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Dr Dick’s Sex Positive Doctrine

No podcast today; instead there’s this…

Have you ever wondered about the term, sex positive? If you’re like me you see it all over the place, especially on sex-related sites. I confess I use it way more often than I should. It’s become one of those industry buzzwords that has, over time, become so fuzzy around the edges that it’s now virtually meaningless. In fact, if the truth be known, I believe the term sex positive has been taken over by the sex Taliban who have made it a cover for their strict code of political correctness. Oddly enough, this is the very antithesis of its original meaning.

If you want to shame someone in the sex field—be it a sex worker, blogger or adult product manufacturer—you label that person as sex-negative. You may not know anything about that person other than you were offended by something they did, said or made. But still, you hurl the epithet as if you were exorcising a heretic. This is a very powerful tool for keeping people in my industry in line. But I’ve begun to wonder, who is setting themselves up as the arbiter of what is and what is not sex positive? I have to ask: What is the agenda? I mean, could compulsory ideological purity of some artificial standards of thought or behavior be “positive” anything? I say, no!

Like all good ideas that have gone bad due to overuse—or worse, sloppy use—the sex positive concept once had meaning that was life-affirming and enriching. Sex positive has been in the lexicon at least since the mid-1950s. It frequently appears in journals and research papers to describe a movement that examines and advocates for all the other beneficial aspects of sex beyond reproduction.

I’ve been using the term since 1981 when I opened my practice in Clinical Sexology and Sexual Health Care. The opening words of my mission statement read: “I affirm the fundamental goodness of sexuality in human life, both as a personal need and as an interpersonal bond.” Way back then, I was flush with my quixotic pursuit to stand steadfast against all the cultural pressures to negate or denigrate sexuality and pleasure. I dedicated myself to spreading the gospel that healthy attitudes toward sex not only affect a person’s sex life, but his/her ability to relate well with others.

This came relatively easy for me, because I’d learned something very important about evangelization in my life as a Catholic priest. (Another quixotic pursuit, but we’ll have to save the details of that misadventure for another time.) One of the first things one learns in seminary is how to proselytize, to sow the seeds of a creed, and then nurture them taking root by endless repetition of the articles of faith. Of course there is a downside to this, too. Repetition fosters mindlessness, stifles creative thought, and worse makes things boring.

But the creed statements of the world’s three great monotheistic religions are masterful works of theological art.

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’olam!
Allaahu Akbar!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and the of the Holy Spirit!

Each contains the most profound kernel of religious truth the believer needs to know, but all are easy enough for a child to learn. And like I said, the secret is in the repetition. For the true devotee, these creedal statements are uttered dozens of times a day and to great effect.

Early on in my career as a sexologist, I decided to put the principles I learned in the Church into disseminating my new belief system. First, keep the message simple! I settled on: “Sex is Good—and Good Sex is Even Better.” This has been my mantra for decades. It contains everything you need to know about being sex positive, but it’s easy enough for a child to learn. Even now, I close each of my podcasts with this same article of faith. To this day it soothes me to hear myself say these words. And it comforts me in the same way blessing myself did in my priestly days.

Despite my apprehensions, I continue to be an apostle of the sex positive doctrine. I know that even though my industry has corrupted the concept, others have yet to hear the good news. And there’s something almost spiritual about seeing someone grasp the idea for the first time. Let me tell you about one such instance. Some while ago I was asked to offer a workshop for a group of doctors on the topic: Health Care Concerns Of Sexually Diverse Populations. Unfortunately, just a handful of doctors attended the workshop—which was pretty disconcerting, considering all the work I’d put into the presentation. I guess that’s why kinksters and pervs, as well as your run-of-the-mill queer folk, are often frustrated in their search for sensitive and lifestyle-attuned healing and helping professionals.

Since the group of doctors attending was so small, I decided to ask them to pull their chairs in a circle so that our time together could be a bit more informal and intimate. Frankly, I’ve never found it easy talking to doctors about sex; and discussing kinky sex was surely going to be very tricky. So, I decided to start off as gently as I could. My opening remarks included the phrases “sex positive” and “kink positive.”

Sitting as close to my audience as I was, I could see at once that these fundamental concepts weren’t registering with them. I was astonished. Here was a group of physicians, each with a large urban practice. Could they really be this out of touch? I quickly checked in with them to see if my perception was correct. I was right! None of them had heard the term, sex positive. The two who hazarded a guess at its meaning thought it had something to do with being HIV+. I had my work cut out for me.

I decided to share my creed with them. “Sex is Good—and Good Sex is Even Better.” I asked them repeat it with me as if I were teaching a catechism to children. Surprisingly, they did so without resistance. After we repeated the mantra a couple more times, I exposed them to the sex positive doctrine unencumbered by political correctness.

  • Sex Is Good! Sex is a positive force in human development; the pursuit of pleasure, including sexual pleasure, is at the very foundation of a harmonious society.
  • And Good Sex Is Even Better! The individual makes that determination. For example, what I decide is good sex for me, may be boring sex to someone else. And their good sex may be hair-raising to me. In other words, consensual sexual expression is a basic human right regardless of the form that expression takes. And it’s not appropriate for me, or anyone else, to call into question someone else’s consensual affectional choices.
  • Sex Is Good! Everyone has a right to clear, unambiguous sexual health information. It must be presented in a nonjudgmental way, particularly from his or her health care providers. And sexual health encompasses a lot more then just disease prevention, and contraception.
  • And Good Sex Is Even Better! The focus is on the affirmative aspects of sexuality, like sexual pleasure. Sexual wellbeing is more than simply being able to perform. It also means taking responsibility for one’s eroticism as an integral part of one’s personality and involvement with others.
  • Sex Is Good! Each person is unique and that must be respected. Our aim as healing and helping professionals is to provide information and guidance that will help the individual approach his/her unique sexuality in a realistic and responsible manner. This will foster his/her independent growth, personal integrity, as well as provide a more joyful experience of living.
  • And Good Sex Is Even Better! Between the extremes of total sexual repression and relentless sexual pursuit, a person can find that unique place, where he/she is free to live a life of self-respect, enjoyment and love.

Finally I told them they ought to think creatively how they could adapt this concept to their own practice. It was up to each of them to make this creed their own. As it turned out, this primer was just the thing to open my planned discussion of health of kinksters.

In a way this experience was a bit of a spiritual reawakening for me, too. Despite my misgivings about the contamination of the sex positive doctrine by malicious people bent on using it as a weapon against those they disagree with. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to watch these sex positive novices hear, and then embrace, the message for the first time. It was nothing short of a religious experience.

The Self-Sexological Exam

No podcast today; instead there’s this…

The Ballad of Sylvie

Hi, my name is Sylvie. I’m 24 and I’ve been sexually active for three year, but I’ve never had an orgasm…at least not that I know of. I hear my friends talk about their orgasms and I know I should talk to them, but I don’t want them to know. Do you think there’s something wrong with me?

Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this complaint over the years, I’d be a wealthy man. Even in this day and age where sexual messages permeate the popular culture, there are still some women who are unversed about orgasms and their own bodies.

However, I almost never hear this from men. Sure, our sexual response cycle is more obvious. When we’re at attention, we’re at attention. I often wonder what the world would be like if men had as hard a time getting off as some women do.…

But let’s begin with dispelling the notion that there may be something wrong with you. There isn’t. You do, however, fall into a category we in the biz call “pre-orgasmic.” The idea is that you’re going to be orgasmic one day—you’ve just not accomplished it yet.

And I’m gonna assume a couple of things, even though I think it’s really dangerous to make assumptions in this line of work: 1. You’ve never had an orgasm, because you’d sure as hell know it if ya had. 2. You are sexually active with male partners.

I’m going out on this limb because I absolutely never hear from pre-orgasmic lesbians. And it stands to reason—lesbians tend to be more attuned to their bodies, and they certainly know their way around the bodies of their partners. But I digress.

Orgasms don’t come easily for some women. I suppose there are as many reasons for this as there are pre-orgasmic women. A woman’s pleasure center (her clit) is more subtle and less obvious than a man’s raging boner. Women are socialized about sexuality—even nowadays—in a much different way then men are. Men have more cultural permissions to be sexually adventuresome than do women. And, truth be told, men have never needed any permission to get themselves off!

The Ballad of Amy

Case in point: When I was just beginning my practice, a young couple, Joel and Amy, visited me with this very issue. As I’d soon learn, Joel considered himself a top-notch cocksmith. He was fond of saying that he could reduce any woman to blubbering jelly with either his mouth or his magic wand. But Joel was completely flummoxed to discover that the love of his life was immune to his sexual prowess—so he hauled the little woman in for my diagnosis.

Amy, for her part, squirmed with discomfort. I thought she’d absolutely die as Joel detailed the explicit intimacies of their lovemaking. I knew I’d get nowhere with Amy while Joel was there, so I told him to take a hike while she and I had a chat.

I first asked Amy about the early messages she got about her body. She thought for a moment and answered: “I don’t know if this is what you mean, but one of my earliest recollections is my mother teaching me to wash myself. I must have been no more than 3 or 4. She began by telling me I should wash my body like we washed dishes. First and foremost, I was to attend to my hair, my face and my hands—like we would first wash the fine crystal and silverware—because they would be what would attract a husband. Then I was to wash the rest of my body. Finally, at the end of the bath, I should wash my genitals…but only with a different cloth than the one I used on the rest of me…just like we washed the pots and pans.”

This unearthed memory startled Amy. Even though she hadn’t thought about it for years, she realized she continued to wash herself in the same manner to that very day. And she followed that revelation with one equally astonishing. She told me that once she reached puberty, her mother took her aside for “The Big Talk.” Menstruation and all the embarrassment and confusion that came with it added to the “pot and pan” imagery. As to her genitals, her mother said: “You must save that for the one you love and will marry.”

“This dirty part, this thing that’s cursed with a monthly unclean bloodletting was supposed to be SAVED for the man of my dreams. YUCK! Why?”

Poor Amy! She was a tangle of mixed messages. No wonder she was pre-orgasmic. No wonder fucking Joel, despite her love for him, was a teeth-clenching chore. No wonder his begging to eat her pussy was met with, “Oh, please don’t!”

There was a lot of work to be done, but she was eager to begin.

We started her with journaling and a self-sexological exam. I instructed Amy to get a hand mirror and a detailed diagram of female genitalia. She was to familiarize herself and make friends with her estranged pussy. Her exam would entail a touch-test. Every square inch from her anus to her navel was to be tested for sensitivity. I suggested she draw pictures of herself and color them to represent the levels of sensitivity: red being the hottest and most pleasurable areas; blue being more neutral, and all the colors in-between. I encouraged her to try this exercise first with a dry hand, then a wet hand using a personal lubricant. I encouraged her to spend at least 30 minutes a day for three consecutive days. She had a lot of reacquainting to do.

And this was to be private time. Joel was not to be invited.

On the forth day, if she was ready, she could invite Joel to join her. No pressure; just a suggestion. But whenever she was ready to invite Joel, he could only attend as a guest, NOT a participant. Joel was only to receive the royal tour of Amy’s fabulous cunt. She was to show Joel her drawings, and once the show was over, that was it. No fucking, no sucking, no nothing—this was only to be an exhibition.

Poor Joel was beside himself. He couldn’t see the logic of him not being involved. I had to impress upon him that this was Amy’s work—not his. And if he just held on to that magic johnson of his, he’d be back with an orgasmic Amy in no time—but he had to be patient.

When next we were together, Amy shared her artwork with me. I could tell right away from pictures she’d drawn and colored that she’d found her clit. Amy was extremely pleased with her “newfound” pussy. She was eager to take it to the next level.

The following week’s play would include a vibrator. Amy was to buy the one she wanted, take it home and introduce it to her pussy. Using the pictures she’d created, she was to throw it into first gear and start making small, lazy circles around the blue areas, working her way to the bright red areas. She was to do this privately for 30 minutes for three consecutive days or until there was a breakthrough.

I knew this wouldn’t take long, and it didn’t. The very next day, I got the anticipated phone call. Amy was breathless.

“Holy shit, I did it!” She exclaimed. “I saw stars—the earth moved and I made so much noise that Joel came running into the room. He thought I’d somehow hurt myself. He stood there stunned as I threw myself another screaming me-me.” I loved the way she already had a name for her orgasms…screaming me-me’s.

And that’s how Amy went from pre-orgasmic to I totally know how to give myself a big fat juicy orgasm in a matter of a couple of weeks.

The Ballad of Becoming Presently Orgasmic

Now let’s review for you, Sylvie. The basic formula for achieving an orgasm is acquainting yourself with your pussy. Map out all the points of interest. Find out what feels good, and repeat it. The object of this first step is not to stress about having an orgasm—it’s all about reconnecting with your body.

The more you know about yourself, the better you’re gonna be at slamming yourself a “screamin’ me-me”. Knowing your way around your pussy is also helpful in partnered sex, especially if your partner doesn’t know shit from Shinola about your pussy.

Step two is masturbation. You may have tried before without success. This time, thanks to step one, you’ll better know your hot spots. I’m a big fan of full body masturbation. So while you’re diddling, be sure to spread the sexual energy all over your body—tits, ass, feet, mouth, whatever you like—stroke, pinch, pat, massage, and rub yourself all over. Vary your breathing, gyrate your hips, listen to sexy music, rent some porn, watch yourself in a mirror, or throw in some Kegel exercises. Try a wet hand. Play with yourself in the bath. Hell, dance around naked with a jewel in your navel…whatever it takes.

Like Amy, many women experience their first orgasm with the help of a vibrator. I encourage you to experiment with one—or try another sex toy.

Be sure to keep a journal during this exploratory period. This will help you later to bridge the gap in communicating with your partners.

Good luck!

Human Rights + Sexual Rights = Sexual Freedom

On this the first annual National Sexual Freedom Day, sponsored by The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, I’d like to propose something quite radical. I suggest that our sexual freedoms, here in the United States, are intricately linked to universal sexual rights. And I contend that the notion of universal sexual rights is at its core a respect for human rights and human dignity.

In a world wracked by poverty, disease and war; where we threaten our very existence with climate altering pollution, nuclear proliferation and extreme population growth; is there room to talk about human rights that include sexual rights and sexual freedom?

I emphatically answer yes! In fact, I assert that sexual inequality and oppression is at the heart of many of the world’s problems. I contend that trying to address human rights without including the essential component of sexual rights and sexual freedom is ultimately doomed to failure.

An absence of sexual rights and sexual freedom leads to domestic and societal violence; human trafficking; suicide; a rise in Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs); unplanned pregnancies, abortion, and sexual dysfunction.

You know how we are always being encouraged to Think Globally and Act Locally? Well while we busy ourselves securing and celebrating our sexual rights here in this nation, I think we’d do well to focus some of our attention on how our struggle binds us to the rest of the human community.

I offer three examples of what I’m talking about. I invite you to consider how a myopic sexual rights and sexual freedom agenda, divorced from the overarching issues of human, economic and social rights, can be ineffectual and even counterproductive.

***

In 2008 the research community was all aflutter about ‘conclusive’ evidence linking HIV transmission and uncircumcised males. While I’m certainly not ready to take this data on face value, let’s just say, for the sake of discussion, that the link is conclusive. A massive campaign of circumcision was proposed as the best means of HIV prevention. The medical community would descend on epicenters of the disease, scalpels in hand; ready to eliminate the offending foreskins from every male in sight, young and old.

But wait, there’s a problem. Most HIV/AIDS epicenters are in underdeveloped countries. In these places, access to enough clean water to drink or attend to even the most basic personal hygiene, like daily cleaning under one’s foreskin, remains an enormous chronic problem. Without first addressing the problem of unfettered access to clean water and adequate sanitation, which according to The United Nations is a basic human right, further disease prevention efforts are doomed.

I mean, what are the chances that surgical intervention would succeed—one that would involve significant and sophisticated aftercare—if there is not even enough clean water for drinking and bathing?

These well-meaning medical personnel suggest imposing a strategy that not only works against nature—our foreskins do have a purpose after all: a healthy prepuce is a natural deterrent to infection. But this intervention would also violate long-held cultural and societal norms—circumcision is abhorrent to many of these same cultures. Wouldn’t this proposed prevention effort to stem the tide actually make matters worse?

***

Indentured sex work is another indicator of how human rights, sexual rights and sexual freedom are intertwined. Until the economic and educational opportunities for women throughout the world improve—which is a basic human right according to The United Nations—women will remain chattel. Families in economically depressed areas of the world will continue to be pressured to sell their daughters (and sons) simply to subsist.

Closing brothels and stigmatizing prostitutes overlooks the more pressing human rights concerns at play here. Sex is a commodity because there is a voracious market. Men from developed nations descend on the populations of less developed nations to satisfy sexual proclivities with partners they are prohibited from enjoying in their own country. Young women (and boys) in developing countries are viewed as exploitable and disposable, because they don’t have the same civil protections afforded their peers in the developed world. And runaway population growth in countries that deprive their women and girls access to education and contraception inevitably creates a never-ending supply of hapless replacements.

Addressing the endemic gender inequality in many societies is key. Equal access to education and economic resources must come before, or at least hand in hand with any serious sexual liberation effort.

***

Finally, people in the developed world enjoy a certain level of affluence and economic stability which allows them to indulge in sex recreationally. Thanks to effective birth control methods we can ignore the procreative aspects of sex and replace it with a means of expressing a myriad of other human needs. Not least among these are status, self-esteem and self-expression.

If we’re trying to prove something to ourselves, or others, by the way we conduct our sexual lives, simple prohibitions against certain sex practices won’t work. If I’m convinced that unprotected sex with multiple partners and sharing bodily fluids is edgy, cool fun, without serious consequence, as it’s portrayed in porn; I will be more likely to express myself the same way. This is especially true for young people who are already feeling invincible.

Case in point: there has been a startling uptick in seroconversions among young people, particularly gay men, which indicates that disease prevention efforts, even in the world’s most affluent societies, are simply not up to the task. It’s not that there is a scarcity of resources, quite the contrary. It is more likely that these efforts are not connected to a fundamental understanding of the role sexuality plays in the general population. I believe that sexual expression and sexual pleasure are the overarching issues here. These too are fundamental human rights.

No amount of safer sex proselytizing is going to prevail unless and until we look at why and how we express ourselves sexually. As we unravel this complex jumble of motivations and behaviors, effective prevention strategies will manifest themselves clearly. We must develop a sex-positive message; one that celebrates sexuality, builds self-esteem and counteracts the prevailing media messages of sex with no consequences.

***

National Sexual Freedom Day brings into focus the micro-strategies needed to combat a macro problem. But it also shows that we cannot work for and celebrate sexual freedom in a vacuum. It’s imperative that we see how global health and wellbeing is completely dependent on basic human rights, including sexual rights that include gender and reproductive rights, the elimination of sexual exploitation and the freedom of sexual expression.

Sex Wisdom with Andrew Epstein — Podcast #195 – 03/24/10

Hey sex fans,

This here is a SEX WISDOM podcast, don’t cha know. The series where we chat with researchers, educators, clinicians, pundits and philosophers who are making news and reshaping how we look at our sexual selves. And today I have something astonishing for you. What if I told you I could introduce you to someone who, through his photography, chronicled our cultural history for the better part of last half-century and is still doing so today? And since a huge part of our cultural history is our sex history, he is the ideal guest for this series.

My guest is none other than Andrew Epstein, photographer, artist, illustrator, art director and cultural raconteur. He is here to chat with us about his life’s work; the people he’s known (and loved) who have changed the course of our society. Among them; Richard Schmiechen, Edmond White, Teri Garr, Roger Ebert, Ann Landers Bette Midler, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mary Kay Place, Ann Bannon, Grace Jones, Margo St. James, Jeff Bridges, Fred Halstead, Tom of Finland, Leonard Matlovich and Peter Allen. This conversation is not to be missed!

Andrew and I discuss:

Andrew invites you to visit him on his main site HERE! Or on his blog HERE!

Click on the thumbnail images below to see a slideshow of some of Andrew’s work.

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BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.

Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

Look for all my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously. Just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

Sex EDGE-U-cation with Voluptuous Lynn – Podcast #177 – 01/06/10

Hey sex fans,

We’re ready to rock and roll with a brand new year of podcasts in the Sex EDGE-U-cation series. As you know these programs take a look at the fascinating world of unconventional sexual expressions and lifestyles, fetish sex and kink.  We touch on topics both familiar and exotic.  And you can count on our investigations to be interesting, stimulating as well as very informative, because we chat with prominent educators, practitioners and advocates from all walks of life.

And to kick off this new year, I have something quite extraordinary for you.  Today, we feature the first woman of color to speak in this series. She is a sex worker.  She brings a refreshingly honest, unique and sassy voice to the ever-growing chorus of exceptional guests in this series. I am honored to welcome Voluptuous Lynn.

She describes herself as “An Ebony Cougar In Sin City,” but I think you will agree with me that she’s more akin to a tiger.  Her no nonsense approach to life, sexuality and sex work if truly refreshing, and she’s knock ‘em dead funny too. Oh, and you should know that today’s show is unusually long. Lynn and I got to shootin’ the shit and I completely lost track of time.

Lynn and I discuss:

  • Flying in the face of the culture’s notion of female beauty.
  • Leaving the vanilla world for sex work.
  • The life of this cam-girl and phone sex operator.
  • Being public about her work.
  • The impact of her sex work on her personal relationships.
  • Role playing with clients.
  • Advice for getting into sex work.
  • How she prepares herself, emotionally and physically for her job.

You can visit Lynn on her website HERE!

See a slideshow of Lynn at work and play.  Click on the thumbnails below.

[nggallery id=55]

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.

Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

Look for all my podcasts on iTunes.  You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously. Just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

Today’s Podcast is bought to you by:  Dr Dick’s Stockroom.

drdicksstockroom.jpg

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