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Making a Marriage Work; A Primer For Sexual Success

I’m preparing a workshop for recently engaged couples. I expect there will be about a dozen couples attending. While most of the participants will be preparing for their first marriage, there will be at least two couples working on their second marriage. My experience tells me that regardless of how many turns one takes on the merry-go-round anxiety about sexual compatibility, particularly for the long haul, abounds.

One of the best resources out there for those considering a sexually exclusive traditional marriage is Esther Perel’s controversial book, Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic.  Her thesis is that increased emotional intimacy between partners often leads to less sexual passion. I’ve been preaching the same sermon for nearly 30 years. But I assure you; there are ways around this predictable stumbling block.

Here we have Paige, age 22 from Tulsa. OK.

I am engaged to a wonderful guy. I’m excited about my upcoming marriage, but I’m also afraid that it will fail. I know you are going to think we’re freaks, but my fiancé and I have decided to save ourselves for after we are married. Some of our friends even our recently married friends are having trouble with their relationship and with the divorce rate so high, what are the chances that my marriage will work? Do I just have cold feet or am I not ready to get married?

First off, I don’t think you’re a freak for reserving full sexual expression till after you’re married. It wasn’t too long ago when that was the norm. But even people who enter marriage as established sex partners aren’t assured success.

I caution you to jettison any Pollyanna notion you might have about marriage being a breeze, or that all you need is love. These are dangerous fictions. Your recently married friends have problems because there are always problems in a marriage. It’s the nature of relationships. Hopefully, the problems you guys will face won’t be insurmountable, but sure as shootin’ problems will be your constant companions, even big problems. So count on it and prepare yourself accordingly.

You can also be assured that the problems you will encounter, regardless of their nature, will impact on your sex life together. Money concerns, the stresses of a career, kids, in-laws, you name it will all influence how you perceive your spouse. Nothing dampens ardor like financial difficulties or meddlesome relatives.

So Paige, rather than focus on the nature of your sex life as you enter your marriage, may I suggest that you concentrate on the bigger picture. And in order to do that you need to ask; why do most traditional, sexually exclusive marriages flounder? They crumble because they can’t bear up under the strain of the couple’s expectations for each other. Simply stated, they want too much from their spouse. They expect companionship, economic support and family for sure, but they also expect their partner to be their best friend, confidant and passionate lover. That’s a pretty tall order to fill for a single individual. Who wouldn’t have cool feet, or even be frozen in place, faced with those daunting expectations.

A lot of engaged couples overly concern themselves with the sexual viability or their relationship. My sense is that sexual concerns, by themselves, don’t tax a marriage to the point of breaking. You’ll notice that I said, ’sexual concerns, by themselves’. While sex and intimacy issues are indeed real and sometimes overwhelming, it’s the underpinnings of the relationship that bring these sexual issues into stark relief. Let me give you an example.

Say I’ve just spent 60 hours this past week at work; I get snarled in traffic on my commute every single day. I drag my sorry ass home to a loving partner, who may have been looking forward to an amorous night of sex play. But I’m completely fagged out, so to speak. I simply don’t have an interest in the old slap and tickle. It’s not that I don’t love my spouse; I do! I don’t have the energy to even squeeze one off by myself, let alone please and pleasure my partner.

Or say I’ve been caring for a house full of sick, ornery kids all day; and freaking out about our family’s precarious financial situation. I have barely the time and energy to rustle together some grub for the brood, when my loving partner, who may have been looking forward to an amorous night of sex play, arrives back at the homestead with stars in his/her eyes. I’m exhausted; and the idea of a tussle in the sack is the last thing on my mind. It’s not that I don’t love my spouse; on the contrary. I just don’t feel attractive, interesting, or more importantly, randy.

As these examples point out it’s not that the sexual energy has flown the coop. More often than not couples who face the tribulations of life together redirect their energy into resolving more pressing concerns than gearing up for sex. The reason I know this for certain is, if I were to take this stressed out couple away from the humdrum of their day-to-day, and land them on a tropical beach without a care in the world; I know for certain they’d fuck like bunnies.

Another example, say a couple is joined at the hip; you know the ones I’m talking about. Where one or the other partner can hardly take a trip to the loo without their spouse traipsing along. Many couples think this kind of closeness is a sign of their love and fidelity, and it may very well be for them. But I can guarantee this kind of familiarity will also stifle sexual passion. The truth of the matter is erotic fervor is dependent on at least a modicum of mystery. If I know my partner like the back of my hand, I’m less likely to see him/her as a sexual object; in the same sexual way as when we were courting.

This also can be proven. Why is the chick at work, who I have virtually nothing in common with, such a turn on? How is it that my yoga instructor, someone I hardly know and who pays me no attention, make me wet? It’s the mystery or the forbidden that jacks up the sexual tension.

The way I see it is passionate sex is dependent on a good deal of sexual tension. This kind of tension dissipates with time and it takes a great deal of work to keep that tension alive. Most couples don’t invest that kind of energy; even though they may pay lip service to the notion that they want the passion to continue.

Intimacy, on the other hand, is dependent on domestic tranquility, in other words, the elimination of tension in the relationship; regrettably this also includes sexual tension. And since most couples desire intimacy over sex they choose (either consciously or not) the path of domestic tranquility. But the result can be the kind of sexual frustration so many married people report.

I’ve been to a lot of wedding; and I’ve officiated at more than I can count. I’ve helped numerous couples construct their vows. Generally the first thing they want to say to each other is something like: “I promise to be your best friend, your confidant; your constant companion. Sound familiar? I thought it might. What I never hear is: “I promise to always be up for all your hot monkey love.” Not only would that vow be a showstopper; it would be an impossible promise to keep, unless you’re a blow-up doll. Frankly, it’s so much easier being a best friend or confident than the sexual siren that will be the answer to all your erotic dreams after we’re married for a few years.

Sexual exclusivity is at the heart of the romantic ideal. That’s why sexual infidelity is such a bugaboo in our culture. But the truth of the matter is, sustaining a model where marriage is the font from which all fulfillment flows is simply unrealistic. Maybe if we expect sexual exclusivity from our spouse, we ought to manage our other expectations of him/her (best friend, confidant, etc.) more pragmatically.

I am of the mind that since more than 50% of marriages in this country end in divorce; we must look at the relationship model we are laboring under. Maybe the romantic ideal is simply an illusion. I mean we can’t honestly try to explain away the divorce rate by saying all these couples simply married the wrong people. Know what I mean?

The parameters of a healthy, successful marriage will need to expand and contract with the stresses put upon it; it is after all a living entity. The balance between dependence and independence will constantly shift; so will the power dynamic in the relationship. Carve these things in stone and you will be mark a grave, not milestones on a path to growth.

Good luck

The Prostate Toy Interview

Hey sex fans,

This being Friday and all, you’re probably expecting a product review. Well sorry to disappoint, but the entire Dr Dick Review Crew is still working their naughty bits to the bone, so to speak, so we’ll have to wait on posting new reviews till another day.

But not to worry, because I have something else that’s charming and delightful for you. Keeping with the sex toy theme I offer you this interview I did with a leading toy company. I figure if the toy company was interested in my thoughts, perhaps you, my dear readers, would be too.

1. Hey Dr Dick, you look like a rather wholesome gentleman, what prompted you to become a Sexologist?

Wholesome? Looks are so deceiving, aren’t they?

I came to this work in a most unorthodox fashion. It is certainly not something I ever aspired to do.

I was a Catholic priest at the time. I was ordained in 1975. (I am the only Catholic priest in the world with a doctorate in Clinical Sexology.) In 1981 I completed my post-graduate work with the publication of my doctoral thesis concerning the sexual attitudes and behaviors of gay Catholic priests in the active ministry. This was unprecedented research back then (and even now, for that matter). There was a firestorm of international publicity. I was soon to be known as “The Gay Priest”. (Yeah, like if I was the only one.) Needless to say, this notoriety (some say infamy) effectively ended my public priesthood. I fought the Vatican for the next 15 years, from 1981-1996, in an attempt to salvage my ministry, but in the end it was a lost cause. No surprise there, I suppose.

My career as a therapist in San Francisco coincided with the advent of HIV/AIDS (1981). My practice evolved into working primarily with sick, elder and dying people. In the mid-90’s I founded a nonprofit organization, PARADIGM, Enhancing Life Near Death. It was an outreach for terminally ill, chronically ill, elder and dying people. This was brilliant cutting-edge work. Alas, I couldn’t find the proper funding to continue. This precipitated a rather sudden move to Seattle in 1999.

I continued to work with sick and dying people here, in Seattle. I started to develop programming for women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and men with prostate cancer. I wanted to create videos for people experiencing life threatening and/or disfiguring illnesses to help them deal with reintegrating sex and intimacy into their lives post diagnosis. I soon realized that I would need to fund these projects on my own. No mainline foundation would touch the issue of sex. Faced with how I might do that, some friends prevailed on me to shoot porn. The rational was; I would make loads of money and I could then subsidize my heart’s desire. Thus Daddy Oohhh! Productions was born.

Unfortunately, the “load of money” part never materialized. But at the time, I figured that, since I was actually shooting porn, I would create projects that were different in style and tone from what currently ruled the marketplace. The Daddy Oohhh line features a whole lot more romance, allure and seduction rather than just bumping parts.

2. What are the most common issues you come across during your workshops and counseling?

I continue to be surprised by how few people actually believe there is an essential goodness to sexuality, both as a personal need and as an interpersonal bond.

I see so much unhappiness and anxiety when a person’s sex-negative attitudes alienate them from their own body and the bodies of others. These uninformed attitudes affect not only a person’s sex life, but also his/her ability to relate well with others.

I believe that 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. 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.

My workshops and counseling practice aim is to provide information and guidance to help people approach their unique sexuality in a realistic and responsible manner, as well as further their independent growth, personal integrity, and have a more joyful experience of living.

3. Everyone seems to be aware of the female G-spot. However, the male equivalent, the P-spot, is shrouded in mystery and taboo. Would you mind explaining what that’s all about?

You’ll excuse me for being contrary, but it is my personal crusade to dissuade people from using the term “male G-Spot”.

Frankly, I don’t see a rationale for talking about the prostate as if it were something akin to the female G-spot. Because that’s like saying a clit is a female penis. And to tell you the truth; I even have difficulty with the overly cutesy term, “P-Spot”.

The G-spot got its moniker because folks couldn’t remember its proper name, the Grafenberg Spot. (It was named after the physician who first wrote about it.) But we don’t need that kind of shorthand for the word prostate, do we? I certainly hope not.

If the prostate is indeed shrouded in mystery and taboo, as you suggest, it’s likely because it’s buried inside a guy’s ass. And our culture is pretty ass-phobic.

Luckily, I see all of this changing. More and more men are discovering a pleasure zone they’ve not known before. And thanks to the growing number prostate-related sex toys in the marketplace this self-discovery can be fun as well as informative.

4. What can men do to enjoy this little gland?

• First, cut and file smooth your fingernails. And before you start playing with your hole, relax.
• Take a relaxing shower, a warm bath, and/or try some deep breathing exercises to help you do that.
• Have a ready supply of a water-based or silicone-based lube handy.
• Start with a nice hand job. Stroke your dick with your lubed hand to get yourself into your happy place.
• Gradually slather some of that lube on to your balls and taint (perineum). While your legs are open find your hole and play with your rosebud. Gently massage the area around your asshole, but don’t side your finger in just yet. Simply let this time be for getting used to the feelings of playing at the opening of your ass.
• Next, let your play include the tip of your middle finger entering your ass.
• If you do this while you’re stroking your cock, you will find that your hole will actually open and invite your finger. That’s the great thing about pleasuring one part of your body while learning to pleasure another.
• Once you’re comfortable with your fingertip inside, try pushing it in further and move it around a little. Then try pushing it and pulling it out of your ass. Ya know, like finger-fucking yourself.
• Once your finger is about an inch or so inside your ass, move your finger in an upward motion along the upper wall of your rectum. You’ll discover a firm, round and flat surface the size of a walnut. This is your prostate. You can only feel this small part of the whole gland, but you will know it when you touch it. It is full of delicious nerve endings and it will give you jolt of pleasure.
• Remember, your prostate shouldn’t be hard to find, particularly if you’re all horned up from pullin’ your pud. It will feel smooth and hard, like a flat stone.
• Give that puppy a nice gentle massage with your fingertip. If you’re still stroking your cock, don’t be surprised if this prostate massage gets you off. In fact, you will find that your prostate actually enlarges a bit and becomes firmer just as you are about to shoot your load.
• As you cum you will also notice that your ass-sphincter muscle will tighten around your finger and pulsate with each squirt. How fun is that?

5. If you enjoy prostate stimulation, does that make you gay?

It certainly would if only gay men had prostates.

6. Is there a difference between a prostate orgasm and a penile orgasm?

Technically, I suppose there is.

Clearly some men do get off on prostate stimulation alone. However, an orgasm (not the same thing as an ejaculation, mind you) is a complex physiological — muscular and neurological — response. Just like our genitals are a composite of parts that work together to bring us joy; so too are our orgasms.

Finding and massaging your prostate is a wonderful thing. But there’s one thing for certain; your prostate has been involved in your orgasmic response from the very beginning, long before you discovered it.

7. Are there any health benefits to prostate stimulation?

Yeah, you betcha! It’s fun, it’s healthful and it’s sexually enriching.

Massaging your prostate stimulates blood flow and that brings more oxygen to your prostate. Unwanted bacteria that grow in your prostate can be removed more efficiently through massage. Fat and proteins can also accumulate over time, which can cause infection or even lead to tumor growth if not flushed from time to time. Massaging your prostate can assist with this.

Studies show that a prostate massage is an effective means of keeping your prostate healthy without the use of pharmaceuticals or resorting to surgery. And of course it also helps a guy become less cock-centric and less ass-phobic. So it’s a win/win situation.

8. Are there any dangers?

Not really. Just remember to use lots of lube, because your asshole doesn’t create its own lubrication. Always start off slowly. And don’t put anything in your bum that isn’t designed for that purpose. All anal toys — massagers, vibrators, butt plugs, anal beads, dildos and the like — must have a handle on them and/or an oversized base that will prevent the toy from accidentally slipping up into your ass.

9. Finally, do you have any wise words for our prostate loving readers?

Once you’ve discovered the joys of prostate stimulation on your own, why not invite your partner(s) to join in the fun. And always use quality toys. Choose nonporous, phthalates-free, hypoallergenic and latex-free materials. Waterproof toys are also highly recommended. Because keeping your toys clean and sanitized is a real big part of enjoying your or someone else’s prostate.

A Particular Sexual Predilection

No podcast today, but there is this…

Name: Adam
Gender:
Age: 34
Location: UK
I have been attracted to male children for years. Having been arrested for viewing child porn I realize that I need to pursue a celibate lifestyle. I realize that celibacy is a demanding lifestyle. What advice would you offer me?

You present a particularly touchy issue for our culture, Adam. But before I respond, I’d like to help you with some of your vocabulary. You say you need to pursue a celibate lifestyle. I think you mean to say you need to pursue a sexually abstinent lifestyle. The two concepts — celibacy and sexual abstinence — mean different things. Unfortunately, way too many people use these terms interchangeably, which is not a good thing. It only serves to muddy the waters further.

Celibacy has a very specific meaning. Let me whip out my trusty, handy dandy Funk & Wagnalls dictionary. Celibacy: the state of being unmarried. Some people infer, especially those of a strict religious bent, that celibacy also connotes sexual abstinence. Ya see, religious people are of the mind that there is no legitimate sexual expression outside the confines of heterosexual marriage. Legitimate or not, unmarried people have always been and will always be sexual, so making that unfortunate connection between celibacy and abstinence ill advised and erroneous.

The only thing we ought to be able to say for sure when someone identifies himself/herself as celibate is that he/she is not married. To assume a celibate person, even one who has taken a vow of celibacy, is sexually abstinent is quite a dangerous stretch indeed. Need I point out the very unfortunate sex abuse scandals that continue to plague the Roman Catholic Church?

In the same way, if someone identifies him/herself as sexually abstinent, the only thing we ought to be able to say for sure is that he/she is not engaging in any type of sexual expression. It would be false to assume that a sexually abstinent person is not married, because there are a lot of married people who are indeed sexually abstinent.

In your case, Adam, I believe you are telling me that you are both unmarried (celibate), and because of your particular sexual predilection — young boys — you must also be sexually abstinent. If I’ve got this right…and it is very important that I not misinterpret your words…then I think there are options you may not have considered.

I firmly believe that we learn our sexuality. All we eroticize, in your case boys, is learned behavior. You once learned to eroticize boys; you can now learn to eroticize a more appropriate group of people. This isn’t a particularly easy thing to accomplish, but it’s not impossible either.

Anytime any one of us discovers that the object of our desires is someone inappropriate, we need to adjust our eroticism immediately. This is the better part of being a sexually responsible person. Pedophilia is just one such inappropriate eroticism. A father for his daughter, a mother for her son, a boss for a subordinate, a man for his neighbor’s wife, a teacher for her student, a counselor for his/her client, a congressman for his page…are you getting the picture? I hope so. And the list goes on and on.

I believe learning to readjust one’s eroticism to a more appropriate outlet is a much better option than trying to live a sexually abstinent lifestyle. The reason I believe this is that having a more appropriate outlet will at least give you an outlet for your pent up sexuality. If you have no outlet, or limit yourself to masturbation, you will only intensify your longings and further fixate on the inappropriate object of your current desires.

Like anyone trying to wean him/herself off a bad habit, the task ahead of you Adam, will be challenging. It will also be enriching and life-affirming. I hasten to add that you ought not try to do this on your own. Work with a sex-positive therapist on this.

You’re a relatively young man with many years ahead of you. These years can be filled with happy, healthy and appropriate sexual expression. I encourage you to make it happen.

Good luck

Sex Work — The Principle of Supply and Demand

No podcast today; instead there’s this…

Sex workers and their consumers are two sides of the same coin; the operative word being coin. Few things are more troublesome to the social hierarchy than the notion of sex for money. And yet, as the saying goes, there’d be no supply if there weren’t a demand.

I travel a lot for work and often get really lonely on long trips. I don’t go to bars, because I don’t drink. The idea of looking for sex in a bathhouse or sex club puts me off. Lately I’ve been thinking I should just hire an escort, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin. It must be a pretty common phenomenon thought, because I see tons of ads for escorts on line in every city I go to. Any suggestions on how I might proceed?
— Gabe

I presume you’ve ordered out for food while traveling for business, right? Finding a satisfying “order-out” sexual adventure is not all that different. In the case of an escort, the commodities are charming company, erotic massage, and possibly a little sex, instead of potstickers, mu shu pork and Kung Pao Chicken. (Now if only someone would devise a marketing plan to combine the two—erotic massage and mu shu pork? We’d all die from an overabundance of bliss!)

Not all order-out is created equal. Just as there is bad food, there are also unsavory escorts. Do your homework. You already know there are scads of escort or rentboy sites on the net. There are also plenty of review sites, where customers of the provider leave their comments regarding levels of satisfaction and the like. Most escorts, particularly the really good ones, immediately call your attention to the reviews they’ve received. It’s like having the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval stamped on your ass.

Start by interviewing a few working boys. This can initially be done via email. Ask for further information about services and rates. Many escorts have photos of themselves available to send to prospective clients, so you might respectfully request those. If at all possible, include a photo of yourself—or at the very least, an accurate description.

When communicating with a service provider, NEVER suggest that you are offering money for sex; in most jurisdictions, that’s against the law. While most clients hope to get a little sex in the encounter, the money exchanged is not for the sex. It is for the provider’s time and expertise. This may sound like splitting hairs, but if sex happens it is by mutual agreement by consenting adults during the time you’ve arranged to be together.

Finding the right escort for you is your task. Know what you want and know how to ask for it. Don’t waste your time or that of the provider by beating around the bush. If you are new at this, say so. The rentboy, if he’s any good at all, will be familiar with this territory and help you though the initial conversation.

There are different levels of pros out there; each will have his own fee structure for services provided. If you’re looking for something kinky, be ready to pay more. Never bargain with the provider. If he’s out of your price range, move along. Or come right out with it and say, “Listen, I have X amount of money to spend. Are you available?” This gives the provider the option to see you at the discounted rate. You’d be a fool not to insist on safe sex, but there’s a shitload of fools out there.

When arranging an outcall to your hotel, there may be an additional surcharge for traveling cost. This should be agreed upon before the deal is struck.

Not all prostitutes are prostitutes because they want to. But most guys turn pro because they’re good at what they do. And most enjoy the accompanying lifestyle. The truly successful provider will have a string of regulars, men they have a somewhat more intimate connection with. Kinda like finding a great Chinese restaurant and becoming a regular there. The proprietor might just offer you something not on the menu as a way of acknowledging your preferred customer status. Get it?

Some johns use the service of an agency, which can be a reliable way to go at first. However, I believe the hard-working independent entrepreneur is often one’s best bet.

You’ll also find among the independents a unique phenomenon—Gay for Pay. These are ostensibly “straight” (and I use that word in quotes with great intent) guys who will have gay sex with gay men for money. In the old days, we used to refer to them as trade. And like we in the business say, “today’s trade is tomorrow’s competition.”

Remember, a wise and informed consumer is happy and satisfied consumer.

I’m just out of college and have a ton of bills and no real job prospects at the moment. A friend suggested I do some escorting to make ends meet. Guys tell me that I’m hot and I like sex, but I don’t know if I could pull it off. Suggestions?
— Kevin

Being hot and liking sex are great assets if you decide to turn pro, but you’ll need a whole lot more than that. Being a sex worker is not like having sex for love, or even recreational sex. You will be exchanging sex for money and that makes it a business proposition. You’d be wise to approach this with as much forethought as you would any other profession. It is, after all, the world’s oldest.

You’ll need the physical fortitude to have sex with a wide range of people; some who may not be attractive to you. And when there’s an exchange of money, the john becomes your customer. And all pro sex is client-directed; it’s not about you even when it looks like it’s all about you.

You’ll also need the emotional distance and psychological resilience to cope with the intimacy issues this line of work creates. This is precisely the point where most fledgling sex workers flounder. They either give too much, or not enough. Some actually resent their clients for sustaining them; go figure! A lack of clarity on this issue will cause troubling boundary issues for both you and your john.

A cheap street hustler turning tricks to support a drug habit and an expensive rentboy who is attending the rich and famous face many of the same pitfalls. A lot of sex workers are self-destructive or have huge unresolved sex issues that they are trying to compensate for by making people pay them for what they usually give away.

If you still think this is a line of work for you, know that your mind and body are your greatest business assets. Take care of them. Keep them clean, fit and toned. Hygiene, both physical and mental, is a must. Improve your mind. Make yourself interesting. Stay abreast on current affairs. Develop other skills like massage and bodywork. Self-awareness, not the narcissistic type, and safe-sex practices are your frontline defense against STIs.

Stay clean and sober while on the job. More sex workers get busted for drugs than hustling. Know how to handle a drugged-out client. You’ll probably see a lot of those. Also know they can take forever to get off, and can sometimes be paranoid and dangerous.

Be fiscally responsibility. Plan for the lean times…and there will always lean times. You’ll probably be a hot property at first; the new meat phenomenon, don’t cha know. Don’t let this go to your head. There will be cuter, younger, hotter competition getting off the bus tomorrow. Try to cultivate a number of regular clients. Have a thought to how and where you will market yourself. And I encourage you not to do this full-time. If you find it difficult to pay the rent, you’ll be tempted to do more and more risky things just to make ends meet.

Sex work is often more about being psychologically present than a sexual performance. Your clients will often be more lonely and isolated then they are horny. Always treat them with respect.

You should have at least one trusted friend who knows your whereabouts at all times, or who has access to your appointment book. Never make a date with anyone who won’t share his/her phone number with you. And always make a call back before you head out. Keep an appointment book, in code if you must.

Have a travel bag prepared with all the basics you will need: condoms, lube, massage oils, handi-wipes, an extra shirt, toys, mace (or other protective equipment). Have that bag ready to pick up and leave if there’s trouble.

Finally, I suggest that you connect with other sex workers in your area. There is strength in numbers. Other rentboys will provide you with essential information about troublesome clients and help you get the lay of the land, so to speak.

Good Luck

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.

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