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A Boy’s Own Story

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What follows is an exchange I had recently with a young Catholic Canadian man.

Hi Dr. Wagner

My Name is Jack, I am a catholic teenager who is wondering if the act of masturbation is still considered to be a sin. Also is it really considered to be gravely disordered and always morally wrong? I am 18 years old and I am somewhat late going through changes physically. I do believe that it is a natural way to find out about ones body and how it can be used. I have heard that it is not a sin but a natural and healthy thing to do. I have also heard that it is a sin. I have heard mixed reviews I have heard that a vast majority of both boys and girls do it. I can understand if one does it while thinking about other people then it is a sin but if one is doing it to get rid of old stuff then does it count as a sin. I have done it recently and I am going through puberty. There are no thoughts, images or fantasies involved. I do think that it is better then having a nocturnal emission and having to clean your underpants and to hide it so no one think that I wet the bed. I also believe that it is better to masturbate rather than waking up to find a sticky mess in my underpants, which has happened to me, and it was not fun. I don’t want to have to go to bed worrying about a mess in the morning. I have also heard that it can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Is it normal to feel confused about it after doing it? I am planning to talk to my parents and a priest to see what they think of it. If my parents say that it is natural and a normal thing to do does that mean it is all right to do. The only tricky thing is that I am not entirely sure how to approach the subject with them. I have mentioned it to my mother and she doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. She said that it is better to do that than to be out having intercourse with girls. I haven t done it in 3 weeks and I feel conflicted over it I see both views on the issue and I am not sure. I don’t want to feel guilty for doing something that has been labeled natural and normal. I love and believe in god and want to know what the views are on it. I do not have any addiction whatsoever I have very good control over myself nor do I need counseling or therapy. I am just a curious teenager wondering if masturbating is a sin or not.

I live in Ontario where the ministry of education has released a updated sexual education curriculum where it mentions that masturbation is natural and normal. There is a part of me that really wants to do it as I feel it takes the edge off. I have heard that some catholic organizations are backing it. This leaves me confused if it is still considered to be a sin. I also believe that it is a crucial part of understanding how ones body works and learning about oneself. I do find it a little hard to understand that we can somewhat accept the sexual orientation of people but people still consider touching ones genitals to be a sin.

Thank you
God Bless

Dear Jack,

Thanks for your question. Might I add, you are exceptionally articulate for a teenager.a boy's own story

If ya ask me, Jack, and you are actually asking me, you’ve pretty much answered all of your own questions. And that tells me you are on the right track.

You ask about Catholic sexual ethics. Before you wrote, did you know that I was a Catholic priest for 20 years? And, not to boast, I am the only Catholic priest in the world with a doctorate in human sexuality. This later part explains why I no longer practice as a public minister. It’s a real long story and I’d be happy to tell you all about it sometime, but for now know that I didn’t go quietly. I wrote my doctoral thesis, Gay Catholic Priests; A Study of Cognitive and Affective Dissonance, back in 1981. And once word got out about this groundbreaking research, the writing was on the wall, so to speak, for my public ministry. I fought for my priesthood and ministry for 13 year, but it all pretty much came crashing in on itself in 1994. If you’ve got nothing better to do, you can read about it HERE.

Enough about me, let’s get back to you and your questions. Although, I wanted to mention that when I was in seminary, way back when god was young, in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, enlightened spiritual directors were already beginning to advise us seminarians that masturbation wasn’t sinful or disordered. Of course, even now you’ll find orthodox hard-liners who insist that self-pleasuring is a moral sin, but they think all sexual expression is sinful. Here’s a tip: you’re never gonna find consensus on any sexual matter.

Like you, I found it difficult to believe all that mortal sin stuff that the hardliners promote. I mean, if mass murder and genocide are mortal sins, how could a little wank be their equal. It just don’t make no sense, right?

However, I can’t agree with you that masturbation might be sinful if there are fantasies involved. Remember, using your mind is an essential part of learning about your sexuality. That being said, most teenage boys are randy at the drop of a hat, so maybe you don’t need to be all that specific with your sexual mental imagery.

I also caution you to be careful when tossing around words like normal and natural. What’s normal and natural to some may be abnormal and twisted to others. But you’re right; few people, professional as well as lay people, these days would consider self-loving anything but normal and natural.

For you edification I suggest you use the search function or CATEGORY pull-down menu in the sidebar of my site and search for pertinent topics, like masturbation, wet dreams, sexual response cycle, etc. You’ll find a wealth of information about all these topics in both written and podcast form.

the shadowI too reported, back in 2011, on the startling new data that came out of Australia about masturbation. Australian researchers questioned over 1,000 men who had developed prostate cancer and 1,250 men who had not, about their sexual habits. They found those who had ejaculated the most between the ages of 20 and 50 were the least likely to develop prostate cancer. The protective effect of poppin’ one’s nut was greatest while the men were in their 20s. And get this; men who ejaculated more than five times a week were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life.

I also contend that masturbation is the most basic building block to all of our sexual expression. When you know how your body works; when you are familiar with your sexual response cycle and are confident about talking to others about it; you’ll be better situated to be a good sexual partner to another.

In the end, I encourage you to continue to think for yourself when it comes to things sexual. I can see that you are already doing that, so keep it up. Continue to ask questions and consider the input you get from others, myself included; but then make up your own mind. When you own your sexuality and your sexual response, you’ll be a grown-up. Notice I didn’t say you’d be an adult. That’s because there are lots of adults out there who don’t own their sexuality and sexual response and despite being grown up, they’re not grownups.

Good luck, pup

Hi Richard,
Thank you for responding. You have cleared come of the confusion. I guess I got confused because when I would masturbate I would feel like I let my self down.
Thank you again
God Bless

One thing you should know is there is generally a sort of “let down” phase after orgasm. (See information about the refractory phase of the sexual response cycle HERE.) Your body can’t stay in that heightened state of arousal so there’s often a “deflated” feeling.

There’s even a name for if. It’s called post-coital tristesse. And you should know that it’s a physiological phenomenon rather than an emotional one.

Feelings of elation and wellbeing that accompany arousal and orgasm can sometimes morph into a sense of shame during this “deflated” phase. People with lot of scruples about sex are particularly vulnerable to this.

Thank you for clearing that up and for the reassurance that it is natural and normal and not considered to be a sin.
— Jack

A Good Man Is Hard To Find

I got email from a friend of mine that I haven’t had contact with for ages. We worked together on a couple projects in the past so I was delighted to hear from him. What follows is the exchange we had concerning his love interest. (All names have been changed.) I share all of this with you because I know other people, gay and straight, who have found themselves involved with someone they probably shouldn’t be involved with. Perhaps my friend’s dilemma will strike a chord with others in my audience.

Hello Dr. Dick
I think it’s been about 13 years now since we worked together. Ahhh the good ol’ days, and oh how I miss them.

I came across a recent post of yours on Google + and it reminded me I could use some of your professional guidance.hug in the butt

I don’t want to bias my story any or waste your time with unimportant details as to the nature of events. I would like you to hear (read) my situation word for word, exactly as it has been playing out.

I have about 50 pages of text messages compiled in PDF format over the past year or so between me and a guy I really like. I don’t want to walk away from him too soon, also don’t want to wait around for something that may never materialize (It’s been 3 years since we first started having sex).

Could I ask you to review these texts and give me your thoughts about it all?

Thanks for your time
Jackson
(PS this 40y.o. guy I like identifies as being STR8, he is a total redneck, he is married to a younger 27-year-old female, he loves to fuck me and be fucked by me, he loves to suck cock and get his sucked too, he is hard from minute he walks in my door…it is the best sex of my life no question about it. And that’s sayin’ something.)

Hey YOU!
So nice to hear from you after such a long time. Yeah, I hear ya about the good old days. Unlike you, however, I don’t really miss them.

biker I would be happy to help you. Are you sure you just want me to read what you’ve compiled? Or do you want to talk about it?

Without prejudicing my appraisal of your document, what you tell me is very indicative of a problem that I have seen over and over throughout the years. And it sounds like you’ve got it bad.

Anyhow, how do you want to proceed? We can set up a Skype call, if you’d like. I do a lot of remote counseling these days, and Skype makes that possible.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Great to hear back from you. A quick note on ‘the past’, I think what I miss the most is the social life I used to have. I had a lot of friends and always made time to see them.

The last 7 or so years have been very stressful but it’s paid off in the end. My home was foreclosed on; I fought hard, went to court many times and it took over two years but I did manage to save it. In 2010 (About a year after getting my home out of foreclosure) the state began a road construction project literally right outside my back door. It caused major damage to my 100-year-old home during the 3+ years the project went on. I am still fighting the state in an effort to resolve the issues that the construction caused.

Lol, I am not all negative like everything is all bad, or I never get a break from the weird stuff, it’s just been very unusual for me to have such a string of bad luck.hot

So back to Kevin & I. Would it be all right if you just read one short recent conversation, and then you tell me if you feel you could help? I imagine it will only take a couple minutes. Basically we are at a point where we get along amazing well in person, sex is incredible, & he loves everything the way it is. (We see each other for sex, nothing more). I, on the other hand, want to hang out sometime besides sex. This text exchange comes after not seeing or talking to him in about 10 days, which is pretty common.

Let me know Dr. :)

[Attached to the above email was a lengthy document that contained the contained the transcription of this latest text exchange between Jackson and Kevin. I’ll spare you the gory details.]

There’s a lot goin’ on here…beside the fact that the last part reads like a porn script. 😉

Here’s what I see. I see two men who have a “hook” in one another. One is happy on the hook the other is tortured on the hook.

Kevin, despite, or even because, of the hot sex you guys are having, is at a crossroads. If things continue as they are going, he will have to make adjustments to his life and have to make some very painful admissions about who he is at least to himself. He doesn’t sound even remotely ready for that. And even if he wanted to make this life-altering decision, he is probably ill equipped to do so. I’m guessing that he has been running from facing his true identity for decades.

Jean CocteauYou, on the other hand, know exactly what you want and how to get it. For you falling in love with this guy and living happily ever after would be as easy as falling off a log. You’re in love and you know how to handle yourself when love happens. We both know this is not your first time at the rodeo.

It’s like you’re dating a Martian. He only knows how to be a Martian. Despite, or even because, you appeal to him to stop being what he is (straight) and be this other thing with you (gay), he is petrified. And he may actually hate the very thing that you love about him.

Another thing that is really obvious is that Kevin’s sex with you is shame-based, not affection-based. He probably does get off on the hot monkey sex you guys have together, but he’s also probably crippled with guilt and shame afterward.

Stop and look over the document you sent me. Choose any one of those pages and count the words that you typed and then count the words that he typed. I’m sure that you will immediately see that you overwhelm him. You bare your soul; you write paragraphs of self-disclosure. He responds in monosyllables. I’m pretty sure he can barely stand the barrage. He’s trapped between what he wants and what he will allow himself to have and it is sheer torture.

Despite the fact that is wants, maybe even desperately wants, what you have to offer, and not just the sex, he can’t allow himself to have it. It would shake his world to its foundation. And since he can have the hot sex without the emotional attachment, he’s getting everything he (thinks) he wants. You, on the other hand, are living a life of non-to-quiet desperation. You’re at heaven’s door, but he won’t cross the threshold with you.

If I had to guess, I’d say there’s no future beyond the wham-bam-thank-you-sir part bumpin’ you’re already getting. And I also speculate that this arrangement has a half-life. I’d be willing to guess that ya’ll are already past the mid-point. Your dissatisfaction will grow and begin to manifest itself in the way you treat him. There will be an ultimatum. Then there will be an end. With a little luck it will end well, but there is also a big chance that it will end very poorly indeed. Violence is not unheard of in situations like this and I think you know this already.redneck

In his defense, I don’t think Kevin is holding out on you. He probably would if he could. But he simply can’t. And if I had to guess, he’s not ever gonna turn this around. You said he’s in his 40’s, right? That’s a lot of life lived falsely, no? I’d be willing to wager that you aren’t the first man he’s fooled around with over the years and I don’t think you’ll be the last. He’s gotta have his fix even if it compromises his perception of himself.

I don’t envy you this conundrum, my friend. You are in anguish; I hear that. This is not a happy place for you and all I can say is, I hope you don’t give up any more ground.

Let me know if you want to talk about this at some point. No need to walk through this on your own if you don’t want to.

Good luck.

That gave me chills… Its like you were here the whole time. You identified every detail exactly as I have been living it.

One part in particular, Kevin said pretty much word for word as you did. He said, “I’m not holding out on you. I would if I could, but I simply can’t.” I got to admit I don’t understand.

Tuesday I sent him this text:
“Why is this normal social shit so awkward in your mind? All I want to do is hang out sometime. Let me repeat, I want to do something other than hookup one time. That’s it, if you don’t like it I won’t ask again.

I know you like the other shit more, I likely do as well. But is it that big of a deal to just hang out like regular dudes as well?

I’m not asking for anything else whatsoever no emotional connection or expectations of any kind.”

redneck buttHis reply:
“I can’t. I’m sorry.”

His response blows my mind; it makes no sense. Sounds like an adult telling a child NO! I don’t have to explain, no means NO!

I think the truth is he just doesn’t WANT to do anything, even though he surely could. Ughhhh anyway.

I want to talk more with you about this Richard. I’ll hit you up later about the Skype thing. Thanks for being a sounding board for me.

Wow, that is interesting. Poor guy!

Again, in Kevin’s defense, he does have a wife. Maybe he thinks if he keeps his sex with you on the down low it’s not really infidelity. You know, guys doin’ guy things together. An emotional attachment to you would blow that delusion out of the water. It’s like being between a rock and a hard place. He can’t win for losing.

Anyhow, thanks for entrusting your woes with me. I look forward to connecting with you on Skype in the near future. All the best till then.

What do you think about sex work?

Ravishly invited me to contribute to an online conversation they are sponsoring on sex work.  They allowed me 500 words.

The Conversation is in the lower right-hand corner of their site.

ravishly

The question posed:

 

Is female sex work empowering or enslaving?

Current and former sex workers, a clinical sexologist (me), a lawyer, an author-activist and a community advocate debate the sex work industry.

My contribution is titled:  Sex Work Is!

I invite you to take a look at all the contributions and add your thoughts.

Finger Your Hole For Your Health

Name: Gordon
Gender: male
Age: 67
Location: Florida
I guess I have more of a comment than a question. I’m 67, a widower and have been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. I never was very adventuresome when it came to sex. In fact before my wife died two years ago I never had sex with any other woman. I never gave prostate cancer a thought, never gave my prostate a thought either. Now I’m mad as hell that I didn’t. You see when I started to go to a prostate cancer support group I discovered I could have monitored myself better with a simple self-examination. Why don’t doctors tell us about this? Women are supposed to examine their breasts why don’t men examine their prostate? It’s so easy actually and yet it’s this big secret. Why don’t people talk about this? It makes me so mad because it could have made a big difference in my own life. Do you know about this self-examination Dr Dick? If you do why don’t you tell other people about this? I think it would help a lot if you could get the word out on this. Now that’s all I have to say. Thank you.

No, thank you Gordon. Thank you for sharing your concern with me…with us.

I’ve been an active proponent of prostate self-exam for many years. Let me explain. My career as a therapist began in San Francisco in 1981. As you may recall, that was precisely the same year a mysterious new disease began showing up among gay men. Back then it was being called gay cancer, but soon it would have another name — HIV/AIDS.

give prostate cancer the fingerNot surprisingly, my private practice focused down almost exclusively to working with sick and dying people. Luckily, I discovered that I was well suited for the job and I liked it very much. So much so that in the mid-90’s I founded a nonprofit organization called, PARADIGM, Enhancing Life Near Death. It was an outreach and resource for terminally ill, chronically ill, elder and dying people. This was brilliant cutting-edge work and I learned so much from the people I was working with. One of the things that struck me most was that regardless of the disease — cancer, HIV, MS, you name it, or aging process for that matter — there was always a woeful lack of information about regaining a sense of sexual-self post diagnosis, or sexual wellbeing for seniors in general.

This was such an important topic for me that I decided to include a chapter on sex and intimacy concerns for sick, elder, and dying people in my book, The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying.  I am proud to say that it is one of the only resources of its kind available in print.

I recall one PARADIGM group in particular, there was a man much, like you, Gordon, who had fingering his assprostate cancer. And, like you, he was mad as hell with the indifference of the medical industry toward prostate self-exam. One day during a group session, John was railing against his doctors and cancer associations for their lack of interest in promoting prostate self-awareness. He pointed to the success of the cultural campaign to get women to do breast self-exams. Like you, Gordon, he couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a similar campaign for men.

Another group member, Marie, a senior woman in her 70’s and a breast cancer survivor, helped put things in perspective. She reminded us that breast self-awareness in our culture is a relatively new phenomenon. Her mother, aunt, sister, and a niece all died of breast cancer before the self-exam campaign began in earnest. Clare went on to say that it was only through the hard work of individuals and grassroots organizations that actively campaigned for breast self-exams that things began to change. Eventually, this movement changed the cultural mindset. Clare said that it was these individuals and grassroots organizations that helped all of us — medical industry, the cancer lobby and women in general — overcome the denial, shame and embarrassment that was associated with women touching themselves, even to save their lives.

prostate examThis is an indication of just how ingrained the sex-negativity and body-negativity runs in this culture.

I continued to work with sick and dying people here in Seattle. I had a brief gig at a local cancer center where I developed an NIH (National Institute of Health) funded program for women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was also working with a group of women with breast cancer and another group of men with prostate cancer. Again I realized that just about every therapeutic intervention I encountered — government funded or foundation funded — was woefully lacking in any clear and unambiguous information about sexual health and wellbeing and intimacy issues.

To remedy this, I began planning a video series for people experiencing life threatening and/or disfiguring illnesses. Videos that would help them address reintegrating sex and intimacy post diagnosis. One of the first videos was going to be Public Service Announcement showing men how to do a prostate self-exam. By the way, this particular film was to be dedicated to my friend John, the guy I mentioned earlier. He died shortly after the PARADIGM group he was in ended. But he died self-aware. He was militant to the end about the pressing need for prostate awareness among men.

Once again the stumbling block I encountered was funding. My grant writing efforts turned up nothing. I did get a whole lot of, “what a fine idea, Richard. Good luck with that…” brush-off letters though. No foundation would be caught dead funding sexually overt pattern films, even ones with the laudable intent of assisting people with the very information they needed most.

I’m sorry to have been so long-winded in my reply, Gordon. I just wanted you to know that many have preceded you with outrage at the conspiracy of silence regarding prostate self-exam. Let’s face it; our society is so ass-phobic that we’d rather see men die than offer them simple instructions how to finger their butt, find their prostate and keep tabs on their prostate health.

If we want this to change we all need to speak out…as well as stick a finger in our ass.

Keep up the fight, Gordon! And please, stay in touch.

Good luck

Foreplay – Making a Meal of Appetizers

Special Valentine’s Day Workshop with Yours Truly!

When:   02/14/14 — 7PM to 9PM
Where:   Foundation For Sex Positive Culture — 1608 15th Ave W. Bldg B, Seattle, WA 98119
Who:   Anyone 18+ with ID
Cost at the Door:   $25       Advance prices:   $20 for Individuals, $35 for Couples and $50 for Triads.

Purchase your tickets HERE!

***Limited to 30 attendees.***
This workshop is open to all regardless of gender, orientation, or relationship status.

Tired of the same old in and out? Is penetrative sex boring you to tears, or worse leaving you unfulfilled? Well, I have just the thing for you. Let’s whip up a menu of spicy, tantalizing, and oh so satisfying hors d’oeuvres that will revitalize your diet and expand your sexual repertoire.you've been bad

We’ll cover a wide variety of topics, including:

  • Oral skills
  • The art of aural seduction
  • Sensual massage
  • Sensory play
  • Ritualizing your connection
  • Mutual masturbation; the key to great partnered sex at any age
  • Exploring kinks and fetishes
  • Toys
  • And so much more!

Remember, creativity and exploration is the spice of life!

There will be lots of adult product to giveaway too.

foundation-for-sex-positive-culture




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