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If your response is something along the lines of "I don't know," "Not really," or "What?" - this book is for you!
A fantastic sex life is a byproduct of a healthy attitude, and most of us are never taught how to embrace our sensual, sexual natures. Julianne Bentley's collection of essays explores the process of adjusting both ...
If your response is something along the lines of "I don't know," "Not really," or "What?" - this book is for you!
A fantastic sex life is a byproduct of a healthy attitude, and most of us are never taught how to embrace our sensual, sexual natures. Julianne Bentley's collection of essays explores the process of adjusting both attitudes about sex and attitudes about yourself. She tackles body image and communication challenges head-on, and offers concrete, well-tested suggestions for getting results. Julianne puts sexuality back into the focus it deserves in a style both conversational and humorous, while simultaneously offering practical solutions and encouraging serious thought about sexuality.
You can have the sex life of your dreams!
Why Write Another Book About Sex?
I used to walk into my bedroom and look at the bed and feel frustration and despair. Frustration because I wasn't getting what I wanted out of sex, and despair because we had tried and tried and nothing seemed to work.
Since that time I've learned a few things, luckily for me and my partner. Although I was raised in a family that never ever talked about sex beyond the "don't do it" threats of my adolescence, I've managed to come out with a fairly sex-positive outlook. I'm not sure what exactly I should attribute that to, since I don't think Catholic school, being overweight, or being sexually harassed as a teenager helped. The best I can come up with is that I knew, really truly knew deep down in my bones and in my cunt ever since childhood, that if my body felt good when I touched it, it couldn't possibly be bad. And that anyone who touched it in a way that didn't feel good needed to stop immediately.
So then I got older and I had some sex and it didn't always go so well, but it always had the potential to be great. And I read--a lot. I read fiction, non-fiction, erotica, romantic bodice-rippers, kinky smut, sex instruction manuals, sexual psychology textbooks, the Kama Sutra--anything I could get my hands on. Some of which massively freaked me out.
And then I thought about it. A lot. I tried some new ideas on as fantasies. I tried some theories on to see if they felt true or false for me. I talked to my friends. I talked to my friends when it was late enough and dark enough to be honest, to hear confessions of being "pre-orgasmic" and how having intercourse always hurt, as well asrecommendations for woman-on-top and outdoor sex and being tied up and anal sex.
And I kept reading and thinking and talking about sex. I am fortunate enough to have many good friends who are as interested as I am in sex and who talk about it without shame. And of course I must give some credit to my lovers, past and present, without whom this would all be a bunch of theory.
So why write another book about sex when there are already a million of them? Because none of them (that I have read) have said the things that I needed to hear. Sure, they're full of sex tips like how to give a great blowjob or ideas for role playing games to spice up things in the bedroom. But few of them have talked about the internal parts of sex, the stuff that happens in your head rather than to your genitals.
What I was always looking for, in all the reading about sex from junior high through the present day, was validation that yes--sex is important. That sex is for everyone, no matter what their body looks like. And that having a wonderful sex life is bloody hard work, that it doesn't just happen miraculously because two (or more) people are hot for each other. And that learning to talk about sex honestly is incredibly difficult and absolutely essential. And finally, some ideas for how to make that all happen beyond "use more lube" and "try dressing up like a harem girl."
I don't know everything--I'm not a sex guru. I don't have all the answers. What I'm offering instead are some tips, tools, and tricks of the trade. Some ideas to think about, some suggestions for activities, and some exercises to get your creative juices (and any other juices) going. Some of it might work--I hope it does. But what I hope most of all is that the following collection of articles gets you thinking about sex in a different way than you have, and that they help you resolve whatever issues you're struggling with.
Blessings and Titillations,
My Credentials as a Sexpert
What is it that makes someone an expert about sex, a "sexpert" as Susie Bright or Dan Savage have claimed to be? Having a lot of sex with a lot of different people? Being sexually adventurous, with a purity score of less than 20 on the 1000-question test? Having a doctorate in Psychology or Sociology or whatever Dr. Ruth has? What makes someone a sexpert?
My answer: we're all experts in sex. No, seriously--we're all experts in what we like about sex, what gets us off. Sometimes we forget, perhaps some of us are a little more tentative about our credentials, but we all have the ability to tell if sex is or isn't working for us.
Or at least we have the potential--what makes us experts about our own desires and needs is being self-aware. What gets you off? What gets your partner off? What do you like? What do you not like? How do you talk about it? Being able to answer those questions is what makes you an expert in sex--knowing what you like, what your partner likes, and how to talk about sex. How to compromise. How to ask for things. How not to ask for things.
Being able to talk about sex makes you a sexual expert.
Information is part of it, to be sure, but you don't have to have mastered the Kama Sutra or the 71 Sensual Secrets of Scheherazade in order to get an official Sexual Expert Certificate of Approval. In fact, I am willing to pass out such certificates should anyone come up with a non-intrusive system in which to prove they are decent sexual communicators.
One hallmark of being a good sexual communicator is having a good sex life. This can be a solo experience or it can be with someone else--it truly does not matter. The important part is that you know what your needs are and that you're working on getting them satisfied.
In a partnered relationship, this is of course more difficult because you might want your partner to help satisfy your needs and for whatever reason, that might not currently be happening. You can still be a sexual expert; you'll just need to work on the aspect known as "compromising." (Note: compromising does not mean being either a victim or a martyr, sacrificing or putting off your own needs. It just means some activities might be solo events. You should still be communicating and talking about sex, even if you're not experiencing it together at the moment.)
Being a sexual expert does not mean that you have fantastic sex every time you fuck. What it does mean is that you have the ability to talk about it when it isn't fantastic, to diagnose what went wrong, and that you have (or know where to get) the tools to fix it for next time.
Susie and Dan don't have much in the way of credentials that I could find: Susie has a BA in Community Studies and I can't determine if Dan has any kind of degree at all. They both seem to have had fairly wild sex lives in their teens and twenties, but I think most people agree that quantity doesn't speak to quality, particularly at those ages.
I've been fretting about what my credentials are and how I can dare to set myself up as a "Sexpert" along the lines of Susie and Dan. Why would anyone take me and what I have to say seriously? Why do I take myself seriously?
Well, I've been in a monogamous relationship for over thirteen years and we've been having sex that entire time. I may not have learned the same lessons that having triple the number of sexual partners in my twenties would have taught me, but I learned other lessons instead. I learned how to make relationships last and how to get through the difficult times and dry spells instead of breaking up or having affairs.
Furthermore, I've been a sexual person since birth, and definitely since I had my first orgasm at age ten. I've been reading about sex, thinking about sex, learning about sex, and talking about sex ever since then, and I do mean the physical and emotional stuff as well as the more prurient aspects. I've always been fascinated with sex, about the ability of two (or one or three or whatever) people to come together and celebrate their physicality with pleasure and joy, to be intimate on a nonverbal level.
I like to explore ideas with other people, test out theories, see how my thoughts sound when they're taken out of my head and put into words. See if they're true for other people as well as myself. I have an all-consuming passion for the subject of sexuality, both individually and culturally.
So those are my credentials. I hereby declare myself as much of a Sexpert as my idols--always learning, always thinking, always talking.
ATTITUDUES ABOUT SEX
Taking Sex Seriously
One of the things that most frustrates me about talking about sex is that so many people don't take the subject seriously at all. Sure, it's titillating and everyone's all naked and making silly faces and noises--there's a lot of humor potential. And sex is often a time when many of us feel vulnerable and we cover up that uncomfortable feeling with defensiveness in the form of humor or crudity. But sex is too essential to treat it like a joke.
I can't undo 2000 years of messed up cultural attitudes about sex, but I do ask that you, Dear Reader, take a look at how you view sex and truly give it some serious attention, at least once. Figure out what you think about sex, way deep down inside your soul, and decide whether you treat the subject accordingly.
When I think about sex, I find myself torn. One part of me says that sex is a time of meaningful connection with another person (or just with my own body) and should be honored and respected as an act critical to my well-being. The other part of me thinks sex is this amazingly fun thing I can do with my body and I should do it as often as possible, with as many people as possible, and in as many ways as possible.
All of me, fortunately, thinks there is room for both points of view inside my head. Sex can be or mean as many things as I want it to, and my opinions and perspectives can (and likely will) change over time. And this is good.
Many of us have a joyful period of time in our teens/twenties where we are mostly focused on the "fun thing to do with my body" perspective. Our culture encourages this, with its continual bombardment of sexual images in media, advertising, and clothing styles. That's great--sex is an amazingly fantastic thing to do with your body. It's wonderful that people are enjoying it, enjoying feeling sexual, flirting, and having sex with no or few strings attached. Bravo!
Yet there is sometimes more to sex than "just fun," isn't there? Eventually many people want to try some sex with depth--even if you're drinking Champagne every day, sometimes you want a deep, rich Bordeaux to savor. I am not at all saying that anyone is shallow or that flings are wrong or that deep-connection sex is better. Whatever sort of sex you are getting the most out of is best for you, period. What I am saying is that the vast majority of discussions about sex are about having fun and getting freaky, so I'd like to talk about the serious side of sex for a bit instead.
I think it's fundamental to recognize that sex is critical for our well-being in several ways. Sex affects our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being on many levels--think for a moment how you feel mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically when you're having good regular sex versus when you're not. If you can, dredge up a few memories of times when you had horrifically bad sex and think about how you felt mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically afterwards. See what I mean? Sex affects every aspect of our life and deserves its own bullet point on the list of "well-beings"--sexual well-being, or being well sexually.
In order to get this sexual well-being, you have to look inside and answer a few questions:
+ What does sex mean to you?
+ What do you see as the purpose of sex in your life?
+ Is the sex you're having fulfilling those needs?
If sex, in your heart of hearts, means a deep connection to another person but all your attention has been directed at one-night stands (or if you're alone and going through an involuntary celibate stage), how does that make you feel? Conversely, if you're in a committed relationship and the sex that you have is always about love and tenderness but what you really want sometimes is a nice quick fuck, how does that make you feel? If sex has lost all meaning to you and you find yourself bored to death in bed or without even the motivation to masturbate, what do you think that is reflecting about your feelings about sex?
These aren't easy questions and they might hurt a lot if you really poke around until you get some honest answers. We are so conditioned to think of sex as fun and easy that it's difficult to look at it and address ways in which it hurts and is hard. But until you take the time to look at it, to see what sex means for you right now in this moment, you won't know how to go about finding the fulfillment you want. You must open and peek into the dark cupboard under the stairs of your sexuality and see what lurks in your psyche. But don't fear, because many of us are looking into our own cupboards along with you. You don't have to go in there alone.
And maybe in addition to the boogey men (and women) of former lovers or the shame the younger-you felt when caught playing with yourself or whatever your shadows look like, perhaps you will rediscover some hidden pleasant memories, too. Of your first orgasm, at your hands or at the hands of a lover. Of the first time you felt truly sexually desirable to someone you wanted to notice you that way. Of a particularly brilliant fuck that made you grin for days.
While you're looking into the shadows, don't forget to notice the light that is casting them as well. If the first step towards sexual well-being is self-awareness, the second part is to note and focus on the things that feel good and satisfy you, as well as the things that don't. Take some time, a few moments alone every couple of days, to get in touch with where you are and how you feel about sex. Give it the attention it deserves, just like you do your emotional and physical states. Treat sex seriously and everything else will start to fall into place.