Archive for the ‘Sexuality’ Category
This is one of the most crazy-making statements that parents (and others) deliver to their children. Is it any wonder why so many people have conflicts around sexual issues? It simply does not make any sense. It illustrates the ambivalence our culture has in relation to sexuality. On the one hand, the Puritan ethic says that sex is base, dirty, vulgar, and should only be engaged in for the sake of having children. On the other hand, the secular world says that sex is pleasurable, erotic, and even beautiful, but only in the context of love.
In order to reconcile these diametrically opposed attitudes, societies came up with the notion that sex, when done outside of marriage, is sinful, dirty, and bad. But when in the context of love and marriage, it can be beautiful. The problem is that after years of being trained that sex is bad, dirty, and should be kept hidden, people find it difficult to make the 180 degree turnaround just because they are in a long-term relationship or married. They often find that after years of keeping their sexuality hidden, participating in sexual activities only in the shadows, they are not able to engage in intimate sex; they crave the excitement of doing something in a clandestine, secretive, or naughty way. They cannot make the transition from dirty to beautiful. They often think “how can I do something so dirty and vulgar with someone I love?” And in the case of marriage, “how can I do the nasty with a member of my family?”
A young man growing up in a liberal, secular home where sex is openly discussed and egalitarian, nonsexist views of women are expressed, will have a very different attitude about sexuality, masculinity, and women than a young man growing up in a religiously based, conservative family and culture. If the family life and the social culture in which the young man lives, works, and dates, are the same, the effect will be different than if the family and culture are different, e.g., a religious or repressive home and a liberal, secular dominant culture.
Sex is as fundamental to human beings as eating. Desiring food and the need to eat is innate; we are hardwired for it. Similarly, our desire for sexual activity is innate; we are programed to desire sex.
No one has to teach us how to get food from the table to our mouths; we simply reach out and grab it when it is presented. The infant begins to root around pursing its lips and making sucking sounds until the breast is popped into its mouth. Once there, the infant knows what to do.
Most sexual dysfunction occurs because of faulty beliefs and attitudes about sexuality, poor habits, ignorance, and early experiences. There are some sexual dysfunctions that are precipitated by physiological, biological, or chemical factors. However, all physiological dysfunctions have a psychological component. When men are unable to obtain or maintain an erection, whether from physiological or psychological causes, they feel inferior, less manly. When a woman is unable to reach orgasm she feels less feminine. Therefore, in all cases of sexual dysfunction it is necessary to attend to the psychological aspects of the difficulty and what it means to the individual.
Physiological factors. Some of the more common non-psychological precipitants of sexual dysfunction include hormonal imbalance, medications, neurological impairment, physiological disorders, and even vitamin deficiency. Certain illnesses and medications can have side effects that affect sexual functioning including impotence and increased or decreased libido.
Despite the fact that we live in the post-Victorian, post-human potential movement, post-free love movement, we are still uncomfortable with the our own sexuality. One would think that with all of the talk about sex, all of the books written about sex, and all of the movies depicting sexuality, we would finally have reached a point in our evolution where we would be as comfortable talking about and experimenting with sex as we are talking about food, sharing sexual information as readily as we share recipes. But this is not the case.
We are uncomfortable talking to our friends about sex; we are uncomfortable asking for help with our sexuality, and we certainly would not take lessons in how to increase our enjoyment of sex. We will take cooking classes to learn how to prepare a gourmet meal. We will take dancing lessons to better be able to trip the lights fantastic. We will take golf lessons, tennis lessons, and any number of other lessons to increase our expertise and enhance our abilities. However, when it comes to sex we assume that we should be able to function optimally without help. Furthermore, if we should want to increase our sexual pleasure or should we feel uncomfortable with some aspect of our sexual life, we feel embarrassed in seeking counsel.
A couple came to see me recently precipitated by the wife discovering that her husband had visited a massage parlor where, in an addition to a regular massage, he received what is known in the massage business as a “happy ending”, i.e., the masseuse masturbated him to orgasm.
The wife was livid and hurt stating that her husband was being unfaithful to her and that the massage he had received was no different than an affair. The husband claimed that he did not go to the massage parlor with the intent of receiving a “happy ending”, but rather it was offered when the masseuse began massaging his genitals; he simply went along with it. His wife retorted by saying what he did was no different than had he accepted a proposition from a prostitute.