more people may be growing up with the assumption that sexuality is more complicated than we have previously acknowledged – and that this not need not be a problem.

Complete Article HERE!

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How sex education videos have changed over the last 50 years

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By Amelia Butterly

sex education

Sex and relationship education (SRE) in schools isn’t good enough – at least, that’s what a lot of you often say.

From not being taught early enough, to lacking information about LGBT relationships and issues of consent – SRE gets a lot of criticism.

But, looking back at the archives, experts say there have been improvements when it comes to telling young people about relationships.

We’ve looked at posters and films once used to explain the birds and the bees.

And we asked sex and relationships teacher Caroline Stringer, a specialist from the charity Brook, to talk us through them.

1970s

This video – which was shown in schools – was also aired as part of a televised discussion about whether this kind of material was suitable for children to see.

Caroline says the way the penis is described as going “hard and straight” so that it can go into the woman’s vagina could be a problem.

“How confusing to young men having involuntary erections through puberty – they may have thought they need to go and find a vagina,” she explains.

Nowadays, says Caroline, good sex and relationship education will include topics such as consent and same-sex relationships.

Elsewhere in the videos, a man and woman are shown modelling nude in an art class.

“I thought it actually started off quite well, saying: ‘These people aren’t embarrassed’,” says Caroline.

“But for me, it was all about reproduction and a man and a woman. That’s the bit that is easy to talk about. It’s fact.”

In modern educational materials however, real people would not be shown posing nude, says Caroline.

“We would show diagrams, rather than the real thing.”

1980s

This film, which depicts a naked man on a beach, is the other one to feature full nudity.

It depends on the context, Caroline says, but seeing real-life naked bodies can serve a really useful educational function.

“If we’re showing people what STIs, for example, look like. How do they know what private parts look like without those STIs, if we only ever show them ones with?”

Like other films, it focuses on committed relationships.

“It’s all about making love. That’s what we would want to promote but that’s not always the case for people,” says Caroline.

Sex-Education

1990s

Caroline says in her classes she talks about all the different words which people use to describe sex and the body, including slang for the genitals.

“You can use those words,” she tells the students.

“But you need to know the proper words as well because if you’re going to talk to a doctor, you need to know what they’re saying back to you.”

Again, this video would not fit with “inclusive” modern sex education, Caroline explains.

“I did like that they talked about pleasure. It’s the first time in these videos they talked about it, for both a man and a woman.”

She adds: “It’s really important that it’s taught with a positive attitude. We don’t want scare messages.”

Nowadays

The sexual health charity Caroline works for, Brook, goes to in one in 10 UK schools to teach SRE.

“Brook believes SRE should start early in childhood so that children and young people learn to talk about feelings and relationships from a young age and are prepared for puberty before it happens,” they said in a statement.

“As children get older, we advocate SRE focusing on the positive qualities of relationships, such as trust, consent, body-positivity, commitment and pleasure.

“We also discuss the different forms relationships and sexuality can take.

“In addition to this, we also believe in ensuring that SRE is relevant and appropriate to the lives of young people so that it relates to other issues such as mental health, sexting, porn and staying safe online.”

Complete Article HERE!

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You Should Get Naked More Often. It’s Good for You

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you-should-get-naked-more-often-it-s-good-for-you

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When Nelly encouraged overheated people worldwide to get naked in 2002, he was unknowingly advocating much more than just a sexy, sweaty dance party. Sunbathing, sleeping, working out, and lounging around in the buff actually provide legitimate health benefits.

While you shouldn’t ALWAYS seek out St. Louis-area rappers for your medical advice, here are five health-related reasons to take off all your clothes

Your skin will improve

Tight, synthetic apparel can cause skin to freak out, resulting in rashes, clogged pores, and irritation, according to dermatologist and RealSelf advisor Dr. Sejal Shah. And when you perspire, it creates an environment for yeast and fungus to thrive, which, gross. She recommends sleeping sans skivvies to keep your skin healthy and clear. If you’re into pumping iron at home, maybe try doing it au naturel to avoid sweaty workout clothes that trap bacteria against your skin. That’s the way Arnold probably did it, right? At the very least, you’ll save yourself the stench of old gym clothes festering in your hamper.

You’ll sleep better

Keeping your body cooler at night yields more restful sleep. “A lower body temp helps with sleep, all bodies sleep better in the cooler temperature,” says Michael Breus, PhD, aka “The Sleep Doctor.” The National Sleep Foundation confirms by saying, “Your body temperature decreases to initiate sleep.” In case you’re not into the high energy bill that will result from cranking your A/C to the recommended 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit, just ditch your PJs for an immediate cooling effect.

You’ll have better sex

Obviously sex is better when you don’t have any clothes on, as opposed to the fully covered version you see on network TV. But spooning naked all night could also help you get in the mood. From the time you’re born, skin-to-skin contact signals the release of oxytocin — a feel-good hormone — which increases empathy and your mom’s feelings of attachment… but that oxytocin release is also associated with romantic love. Turns out that Oedipus was pretty spot-on, and the Greeks knew nothing about neurobiology. All that oxytocin flowing around in your brain just may take your sex to another level.

Another factor in sexual enjoyment is self-esteem, which can be boosted by spending extra time in the buff. “[When you spend more time naked], your body image improves, and you become less concerned with how you look and instead focus on how you feel in your own skin,” says Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist. “We have been taught to hide our bodies in shame (e.g., dress to hide your so-called ‘problem’ areas), and these messages take a toll on our relationship with our bodies. Being naked helps us to reclaim the entire body as the beautiful vehicle that carries us around across a lifespan.”

Dr. Breus adds a good point about nudity and sex: “Most people are intimate when given the right opportunity. Not needing to remove items of clothing, and knowing that the person you share a bed with is naked is just that — an opportunity.” Well said, assuming the person you share a bed with is a consenting adult.

Your nether regions will thank you

Men and women alike reduce their risks of certain infections and conditions when they go commando, especially at night. Underwear traps heat and moisture around the groin, potentially leading to jock itch in men and yeast infections in women. For women who suffer from chronic infections, the health benefits and comfort levels of ditching panties are even higher. Let those bits breathe once in a while!

You’ll reduce your risk of heart attack

This summer, hit the nude beach (or just quickly strip down in your backyard when no one’s looking) to improve your heart health. The key is vitamin D, which is created by our skin cells when they are exposed to the sun. People deficient in this important vitamin suffer from an increased risk of coronary heart disease. While the duration of sun exposure required for enough vitamin D depends on skin tone, the Vitamin D Council recommends a minimum of 15 minutes outside — not necessarily in the nude, but hey, it won’t hurt. Provided you use enough sunscreen, of course.

Complete Article HERE!

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9 Weird Signs That You’re Actually Really Good In Bed

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By Kitty Fitzgerald

Really Good In Bed

1. You eat your food slowly.

And not just popsicles. Those who aren’t in a rush to devour their meals take their time in all aspects. You don’t skip over foreplay like it’s some annoying YouTube ad. You’ll give pleasure as long as you possibly can.

2. You aren’t afraid to be vocal.

Those who can speak on what they want in day-to-day life make for communicative partners. Sex is all about sharing: your body parts, your desires, your thirst, etc. If you’re the kind of person who lets it be known what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance that carries over into the bedroom. And good sex is vocal sex.

3. Your exes stay hung up for an incredibly long time.

I mean, can you blame them? They know just how good it can be. God bless those poor, horny souls.

4. You don’t regularly watch porn.

Porn has a numbing effect on sexuality. I’m not saying it’s the worst, but those who watch a large amount have a tendency to have problems…performing. That’s not to say if you don’t typically watch you don’t also have a large and healthy sexual appetite. But you know how to differentiate realistic sex with fantasy sex. Or, you’ve figured out how to combine the two.

5. You can sing, dance, or play an instrument.

If you have a natural understanding of rhythm, *ahem*, I’d bet your body does too.

6. You have regular dental check-ups.

Nobody wants to play tonsil hockey with someone who has untreated halitosis or undetected cavities. You’re on top of your dental health. And your make-out partners are grateful, I’m sure.

7. You’re comfortable with nudity.

And not just when you’re having sex. You enjoy a good nude selfie on Instagram, or a graphic image on Tumblr. You don’t find the human body threatening or uncomfortable. You appreciate the beauty in it. You are secure with your own body and have no problem letting everything hang out. You have confident sex, and that’s the absolute hottest.

8. You’re a good listener.

This should probably go without saying. If you are the type to sometimes just shut up and listen to what the person you’re with has to say, you’re the kind of person people want to fuck. You don’t make it all about you. You’re happy to be all ears.

9. You have a healthy view about sex.

So many people get fucked up because of their upbringing. When someone is taught that sex is fundamentally wrong and dirty, that’s pretty hard to unlearn. Not to say they can’t, because it’s happened many times. But if you’re someone who understands the naturalness of it all, you are already more dynamite in bed. No nagging guilt eating away at you.

Complete Article HERE!

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