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7 Keys to Lifelong Sexual Vitality
The Hippocrates Institute Guide to Sex, Health, and Happiness
By Brian R. Clement, Anna Maria Clement
New World LibraryCopyright © 2012 Brian Clement, PhD, NMD, LN, and Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN
All rights reserved.
Understand Your Sexuality
When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex,
here is an important lesson to be learned.
Do not have sex with the authorities.
— Cartoonist Matt Groening
A Quiz about Your Sexual Reality
One half of the world cannot understand
the pleasures of the other.
— Novelist Jane Austen (1775–1817)
The following series of paired statements challenges you to consider the ways in which you might sabotage your own sexual fulfillment, and maybe even thwart the sexual potential of the people in your life whom you most care about. Read each pair and circle the statement that more accurately reflects your feelings. Your responses may help to reveal the extent to which your beliefs, attitudes, and judgments about sexuality contribute to sexual dysfunction, absence of intimacy, or health problems related to sexual repression and frustration.
Sex is an energy I control. or Sex feels like uncontrollable energy.
Sex is always my choice. or Sex often feels like an obligation.
Sex feels nurturing. or Sex feels hurtful.
Sex feels like I am sharing with someone. or Sex feels like I am "doing something to" someone.
Sex requires communication. or Sex needs no communication.
Sex should be private. or Sex should be secretive.
Sex must be respectful. or Sex can be exploitative.
Sex should be mutual. or Sex can be selfish.
Sex should feel intimate. or Sex can be emotionally distant.
Sex should have boundaries. or Sex doesn't have to respect boundaries.
Sex empowers me. or Sex means I have power over others.
Sex reflects my values. or Sex compromises my values.
Sex enhances my self-esteem. or Sex often feels shameful to me.
The left-hand column lists healthy sexual attitudes. The right-hand column lists negative attitudes, which may be symptoms of sexual abuse or sexual addiction.
How Do You Define Normal?
Chastity — the most unnatural of all the sexual perversions.
— Philosopher Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)
Can you imagine having a sexual relationship with a robot? Will such liaisons ever be considered "normal"? These may seem like silly questions, but one day soon, probably within our lifetimes, sex with artificial partners will be a common topic of conversation. The technology to make such sex happen already exists.
If you saw the 1970s movies Westworld and Futureworld, in which humanlike robots provide entertainment and companionship for in settings that resemble Disneyland for adults, you know what we're talking about. The theme was developed even further in the 1980s in Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner, with a category of robots called replicants.
Will a robot be classified under future law as a mere piece of property, as a consenting adult, or as a sex slave? Will humans become psychologically and emotionally attached to them in ways we currently don't when using an inflatable sex doll or a vibrator?
Artificial intelligence researcher David Levy, at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, predicts that not only are love and sex with robots inevitable, but the first government to legalize human-robot marriages will be that of Massachusetts, via their Institute of Technology. The first groups of people inclined to take advantage of sex and marriage with robots will be thrill-seekers, people who are extremely introverted, those who have psychological problems, or those who feel too ugly to attract a desirable human mate.
We must keep in mind that just a century ago interracial marriages were illegal in most of the United States, having been defined as "abnormal" and a "crime against nature." The same has been true with same-sex marriages, though that prohibition, too, is being abandoned as people's attitudes change about what is considered normal sexual behavior.
What we challenge you to do in this chapter is to begin thinking outside your comfort zone. What sort of nonviolent sexual relations between consenting adults do you find repugnant? What kind of nonviolent sexual acts do you refuse to engage in because of your upbringing? Unless we honestly examine our own inhibitions, we cannot discover the limitations on our full potential for expressing and experiencing a healthy sex life.
Sexual Practices around the World
Sexual practices defined as "normal" vary by country and culture. That much we know. But a study in a 2001 issue of the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy makes this clear: "Except in a very few countries, we have no idea what people do in bed."
Sexual desires are difficult to categorize based on "normal" versus "abnormal" standards. "Some people are attracted to mature or older partners, some to young adults," observes University of California, San Diego, biology professor Simon LeVay in his book The Sexual Brain. "Some go for skinny, some for fat. Some are turned on by candlelight and soft music, others by whips and abuse. Some are aroused by animals, some by motorbikes, some by corpses. Some like sex in groups; for others the ultimate sex object is their own body. There are even people who never experience sexual feelings of any kind."
Little or nothing is known about what generates our sexual preferences, but here, culled from their studies, is some of what sex researchers do claim to know about worldwide sexual habits:
In the United States, 30 percent of men and 28 percent of women say they are either celibate or have sex only a few times a year.
In Britain, an average person has sex 2,580 times with five different partners during his or her lifetime.
In India, many couples abstain from sexual activity after fifty years of age, particularly after a woman becomes a grandmother.
Among sexually active sixteen-to forty-five-year-olds, the French have sex an average of 141 times a year, the highest rate among the countries measured, while residents of Hong Kong make whoopee only fifty-seven times annually, the lowest of any group.
In many South American countries, teenage girls are taught by their mothers how to simultaneously remain "virgins" and satisfy sexual desires by engaging in heterosexual anal intercourse, rather than vaginal penetration, until they marry.
An estimated 3 to 4 percent of the world's male population, and 2 percent of the female population, live exclusively as homosexuals. Within the animal kingdom, some percentage of the populations of about 450 species of mammals and birds engage in same-sex activities.
Homosexuality remains illegal in fifty countries around the world, eight of which make homosexual acts punishable by death: Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
At least 60 percent of all couples in the world had their marriages arranged by their parents or other family members. The divorce rate among arranged marriages is a fraction of that among couples who marry for romantic reasons. The highest divorce rates are in Hungary and the United States, and the lowest in Afghanistan and India.
Adultery among couples (at least instances that are confessed to in surveys) varies from 50 percent of Americans, 42 percent of the British, 40 percent of Germans, and 36 percent of the French (despite their reputation as philanderers) to 22 percent of Spaniards. Four countries exact the death penalty (on women, not men) for adultery — Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
Male Fear Motivates the Compulsion to Control Women
Many of the abnormalities that occur around sex result from fears that men have about losing their control over women. Appalling practices such as circumcision of the clitoris or other female sexual organs, inflicted upon an estimated 130 million girls and women on this planet, result from that warped compulsion to control women's sex drives and their sexual experiences.
Evidence of female circumcision has been found in five-thousand-year-old Egyptian mummies, so we know the male compulsion to control female sexuality is an ancient and routine attitude. It persisted in other forms as well, such as the metal rings inserted into women's labia by the ancient Romans and the chastity belts (men held the keys) forced upon women during medieval times in Europe.
Clitoridectomy (the complete surgical removal of the clitoris) was even commonly practiced by physicians in nineteenth-century Britain to "treat" women found to be masturbating, a sexual release that was feared to cause insanity, but only in women. By contrast, males caught masturbating were simply told they would go to hell. Thankfully, female genital mutilation was finally outlawed in 1985 throughout Britain.
These and other, similar antifemale sexual control practices have been documented as being historically condoned by most of the world's major religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism.
Today we still see evidence of these toxic attitudes about the female sex drive forming at early ages and in seemingly innocuous ways. As a young boy, I (Brian) never had sex, but there was peer pressure to say that I had. I knew there was a sexual word (sperm) that sounded like firm, so to impress the other boys, I told them that "my firm went into her."
An older boy replied, "What do you mean, 'your firm'?"
"You know, the firm. Mine went into her."
The older boy snickered. "Then she must have been a whore."
The message that came across, even at that early age, was that any girl who had sex with you was a whore. For some males, that attitude doesn't really change, even when they become middle-aged. If females express themselves sexually, they are looked down upon, whereas men judge themselves and one another by a different standard. To "conquer" a girl or woman is seen as the male prerogative and celebrated as a rite of passage. The message that men should treat females as degraded sex objects finds widespread acceptance today, most flagrantly in the culture of rap music lyrics and videos.
When we were growing up in the 1950s and '60s, girls who had a reputation for being sexually active, whether they truly were or not, were never taken seriously either by boys or by other girls. They were treated as lepers. Imagine how that shoddy treatment shaped their self-image and sexuality later in life.
Sexual roles remain unequal between men and women in many parts of the world. Why can't a woman in the twenty-first century feel free to express her sexual needs just as men do, and not be judged or condemned for it? The answer remains the same: male fear of losing sexual control.
Males who are effeminate or gay, and those females who are tomboys or butch or lesbian, receive much the same treatment. During my (Brian's) parochial school days in the third and fourth grades, I was told by priests and nuns that murder is bad, and that equally bad is homosexuality. I learned that it was wrong to look at naked women or to masturbate. I had no idea I was even supposed to be looking at naked women. As soon as they told me it was a bad thing, what did I want to do? Look at those pictures, of course. Yet if you look at a picture of a naked woman when you are seven or eight years old and nothing happens, nothing is aroused, you begin to think there must be something wrong with you.
Anna Maria had a quite different upbringing around sexuality. I (Anna Maria) grew up in Sweden, a country which in the 1960s and '70s had a reputation for being more liberal, if not more permissive and promiscuous, than any other culture on the planet.
To some extent, Sweden's reputation was more myth than reality. It wasn't that we Swedes were more promiscuous than other people; it was our generally natural and uninhibited attitude toward nudity and our open discussion of sexual matters that made us seem on the cutting edge of the sexual revolution.
Because women didn't feel as oppressed in Sweden as in many other countries, we grew up knowing that we could become whatever we wanted to be in life, and that realization negated a lot of tension between men and women. Sex was always talked about in our family, and nudity was common, particularly when we swam together as a family in lakes or the ocean. I grew up free and natural and uninhibited about my body. I also had a good relationship with my father, which is important if a woman is to have good relationships with men later in life.
When I traveled in the 1970s to Germany, Switzerland, and other European countries, I did notice that these cultures (with the possible exception of Denmark) were sexually repressed compared to us Swedes. One factor may have been that Sweden had less religious oppression than these other cultures, less guilt and shame around the expression of sexual behaviors. By taking away secrecy around sex and the human body, the culture of Sweden helped to reduce warping, sickness, and guilt about sexual expression.
Misinformation (or No Information) Encourages Repression
It's not unnatural to want to have sex. In fact, it is unnatural not to want to have sex. It's unnatural for parents to take a puritan approach and not expose their child to sexual facts and ideas. Parents had better start talking about sex and take it out of the clouds; otherwise, mistakes and insanities about sex could enter their children's lives. Propaganda promoted by religious dogma has distorted the natural sexual expression of entire generations of people.
Some kids who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s got the story from their parents about how a stork came and dropped off babies, like Santa Claus dropping off presents. Others got a convoluted birds-and-bees talk from one parent or the other that left them puzzled over whether the story had meaning for them. But most kids got no information at all from their parents about sex, and, like private investigators, they had to find out for themselves by experimentation or by listening to rumors spread by friends and siblings. This absence of open and honest conversation about sex warped intimacy and relationships in ways that in later life would balloon the rates of divorce.
The sexual revolution of the 1960s rocked and rolled an entire generation's attitudes toward what was personally permissible or socially acceptable. For many U.S. teenagers of that era, a kind of schizophrenia emerged around sex and the healthy expression of the libido, as they struggled to reconcile a spirit of "free love" with the often repressive indoctrination they had received from parents and their religious and social institutions.
During our interviews for this book with veterans of that turbulent period, we noted some recurring patterns that would shape their lifelong intimate relationships. First, religious upbringing, reinforced by parental authority, proved to be the thousand-pound gorilla in the sex lives of many baby boomers.
Consider what Andrew, Reba, and Michelle told us. Andrew grew up in Chicago in a Catholic family where sex was almost never discussed. His father had made a "valiant effort," as Andrew put it, when he was fourteen years old, using birds-and-bees terminology that made Andrew laugh. "I had an understanding that marriage was a prerequisite to intimacy," Andrew related. "After having a few sexual experiences as a teen-ager and young adult, I developed a more Christian mind-set. [Starting] in my thirties, I practiced celibacy for fifteen years. Then I concluded that man, not God, had put these constraints on me and anyone with that point of view. But I'm still not into promiscuity. I don't feel comfortable with sex that has no intimacy. I'm now fifty-three years old and I've never been married, nor do I currently have an intimate partner."
Reba spent most of her life in Florida and had a loving, affectionate, "touchy-feely" family upbringing. "But Catholicism was my big hang-up, and it kept me a virgin until I met my husband," she explained. "I wasn't truly prepared for the sexual act itself. I was naïve about sex. Religion was like a shadow hanging over my sex life. I believed that I would make God sad if I wasn't a good girl until I married. While I've outgrown some of that, I still feel very moral about sex. It's supposed to be special and sacred. Maybe that's why I've only slept with one man in my entire life: my husband."
Michelle comes from Montreal, Canada, and had happy and loving parents, though sex was a taboo subject in their household. "The '60s sexual revolution left me with a tremendous amount of guilt. It was like I had two personalities. One was that sex outside marriage was a sin. The other was an 'anything goes' attitude of sexual freedom. That split gave me a warped view of relationships. I decided that I should marry my best friend, so I did, and there was little sexual passion in our relationship. I met my second husband at my place of employment while I was still married to my first husband. I knew I had found my soulmate. I've been married twenty-six years to my second husband. Our passion has always been based on love and intimacy."
Excerpted from 7 Keys to Lifelong Sexual Vitality by Brian R. Clement, Anna Maria Clement. Copyright © 2012 Brian Clement, PhD, NMD, LN, and Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
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