Thursday, April 28, 2011

Inquiring Into Female Desire

As you can tell from the previous article, female desire is quite an issue today in the world of human sexuality. What you may not realize is that there are multiple camps of thought - some that promote the creation of a "pink viagra" and others arguing that it's all mental and emotional. And between these camps and many other, much (as one author puts it) academic cat-fighting.

This blog, which I recommend reading, makes a good point that some of the causes of modern FSD (Female Sexual Dysfunction) are sociocultural. To quote:

"For one thing, our expectations of sex have outgrown our knowledge base. The average child is exposed to 14 thousand sexual images a year. Most of which bear no resemblance to the reality of human sexual response. I don't know how many movie love scenes I have watched over the years with no clitoral stimulation, instant intercourse, and simultaneous orgasms for both parties -- an unlikely sequence of events. And let's not even get started on the lack of realism in porn.

Then we have the self-help genre and the Oprah machine continually reminding us of just how important sex is to a happy relationship. All the while, our young grow up under abstinence based sex ed programs that tell them nothing about how to actually have "mind-blowing" sex. Factor in a culture still mired in sexism, sexual repression, and a hatred of real (but not pornified female sexuality) -- and you have a recipe for sexual dysfunction."

She also makes a smart review of the attitudes toward women's sexuality during the middle ages and Victorian Era, providing a chilling measure of context. Ultimately, research on multiple fronts will be necessary. Now, who'll fund it?

Again, I offer this link, to an article reviewing several researchers' theories of the human sexual response cycle.


M. Makael Newby, 2010 - All Rights Reserved - http://mmakaelnewby.blogspot.com

Monday, April 25, 2011

Orgasm - Sometimes Those Who Can, Teach.

Once a month, I attend a luncheon gathering for local members of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). Some of us who attend are not official members, but we all work within this general field. We are Sexologists, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, and Coaches of various specialties, and we have the most fascinating discussions!

October of 2010's discussion centered around working with clients who have difficulty becoming orgasmic, and I learned so much that I thought I'd share it with you.


Some of the challenges that we discussed involved male clients (no names
ever mentioned) who could achieve an erection alone, but not with a partner; female clients who feel arousal but just can't reach orgasm; and female clients who can't seem to identify anything that arouses them. One of the challenges identified for clients who cannot reach orgasm is the intense desire TO reach orgasm, and the part that societal expectations play in nourishing that anxious desire.

In a culture where we are reinforced from an early age, through media and popular dialogue, that successful sex ends in orgasm (preferably simultaneous) for both partners, the person unable to reach orgasm can experience a lot of pressure. Not only may there be external pressure - EX: a reflected sense of self from the other partner, such as 'my partner feels like a poor lover if I do not cum' - but also internal pressure - EX: 'there's something wrong with me if I do not cum.'


Add to this a culture in which the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of sex are not often openly discussed, particularly during our youth, when our bodies and expectations are rapidly developing, and you've got a recipe for misunderstanding and anxiety. Any thoughts of how sex Should Be, beyond 'consensual and enjoyable for all partners', is limiting. What to do?


Some of the discussed solutions involved embracing a focus on Pleasure... on enjoying the process rather than chasing a particular outcome. This is, of course, easy to say, but perhaps not as easy to actualize when one has never had an orgasm. Some questions we might ask such a client are, "When are you IN your body?" or "What is a successful sexual experience to you?" As a relationship coach, I would also want to ask, "What do
you perceive as a successful sexual experience for your partner?" and then determine if there was an open two-way channel of communication about that perception.

Therapist David Reed's model of the erotic pathway was raised, which includes the following four stages: Seduction, Sensation, Surrender, and Reflection. To quote an article on
Human Sexual Response Cycles, "During the stage of surrender we can experience orgasm. According to Reed, orgasm requires momentarily surrendering and giving up control. It requires us to take our mind off our performance or to stop "spectatoring." To experience orgasm requires us to stop worrying about how we look or smell, or about making too much noise, or about whether we are going to have a bowel or bladder accident. It also requires trust of ourselves and of our partner if we are with a partner."

For those of us who live largely in our minds rather than our bodies, this can pose an additional challenge. Although still illegal, marijuana has been known to help people get out of their heads and into their bodies, thus facilitating such a release of control, and this raises the topic of the biochemistry of an orgasm.


Apparently, orgasm is dependent on a spike in the neurotransmitter Serotonin. Anxiety is known to crash serotonin levels, so it's no surprise that worrying makes an orgasm less likely. Marijuana use facilitates the output of serotonin, but, if used daily, can establish a new "normal" within the brain. This is not unlike the Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (SSRI) family of drugs, such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, among others, which create an even level of serotonin in the brain, and which may point to why so many people self-medicate for depression and anxiety with marijuana.


The problem here is that we need a serotonin spike to achieve orgasm, which is simply not possible when the brain's level of serotonin has been artificially raised. Et voila - SSRIs and chronic marijuana use often lead to loss of libido and/or sexual dysfunction.


Regarding clients challenged with basic arousal, we might ask them to speculate on the wide
variety of arousal vectors - visual, audible, taste, smell, tactile, fantasy, and/or contextual, among others. At this point we must also consider the common differences between the ways in which men and women gain access to arousal. While my husband may merely need to look at me as a sexual object to find something arousing, I need to experience an emotional and physical connection in order to even begin to get into 'the mood.' Breathing, energy and connection-based exercises such as those found in Tantric practices can help women and men who first need that kind of experience to gain access to their physical arousal.

Additionally, for a client who just can't seem to get there, and for whom the mental/emotional process is healthy, many of us would recommend experimentation with various
types of stimulation. Fingers are great, and there's so much more. Sex toys, dildos of different densities, vibrators, G-spot and prostate stimulators, butt plugs... until you've tried them, who knows which one might suddenly light your fire?!

Lastly, there's the importance of drilling down to the underlying issue or concern. Many a client who states, "I want to have an orgasm," may have a deeper desire that is more directly addressed. With such a client we might ask, "What would make an orgasm possible for you?" Perhaps it's trust, safety, anonymity, or another aspect that, if not distinguished, could continue to make that very orgasm an uncomfortable impossibility.


Wishing
you great orgasms!

Additional Reference:
Betty Dodson, Orgasm Doctor

Article of Interest:
HBO options a controversial book about one young woman's quest for an orgasm.



M. Makael Newby, 2010 - All Rights Reserved - http://mmakaelnewby.blogspot.com

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Quotes & Articles

There are so many brilliant people in the world these days. Here are some links to several articles, videos and blogs that I've found valuable and entertaining...

"My mind thinks I am lacking - that I need this or that
something outside myself in order to be happy. Focusing on that lack - a specific house, a partner, relationships the way I think they should be - means I have attached myself to an outcome. And, therefore, I have set myself up for suffering. ... So how do I shift from the perceived separation of self from world to the idea of non-attachment - the presumably underlying reality? Part of the answer is letting go of the thing I think I must have."

Accordingly, this article shares seven tips for letting go with hope - worth reading!

To Get What You Want, Give Up, Insanely Serene Blog

"It's Gets Better" - Love, Pixar. A message of hope from the employees at Pixar Animation Studios. I dare you to not be moved! (I cried.)

The only thing missing is MY book! I'll have to send Violet a note...

2010's Top Hot Sex Books for Gifting/Coveting

A daily compilation of articles from some reputable sources, bloggers and educators.

The Sexual Freedom Daily

Monday, April 18, 2011

Relationship Tip - Doing Your Best

In most instances in my life, I give all that I've got. I was raised with a mid-western work ethic, and I've chosen to fill my life with people and responsibilities that inspire me.

Nonetheless, there's a voice within me that says it's never enough. I should be doing more, doing better, seeing greater results, accomplishing more... I could go on. As soon as I get really clear that one of these is a lie, another version pops up to say, "But what about...?"


These are the moments when I cheat myself of the success I've achieved, of who I am for people and the difference that I make in their lives. And in those moments, it helps me to remember that no matter the outward appearance, I'm doing my best.


For example, perhaps I need to have a difficult conversation with someone. I've known this for a week or more. I've scheduled and postponed it repeatedly, and now my inner critic has lots of 'proof' that I'm weak, lazy and a coward. And yet, I'm doing my best.


How is that possibly my best, you might ask? I only need to pick up the phone, dial, and talk. Well, here's the key -
my best is judged not only by the actions I take, but by the conditions in which I face them.

It takes courage and strength to deal with our internal critics. Resistance shows up, and at times it feels damn near overwhelming. Past experiences, criticisms, perceived failures and false beliefs rear their heads and try to convince us that taking action will be the death of us! It's much safer to remain immobile.


Getting anything accomplished in this internal environment often takes either a great act of will, the clarity of purpose to act
despite apparent risks, or a facility with transformation. Some people can make this shift in mere minutes, others in hours. For some, it may take weeks, months, or years. Nonetheless, I choose to believe, no matter the outward signs of success or lack there of, that we always do our best.

Sure, this gives me some mental freedom, but it makes the greatest difference in my life when I apply it to others.


Perhaps my co-worker is constantly late for work, complains about almost everything, and often leaves tasks undone. I've seen her slam dunk this job and I know that she could perform much better! In this moment, I must remember that she
is doing her best.

I have no idea what's truly going on in the rest of her life, what she may be facing with her family or friends, with her community, and most of all - within her own mind and heart. At this time in her life, it may be the best that she can do to be present each day, even if she arrives late; to speak at all, even if she complains; to undertake the tasks she's been assigned, even if she lacks completion.


Is this true? Who knows. Does it excuse her from a level of execution that's below her job requirements? No, and she'll face the consequences with our boss. Business is business. Does it allow me to have a measure of compassion for her?
Yes, and that is what makes a difference for us both.

Compassion does not mean excuse - I still need to make that phone call. And yet, if I can be compassionate with myself, and with the person on the other end of the phone, there is a greater likelihood that my resistance will shift, and so will my results.


So be compassionate with those in your lives, and especially with yourselves. You're all doing your best.


M. Makael Newby, 2011 - All Rights Reserved - http://mmakaelnewby.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Canada's Polygamy Challenge

Canada legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, and now finds itself embroiled in a debate over multiple marriage -- in this case polygamy, the practice of taking more than one wife. The first link discusses the legal and socio-legal issues, the second goes more into detail about the case against the fundamentalist Mormon community of Bountiful in British Columbia. This article from April 4th gives the most recent report of the case.

Of note here is the odd alliance between the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association and polygamous Mormon and Muslim sects. While prosecutors make their case that polygamy is related directly to "child brides, trafficked girls, teenage pregnancies and oppressed women," responsible polyamory addresses "the private relations of consenting adults."

Hopefully you can see that these are two very distinct practices with one legal correlation. Hopefully the one will not become inextricably tied to the other.


http://mmakaelnewby.blogspot.com

Monday, April 11, 2011

Virginity, Feminism & Publicity: The "Deflowering" of Nicki Blue

Nicki Blue is a 21 year old aspiring porn actress who chose to "lose her virginity" live on-air on January 15th at the studios of Kink.com. Stepping past any personal opinions you may have about the value and validity of the porn industry, her decision - and the marketing choices of her chosen purveyor, Kink.com - have raised some fascinating conversations within the sex-positive community about the meaning of sexuality and the perceived value of a woman.


It wasn't that long ago that a woman was considered the property of her father until she became the property of her husband - in fact, this mindset is still common in developed countries, not to mention third-world countries. For example, I offer an article from 2007 about two such stories from Pakistan. This is not ancient history, this is a matter of modern reality.


An article by Miss Maggie Mayhem thoroughly examines several myths about female sexuality. Each seems supported and promoted by Kink.com's original press release which stated, for example, "Prior to the event, a trained expert will insert Kink.com's official hymen-cam to validate that Blue's hymen is still in place and that she is a true virgin. Once her hymen is confirmed, the evening will proceed."


Maggie takes issue with the term "True Virgin" and I highly recommend her article for a thoroughly accurate education about the female hymen, including fact-based deconstruction of the myth that an intact hymen is the determining factor of virginity. Further discussion inquires into the focus on penile/vaginal sex as the form of sex through which a woman "loses" her virginity, and the perceived value of virginity itself.


Being a little bit of a language diva, let's look at the very wording here. When a woman "loses her virginity," what exactly is she losing?! Is my value as a woman diminished by such a loss?


According to Wikipedia:

"Bride price, also known as bride wealth, is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom. (Compare dowry, which is paid to the groom, or used by the bride to help establish the new household, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage.) In the anthropological literature, bride price has often been explained in market terms, as payment made in exchange for the bride's family's loss of her labor and fertility within her kin group. The agreed bride price is generally intended to reflect the perceived value of the girl or young woman."


In such a society, the loss of a woman's virginity, if unmarried, is actually the loss of her father's or future husband's financial gain. Is that who we are today? I think not.


Furthermore, the language of virginal loss seems a disservice to young men and young women alike - implying an innocence that rarely exists in our hyper-sexualized culture; creating a focus on the Thing of virginity instead of on making healthy sexual and emotional choices; and propagating a sexist view where men are perceived to gain value for varied sexual experience, and women to lose value for the same.


Pursuant to Maggie's article, Peter Acworth, CEO of Kink.com, published an extraordinary apology. "Instead of showing our gratitude to Nicki for choosing Kink to fulfill her sexual fantasy - to break her hymen during her first vaginal sex experience in front of thousands of fans - we marketed it in a way that relied on sexist tropes and myths about the female body that we should not have perpetuated," he wrote. "And that fact was rightfully brought to our attention by bloggers who hold us to a much higher standard than that. We truly thank them for it and are gratified to see issues surrounding female sexuality, virginity and sexism being discussed in public forums - even if it was as a result of our screw up."


No matter your views of pornography, this debacle serves as a reminder that women's sexuality remains only moderately liberated, and that our choice of language in all matters sexual makes a difference. We can speak a world of freedom, or a world of limitation and judgment. You choose.



M. Makael Newby, 2011 - All Rights Reserved - http://mmakaelnewby.blogspot.com

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sex in Egypt

You think we're stuffy about sex in the USA? Try living in Egypt where even married couples have a hard time discussing sex with each other. No, seriously, to the point where they even avoided the topic during anonymous interviews for a documentary ABOUT sex.

"I couldn't use all the interviews because when they sat in front of the camera, I couldn't get something real out of them. They were going around the issue," says documentary director Amr Bayoumi.


Read more...

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/12/15/egypt.sex.film/

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bliss

Several months ago, I came across a movie from 1997 entitled Bliss. (I actually thought it was from 2007. Imagine my surprise when those huge, chunky mobile phones came into view!) The film begins on a young couple's wedding day and follows them through a year or more of a challenging marriage, and into the world of tantra as a form of sexual healing.

While it's not an Oscar-contender by any means, it was enjoyable, and worth watching. I found it to be a fairly good layman's introduction to some of the practices of tantra, such as presence in the moment, and some of the tools of sexual tantra like breath work, eye-gazing, and the separation of ejaculation and orgasm.

There seem to be as many different styles and types of tantra as there are of yoga. One could oversimplify them into the categories of White Tantra, which is an entirely non-sexual tantra; Pink Tantra, which brings in elements of sensuality; and Red Tantra, the intentionally sexual variety demonstrated in the film.

There are those of the opinion that tantra has become too focused on the sexual, and that this is a disservice. Consider this my disclaimer in the matter: This film is not an indication of all that the wide-realm of tantra has to offer. But it IS a good film that deals with an interesting relationship challenge and provides a good introduction to sexual tantra. I refer you to Sacred Sexual Healing by Baba Dez Nichols and Kamala Devi for more practical information about these three paths and using them in your life.

You can rent it through Netflix or request it at your local video joint. I recommend it for the curious!


M. Makael Newby, 2011 - All Rights Reserved - http://mmakaelnewby.blogspot.com